A deeply cynical post, written for the likes of Peter Ould who would attack an abuse victim because he is defensive of a warped church system (and he is a bit vouyeristic as well, by all accounts, hence being an ordained priest who writes on the internet about sex and interferes in abuse cases and slates the victim for what he has heard about them, without ever having met them, he represents the Church of England badly, or well, depending on how you look at it).
The Church of England divides into two, and both sides seem to be losing direction.
I know correct terminology but I can describe what I have seen of the two sides of the church.
The Church of England Side one:
Side one is undoubtedly the original Church of England. You see it in Cathedrals and old village and High Churches. If you watch the Vicar of Dibley, then David Houghton is a perfect example of this side of the Church of England. Holding positions in Church because he is wealthy and has status, rather than because he is ethical or a mature Christian. It is almost ‘expected’ for the local ‘aristocracy’ to hold positions in this side of the church, and I have witnessed that firsthand in my life, working for the big country house when I was younger, my employer wasn’t ethical, she allowed drug use in her house and on her estate, and other things, but because she was the aristocrat with the range rover and labradors, she was the churchwarden for the local church congregation of 12 or so people.
I would say, that this side of the Church of England is still the prevailing side. But I remain without understanding as to why exactly these people are in the positions, isn’t it at odds with their life and attitude?
So, in the structure of this side of Church, the leadership is a clique of rather well-to-do people and there is a Vicar or Rector wedged somewhat uncomfortably in the middle, and they can wedge in three or so ways, passive -they let the clique lead and they follow, dominant – they control the way the church is run and don’t like being questioned -this doesn’t work so well these days because everyone has a car and everyone can choose another church, and the third option is for the priest to be one of the clique, despite the Diocese of Winchester now desperately trying to recruit everything that looks vaguely human, a lot of priests are still from stable or well-to-do backgrounds and can be as removed from the normal world as the cliques who run the churches are.
So who goes to side one of the church of England? Mainly wealthy older people, disabled and disadvantaged people tend to stick out like a sore thumb, and their offers to help in church tend to be knocked on the head by the cliques and politics that run the church, and who are behaving at odds with Christianity despite holding their positions.
This side of the Church of England belongs in the dark ages, and such discrimination as you meet in these churches would not be allowed in any workplace or anywhere outside the church, and any other organization that was so exclusive would be slated to the world for it, but the Church of England is kind of separate from the real world, exclusive, and they daily glorify themselves on twitter despite the glaring mess they are in, and you have to wonder, how do they explain this self-glorification in the context of Christianity, it isn’t Christianity, did Jesus advertise himself thus? A Christian Church should be modest, and while the Church of England refuse to be accountable for their faults and prejudice, they love to show off what they think is good about themselves.
Anyway, back to basics, the Old Church of England is exclusive, old, dry, about money in the coffers and their version of helping the poor is putting some of their wealth in envelops for appeals and patting themselves on the back.
This side of the Church of England is not a good place for vulnerable people, because these wealthy older people tend to not know or understand disability or vulnerability or the difference between different health conditions, especially not non-physical ones, and they tend to still use words like ‘mental retardation’, I have heard autism repeatedly described this way by these old people, and I have been described this way, in my hearing, because some of them think my condition means I cannot hear or understand them.
So with a total lack of understanding of disability on the part of the majority in these churches, and with vulnerable people being a distinct minority and misunderstood, and with the Church constantly recruiting and employing people from the older and wealthier majority, because there would be outcry and shunning otherwise, the vulnerable can be abused.
And in a number of cases, including a mentions in Police Inspector Harry Keeble’s books on child protection, abusers go into the church because church people are more trusting and abuse is easy.
I would like to add to that, in my experience, the Church of England refuse to, or cannot, remove abusers from church positions, even if those people are not cleared by the police, and in both abuse cases, my abusers have remained respected church figures while I have been destroyed, which glaringly pronounces the church as a safe haven for abusers.
Finally, on the subject of Side one, the Old Church of England, as I have explained before, the churches are run by these wealthy older people, mainly old ladies who have always been provided for, and aristocratic gentlemen, and not only do they not understand the vulnerable, but they have blind faith in the Church of England Hierachy, the Bishops in their palaces and those high up, who also live very comfortable lives.
So when I told an old wealthy Church lady that the former Archbishop had repeatedly turned a blind eye on me and other abuse victims, and had left me to be destroyed, she was outraged, for the Archbishop, she kept repeating to me, trying to force me to accept it ‘Archbishop Rowan Williams is a Very Godly Man’, and she kept repeating this mantra at me, over and over, trying to drown me out, but had no answer to the simple question ‘why did this supposedly Godly man fail so many vulnerable people who appealed to him? why did he ignore them?’ This was beyond her scope, because she was old, well off, and knew nothing of abuse and didn’t want to, therefore me and what had happened to me was an affront to her ‘Very Godly Man’ image of the former archbishop.
That is Side One, the Old Church of England.
Side Two of the Church of England:
This is not a more caring or inclusive side, it can certainly give that image, as well as an image of being ‘modern’ and ‘not like the old people’ but is it better?
The ‘New Version’ of the Church of England, ‘Side Two’, is the extreme Evangelical side, it is usually characterized by young male preachers, who are all charismatic and wear tight teeshirts and play guitars, well that is a stereotype but it is a good one. The congregation is quite happy to have plastic chairs and stand up a lot, it is all noise and light and sound, it is a bit like a rock concert on a Sunday, and everyone has to join in, and smile. They usually have to have a big 18-30s group and everything has to be ‘young’ and ‘trendy’ and the young people are all professionals with all the latest stuff and gossip.
