Monday, 21 August 2006

Summerskill on C of E

While I have reservations on the way Stonewall operate, with their tendency to go solo (not including other community/militant groups) or to claim sole credit for results the achievment to which they have only contributed, I have to say that what follows, taken from their latest newsletter, gets my vote:

The Times was once regarded as the top people's paper. That accolade is now held, of course, by Heat magazine. But it remains compelling how many people in power are still prepared to talk to the paper. And they often seem tempted to say things they clearly don't think will be subject to public scrutiny, as if they were sharing an offensive opinion in the bar of a London gentlemen's club.

Just three months ago, the Archbishop of Westminster disingenuously told The Times that he didn't believe in discriminating against homosexuals. Four days later the upstart Mail on Sunday revealed that the Archbishop had, in fact, recently summoned in one of his press officers and sacked him on the spot just for being gay.

Last weekend, a representative of the Church Commissioners - the people in charge of the Church of England's assets - wrote to The Times. His demand? That more public money should be provided to support church buildings "that act as hubs for social cohesion and community care". Perhaps the Church Commissioners have forgotten that it's only two months since the C of E wrote to Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly demanding permission to exclude gay people from "counselling, accommodation and day-care" provided on their premises when our new "goods and services" protections are introduced in the next few months.

But the Church of England can't have it both ways. If it wants millions of pounds of public subsidy to keep its premises intact on the grounds that they're there for the community, it should be required to make those premises available to all.

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