Saturday, 23 June 2007

Is sexuality a communion-breaking issue?

Ed: Here is the dilemma of the Anglican Communion in a nutshell. On one side are people like Archbishops Hutchinson and Ndungane, and on the other those like Jim Packer. Dividing them, and us, is whether anything people say or do regarding same-sex relationships can be a reason for division in the Church.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, at the opening service of General Synod in the Cathedral Church of St. John in Winnipeg:

[...] Certainly one of the most difficult items for our discernment will be the question of how to proceed on the issue of same-gender relationships. Related to it are other questions. One is the deeper question of how Anglicans receive and understand Scriptures in the light of modern scholarship and contemporary experience. Another is how our decisions will impact our sister churches in the Anglican Communion. And beside that is a question as to the nature of the Communion, and the appropriate relationship between provincial autonomy and global interdependence.

Another way of putting that is, how do we wish authority to be exercised or limited within our family of churches? And perhaps most important, how will our decisions witness to the Good News of God in Jesus Christ for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters within the Church and outside it. There are of course many other questions to consider in the hard work of discernment over this issue. We are taught that the first principle of moral theology is obedience to conscience, and I ask each of you to embrace that principle, and with it the ethic of respect for the conscience of those who disagree with your own. The second principle of moral theology is to inform your conscience to bring it, if possible, into line with the teaching of the Church. And here careful listening using the Anglican approach of Scripture, Tradition and Reason will be helpful.

At the end of the day, when decisions are made, they will not be unanimous. Differences will remain, but the unanimous opinion of the Theological Commission (and of many other sources) is that the question of same-gender blessings should not be a communion breaking issue. So the alternative to that is that in keeping with a long Anglican tradition, we make room at the table for those whose views we do not share. For the table is the Lord's and not our own. And it is He who invites us to share the life that is offered there for the sins of the whole world. [...] Read more

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane at the Sung Eucharist at Westminster Abbey, 17th June:

[...] There are areas of life where we have made great changes – not to Scripture itself, but to how we understand it. For example, it is entirely clear that slavery is accepted within the pages of the Bible. Even St Paul says 'Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called. Where you a slave when you were called? Don't be concerned about it!' 1 Cor 7:20.21. It is wonderful that this year you have celebrated two centuries since the abolition of slavery. Tragically, today there are terrible new forms of slavery, and I am very honoured that the United Nations has invited me to host an international conference on tackling human trafficking later this year.

We have changed our position on lending money at interest – though I must say I am often rather less convinced that we were right!

We have changed our position on contraception. And we have changed our position on the role of women in the Church. Even where we disagree on this, we find ways to agree to disagree.

But we have NOT changed our position on Jesus, and I do not see that we could, and still call ourselves Christians. If anyone wants to pick a fight with me about my faith, let it be on the grounds of my relationship with Jesus, and my belief in who he is: the belief to which Scripture attests and the creeds affirm.

Jesus remains the eternal Word made flesh. Jesus remains the second person of the Trinity, pre-existent from before all time, taking on human form. Jesus remains fully God and fully human – the double homoousios to which the Nicene creed affirms. Jesus remains the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who breaks the chains of death. No-one else can do this. Jesus remains the crucified one who was raised to new life. In twenty-first century scientific terms, we do not know how to describe his risen body – but we do know he was raised, and we do know he ascended, and we do know he sits at the Father's right hand, where he ever makes intercession for us.

Jesus Christ remains the same, yesterday, today and for ever!

So, even though some of the church is in turmoil over issues of human sexuality, that should never become the touchstone of orthodox belief. Read more

Jim Packer, responding to the Canadian St Michael Report in Spring last year:

[...] The Report equates core doctrine with what is affirmed in Anglican foundation documents and argues that blessing same-sex unions, whatever else it is, is not a violation of core doctrine, but is an adiaphoron, a secondary matter, which does not warrant any breach of church communion. But the reasoning on which this conclusion is based is not the whole story, though it is indeed part of it. However, a sounder, profounder concept of what in the past has been called heresy is: any belief or practice that negates any part of the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ, understood as the divinely revealed truth that shows our sinful race the way of salvation from sin and sin's consequences. This concept covers not only doctrines of the Creeds and Anglican foundation documents, but also the practice of faith in Christ, repentance, obedience, life in the Spirit, and personal holiness, according to the Scriptures.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 lists behavioral habits that, if not repented of and forsaken, keep people out of God's kingdom, and male homosexuality is explicitly included in the list (vss. 9-11). Paul goes on to celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit sanctifying persons at Corinth who had previously lived in the ways he has mentioned. It seems undeniable that he would have viewed blessing same-sex unions as sanctifying sin, and thus as a denial of an essential ingredient in the gospel, namely repentance of all one's sins and forsaking of them. And the gospel as such is surely the church's core doctrine.

