Blog Menu

Briefing: the Jeremy Pemberton Employment Tribunal Case

_76182996_tpjeremy3This guest post by Peter Ould explains what is at stake in the Jeremy Pemberton Employment Tribunal Case.

What is happening?

The Revd Jeremy Pemberton is taking the Archbishop of York and Bishop Richard Inwood (who was the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham) to an Employment Tribunal over the refusal of Bishop Richard to grant Mr Pemberton a licence. Jeremy Pemberton was offered a job with the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as a Chaplaincy Manager, but the NHS terms of employment required the appointee to hold a formal denomination’s recommendation.

Why was Jeremy Pemberton refused a licence?

In April 2014, Jeremy Pemberton became the first Church of England priest to enter a same-sex marriage (the only other known priest to do so is Andrew Foreshaw-Cain of West Hampstead, London). On the grounds that entering into a same-sex marriage was against Church of England doctrine, the Acting Bishop of Southwell withdrew his PTO (Permission to Officiate). When a licence was requested for Jeremy Pemberton for the Sherwood Forest position, that licence was refused. [Note: Permission to Officiate has no legal standing, and is in the gift of the diocesan bishop. It can be removed without any particular process. A licence is much closer to the status of employment. It indicates that clergy are in good standing; once given, it cannot be removed without due process, though there is no necessary process needed to refuse a licence.] It is claimed that Bishop Richard made this decision in conjunction with John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York (given that the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham was in vacancy and the matter was of some importance).

On what grounds is Jeremy Pemberton taking this matter to an Employment Tribunal?

The Equality Act 2010 makes marital status a protected characteristic. Jeremy Pemberton claims that since the licence was refused on the grounds of his marital status, the Church of England acted unlawfully in refusing to grant it. He makes this claim against Bishop Richard Inwood and Archbishop John Sentamu.

Does he have a case?

That’s debatable for the following reasons.

First, it is unclear that it is the Bishops’ fault that Jeremy Pemberton did not get the job. The law of England and Wales does not require the NHS to demand that its chaplains hold accreditation from a recognised denomination, so the decision to require a licence is the choice of the NHS Trust, not the Church of England. In this sense it is arguable that Pemberton is taking the wrong institution to tribunal.

On the other hand, Pemberton claims that there is a level of inconsistency between his treatment in Southwell Diocese (removal of PTO and refusal to grant a licence) and that in Lincoln Diocese where Pemberton is currently working as a hospital chaplain. In that Diocese Pemberton was given an admonition by his Bishop but his accreditation was not removed. Pemberton may very well claim that for the Church of England’s decision to have any credibility, it must be implemented consistently. Of course, in practice each Diocese is structurally legally independent of every other diocese, so it will be interesting to see how this argument pans out.

Third, there is an exemption in the Equality Act which allows a religious organisation to discriminate on the grounds of marriage if such a discrimination is due to the doctrines of the religion (or would offend a large proportion of the membership of the religion). On that basis it looks as though the Bishops are home and dry before the hearing begins. There is, however, a subtlety in the law in that the exemption can either be on the requirement to be married or related to sexual orientation. Clearly Church of England clergy *can* be married, just not to someone of the same-sex. Does the law read to allow this? If not, can the exemption be made on a matter related to sexual orientation? If so, does that mean that the Church of England agrees with the Asher Cake ruling that same-sex marriage is a “gay” institution?

What are the implications for the Church of England?

If the Tribunal rules in favour of the Bishops then it will establish clearly that the practice of dealing with clergy in a same-sex marriage with a formal admonition and then a refusal to provide a licence for any future position is valid. It will shore up the doctrine of marriage in the Church (at least in the short-term) though it might also lead to questions in General Synod on the issue and pressure for a debate. The Business Committee is avoiding any such formal debate till after the Shared Conversation process is over, but events might overtake them.

If the Tribunal rules in favour of Pemberton, then it means that the Church of England no longer has control over the reasons why clergy may or not minister with their Bishop’s authority. We would have a situation where the Monarch’s court declares illegal the enforcement within the Church of doctrines that the Monarch herself has sworn to uphold. It’s difficult to see how such a contradiction can be sustained in the long term.

When will we know the final outcome?

Although the Tribunal hearing is this week, the outcome will probably not be published for at least a month if not longer. When it is finally released, beware of headline summaries and instead try to read the full text as it’s very likely there will be some subtleties in the ruling.

Will the ruling be appealed?

Whichever side loses, because of the issues at stake it’s likely that the case will go to a higher court.

What can I do?

new-peterPray for all those involved. Whichever side you take, this is an exhausting and emotional experience for all. For Jeremy Pemberton and his husband Laurence Cunnington this is a case about their personal lives and choices which will be judged by strangers. For Bishop Inwood this is a complication that he was probably hoping to avoid in retirement. For Archbishop Sentamu and other senior church leaders (it is very likely that the national Church is advising on the legal defence as it will affect every diocese in the land) this is a key moment in the living out corporately of their policy on this issue.