A different type of club than side 1. and they want to take over from side one and banish it as being in the dark ages. But this side is more of a club than a church, a fun young people’s rock club, socials and things are very important, it all fits round work and they are all professionals, it is a desparate attempt by the Church of England to stay alive as their side one congregations are dying out.
But you don’t see the side one and side two congregations together, so who is right and who is wrong?
Ethics and knowledge in the Church of England:
Basically none are necessary.
The problem with both sides in the Church of England is that neither seem to have much by way of ethics, and neither are really inclusive of the minorities.
My initiation into the Church of England did not involve teaching me the ethics or structure of the Church of England, in fact nothing was taught to the group of us that were confirmed, and I learned nothing new about Christianity before I was confirmed, I was rushed through Baptism a week before being confirmed, with no preparation or teaching about what baptism involved, it was a last minute idea to get me confirmed, my concerns about Baptism were not allayed and I was under pressure to be Baptised, I was Baptised alone in a church with my abuser and two other rich old people who damaged me present. A week later, none the wiser, I was confirmed.
After Baptism and confirmation I attended Bible study and house group and was surprised and frustrated to find that neither of these things were named correctly, in both cases, it was a social group where people gossiped, whined, ranted and gave their opinion of the world, very little of the Bible was taken in, and basically Church of England people do not appear to learn the Bible, I have found over the years and even in the last few years, in a discussion, if we have to look up Bible passages, I find them or explain them and all these old Church people from Side 1 ask me if I went to Bible College or something! No, I was simply taught to read and understand the Bible properly, what on earth are you lot doing each week?!
I have to be cynical and consider that side 1’s way of life doesn’t represent the Bible too well, so they don’t want to get too close to the Bible. But then, who am I to judge them? 🙂
The Diocese of Winchester.
The Diocese of Winchester is an interesting mess of side one and two. According to a Vicar, Bishop Scott-Joynt wanted to wipe side one out and have only side two, and that appears to be correct, having read his not-so circulated instructions about shaming people who didn’t want to see the pews in church ripped out, they were to be ‘instructed to move on’ I gather.
I think he was defeating himself, it is the wealthy side one who are blindly paying to keep the corporation alive.
Jane Fisher is also a side two, a slapdash evilangelical, who preferred smartass textbook answers about abusers just being Christians who got things wrong, and making everything into incorrect theology rather than actually engaging with the abuse and my situation, a way of describing her and other side two’s way of answering things is ‘misplaced-wisdom-because-it-is-not-wisdom-but-that-person-is-wise-and-Christian-in-their-own-eyes-so-they-want-to-misquote-the-Bible-and-theology’ and that description is very much the atmosphere and ethic of the Church of England Side Two.
In the Villages of the Diocese, Side One thrives, or doesn’t, as the old wealthy villagers die off, and parishes and benefices merge, so that one priest has many many miles to cover in order to look after his parishes or benefice, and although this is not always sustainable or fair, it does happen, and it means that parishioners miss out. I have seen this firsthand, with one village complaining they never saw their rector, but their rector had five villages and every inch of land between those villages, miles apart, to cover, and yes, people missed out, it is not sustainable but it happens.
So what is the solution, move in ‘Team rectors’ and rip out pews, make the ‘Side two’ way prevail so that all the wealthy young commuters in the villages can fit church round their other commitments? Maybe, but where is God in all this? When pews are ripped out and older people start to feel unwelcome and are displaced after years, is that any better than the old and wealthy leading the Church?
This debate could go on forever and go off at many tangents but in half and hour I am back on the streets with no food or hot drinks, so it can’t.
So, the Diocese of Winchester, side one dying, side two wrecking, no safeguarding officer preventing abuse, no inclusion of vulnerable people in either side, because we are simply not of use to either side.
What did the safeguarding officer do about me being abused? Make sure I was included and safe anywhere? make sure my abusers were supervised? No, because my abusers were older, influential, well-off, had positions and connections, so I was banished, maligned by the safeguarding queen and the abuse was covered up, while my abusers were protected.
Anyone can join the Church of England, there is no need for proper teaching and preparation to join, there is no explanation, you do not learn anything unless you as an individual decide to study the Bible or theology, there is no clear guidance or ethics, ie, you are not taught about what might be right and wrong sexually or integrity-wise, you are just kind of left to do your own thing, there is no collective ethic and no accountability to God or to others is taught, it is a church for the self-indulgent and it is a Church for froth and excuses and it is ideal for the well to do, because they can profess Christianity without any accountability.
And one of the reasons I was delighted to join the Catholic Church is that there is an intensive teaching period for those who wish to join, you do have to understand what you are joining and why, you do have to commit to a relationship with God, you do learn accountability and integrity, and as I have said in my open letter to the Jersey Deanery, that first lesson of accountability helped me profoundly, because it released me from the condemnation of the Diocese of Winchester.
The Catholic Church does teach ethics, it does teach that sex outside of marriage is wrong, in contrast to the Church of England being fearful of upsetting anyone or losing any side twos, so they daren’t have ethic like that, so they ‘let it all hang out’ really, while the Catholics are bold, the Catholics are also still one universal church rather than having the division of sides one and two, and mass is always well attended.
The Catholic Church have many ethics, including ‘do not gossip, it is a sin’, while the Church of England thrives on gossip, and when confronted they attack the confronter, as I know from experience.
Priests. A ploy of the CofE is to go on about Catholics only having male priests, but the Church of England are so desparate that they are pretty much recruiting anyone, many unsuitable and not commited or ethical, notably young women fresh out of college, too young to have the wisdom that Pastoring requires, but the Church/Diocese of Winchester dress this up as ‘being modern’ and ‘look at us! Aren’t we inclusive!’ No, a lot of makeup and high heels is not a great way of representing God, because we have to decrease in order to increase.
So where is God in all this? This is the Church of England, God doesn’t have to be in it.