The gravity of the homosexual lifestyle as Paul views it warrants the description of it when found in the church as practical heresy; which raises the question, whether the suspending of full communion pro tem is not warranted and indeed needed as a disciplinary measure, aimed at bringing offenders to repentance. The Report fails to face this issue of conscience and wisdom, which arises from straightforward biblical exegesis and for some is very real and pressing. Read more

Church faces new gay row over Canada

Canada's Anglicans could dramatically deepen the rifts within the worldwide Church over homosexuality this weekend by giving approval to gay blessings.

Such a step by the Canadian General Synod would all but extinguish the chances of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, averting schism.

Observers say the vote, which would give individual dioceses the discretion to allow same-sex blessings, is "on a knife-edge".

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who is attending the Synod in Winnipeg, issued a coded call for unity, urging delegates to take account of the wider Church.

But most of the Canadian bishops, including the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, are liberal on the issue. Read more

Uganda Elects Bishop for Congregations in U.S.

Realignment of North American Anglicanism continues to gain momentum as the Province of Uganda announced today that they have elected the Rev. John Guernsey to serve as bishop for their 26 congregations in the United States.

Bishop-elect Guernsey is the dean of the Anglican Communion Network’s Mid-Atlantic Convocation. He will continue in that role, as well as rector of All Saints’ Church in Woodbridge, VA, even as he takes on new duties for the Anglican Province of Uganda. He joins Bishop Bill Cox of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and Bishop-elect Bill Atwood of the Anglican Province of Kenya as another domestic bishop cooperating in ministry with the Network. The Network has strong links with many international congregations under overseas jurisdiction through its International Conference. It also works to bring together orthodox Anglicans of many jurisdictions through the Common Cause Partnership. The first-ever Common Cause Council of Bishops is scheduled for September 25 – 28. Read more

Liberal elected Canadian Primate

A liberal-leaning bishop who has expressed support in the past for full acceptance of gays and lesbians was elected Friday to lead the Anglican Church of Canada.

Bishop Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island was chosen on the fifth ballot by clergy and lay people at the church's national meeting. Among the three other nominees for the post was Edmonton Bishop Victoria Matthews, who would have been the church's first woman leader.

The vote came one day before the assembly, called the General Synod, is to decide whether to allow Anglican priests to bless same-sex couples – a step short of performing same-sex marriage, which is legal in Canada.

Chris Ambidge, president of the Toronto chapter of gay advocacy group Integrity, said Hiltz “has long been an advocate of opening church doors to all people” and that his election signals to gays and lesbians “that they are welcomed and affirmed in their church.” Read more

Friday, 22 June 2007

EU Committee wants 'creationist' teaching banned

The theory of evolution is being attacked by religious fundamentalists who call for creationist theories to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of it. From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth.

Creationism in any of its forms, such as “intelligent design”, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.

The Assembly calls on education authorities in member States to promote scientific knowledge and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline. Read more

Opinion: Chelmsford needs a lead on Back to Church Sunday

I apologise. I’ve tried to say nothing on this topic but, like Jeremiah, “I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

As readers of this blog will have gathered, I think Back to Church Sunday is a great idea. It isn’t perfect — what is? For a start, it is pragmatically focussed rather than theologically driven — it is about bums on seats, but this doesn’t necessarily mean souls in the Kingdom.

Nevertheless, it is the best thing to come along for some time — possibly since the abortive post-war report Towards the Conversion of England. At last it is being suggested that we all do something to bring people to church.

So why is so little coming from the centre of our diocese to encourage, or even, it would seem, to recognise the value of, Back to Church Sunday?