Much of my work is done on a freelance basis. If you have valued this post, would you consider donating £1.20 a month to support the production of this blog?

, , , , , , , ,

66 Responses to Briefing: the Jeremy Pemberton Employment Tribunal Case

  1. Simon Sarmiento June 16, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    The Archbishop of York is no longer a party to this case. Hasn’t been for some time.

    • Ian Paul June 16, 2015 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks for the info Simon. When and why did that change? I had understood that it was against both bishop and archbishop…

  2. Frank Cranmer June 16, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    There is a rather more basic question. This is a case before an Employment Tribunal: so was there an employment relationship between Canon Pemberton and the Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham? And if not, what then? It’s an interesting case.

    • Peter Ould June 16, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Exactly – I’m kinda asking that question in point one.

    • Ian Paul June 16, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

      Frank, I think the rather clear and quick answer to that is ‘no’.

      • Frank Cranmer June 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

        Ian: that’s my suspicion as well. But you never can tell with Employment Tribunals.

        Peter: I think I slightly misunderstood your point 1.

  3. David Shepherd June 16, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Peter,

    Thanks for this comprehensive assessment.

    Although older case law decisions, such as Reaney v Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance, were based on the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 (superseded by the Equality Act 2010), I would imagine that they will still have a bearing on the case.

    If the approach to Reaney is sustained, there are three tests, or hurdles, that the Church will have to clear in order to prove that its decision to revoke Pemberton’s licence was non-discriminatory.

    For direct discrimination (see Schedule 9, Part 1 – Equality Act 2010), the tests are:

    1. Was the employment is for the purposes of an organised religion?

    2. The compliance or non-conflict principle: was the requirement related to sexual orientation so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion or, because of the nature of the employment and the context in which it is carried out, so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly-held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers?

    3. Did the person to whom the requirement was applied not meet it, or was the employer reasonable in not being satisfied that the person doesn’t meets it?

    Nevertheless, there is one more test in relation to the religious exemption: the application of the requirement must be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (see Schedule 9, Part 1: 3 (b))

    Pemberton’s legal representation will probably argue that, while the aim might have been legitimate and the foreseeable impact of withdrawing his licence and PTO on his employment prospects with Sherwood Forest NHS Trust was a disproportionate means of achieving it.

    If it was disproportionate, it wouldn’t matter that it wasn’t bishops’ direct fault that Jeremy Pemberton did not get the job.

    • David Shepherd June 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      Sorry, above should read:
      3. Did the person to whom the requirement was applied not meet it, or was the employer reasonable in not being satisfied that the person met it?

    • Peter Ould June 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

      Good stuff David,

      I can’t see this going Pemberton’s way. His lawyer is going to have to successfully argue that a licence without any form of remuneration (i.e. SSM) is akin to an employment contract AND that the Equality Act exemptions do not apply in this instance to the granting of a licence to a priest who is doing something the Bishops have clearly articulated is “conduct unbecoming” (in some senses they are treating entering a same-sex marriage the same as adultery – it is sexual behaviour incompatible with the doctrine of the Church on marriage).

      I can’t see them proving the first point, and if they successfully argued the second then that has HUGE implications for the Church’s ability to decide its own doctrine and to ask its clergy to abide by it. I don’t think any Employment Tribunal is going to want to go down that road.

      • David Shepherd June 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

        Peter,

        You’re probably right.

        The official guidance document, ‘NHS Chaplaincy, Meeting the religious and spiritual needs of patients and staff’, explains that the role of Bishop’s Advisers on Healthcare is to: ‘ensure that the candidates hold the authority of the faith community and can be empowered to act as its representative within the healthcare setting.’

        Pemberton lost the authority of the CofE faith community and the power to act as act as its representative within the healthcare setting.

        There was the option of entering his marriage after a successful campaign for change through the synodical process.

        As an example of this, there were divorcees who faithfully adhered to the church’s teaching, while campaigning successfully for the pastoral accommodation that permitted re-marriage in church after divorce.

    • Ian Paul June 16, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

      But David isn’t the rather significant difference here from Reaney and Hereford that Pemberton is not here being employed by the diocese.

      So, as Peter says, the case is being brought against the wrong organisation?

      • David Shepherd June 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

        Ian,

        Yes, I see your point. It makes me wonder why he or his legal representation chose the employment tribunal route.

        Depending on what was actually communicated by the Bishop to the Trust about the matter, might the circumstances be more akin to an ex-employer providing a bad or inaccurate reference?

        Suing for negligent misstatement would appear more appropriate to the situation, even if that approach would be far less newsworthy than hauling the bishop on grounds of discrimination before an employment tribunal.

        • Ian Paul June 17, 2015 at 9:25 am #

          Yes, I think you are right on that.

