UK Government says bishops in the Lords are here to stay

UK Government says bishops in the Lords are here to stay February 9, 2016

In a response to a petition calling for the removal of Church of England bishops from the House of Lords, the Government has responded by saying that it has no plans to dislodge a babble of unelected Anglican bishops because they ‘provide an important independent voice and spiritual insight into the work of the Upper House’.
The petition was set up after the C of E published its intention to sanction the US Episcopal Church over the latter’s sympathetic stance towards equal marriage, and says that the C of E:

Is quite out of step with UK Law and indeed common humanity. Thus we feel strongly these bishops have no place in our government.

Here is the Cabinet Office’s response in full:

Changes to the composition of the House of Lords, including Church of England Bishops, are important but, given the very full programme of other constitutional changes, are not a priority at present.
The Government has no plans to remove the Church of England Bishops from the House of Lords.
The Government considers that the relationship between the Church and the State in England is an important part of the constitutional framework that has evolved over centuries. As senior members of the established Church of England, 26 bishops are appointed to the House of Lords. Bishops provide an important independent voice and spiritual insight into the work of the Upper House and while they make no claims to direct representation, they seek to be a voice for all people of faiths.

The House of Lords also contains a number of other senior faith representatives. People have a right to conduct their lives in accordance with their faith insofar as this does not unlawfully interfere with the rights of others and it is important to strike a fair balance between religious freedom of expression and the rights of, for example, lesbian, gay and bisexual people not to be discriminated against.
Therefore, the law protects the rights of both these groups. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which received Royal Assent on 17 July 2013, extends marriage to same sex couples in England and Wales, while protecting and promoting religious freedom.

To date, over 14,000 people have signed the petition. If it succeeds in attracting 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
• The photo used to illustrate this report is of Rachel Treweek, who became the first woman bishop to be appointed to the House of Lords last year.
Hat tip: John Dowdle

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  • Brummie

    If they spread the 26 House of L seats between other religions it would be a tiny step in the right direction.

  • RussellW

    Deck chairs! It’s easy to solve the problem, the U.K. Government should abolish the Lords and create a democratically elected upper house. It’s not difficult, most democracies have one as part of their constitutions.

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  • Steve

    “… they seek to be a voice for all people of faiths”
    But not for the large number of people in the UK with NO faith. They seem not to understand the point of the petition.

  • 1859

    Their pews are all but empty, their churches are falling down, no one gives a two penny fuck what they say, their constituency is nil and dwindling, and yet these self-inflating bishops sit in the Lords and have the ability to block legislation from the democratically elected Commons! Ridiculous.

  • Ellis-e-yum

    Is this democracy?
    Why only 14,000 signatories?

  • Club Secretary

    @Ellis-e-yum says:
    Wed 10 Feb at 6:59 am
    Is this democracy?
    Why only 14,000 signatories?
    Well I signed, did you?

  • 1859

    Can one sign online? Anyone gotta link?

  • barriejohn

    Here’s another piece of news to cheer us all up – the BBC’s choice of replacement for Bill Turnbull is a “devout Christian”!

  • Club Secretary

    @1859 says:
    Wed 10 Feb at 8:03 am
    Can one sign online? Anyone gotta link?

  • Angela_K

    “Why only 14,000 signatories?”
    Probably because the petition was not picked up by the mainstream media. Our challenge is to publicise this petition as much as possible.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Brummie says:
    Tue 9 Feb at 9:10 pm
    If they spread the 26 House of L seats between other religions it would be a tiny step in the right direction.
    I disagree, this would be a step in the wrong direction. Not only would it enforce the idea of religious privilege and the idea that, somehow, religion deserves a special place in society, how would they determine which religions get seats? How would they determine what is actually a religion? Could the followers of David Icke claim seats as a religion? What about the Raliens? (not sure if that’s the correct spelling) The church of the FSM, Scientology etc.
    No, the only sensible answer is to get rid of the bishops and make the HoL an elected assembly.

  • Bob

    @ barriejohn
    Dan Walker is a true born-again believer in the Lord Jesus. I have met his dad and his brother, both faithful preachers of the Gospel.
    Praise the Lord for such a clear testimony to God’s saving grace.
    (any swear words have been inserted by another person and not by me).

  • Brian Jordan

    I wonder if one of the reasons for the small number of petitioners was the narrow focus of the petition. When I went to sign it, I was surprised that it seemed to have the CofE’s’ resistance to single sex marriage as its focus, rather than the undemocratic anachronism of the bishops’ presence.
    With marriage in decline generally anyway, a bit more blood and thunder might have helped raise interest.
    As for the media – they’re probably more likely to have encouraged an anti-petition than helped.

  • barriejohn

    Bob: It’s nice to know that you are still visiting this site, where you may gain some enlightenment. There may be hope for you yet!
    If this guy is such a “devout Christian” then why is he devoting his life to the entertainment industry? That (especially sport) is all anathema to “true born-again believers”. Maybe, like Jonathan Edwards, he will eventually see the light and cast off his chains before he wastes much more of his short life in such vain pursuits:

  • Stuart H.

    I think the reason for the ‘low’ signing rate is that publicity to sign it suggested 10,000, not 100,000, as the number required. It hit 10,000 within 2 or 3 days as I remember, then people stopped sharing it.
    Meanwhile, how about another petition asking that if HM government insists on retaining these parasites at least put their seats in a more appropriate place, i.e. the House of Lords lavatories?

  • Bob

    Thank you for your reply. I like to visit the Freethinker site as it does give useful information.
    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with sport per se. I often like to watch a game of Rugger; the world cup semi between South Africa and All-blacks had me on the edge of my seat. I also avidly follow the Ashes series every couple of years or so.
    Sport is only wrong when people make a god of it or get angry when their team loses and start swearing at the telly!
    Bob (any swear words have been insertered by another person, not by me)

  • Broga

    I have signed the petition.

