Portillo: Churches are more divided than the Tories on gay marriage
The former Conservative MP Michael Portillo told the BBC's This week that the real divisions on equal marriage lie not within the Conservative Party, but within both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. He said:
“Gay marriage has now passed by big majorities in the Commons and the Lords and the Church of England has accepted (it’s) the will of Parliament and that’s the end of the Church of England campaign.This is curious. Taking the view that the Church is the people, as opposed to magisterium, synod or episcopal hierarchy, it is undoubtedly true that there are divisions within the Church of England on this (see here and here), and, indeed, within the Church of Rome (see here and here). But it is bizarre that Michael Portillo asserts that these are the 'real' divisions while that within the Conservative Party is somehow not 'real'.
“I think it is a good moment to reflect on the fact that whilst this has been presented as an issue that has caused enormous problems for David Cameron and splits within the Conservative Party – actually the problems are really with the Church of England and indeed with the Catholic Church.
“(They) just do not know how to deal with the issue of homosexuality and gay priests and gay bishops and so on. And that is where the division is and the churches are haemorrhaging membership like water disappearing from a bath and they don’t have any way of dealing with this problem.”
His Grace cannot be bothered to unpack 'real' ontology: the facts of real division within the Conservative Party are manifest. In February, 136 Tories voted against the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, while 127 voted in favour. In May, at the Bill's third reading, 133 Tories voted against the legislation with 117 voting in favour. In the House of Lords, 66 opposed the Bill while 80 voted in favour. Perhaps most significantly, Baroness Warsi, Minister for Faith and Communities, refused to back the Bill on the grounds that it fails to provide sufficient protection for religious groups.
If this isn't 'real' division, the Tories must have redefined this word also.
Michael Portillo helpfully informs us that on this issue 'the churches are haemorrhaging membership like water disappearing from a bath and they don’t have any way of dealing with this problem'.
Which is interesting, considering that three-quarters of local Conservative associations are also 'haemorrhaging membership' over this issue - not quite 'like water disappearing from a bath'; more like ordure down the lavatory.