      • David Beadle June 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

        This is a red herring. It’s a basic principle of UK law that if an employer refuses to grant a reference on discriminatory grounds, then they are legally responsible for discrimination and for any loss of earnings the candidate may incur. See here, for example:

        http://www.findlaw.co.uk/law/employment/employment_law_basics/getting_a_job/500307.html

        • Ian Paul June 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

          But according to the Quadruple Lock, the Church is currently exempt from this charge of ‘discrimination’

          • David Shepherd June 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

            IAn,

            The Quadruple lock was focused on preventing the Church of England as a religious organization from being forced to conduct same-sex marriages

            1. No compulsion to conduct same-sex marriages
            2. unlawful for religious organisations, or their ministers, to marry same-sex couples unless the organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to do so.
            3. Equality Act 2010 amended to ensure that no discrimination claim could be brought against religious organisations or individual minister *for refusing to marry a same-sex couple*
            4. Illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples, or to opt-in to do so. (That will require a change to Canon Law)

            None of those has anything to do with the church’s treatment of those who are same-sex married.

  4. robert ian williams June 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    Jeremy Pemberton is a divorced and he should be excluded on those grounds alone. However remember the Santer case when the bishop of Birmingham married a divorced woman, before canon law was changed.However that he is treated differently in two dioceses, only shows how morally bankcrupt the Church of England is.

    • Peter Ould June 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      “Jeremy Pemberton is a divorced [sic] and he should be excluded on those grounds alone”

      Incorrect. The House of Bishops do not have a disbar on getting a licence connected to being divorced.

  5. James Byron June 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    Thanks to Peter and David for the analysis. 🙂

    Stepping beyond the law for a sec, the church may win the case, but it’ll lose in the court of public opinion. This proceeding’s a PR nightmare that’d have Don Draper sobbing into his Scotch.

    • Arun Arora June 16, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

      Thanks James.

    • David Shepherd June 17, 2015 at 1:28 am #

      James,

      Thanks. I do wonder whether this tribunal will make a middle-aged divorced clergyman and father of five, who married his same-sex partner, the public face of the anti-discrimination campaign.

      This ain’t America and Pemberton’s persons isn’t exactly Madison Avenue gold. I doubt that this case will change that.

    • Clive June 17, 2015 at 6:16 am #

      … and why do you think any Christian should worship public opinion?

      Everything liberals have done is now turning on them badly. Jeremy Pemberton doesn’t have public support.

    • Ian Paul June 17, 2015 at 9:30 am #

      James, I think that rather depends on which particular court of public opinion you listen to. For the gay lobby and for anyone who doesn’t reflect on this, you are right.

      But there are at least two groups who actually might respond positively to the C of E winning the case. The first is the aware and reflective commentators like Matthew Parris who see clearly that the church has absolutely nothing to gain by accommodating culture on this. I and a fascinating conversation last week with a first year undergraduate who thinks the church cannot win, since (he said) most people his age think you should be able to have sex with whom (and probably with what) you like. Outside the church, I don’t think I have met a single person who thinks that SSM is a good, but other forms of sexual relation should be prohibited. So where would the church need to go next to maintain its ‘credibility’?

      The other group who might be encourage are the (I think quite large number) who instinctively dislike SSM but who cannot express that out loud. That might not be a great ally in some regards—but I think it might include a good number of e.g. working class men. Could be interesting if the church starts looking more acceptable to that group.

      • James Byron June 17, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

        Ian, while a majority don’t believe that extramarital sex is a big deal (including, it seems, the Archbishop of York, who was infamously casual about couples who “test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow”), they don’t like discrimination on grounds of sexuality.

        As for the opinions of blue collar guys, plenty will be gay themselves, plenty more know someone who is, whether friend, family, or both. It’s personal experience that’s caused a revolution in attitudes to cut across all ranks and conditions of women and men. As the Irish referendum shows, the silent majority is silent because it doesn’t exist.

        This isn’t about kowtowing to culture because it’s popular, but changing because the arguments for change are stronger, overwhelmingly so.

    • Ian Paul June 17, 2015 at 9:31 am #

      (In other words, I don’t think Arun Arora is out of a job just yet…!)

  6. Bob Stephens June 17, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    The Bishop of Buckingham’s comment on the news this morning that marriage between a man and a women is a ‘lousy definition’ his words quoted not mine. This would actually challenge Jesus’s word in Mark. 10, so are we now in a position where Jesus words are not taken seriously by a leading Bishop.

    • Ian Paul June 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

      Yes, I think you are right there.

  7. Stephen Trott June 17, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    The Church of England does not have a case to answer and it is hard to see why the ET was willing to consider it. The Equality Act 2010 was amended by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Schedule 7 s.45, as the government’s Explanatory Notes explain:

    “Paragraph 45 amends paragraph 2 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 (Religious requirements relating to sex, marriage etc, sexual orientation) so that, where employment is for the purposes of an organised religion, an occupational requirement may allow a restriction that a person should not be married to someone of the same sex. This means, for example, that a church may require that a priest not be married to a person of the same sex.”