Admittedly, the first I heard about it being taken up here was in an ad clerum (a pastoral letter to all the clergy) from the diocesan bishop. There it was noted that a presentation had been made about Back to Church Sunday at the Diocesan Synod in March and that the Synod had agreed to endorse it. We were told that more information would soon be available and that materials could be ordered from the Diocesan offices.

Since then we’ve also had a letter from Stephen Webb, the Diocesan Chief Executive Officer. In our local, Colchester, Area newsletter, there was an article by Canon Penny Horseman encouraging parishes to get involved. In general, the diocesan staff have been prompt and willing to answer queries.

But the diocese is not led by the staff of the Diocesan Offices. It is led by the bishops. So where is the episcopal leadership?

I have a regular Google ‘news alert’ running for Back to Church Sunday (amongst other things), so that if anything appears anywhere on the internet on this topic — for example in an online version of a local newspaper, on a website, or even on my own blog — I get an instant e-mail telling me about it. But ‘Chelmsford Bishops’ and Back to Church Sunday seem to go together like snowball and hell.

Apparently this is because ‘the diocese’ has decided not to make a big, coordinated effort this year. Rather, it is going to leave it to interested parishes. Next year, those parishes will be invited to ‘share their stories’, and then we will really have a go.

But this is daft! First, the great value of Back to Church Sunday is the potential for area impact. It is not just a case of one, slightly weird or very keen, church doing it, but everyone having a go. Where this has happened, for example in the Diocese of Oxford, it has clearly worked. By leaving it to the parishes to work in an uncoordinated fashion, diocesan central has so far reduced the potential impact of the whole event.

Secondly, you can’t do Back to Church Sunday every year! It cannot become like Christmas — the one Sunday when we expect those who haven’t been since last year’s Back to Church Sunday to turn up. Doing Back to Church Sunday at half-cock one year in the belief that we can ‘really’ do it next year is like trying to see if a match works by lighting it so you can save it for later. A year half-done is a year half-wasted.

Frankly, I’m tired of blogging away on this website about Back to Church Sunday in Chelmsford as if all were well with the approach our diocese is taking, when it is not. It is not too late to ‘rally the troops’, but it is getting close.

Revd John P Richardson
22 June 2007

Alas, poor Britain. The best name for it is Absurdistan

I love Britain as much as anyone, and I certainly believe it is our openness that makes it such an attractive place. But I can’t share the optimism about our multiculture, and much more importantly, my own impression is not of the triumph of the British spirit but of its steady subversion by an ever-growing dependency culture.

In its funny little way the news this week that the Advertising Standards Authority had banned reruns of the 1950s egg advertisements that featured Tony Hancock was more compelling evidence on the state of modern Britain than even Marr’s obiter dicta.

“Go to Work on an Egg” was unacceptable, we were told, because it encouraged an unhealthy lifestyle. I had no idea that we had a government body that still operated on Stalinist principles but there it is. How long will it be before it is not just the free speech of advertising that is curtailed but the evil practice it promotes, and we ban egg consumption along with smoking? Goodbye England. Welcome to Absurdistan. Read more

Episcopal Diocese sues three break-away parishes

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is suing three breakaway parishes - including one in Fallbrook - over who owns and controls the property of the local churches.

The property dispute stems from the decisions of the three parishes last year to split from the Episcopal Church as a result of a theological divide within the denomination nationwide in recent years.

Moves such as the Episcopal Church's ordination in 2003 of an openly gay bishop have gained more media attention, but have grown out of a broader theological dispute about what the Bible means, who Jesus Christ is, and whether the Bible and other doctrine should be re-evaluated and changed because of today's culture, said Eric Sohlgren, an attorney for the local breakaway parishes. Read more

Blair 'will become Roman Catholic'

Tony Blair is "certain" to become a Roman Catholic shortly after he steps down from office next week, friends of the Prime Minister have told The Independent. They believe it will happen "sooner rather than later".

Mr Blair is likely to discuss his conversion with Pope Benedict XVI, with whom he will hold talks in Rome tomorrow after attending his last summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.

