There are many days when you wonder about the future of the Anglican church. And then there are days when the Anglican church does something so mind-numbingly asinine that you wonder if it deserves a future at all.
Pete made a big mistake in some of his language. Looked at in context the post wasn’t bad, but it gave a hostage to fortune, and, more importantly, ammunition to the Daily (Hate)Mail. Even with all this, two things should have been apparent:
1. Pete Broadbent is one of the most effective Bishops that the church has. I’ve had the privilege of speaking at clergy and lay retreats for his diocese and I know that really good, dynamic things are happening under his watch.
2. the story would have disappeared in a couple of days.
So what does the Bishop of London do? Issue a characteristically pompous statement, and ignite the story all over again. Terrific. Well done. Brilliant PR handling.
And confusing. Has he been suspended or not? The word isn’t used, but what does ‘withdraw from public ministry’ actually mean? Not officiate at services? Not post on Facebook?
And anyway, what about the content of what he said? What if he actually has a point? Where is that in all of this?
Instead, a knee-jerk reaction by a man who wouldn’t know social media if it came up and hit him has made the thing a whole lot worse. And even worse than that, it’s been driven by the tabloid gutter press, the target of Pete’s comments, and the very epitome of unthinking bigoted name-calling. Let’s face it, you could wade through the Daily mail’s deepest thoughts and not get your ankles wet. I mean if we as a church are going to be driven by media scare stories and gutter-press inspired hysteria, what is the point of doing or saying anything at all? People cry out for clergymen with a bit of personality and backbone and then the minute one them steps out of line the church caves in, in an utterly spineless manner.
Pete will be back. And I hope he will continue posting. We need clergy who will keep speaking their mind, even if it means annoying people. Especially the Daily Mail.