    • Philip Seddon June 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

      This seems a remarkably clear legal form of words, Stephen Trott, in respect of what might otherwise have appeared to be your bold opening eleven words.

    • David Beadle June 17, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

      While I’m no legal expert, it would seem to me that Jeremy Pemberton’s team could argue on several grounds that this does not apply (and see David Shepherd’s post above). First, I am not sure how far it could be argued that this is “for the purposes of an organised religion.” The job was open to people of all faiths, but required a license for clergy working for a denomination, as demonstration of the support of their community. Second, it could be argued that to discriminate against someone who would be working for the NHS in a multi-faith organisation, in which other applicants in a same-sex marriage could be appointed, is not to discriminate against him on grounds of an occupational requirement. Third, and following on from these two points, it could be argued that the Bishop’s discrimination on grounds of sexuality was not proportionate in this case – and exemptions to European equality law, for religious organisations, have to be proportionate.

    • David Shepherd June 17, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

      Stephen,

      While I’d agree that the Equality Act 2010 has been amended as cited by you, I would never underestimate the legal prowess and sheer imagination of the high-powered legal team representing Pemberton. When a specialist employment and discrimination barrister, like Helen Trotter, joins forces with leading ecclesiastical lawyer, Justin Gau, it’s cause for concern.

      There’s more to this action than meets the eye:

      1. While the diocese doesn’t employ Pemberton, in this case, it may be considered to be acting as a professional association, since it can grant or revoke the Permission To Officiate in the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham.

      2. Employment Tribunals can hear claims against other bodies such as trade unions and professional associations, so why not the diocese that regulates the capacity in which clergy can officiate?

      3. Regardless of allowance made in the Equality Act 2010 for an occupational requirement that a person should not be married to someone of the same sex, Pemberton’s testimony is clearly aimed at demonstrating a lack of due process or objective justification:

      “The removal of my licence, very publicly, is saying I am no longer of good standing within the Church…No complaint has ever been made against me.’

      Also, (according to the Telegraph report): ‘Canon Pemberton cited the case of a parish priest in north London also married his partner last summer but was not stripped of his ministry because of the special rights enjoyed by parish clergy.’

      So, the hearing is teasing out the actual (rather than purported) criterion and procedure for withdrawing the PTO..

      If the diocese is following ‘pastoral guidance’ that considered marriage to a person of the same sex to be an occupational restriction, how is it that parish clergy, like Rev. Andrew Cain, have escaped PTO revocation.

      Also, what objectively defined criteria and procedure was applied to remove Pemberton’s PTO?

      I am now convinced that the Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham will have to show that he followed due process in withdrawing Pemberton’s PTO, or be found to have discriminated by suspending due process in his case.

      • Peter Ould June 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

        Pemberton freely admits to being in a same-sex marriage. The notion that as “disciplinary process” is required to remove the PTO is a nonsense – the facts are undisputed, the penalty is clear.

        • David Shepherd June 17, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

          ‘Pemberton freely admits to being in a same-sex marriage’.

          So what? In reply to Thomas Linden QC, he claimed that his civil marriage was not a Christian one and, therefore, didn’t contravene the teachings of the church. While it might stretch the boundaries of theology, the tribunal isn’t comprised of theologians.

          ‘The notion that as “disciplinary process” is required to remove the PTO is a nonsense ‘

          Agreed, but that was Pemberton’s intimation by using the words ‘licence’ and ‘complaint’ in his testimony.

          I simply wrote ‘due process’ and that doesn’t mean what Pemberton meant.

      • Stephen Trott June 17, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

        David, I really don’t think the legislation and Explanatory Notes could have been made clearer than they are. They were intended to reinforce the guarantees made by Parliament to religious organisations that they would not be compelled to comply with the Act in key areas, such as the appointment of ministers. Any adverse outcome from the ET would run completely contrary to that principle and indeed overturn the legislation – not something which an ET is competent to do.

        • David Shepherd June 17, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

          Stephen,

          Perhaps, I’m just being ‘devil’s advocate’ here. I’m not a fan of Pemberton, but I’ve just seen too many of these kinds of cases in which one party has a mistaken confidence that its position is unassailable.

          Any recourse to what was intended by Parliament can only be used to elucidate the text of the Act as it stands. And the exemptions certainly don’t mean that an ET is bound to accept, because Pemberton is same-sex married, that the diocese acted within them.

          I’d be happy for my qualms to be proved wrong and for the diocese to win this case.

  8. Alan Wilson June 17, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    As someone that has spent much of this week with the circa: 2000 pages file bundle on this case an enormous amount of speculation (understandably) appears above. Much bears no relationship to the realities either of what has happened or English Law. It is a very complex case and I do not anticipate a judgment until the autumn.