Aides say that in the private one-to-one meeting, he will also discuss his plans to set up a Blair Inter-Faith Foundation aimed at fostering closer links between people from different religions. Read more

Canadians may elect woman Archbishop

Canadian Anglicans - not usually the most demonstrative or cantankerous of folk - are preparing to take decisions this weekend which could see both the election of the world's first female archbishop and, if they then also endorse official blessings for gay couples, the end of the worldwide Anglican communion.

The Canadian church's three-yearly general synod in Winnipeg has to elect a new primate and the favourite is the female bishop of Edmonton, the Right Reverend Victoria Matthews.

Bishop Matthews, 53, became the first diocesan woman bishop in North America 10 years ago and is now thought by many observers likely to become the first woman archbishop in 2,000 years of church history. Many Anglican provinces still do not allow women's ordination and the Church of England is still wrestling with whether its women clergy can eventually become bishops. Read more

President of the Episcopal Church's House or Deputies discusses Episcopal Church's response to Windsor Report with Canadian General Synod

[...] During both question-and-answer sessions, Anderson was asked about reports that the Episcopal Church is "falling apart." She told both groups that a small number of dioceses have members who are upset with the Church's decisions, but that each of those dioceses include "faithful Episcopalians" and "we're making every effort to attend to their pastoral needs."

The vast majority of Episcopal Church dioceses, Anderson said, "are moving forward in mission with great enthusiasm" and Episcopalians at all levels of the Church are engaged in mission with Anglican Communion partners, especially through the work of Episcopal Relief and Development.

"Many people were relieved to hear that because the questions were asked out of deep concern," Anderson said after the sessions.

Earlier in the day June 20, Anderson preached at noonday prayer held in the Synod's plenary hall. Preaching on Mark 2:15-17, Anderson reminded worshippers that Jesus dined with outcasts and sinners while the Pharisees, "the self-proclaimed powerful," wanted to define who was holy.

"Let us ask Jesus to help us break down the barriers of exclusion and self-important power that keep us apart from Him and each other," she said.

Echoing the Synod's theme of "Draw the Circle Wide. Draw it Wider Still!" Anderson concluded, "Let us ask Jesus to help us turn the pyramid of power into a powerful circle of reconciliation, healing and inclusion." Read more

Gay Anglican Leaders 'Stand Strong'

Out gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and Nigerian gay Anglican leader Davis Mac-Iyalla, who are at the center of the schism of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, shared their stories and messages of gay liberation on June 19 at Holy Apostles Church in Chelsea with a standing-room only crowd of mostly gay men.

In his sermon, Robinson spoke of the crucifixion of Jesus and how that kind of torturous execution was used by the Romans because they "wanted it to be very clear how any challenge to the powers that be would be dealt with. He was a threat and he was nailed to a cross. Shouldn't we be more of a threat?" Jesus' challenge to the status quo "was very political," he said. "We have got to do systemic political work." Read more

Canadian Anglicans vote Saturday on same-sex blessings

Even if the Anglican Church of Canada votes on Saturday to approve same-sex blessings, the spokesman for the world’s top Anglican says the Canadian denomination will not be kicked out of the global Anglican communion.

“No scenario could emerge” from this week’s Anglican general synod that would lead to the Archbishop of Canterbury expelling the Canadian church from the 76-million-member global Anglican denomination, says Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

The right-hand man to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told CanWest News Service Thursday: “There’s no question the Anglican Church of Canada is a valued member of the Anglican Communion. There’s never been a scenario considered that would lead to the exclusion of the Anglican Church of Canada.”Read more

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Review - The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left

[...] At 16, having felt socially isolated at school because he wanted no part of gang or popular culture, the author began his adolescent revolt. He fell in with Islamists at the East London Mosque, who were much frowned upon not only by his father, but also by the congregation of the Brick Lane Mosque (once a Huguenot church, then a synagogue, and now a mosque, reflecting the successive waves of immigration into the East End over the last three centuries), which the author had previously attended.

The East London Mosque was the scene of struggles, sometimes violent, between various Islamist factions, whose adherents were all young men. They disagreed over such matters as whether it was permissible to take part in the British political system, and whether the best tactics were mass preaching or the establishment of an Islamist conspiratorial vanguard. The parallels with the history of communism are striking. Like Marxists, Islamists also believe that a state of affairs can come about—if only one follows the correct prescription—in which all human problems as we have known them will disappear. Read more

CofE Review Recommends Talent Pipeline for Future Senior Appointments

Future senior office-holders in the Church of England could be identified and developed through a ‘talent pipeline’, a new report recommends.

