Father Jamie Vs. A Den Of Vipers
Take a look at this lovely tweet by an English cleric:
The poor man was mobbed by fellow Anglican clergy, denouncing him. A sample:
All of the above are from Anglican clergy! My friend Father Daniel French, an orthodox Anglican clergyman, comes to the rescue of a new Christian scandalized by the progressive clergy’s response to Father Jamie:
Here’s a link to the Twitter thread, if you want to follow it, or go over and give Father Jamie an attaboy.
Look, a church whose clergy despise families is a church without a future. A church whose clergy pounce on a priest who puts in a good word for childbearing is a sick institution. There are fewer and fewer young people in Anglican churches. According to this column in the Anglican newspaper Church Times:
The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, called for a younger and more diverse Church on his appointment last year. The facts, though, are stark: in 2018, national Sunday attendance figures for under-16s dropped below 100,000 for the first time. The single-church returns showed that 38 per cent of the 903 churches that responded had no under-16s in their congregation at all, and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) had five people or fewer of that age.
The situation has been a cause for concern for years. The General Synod’s 2019 Growing Faith report stated: “Despite regular publication of reports like Children in the Way (1988), All God’s Children (1991), Youth A Part (1996), Going for Growth (2010), and Rooted in the Church (2016), it is not always clear that the Church is sufficiently focused on the engagement in ministry with children and young people, and the appropriate connection between education, mission, and evangelism and discipleship at national, diocesan and parish/school level.”
In 2019, the Growing Faith Adventure was launched by the House of Bishops, in an attempt to tackle that disconnect. “The key thing it’s calling for is culture change,” says the deputy chief education officer for the Church of England, Andy Wolfe. “It’s not a short-term project to be implemented. We’re looking to place children and young people instinctively at the heart of our mission.”
No children, no future. It’s just that simple. Progressive Christianity is the way of death. Mary Harrington, who attends an Anglican parish with her husband and daughter, writes about the death rattle of the Church of England. She notes piercingly:
This isn’t to say that faith is disappearing from Britain — as I argued recently, religiosity is growing weirder and more vigorous — but it’s no longer finding expression in our established Church.
I’m not optimistic about that changing. Towards the end of lockdown, a group of people finally agreed that something moral mattered enough to risk spreading infection by gathering in public. But that group wasn’t a church; it was Black Lives Matter. Whatever you think of that development, movements which change the world are those whose members are willing to risk death for their cause. In Britain right now, Christianity isn’t on that list.
Risk death for their cause? These Church of England priests piling on to Father Jamie aren’t even to risk welcoming new life for their cause! In an article from earlier this year, Father Jamie discerned a sinister spirit in possession of the top ranks of the Church of England. He laments the closure of English churches for Covid — the first time that has happened in England since the 13th century. Excerpt:
In a way it is hard not to feel sympathy with the religious leaders, including the Church of England bishops, who made the decisions they did back in March. They were in a dilemma: close the churches or break the law. It seemed that it would only be for a short time: three weeks we were told. And we could cope for that brief period with telephone calls and online “meetings”. So perhaps sympathy is appropriate when we consider this.
However, what is less easy to sympathize with is the apparent enthusiasm with which some bishops enacted the executive order, going beyond the law in order to ban clergy from praying and celebrating the Eucharist in their own churches, even if they lived next to them, even if they were part of their own houses, even if they were already in them to clean and maintain the buildings. This seemed to indicate less a grudging acceptance of an extremely brief suspension of public worship than something more troubling, a sense that the bishops wanted their churches to be closed, wanted their buildings to fall silent, wanted to signal to the world that food banks were more important than the Eucharist and healthcare more important than worship.
Something had gone wrong. Or perhaps it might be better to say, something had been revealed, an apocalypse, an unmasking of what was truly there all along. But what was it?
The reaction of many bishops, priests and lay-folk is certainly indicative of a deep secularization of the Church, a loss of belief in the supernatural and an acceptance of the unbelieving ontology and metaphysics of Modernity. Something that makes this all the more insidious is that the people who promote these false ideas are often those who appear orthodox. They appear to believe in Scripture, for example. They appear to affirm the Creeds. But their actions, especially when under a certain type of pressure, don’t seem to bear these beliefs out.
Readers, watch this lengthy interview with Father Jamie, talking about the Church, the State’s Covid lockdown, and the threat of “biopolitics”. Whether you agree with him or not, this Anglican priest is clearly quite intelligent, sharp, and brave.
He is also a co-host (along with Father Daniel French, and a third Anglican priest, Father Thomas Pelham), of the Irreverend podcast, which is about faith and current affairs. Subscribe here.
Stand firm, Father Jamie! If the C of E is to have a future, it will be through faithful priests like you. Priests who commit the shocking sin of finding big families to be a blessing from God. The rest of you might be wondering why I devoted a post to the travails of a single priest in a country not my own. It’s because clergy have a rough ride these days, and when we see a clergyman who is dogpiled for doing the right thing, we should come to his defense, and not only that, but celebrate him.