  9. Christine Quinn-Jones June 18, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    I have found this helpful and informative – thank you, Ian and Peter.

  10. Clive June 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Since Alan Wilson was involved in the case he really shouldn’t have gone on any website talking about it which now calls into question his having (allegedly) given evidence.

  11. Jeremy Pemberon June 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

    Once Alan had finished giving evidence that is all in the public sphere, and he is quite free to comment as he feels fit. The whole of the hearing of witness evidence has now been completed.

  12. Jeremy Pemberton June 18, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    I should perhaps add that the hearing of witness evidence took the four days anticipated, that final submissions will be delivered in July and heard in September and that judgement may be given some weeks after that. Correspondents on this blog have been under some misapprehension if they thought this wasn’t a case that could be heard, or that wasn’t taken seriously by the tribunal. All the evidence is now in the public sphere, and while newspaper reports are accurate, more of it will be made public in the coming days.

    • James Byron June 19, 2015 at 12:09 am #

      Thanks very much for commenting and sharing those details, Jeremy. I, for one, take the case seriously, and wish you every chance of success. The way you were treated by the church in general, and Inwood in particular, was a disgrace, and I hope this process can bring you some measure of justice from a deeply unjust experience.

      • Ian Paul June 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

        James, that’s a bit of an odd statement. The HoB issued clear guidelines that same-sex marriage was not acceptable for clergy. Jeremy disregarded that. Inwood refused to grant a licence on that undisputed ground.

        Which part of this action is a disgrace?

        • James Byron June 19, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

          All of it, from bishops creating policy on the fly without approval of General Synod, to Inwood refusing a license when he was under no obligation to do so (if he had been so obliged, he should’ve resigned in protest). I consider any discrimination on grounds of sexuality to be wrong.

    • David Shepherd June 19, 2015 at 2:27 am #

      Jeremy,

      Today’s proceedings (including the judge’s ‘busted flush’ comment) make everything much clearer. As I stated yesterday, ‘the exemptions don’t mean that an Employment Tribunal is bound to accept, because Pemberton is same-sex married, that the diocese acted within them’.

      At the same time, I’m sure that you’re aware of the NHS guidance that states: ‘In order to provide safe and effective spiritual care those commissioning and managing chaplaincy services should take into consideration the following guidance:

      ‘Chaplains must abide by the requirements of their sponsoring faith or belief community, their contracting organisation, the Code of Conduct and all relevant NHS/NICE standards’

      Of course, guidance, whether NHS or Pastoral, is recommended, and not the same as a requirement. One only needs to highlight a single inconsistency in what purports to be the latter and it is rendered bogus.

      While you obviously can’t comment, it will be interesting to see whether adherence to the church’s traditional doctrine on marriage is considered by the ET to be a requirement of the Anglican faith. And if not, what is?

      Bishop Inwood’s responses to probing on the question of ‘harm’ came across as an exercise in PR damage limitation. Is there really no harm to the church, when the Equality Act itself clearly respects the avoidance of harm caused by conflict with the strongly-held religious convictions of a significant number of a religion’s followers?

      That said, I think that the real question being asked by the tribunal is very different, namely, ‘is it an occupational requirement that Anglican Chaplaincy Managers should not be same-sex married?’

      Anyway, your reference in testimony to ‘licence’ and ‘no complaint’ are sure to prompt comparisons with the kind of licence for ordained ministry that can only be revoked through a disciplinary process. That the licence to act as an NHS chaplain can be revoked without recourse to a disciplinary process will probably work in your favour.

      Unlike James, I don’t wish you every success in this action and everyone here knows that I’m as defiant as Andrew Cain declared in remarking about the case on his Facebook page today. I think the phrase he used was ‘NO SURRENDER’. Same here.

  13. Clive June 19, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    “Christianity is based on revealed doctrine, enabling individuals to live rightly before a Holy God as followers of Jesus Christ. He tells us how to live in all areas of life, including in areas of sexual behaviour. No denomination is at liberty to invent its own doctrine or to sacrifice revealed doctrine on the altars of contemporary fashion. We cannot be authentically Christian whilst simultaneously rejecting the teaching of the one we claim to follow.”
    Rev Simon Austen – Rector of St Leonard’s Church, Exeter Diocese

  14. Jeremy Pemberton June 19, 2015 at 7:29 am #

    David,

    Interestingly the Respondent’s case gave up the use of the non-conflict exception some months ago. They admitted that they were not even going to try and use that one.

    • David Shepherd June 19, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      Shrewdness only lasts a lifetime.

      Christ gave an illustration of the inherent vulnerability of the worldly mindset, when contrasted with long-range insight granted by the Holy Spirit. In Luke 16, He describes an employer who, on the basis of rumour, is suddenly calls his manager to account.

      In many bibles, It is called the parable of the Dishonest Steward, but I’d prefer to call it: ‘The parable of the Short-sighted Steward.’