The report also calls for greater diversity among such office-holders, welcoming the work to ensure that women are not discriminated against and calling for greater effort to ensure that the holders of senior appointments broadly reflect the diversity of the clergy from which they are drawn.

Talent and Calling, published today, is the report of a review group appointed in response to a General Synod motion which called for a review of the law and practice regarding appointments to the offices of suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon and residentiary canon. (The method of diocesan bishops had been reviewed previously and therefore did not form part of the group’s remit.) The group was chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling. Read more

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Open to Question? Fulcrum discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity

On the Fulcrum 'Open Evangelical' website, the discussion thread on Defining Evangelicalism has now drifted into questions about the doctrine of the Trinity. Officially, it must be emphasised, Fulcrum is committed to Trinitarianism. The interesting issue, though, must be the extent to which, when you declare yourself 'open' to other insights, these can include insights counter to long-established traditional understandings even of God, and on what grounds you are going to 'hold the line'.

It is worth remembering that in the late nineteenth century, the great divide in the worldwide Student Volunteer Missionary Union (the precursor of the Student Christian Movement) was not over the doctrine of the atonement but over Unitarianism, which was then very popular. By 1913, the doctrinal basis of the then-SCM was phrased in such a way that, as one leading figure commented approvingly, "[It] does not contain a statement of the Godhead of Jesus as a doctrine ... it is not intended to contain it ... [but] it does contain that attitude towards Jesus Christ out of which the belief in His Godhead, as a doctrine, springs."

I am reminded of Oliver Hardy's famous refrain to Stanley Laurel, "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." Read on here.

Thousands expected for Back to Church Sunday

More than 17,000 people are expected to return to church in September as Back to Church Sunday expands to take in 1,700 churches across England.

Resources to invite a friend Back to Church and to welcome them on Sunday, September 30th are now being delivered to more than one in 10 of the Church of England's churches.

With 19 dioceses taking part this year, the 1700 churches involved is a tenfold increase on the 160 churches that took up the venture when it began, in Manchester, in 2004. Read more

Robert Gagnon responds to Canadian case for same-sex blessings

A paper by John Thorp (professor of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario) was sent to all the delegates to the 2007 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada just a few weeks before the Synod meeting pushing the case for blessing homosexual unions (“Making the Case: The Blessing of Same Unions in the Anglican Church of Canada”).

I have just completed a full response: “Case Not Made: A Response to Prof. John Thorp’s ‘Making the Case.’” Circulate and post as widely as you wish—especially if you know some way to get it to the members/delegates of the General Synod. Download here.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Vatican's 'commandments' for good driving

The Vatican has issued a set of "10 commandments" for motorists to promote safer driving.

The "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road" call on drivers to respect speed limits, refrain from drinking before driving and avoid cursing.

Roman Catholics are also urged to make the sign of the cross before setting off on a journey.

This is said to be the first time the Vatican has specifically dealt with the growing worldwide problem of road rage. Read more

Teenage abortions hit all-time high

More teenagers are having abortions than ever before, fuelling a significant rise in the number of terminations in England and Wales.

The abortion rate is continuing to rise with the biggest increase among under-18s.
The total number of abortions was 193,700 in 2006

Despite huge Government spending on contraception education, 19-year-olds are now the most likely of any age group to have an abortion, with 35 in every 1,000 undergoing the procedure, according to official Department of Health figures.

Previously the highest rate was among women aged 20-24 years.

The number of s aged under 16 and under 18 having abortions also increased last year, increasing concern that the procedure is now being seen as a form of contraception. Read more

Ruth Gledhill's blog: spot the difference

It has been pointed out to me that Ruth Gledhill has made some minor changes to her blog on Wycliffe Hall, previously linked here. If you read the old one and want to play 'spot the difference', it's on the same link as previously, here.

New body may close, merge, dioceses

Ed: The actual title of this item is rather misleading!

