The news emerged at this week's General Synod in London. The CofE's Board of Education is going to work with Stonewall to draw up new teaching material to combat a perceived problem of 'homophobic bullying' in church schools.
The Board's chairman the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, revealed the Stonewall involvement in answer to a Synod member's question. At July's Synod in York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, had flagged up the possibility of an anti-homophobic bullying drive in church schools.
The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don't like. With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying.
Now it is clear that senior Anglicans consider Stonewall to be the best source of advice on how to target homophobic 'stereotyping and bullying' in church schools, the majority of which educate children of primary school age.
Biblically orthodox campaign group Anglican Mainstream has responded robustly to the news
Stonewall only addresses LGBT issues; what about all the other forms of bullying? Ofsted’s 2012 report, ‘No Place for bullying’ found most bullying in schools was based upon appearance, and only a small percentage on perceived sexual orientation. Surely a campaign to eradicate bullying in schools should prioritize tackling its most common forms?Its statement continues:
Jesus was very clear about sexual morality: he was against all forms of sex outside heterosexual marriage, and that included homosexuality. Stonewall’s raison d’etre is to promote same-sex sexual relationships and lifestyles. How can a church which claims to obey Jesus partner with Stonewall?Anglican Mainstream also highlights the fact that a senior Anglican church leader was targeted by Stonewall's Bigot of the Year award:
Stonewall has a history of inhibiting freedom of speech, by persecuting those who disagree with its views. The organization hosts a gala Annual Awards Event in London each year which features nominees for and presentation of Bigot of the Year Award. The former Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, was among the nominees in 2009. Why would the Church of England wish to be publicly associated with such an organization?It is surely legitimate to ask whether the anti-homophobia programme for church schools, produced with the aid of Stonewall, will foster the idea that those who say sex outside marriage is wrong are 'bigots'.
Will it result in new Stonewall-inspired anti-homophobia policies being imposed on church schools across the country? Will local vicars who articulate at school assemblies the teaching of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer on sexual morality be subject to accusations of homophobia? What sort of complaints' regime will teachers or pupils who say that homosexual practice is against the Bible be subject to?
Given Stonewall's track record in fuelling the growing 'if it offends me, you can't say it' culture in the UK, these are pressing concerns. They will not be allayed by episcopal assurances that new teaching material will reflect 'Christian values'.
The reality is that those in high places in the Church of England who want to put new moral content into Christian values now have a powerful ally in Stonewall. Will that alliance be powerful enough to impose its new morality on church schools and sideline biblical Anglicans into silence?
UK ReNew Conference: Bishop Nazir-Ali speaks out against Prince Charles for multi-faith worship appeared on VirtueOnline.
This news story about the Church of England's Pilling report on human sexuality appeared on Christian Today.
Your curate was on BBC Radio Sheffield's Sunday Breakfast show commenting on the Pilling report. The interview with Andy Crane can be found here about 1 hour and 13 minutes into the show.