      Christ is reflecting on a twilight world in which sharp dealings test the boundaries of legality. It’s what people call ‘the real world’: full of cunning schemes and devices to get ahead. It’s also a world in which decisions, including legal ones, are often decided by perception and interpretation, rather than reality.

      The parable also counters the idea that Christ had no grasp of the worldly pressures to which some will succumb. It reads:

      ‘There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

      In the public arena, perceptions affect your reputation and that’s what the owner was seeking to protect. Since the employer was seeking to be decisive in dealing head-on with the allegations, his manager was suddenly the target for summary dismissal.

      The problem is that the employer was so decided on the outcome (‘you cannot be manager any longer’) that the manager whom he employed would have had a hard time convincing him to extend his tenure or to give him a worthwhile reference to continue pursuing his chosen career.

      The employer was more concerned about maintaining the public perception that he ran a ‘tight ship’. In this respect, the church has emulated modern management styles, with sensitivities attuned to scotch any rumour of tolerating perceived departures from the corporate line.

      Note that this employer was decisive. He didn’t say ‘you *might* not be manager’. Even today, the threat of summary dismissal (or licence revocation) can still exercise an unhealthy debilitating effect on subordinates. A thoroughly bad reference can end a person’s career for good and it’s this threat that propels the manager in Jesus’ story to engineer a lucrative exit strategy.

      The parable presents no proof of prior professional misconduct or former financial misdeeds. Although some might suggest that the manager’s exit strategy was disloyal, to be fair, there was nothing in the way of reciprocity from his employer. This was business. And for the employer, it was simply a case of public expediency: ‘let’s make an example of him’.

      In response, the manager soberly reflected on the demise of his career. He had limited career alternatives. The parable says this much: ‘The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg’ (vs. 3 – 4)

      With a limited skillset on one hand and the desperation of long-term redundancy on the other, he conceived of his exit strategy. We can imagine the panic-wrought beads of perspiration glistening on his forehead, as he dreamt up a way to squirm out of his dilemma.

      In the end, his strategy was simple, but effective. He got each debtor to discount the amount that they owed his employer: ‘So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

      ‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’

      Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ (vs. 5 – 7).

      In so doing, the manager’s last action secured a future in his favour. Christ then describes the employer as commending him, the reason being that they were cut from the same cloth. Both valued their instinct for worldly self-preservation above absolute integrity.

      In the real world, the desperate will turn those who are scrupulously honest, but naïve, into walking targets. As Christ further explained: ‘For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.’ (vs. 8)

      Christ now had the attention of every self-seeking opportunist within earshot. ‘Finally, a religious leader who understands us, rather than pontificating about morals.’, they must have thought.

      And it’s here, after spearing their real motive, i.e. habitual self-preservation, that Christ further skewered their short-sightedness with extreme sarcasm: ‘I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.’ (vs. 9)

      But hold on! There is no prospect of any worldly ally providing the prospect of eternal comfort. In fact, shortly after, Christ gave the parable of Dives and Lazarus, demonstrating that unbridled greed results in the torment of eternal deprivation.

      So, even shrewdness, that might be commendable in worldly terms, will turn out to be no more than a short-lived comfort, offering no security from deprivation beyond the grave.

      We may bury our heads in the sand and try to salve our hostile greed with talk of rights, but it makes no difference. God, the judge, stands at the end of life’s tunnel, knowing all our secrets and unworthy compromises.

      Ordinary contributing church-members, whom the clergy assert to know and love, will ultimately foot the bill that results from this legal action.

      Christ reminds us now as He did then: ‘“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”(Luke 16:10 – 13)

      If we persist in serving the latter, we should brace ourselves for an outcome in a place far from the power of worldly shrewdness to protect us!

  15. Laurence Cunnington June 24, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    “You cannot serve both God and money.”(Luke 16:10 – 13)

    If we persist in serving the latter, we should brace ourselves for an outcome in a place far from the power of worldly shrewdness to protect us!”

    I am very disappointed that you think my husband’s motivation in this case is money. Nothing could be further from the truth. The NHS promotion which he was prevented from taking up was one of greater responsibility but within the same pay grade. The ET claim, therefore, has no component for lost earnings or pension. There is a small claim for additional mileage costs, that is all. If the claim is successful, the tribunal may award an amount of money for hurt feelings, and I understand that the maximum possible award is £25,000 in the most extreme cases which no-one is claiming this is.

    I understand that you object wholeheartedly to the basis of Jeremy’s claim but please do him the courtesy of accepting that, in his own eyes, he is serving God and not money.

    • David Shepherd June 24, 2015 at 8:36 am #

      Laurence,

      On the basis of a successful outcome for Jeremy, perhaps, I hope it won’t be an intrusion to ask how his legal costs will be met.

      I’m assuming that this was not pro bono work for a high-profile QC and employment law specialist.

