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Even though the official Church of England has been against gay marriage, lawmakers are looking at a workaround that will allow gay marriage in churches, but give a legal exemption to the Church of Englad and others. Here’s part of an article from Mail Online: Gay marriage will be legal in some British churches by 2014, despite furious Tory warnings that the issue could split the party and cost it the next election. In a surprise move, the Church of England will be guaranteed a blanket exemption from holding same-sex marriages. But this failed to quell a major Tory backlash. Amid stormy scenes in the Commons, Equalities Minister Maria Miller vowed to fast-track plans to legalise gay marriage, saying the change was needed to keep the institution of marriage ‘vibrant and relevant to society’.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller promised a ‘quadruple legal lock’ to prevent the Church of England from being forced to hold gay weddings
She confirmed a government U-turn on the issue which will allow religious institutions, such as the Quakers, that want to conduct gay marriages to ‘opt in’ to the law and hold ceremonies in their churches. But unexpectedly, she announced there would be a specific legal ban on the Church of England and Church of Wales holding gay weddings. Mrs Miller said this would give the Church ‘iron-clad’ protection against legal action by gay rights campaigners. Other religious institutions, such as the Catholic Church, will also be allowed to refuse to hold ceremonies for same-sex couples, as will individual vicars. Mrs Miller said the legislation would include a ‘quadruple lock’, meaning no church will ever be forced to conduct a gay wedding unless it wants to. The legal protections include: – A guarantee that no religious organisation or individual minister can be compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises. –  A legal bar on allowing ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to provisions for doing so. – Amendment of the Equality Act 2010 to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple. – An explicit statement that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples and that Canon Law, which bans same-sex weddings, will continue to apply. Read more: Thoughts? Todd

The Times of London has release text from a leaked memo from within the Church of England. (Learning here:  Nothing you write on paper or [especially] in an email is confidential) The Secretary General of the General Synod said the public and political fallout from the recent vote to not allow women bishops is “severe”:
“Parliament is impatient… Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church-State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.”
More on the story: A former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, upped the ante when he called on church leaders to “rip up its rule book” and speed through the introduction of women bishops. He said it was “ridiculous” to assume that the General Synod could not reconsider women bishops until 2015. A full 42 of the 44 dioceses of the church voted for legislation that would have made women bishops next year. There are 3,600 ordained women in the Church of England and 37 female bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion, including Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop, Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland, who was consecrated five days before the defeat in Britain. // Read more here…

The answer is… I have no idea. But I read an interesting article over at CNN over the weekend by Stephanie Coontz that makes me think that it could be that we’re just hearing more about pastoral affairs these days because of the instantaneous nature of our culture, the media, and the internet in particular. Stephanie points to some facts when it comes to affairs, that I found absolutely fascinating.  It seems that, in past decades and centuries, much extra-marital conduct was just not as big a deal as it is now.  Here are some examples she cites: Tolerance for male adultery is certainly at a new low. In letters and diaries written during the Colonial and Revolutionary eras, men routinely bragged about their extramarital conquests — even to the brothers and fathers of their own wives! In the 1850s, it is estimated that New York City had one prostitute for every 64 men, while the mayors of Savannah, Georgia, and Norfolk, Virginia, put the numbers of prostitutes in their cities at one for every 39 and 26 men, respectively. As late as 1930, Somserset Maugham’s play, “The Constant Wife,” was considered shocking because the heroine confronted her husband about his affair instead of simply ignoring it, as most women in polite circles did. President Thomas Jefferson fathered a child by his mistress. So did Warren G. Harding, who also carried on an affair with the wife of a family friend. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had a long-term relationship with the woman who was his driver in England during World War II. CIA Director Allen Dulles, according to his own sister, had “at least a hundred” affairs, including one with the queen of Greece. President John F. Kennedy’s affairs and one-night stands may have numbered even more. Can you imagine if the mayor of any major city in this country came out and said that there was one prostitute for every 26 men? The question here is not whether this sexual behavior is wrong.  It obviously violates scripture.  But if society was mum on this type of affair, I wonder what things looked like inside the church, say, in the 1850s. If a pastor had an affair in the 1850s, it was probably very discreet.  By that, I mean that nobody knew about it.  But the question is… if people found out… did they tell?  Or did they, as the rest of culture, just look the other way? There is no question that church leaders back in the day had the same pressures (and sins) as church leaders face today.  The same temptations.  The same desires.  Lust was alive and well in the 1850s (just as it was in Old and New Testament times). I think many times when we see a pastor fall, we somehow tie it to our screwed up culture, to the size of his church, or to an over-bloated ego that caused an attitude of entitlement in the man who has fallen.  Many times this may be the case.  But I don’t think this is, by far, a new problem for pastors and churches. The writer then goes on to say why she thinks affairs happen these days.  I can’t say that I totally agree with her.  Maybe if I have time to write another post on this, we’ll take a look at that angle. // Read more here… But what do you think?  Do you think there are more ‘pastoral affairs’ now than a hundred years ago?  Why or why not? Todd

Yeah, that’s quite a headline from the UK’s website. But it seems that it’s true. At issue is whether church staff (organists, primarily) are watching this verdict.  Here’s why: A lap dancer who wants to make an unfair dismissal claim is waiting to hear whether she has won a legal fight with a firm that runs “gentlemen’s clubs”. Solicitors say employment lawyers and strippers across England and Wales will be monitoring 30-year-old Nadine Quashie’s battle with Stringfellow Restaurants. They say church organists could also be interested. The Court of Appeal was asked to decide whether Ms Quashie was an employee or was self-employed when she worked at the Stringfellows and Angels clubs in London. Three appeal judges reserved their decision after a hearing in London. Ms Quashie, (pictured) who lives in London, says she was employed and can therefore make a claim for unfair dismissal after being sacked for gross misconduct. Stringfellows says she was self-employed and cannot make a claim. “Strippers and church organists do not generally have a great deal in common, but this case brings the two together,” said employment law specialist David von Hagen. “There have been a number of recent cases where church organists have brought similar actions, claiming unfair dismissal. There is a clear trend in that tribunals have tended to agree with the arguments of church organists, finding them to be employees.” // read more here… Employment laws are getting more difficult everywhere.  How do you decide between the employee, independent contractor thing?  Do you have both at your church?  Does it make a difference? Todd