  • Justin Badby

    @Club Secretary
    I signed too and also passed the link on to friends and colleagues.

  • Ellis-e-yum

    Dear Club Secretary. Yes … I did.

  • Cali Ron

    Bob: You have made an error in your comment, but fear ye not, for I have rectified your mistake. “Dan Walker is a true deluded-again believer in the sky fairy. I have met his dad and his brother, both equally deluded preachers of the myths of the Bible.”
    No need to say thank you. It was my privilege to correct you.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Bishops provide an important independent voice and spiritual insight into the work
    … so, elect them !
    If their voice is all that important, then I suspect the sensible British people will elect them.
    If, on the other hand….

  • Broga

    @CoastalMaineBird: I would like see a few examples of their “spiritual insight.” We have priests appearing five days a week on Thought for the Day. Are the banalities and incredible assumptions they make examples of spiritual insights. For me insights come from people like Epicurus, Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and others. I’m still waiting for insights from TfTD.

  • 1859

    Petition signed.

  • 1859

    ‘Dan Walker is a true born-again believer in the Lord Jesus. I have met his dad and his brother….’
    So Bob you do rub shoulders with the high and mighty! You’ve met lord jesus’s dad and his brother!! Please tell us non-believers what they looked like.

  • Bob

    I’m pleased to see that you describe yourself as 1859 as it reminds me of the 1859 revival in Ulster. Many hundreds of souls were saved and crime dropped dramatically. That is what is needed in this country today.
    Bob (any swear words have been inserted by someone else)

  • Dave Godfrey

    Well spotted, Bob.
    However, a far more important event happened that year. On the Origin of Species was published on 24 November of that year. If there is one event that can be said to have started the end of Christianity (in the UK at least) it was that.
    Thank Satan for Darwin.

  • Broga

    @1859: Nice one. Of course, Jesus meeting his dad is complicated as Jesus is his own dad and the Holy Ghost is in the mix somewhere. Also Jesus’ dad shagged (or whatever the divine method of impregnation is) his supposedly virgin mother who was already married. Does that mean that Joseph did not have inter- course with his bride – unusual, I would suggest.
    I can’t understand the complexity of it all. Only a biblical expert like barriejohn can hope to do that.

  • Broga

    @Dave Godfrey : Careful. You have just used words that in some Christian groups would require you to wash your mouth out with soap: Darwin and Origin of Species.

  • harrynutsak

    Look, you’ve got a theocracy.
    Gosh, why don’t I declare myself given authority by the god of the church I just built and therefore I can kill and oppress because reasons.
    There is no such thing as royalty in real life. There is nothing real or true to any claim they can make that could ever support their claims to being ‘special’ or somehow better than everyone else.
    That’s what they mean by royalty, you know. That they are better and everyone else is shite. That this DNA of theirs is better than yours, despite lacking any such quality whatsoever.
    That’s not how evolution works, or physics, and there is no god to have ‘chosen’ them (wanting to be jewish too right) to have set them over anyone else for any reason whatsoever.
    No magic, no god, the basis for their claim is invalid and always has been.
    Time to admit they rule you because they will murder you all to keep their weapons and wealth and control over everything and not because they are better, just more disgusting and vile and therefore willing to commit any crime.
    You have to remove them or admit you don’t realize just how empty they are and that they don’t actually have any real authority.
    There is no such thing. It’s a concept, not a physical thing, just like ‘royalty’ – a made-up word for a made-up thing that uses imaginary terror images to reinforce the lie.
    Until you get rid of these jokers, you have zero credibility.

  • Colin

    Well I signed when it was launched but I suppose it’s not a surprise that it didn’t take off like the Donald Trump thing. It doesn’t really capture the public imagination until a high profile, sustained and clear case is made. The case is pretty easy to make but keeping it front and centre is a bit tougher. Plus the whatboutery crowd are never far away whining about how there are more important things to be focused on. The fallacy of relative privation strikes again…

  • barriejohn

    @harrrynutsack: Are you a descendant of King David, then? I would like to know how many of our current “royal family” still believe in the fanciful fictions of British Israelism. King George VI most certainly did!
    The Story of Tea Tephi also did much (possibly as much as anything else) to popularize the belief…
    This legend traces the British Monarchy back to a Jewish princess who married a local Irish prince.
    From their issue descend the Monarchs of Britain.
    It may not sound much and it has little to base itself upon but the story became immensely popular and it still is a favorite.
    It has been claimed that the British Royal Family generously funded the researcher who first propounded the tale and supplied the necessary genealogy…
    British Israelites claim that Queen Victoria was sympathetic to their movement.
    A letter written by George VI in 1922 (published in The Independent, 6 April, 1996) before he was king and still known as Albert, the Duke of York, says:
    I am sure the British Israelite business is true. I have read a lot about it lately and everything no matter how large or small points to our being ’the chosen race’.

  • harrynutsak

    There is no such thing as a jew. It is a delusional concept based upon bullshit, as any DNA test could tell you.
    I am descended from idiotic, brain-damaged, stunted primates who are like everyone else in that they have children without knowing what the fuck they are doing, as are you.
    This means that, over thousands of years of constant raping and slagging we are all related.
    Genetics is not a logical, designed, or rational process, but a chemical one without any inherent properties or ‘aim’ whatsoever.
    But I understand that lots of… people in europe still think ancestry has meaning.
    It doesn’t and never will.
    No, I am not descended, as far as I know, from that particular retarded fuckwit, thanks.

  • barriejohn
  • barriejohn

    Oh dear – he’s being “persecuted” already:
    “There may be trouble ahead…”