      I prefaced the scripture with these words: ‘Ordinary contributing church-members, whom the clergy assert to know and love, will ultimately foot the bill that results from this legal action.’

      I made no mention of the potential scale of compensation. As both of your comment threads show, there’s been precious little concern about the ordinary parishioners whose diocesan contributions will ultimately foot the bill.

      That’s putting Mammon before God, but perhaps legal costs are never awarded in these cases.

  16. Jeremy Pemberton June 25, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    David,

    I think for your purposes all you need to know is that not one penny of my legal costs will be met by anone connected with the Church of England. Nor are costs ordinarily awarded to one side or the other at the end of an ETcase. So I will have cost ordinary parishioners precisely nothing, which is as it should be.

    What those responding to the claim have spent, and where that will have come from is an entirely different matter that must be addressed to them.

    • David Shepherd June 26, 2015 at 11:11 am #

      Jeremy,

      Thanks for clarifying the position in your specific case. However, I would correct one point that you made regarding costs awards:

      ‘Nor are costs ordinarily awarded to one side or the other at the end of an ET case.’

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/352916/Employment-and-EAT-tables.xls

      Please see table E.12, where for 2013 – 2014. There were 24 cases in which claimants were awarded costs of over £10,000. In fairness to you, I also recognise that the median costs award is £1000.

      Finally, you concluded: ‘What those responding to the claim have spent, and where that will have come from is an entirely different matter that must be addressed to them.’

      Well, we all know where that money will have to come from: the laity. That’s the focus of my concern, rather than taking an approach of adversarial indifference.

      It’s interesting that when a man asked Christ to arbitrate a different justice issue: an inheritance dispute with his brother (Luke 12:13 – 41), He declined and then launched into an admonitory parable about greed. So we probably know WWJD.

      You don’t need to respond, but it’s worth thinking about what prompted Him to react in that way to the request, which provided a perfect opportunity to weigh in on a justice issue and achieve that aspiration, which predominates among clergy in the CofE, to be ‘relevant’.

      • Andrew Godsall June 26, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

        David it’s a bit odd that you don’t quote Matthew 5:25 in this context. But I think we can assume why the Church didn’t want to make settlement in this case so Jeremy can hardly be held responsible for where the money for the respondents case is coming from. But maybe Matthew 5:25 didn’t fit your argument very well.

        (Or perhaps it just shows the futility of quoting verses from scripture here and there. Peter Ould was keen to flout Mark 8:38 on another theead when I wanted to take an apophatic approach but didn’t seem the realise that Luke 18:10 might be more appropriate to the discussion we were having. Or maybe it just didn’t fit his argument very well 🙂 )

        • David Shepherd June 26, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

          Andrew,

          1. Where did I claim that Jeremy was *responsible* for where the money for the respondents case is coming from.

          Nevertheless, responsibility for funding does not justify adversarial indifference.

          2. You’re welcome to contrast Matthew 5:25, but it doesn’t particularly side with Jeremy or the bishop, does it? How does ‘Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court’ impose the duty to reach settlement on one party and not the other?

          3. If you take issue with Peter Ould’s approach, raise it with him. Given that I’ve treated neither verse as inadmissible, my approach has not been to quote verses here and there.

          The insinuation that typifies the Conservative Evangelical debating approach as inconsistent and self-serving won’t work.

          • Andrew Godsall June 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

            David: I make no insinuation or even implication about anything conservative evangelical. My direct challenge (as opposed to insinuation) is that proof texting out of context is an abuse of scripture.

            The bishop was clearly in the wrong, and it was incumbent on him to settle before this went to court. He had the opportunity to do so and has now admitted publicly that no harm would have come if he had granted the licence. It would have saved a great deal of heartache and money. It’s beginning to look like he was being used by the hierarchy for some other purpose though isn’t it?

          • David Shepherd June 27, 2015 at 8:33 am #

            Andrew,

            Fine. If want to issue a direct challenge to me, there was really no need to compare Peter Ould’s response to you, suggesting sone sort of pattern.

            Point 2 of my previous remarks has responded to your challenge about proof texting.

            As expressed in your last sentence, most people can see that the bishop is the fall-guy for this test case from which, despite his involvement, the Archbishop of York was inexplicably removed.

            The level of behind-the-scene’ orchestration bears little resemblance to Matt. 5:25, which is actually an allusion exhorting us seek reconciliation in this life before we face God’s exact justice of the Last Judgment.

  17. Andrew Godsall June 27, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Oh there is an absolute pattern with anyone who tries to use individual bible verses to ‘clobber’ someone else David. It’s an abuse of scripture whoever does it, and there is very much a pattern.

    If Matthew 5:25 is about what you say it is about then we need to reconcile on this issue don’t we? Where will you compromise?

    • David Shepherd June 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      Andrew,

      The point is that I haven’t side-stepped the other verses that you’ve highlighted, so the charge that I am resorting to individual ‘clobber’ verses without addressing others misses its mark by a mile.

