Partly damned

Macaulay knew of no more ridiculous sight than the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality. Had he the good fortune to be alive this April Fool's tide he could have extended his vision by contemplating the Church of England in a recent fit of political correctness.

Firstly, a few years back, the declaration that Julian and Sandy could not only camp it up, but set up camp together, but, if they exchanged their 'so-oh cute' cravats for clerical collars, they'd have to pull up the tent pegs. How much more in tune with our 'diversity society', than the unsophisticated St Paul who allowed no such distinction. The February Synod decreed that it's out of bounds to be a member of the BNP, but only if you're a cleric or 'key lay staff' (vergers?). An obeisance to fashionable anti-racism, but let's not get carried away.

If the views of the BNP are held to be at variance to a Christian profession, why not a blanket ban? However, despite Hooker, logic has never been an Anglican virtue. Remember the verdict on the ecumenical Eucharist at the 1913 Kikuyu conference: 'Doubtless pleasing to God, but not to be repeated.'

The present-day British Communist Party would not even need a taxi to carry its members to their annual conference, but in its heyday, a number of Anglican clerics marched beneath its banner, notably Hewlett Johnson and Stanley Evans. Yet, even by the late 1930s, the murderous, and often racist, activities of the Soviet regime were clear for anyone with eyes to see, as did the libertarian socialist Orwell.

In the light of the Synod's February BNP decision, should the CofE imitate its Restoration forebears, who disinterred and hung Cromwell, and execute retrospective judgement on the clerical Communists? Observing all relevant Health & Safety regulations while so doing, of course.

An element in the condemnation of the BNP might have been its attraction for skinhead football hooligans. Come the 2010 Synod, which football teams will be ruled 'offside' for clerics? Although, in the spirit of the previous rulings, congregations (clergy and key-folk apart) can still punch the air to 'No-one likes us: we don't care' (music by Kendrick).

Alan Edwards

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