Analysis: changing the way the Church of England chooses bishops
Monday, 18th June 2007. 4:42pm

By: Jonathan Petre.

WHAT are bishops for, and do we need so many of them?

This question, or a more colourful version of it, has often popped unbidden into the thoughts of exasperated parish clergy.

Now, however, it also appears to be a topic much on the minds of the bishops themselves. The looming prospect that dioceses and bishoprics could face a Beeching-style axe is concentrating minds wonderfully, it seems.

Under legislation expected to receive Parliamentary approval and Royal assent this summer, a national body will be given sweeping powers to recommend the closure or reorganisation of dioceses and the scrapping of suffragan or assistant bishop posts. Read more

Monday, 18 June 2007

Analysis: More U.S. Episcopalians Look Abroad Amid Rift

The Anglican archbishop of Rwanda was first, then his counterpart in Nigeria. Now Kenya's Anglican archbishop is taking a group of U.S. churches under his authority, and Uganda's archbishop may be next.

African and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asian and Latin American prelates are racing to appoint American bishops and to assume jurisdiction over congregations that are leaving the Episcopal Church, particularly since its consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

So far, the heads, or primates, of Anglican provinces overseas have taken under their wings 200 to 250 of the more than 7,000 congregations in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. Among their gains are some large and wealthy congregations -- including several in Northern Virginia -- that bring international prestige and a steady stream of donations. Read more

Canadian Anglicans to vote on issue of same-sex union

The religious world will be watching Winnipeg as Canada's oldest Protestant church struggles to avoid a schism in the church, writes Richard Foot.

Trapped for more than a decade inside a wrenching cyclone of doctrinal disputes, the Anglican Church of Canada will try to chart a path through the storm at a historic meeting in Winnipeg.

More than 400 bishops, clergy and members of Canada's oldest Protestant church will convene today for the church's General Synod -- the first such national meeting in three years -- to elect a new Canadian leader and to vote on whether to let priests bless the partnerships of same-sex couples.

However the church decides to treat its gay and lesbian members, the outcome is certain to spark recriminations -- and possibly a schism -- in Canada and abroad. Read more

How 'institutional guilt' shoots us in the foot

Ed: This is how the nuanced reporting of an internal report criticising the Church of England for being 'institutionally racist' got presented in Iran. One wonders at (a) the satisfaction caused to Islamic leaders and (b) the embarassment caused to Iranian Christians. Go to the front page if you want to see what this stands alongside.

Black and Asian clergy members are unlikely to reach high office in the Church of England and minorities are marginalized in parish churches.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, little has been done to confront "institutional racism".

The newspaper quoted Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chair of the committee that produced the report, as saying "Whether consciously or unconsciously, they are not encouraging black people who are in their churches to come forward."

The report shows there are some who are aware of the issue and acting to improve the situation, but the church is still a long way from reaching an acceptable level of equality. Read here

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Report identifies BBC bias

The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded.

The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased - and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.

After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation’s coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial.

But it says coverage of Live 8, the 2005 anti-poverty concerts organised by rock star campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono and writer Richard Curtis, failed to properly debate the issues raised. [...]

The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.

It reads: “There is a tendency to 'group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.”

A staff impartiality seminar held last year is also documented in the report, at which executives admitted they would broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but not the Koran, in case Muslims were offended.

During the seminar a senior BBC reporter criticised the corporation for being anti-American. Read more

Church of England is institutionally racist

The Church of England is "institutionally racist", a damning internal report has concluded.

the Rt Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali: Church of England 'institutionally racist'
Rare seniority: the Rt Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali

Ethnic minorities are being marginalised in parishes and black and Asian clergy have little chance of reaching the Church's higher echelons, says the study, to be released this week.

It warns that too little has been done to tackle "institutional racism" - the phrase used to devastating effect by Sir William Macpherson, the former High Court judge, in his findings on the bungled police investigation into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The report, commissioned by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, is expected to spark a fierce debate at next month's General Synod in York. Delegates will be asked to examine the clergy's failure to "integrate and utilise" the gifts of ethnic minorities.

The report was drawn up by the 15-member Committee for Minority and Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC). The committee's chairman, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, said that the existence of racism in wider society was not an excuse for it within the Church. Read more