      You ask about where I’d compromise in the context of reconciliation, as if they’re one and the same.

      I’m sure that, despite declaring ‘NO SURRENDER’ regarding this issue on his FB page, Andrew Cain considers himself to be as much a minister of reconciliation as any other priest.

      I wonder where’s the compromise in his ‘no surrender’ policy.

      • Andrew Godsall June 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

        David: I did not ask where Andrew Cain might compromise in order to reconcile. I asked where you would.

        And I think you do resort to individual clobber verses here, whilst ignoring others. Maybe Luke 18:10 etc doesn’t apply in your case?

        • David Shepherd June 27, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

          Andrew,

          I was very clear about my position in responding to Jeremy earlier in this comment thread: in short, I’m as adamant on this issue as Andrew Cain. What part of ‘no surrender. Same here.’ did you not understand?

          I’ve responded to the other verses that you’ve highlighted, but you still claim that I’ve ignored some. Please clarify the verses on which you’ve challenged me and which I’ve ignored.

          BTW. with respect to Luke 18:10ff, in contrast with me, who might you be casting as the remorseful publican: exemplary in repentance and only too ready to abandon self-exoneration and admit his guilt before God?

          I can only wonder…

          • Andrew Godsall June 28, 2015 at 10:38 am #

            David: I guess the question, then, if neither you nor Andrew Cain wish to surrender, (being examples of opposing views in this) is how we carry on together? Do you think that something like the 5 principles we have adopted for women in the episcopate might help both sides flourish? Would you support that as a way forward for this matter?

          • David Shepherd June 28, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

            Andrew,

            Thanks for a thoughtful question. Please allow me a little time to reflect and respond with s thoughtful answer.

            Kind regards,
            Dave

          • Andrew Godsall June 29, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

            David: thanks so much for graciously engaging and giving this some thought. I’m really not doing it to wind you or anyone else up. I’m genuinely concerned about the answer because I do think both ‘sides’ deserve to flourish. The issue has been around for so many years and just needs solving once and for all.

          • David Shepherd July 1, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

            I’ve thought carefully about what you’ve asked and here’s my answer.

            A major concern about immediately adopting the HoB five principles to this situation is in reaching the conclusion without working through the due process. It’s a bit like writing down your answer to a sum without shoein the working.

            While it might all add up for you, others are still scratching their heads. That’s fine, if you’re costing your personal budget. It’s unworkable in a corporate situation.

            As I considered those five principles, I was struck by the corporate working on these issues.

            The very beginning of the HoB declaration to which you’ve referred highlights the authority of General Synod in the CofE. For instance, the first principle begins with:

            ‘Now that legislation has been passed to enable…’

            And the self-same document explains how: ‘In [2014] the General Synod approved legislation enabling women to become bishops and removing all gender distinctions in the canons of the Church of England in relation to the ministry of bishops, priest and deacons.’

            The same corporate working was applied to the issue of church re-marriage after divorce. Despite the recommendations in 1971 Root Commission’s report, General Synod deferred its consideration of the proposals in favour of further examination of the doctrine of marriage and CofE marriage discipline.

            As you’re aware, the ensuing Lichfield report’s recommendations were only accepted by 18 dioceses with 17 against.

            The 1983 Standing Committee’s task yielded Option ‘G’, but this was rejected as too bureaucratic and pastorally insensitive. Eventually, the HoB came up with an alternative proposal which only 12 dioceses approved and 31 rejected.

            All of these developments took place long after the 1969 Divorce Reform Act had replaced the concept of matrimonial offence with irretrievable breakdown.

            For the CofE, the Pilling Report, its ensuing GS debate and the Shared Conversations represent the start of a process of genuine engagement on the issue of sexual orientation. Both church re-marriage after divorce and women bishops have been long journeys that have involved sustained corporate theological reflection and national church/diocesan democracy.

            Whether I agree or disagree with their outcomes, the guiding first principle implies the due process of diocesan and General Synod approval.

            I know that you may want us to move on to other principles:

            ‘Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;’ and,

            ‘Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures’.

            Nevertheless, that’s putting the cart before the horse. The best way to determine the mind of the CofE is to commit to the due process of synod: that’s how we traditionally reach a clear decision on the matter.

          • Andrew Godsall July 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

            Thanks David. I think I was rather more looking for an ‘in principle’ way of approaching the issue. I can see all the points you raise but rather I wanted to ask whether, given your ‘no surrender’ approach’ you personally think we need some way of enabling both ‘sides’ in this debate to flourish, or whether you would prefer it if those who, like Andrew Cain take the liberal view, should be expelled.

  18. Laurence Cunnington June 27, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    “this test case from which, despite his involvement, the Archbishop of York was inexplicably removed.” David Shepherd

    Finally – something we can agree on completely!

    Not quite inexplicable, though. The explanation is contained in documents which are not, as yet, within the public domain.

Leave a Reply