America is a Gun – A Reflection

by the Revd Dr Hayley Matthews, Director of Lay Training, Leeds Diocese

Aermica Gun

Currently doing the social media rounds, this poem manages to grasp in very simple terms the horror the ‘developed West’ feels at the recent shooting in yet another American High School.  This time Florida has been the target, but there is no rhyme or reason as to when or where the next shooting might take place. In the past, copycat incidents have swiftly followed such brutal acts of wanton slaughter.  We dare to hope; please God, not this time.

Watching news coverage of parents running towards their still-living children, sobbing with relief, can only be juxtaposed with the unseen, unheard chasm of grief from those having to grasp that their beloved daughters and sons, who left home that morning with a snark or a smile, were never to be warm in their arms again.

Still, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution continues to be used to ratify an individual’s right to keep and bear firearms in a piece of legislation dating back to 1791: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’  Although the Amendment is still regularly scrutinized by the US judiciary as state after state finds due cause to reverse banns on this or that weapon, it is only ever to release further opportunity to ‘bear arms’ never to revisit the crystal clear connection between cause and effect, and the impact that those rights have against the rights of US citizens to live without fear of mass murder, or being able to send their children to school or college without fear that an unstable teenager has weapons beyond their capacity be it emotional, psychological or biological, acute or chronic.

All other civilized governments have prioritised the risk to life over the freedom to defend oneself using firearms; when will the Second Amendment be overruled by a Twenty-Eighth Amendment? It is prima facie that when legislation is drawn up to protect one right that does not give it the power to override any other part of the legislation. The Equality Act 2010 gives seven protected characteristics two of which are faith and sexuality – one cannot and does not trump the other in the sense that one can only exercise one’s faith or inclusivity providing it does not infringe on the other’s human rights. For America, constitutionally The Declaration states ‘that all [men] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ – inherent rights that are divinely sanctioned for each individual, not within the ken of the state to either endow or withhold.

Such freedom is indeed the divine gift to us all, the right to behave and decide as we please. To choose life. To choose love. To choose the greater good even if we ourselves don’t quite get what we want. The theologian Matthew Fox puts it like this, in every day in every way we should ask ourselves, ‘do you create or do you destroy?’ because every word or deed is either one movement or the other. There is no neutral, innocuous act.

It strikes me in the week that St Valentine was remembered on the same day as people had their foreheads Ashed to mark the beginning of the Lenten season of repentance that we have lost our sense of the life-and-death nature of sin and the acts that rupture relationships as each child at the springtime of their life was senselessly torn from parents who wanted only their best.  We have mistaken the divine gift of freedom and the freedom to love others with the toxicity of need; wanting our needs met, wanting our way, wanting love, wanting that trophy on the wall, wanting to annihilate others in our own anger that our needs have not been met as we would have wished them to be; wanting to be loved and wanting to control who does that loving and how.

St Valentine was martyred for refusing to deny his love for God; his was not a romantic life or death just as Jesus offers up His life beginning with a solitary forty day fast in a desert that forces Him to face up to the call upon His life which will lead Him to crucifixion – a kenotic outpouring of love that will liberate millions generation after generation continuing on today and no doubt, long into our future. Love is not always the easy path that says yes to what we want. For those parents whose children have been senselessly murdered the depth of their love will now become the depth of their despair as they will walk through the barren desert of grief seeking the strength to transform the chaos of these events into new, liberating life. They will need to make a conscious decision to choose life again. To choose love. To choose to create. To find a way to manifest liberation for all those for whom these events have been eternally life-changing. A Twenty-Eighth Amendment, perhaps, that reminds us all of the divine right of teenagers to study for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Posted in Church of England, Hayley Mattews, Social Justice | 1 Comment

Know Your Enemies

by the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Jeremy Morris

I’m always sceptical of sentences that begin with some such phrase as ‘history teaches us that…’  It’s not that history doesn’t teach us things.  But what it teaches is complicated, and almost always not simply transferable from one situation in the past to the present.  It’s not possible to lift ‘answers’ from the past to the questions of the present.  But it is possible to develop an awareness about ourselves now from study of the past.  As a historian, I find myself time and again returning to the dictum ‘Know your enemies’ – that is, don’t just caricature and malign a position with which you disagree, but really get to grips with it, and understand it from within.  See what its assumptions are and what its logic is – all the better prepared will you be to criticize and counter its arguments.

Practical examples of this are easy to come by, if sometimes apparently shocking.  Don’t just call people racist – try to understand why they think what they think, how they have come to see their identity in a certain way, what they think is lacking in others, and so on.  Don’t just demonize Trump or his supporters – try to work out their griefs, their rage, their ambition, and perhaps even their ideals.  Don’t just assume that all those who defend the gender pay gap, or who fail to protect women adequately in public life, are simply spineless or bigots (I know it’s tempting…) – try to grasp the intricate and often hidden operations of power and prejudice.

Trying to do this with people with whom we disagree in the Church is a trickier matter than you might think.  I suspect that’s because we can all too easily confuse our own good intentions – or at least, our belief in our good intentions – with an unwillingness to face head-on dissenting voices with which we strongly disagree.  People bound together by a belief in a God of love may, paradoxically, find it harder to understand the hostility and disagreement of others, than those unencumbered by any prior moral or religious commitment.

I’m often struck by that thought when I consider the current ethical conflicts in the Church.  Military strategists often talk about ‘asymmetrical conflict’, in which there is a disparity in power or strength between two sides, perhaps through one side’s technological superiority, or its numbers, or its financial muscle, and so on.  But this asymmetry need not be a simple one-sidedness: it might, for example, encompass technological superiority on one side (‘smart’ bombs?) with low-level but deadly weapons (suicide vests?) on the other.

Almost all the Church divisions and disagreements I can think of are essentially asymmetrical.  Take attitudes to homosexuality.  On one side, there are people who might well accept that some people are gay, by nature as it were, but who argue that sexual relationships ought to be, by divine command, restricted to married heterosexual couples.  For them, homosexual sex is essentially a moral matter, for it is a falling short of what God intends for us.  For others, on the contrary, our humanity consists in welcoming and affirming what God has made possible in human nature and society: to condemn homosexual sex is itself to fall short of God’s love for all.  These two positions may profess Christian faith and seem to be in disagreement about one, identifiable thing – homosexual sex – but their disagreement is asymmetrical: they disagree on different grounds, and for different reasons, and with different consequences, and they are unlikely ever to find any final reconciliation.

When moral and religious conflicts are asymmetrical, it is very difficult to see how there could ever be an end to the argument.  Of course, in practice one position might die in the course of time – practically what happened, for example, to arguments against evolution on this side of the Atlantic.  Is that what might happen to traditionalist arguments over sexuality?  Or one side might effectively crush the opposition – out-shout and out-publish it, defeat it in assembly, drive out its proponents from their positions, and so on.  Could that one day happen in the Church of England?  Neither outcome seems likely.  But what does not seem to be in prospect is some kind of unifying, transcending position – a position which all concerned will recognize and accept, so that their disagreements will come to be seen as minor or unimportant wrangles and their opposing positions will be drawn together and mutually affirmed in some all-encompassing synthesis.

That’s why the talk of ‘agreeing to disagree’ in the end can be a kind of illusion – if, that is, we think that simply saying that is enough to allow us all to live together in peace.  We can live together in courtesy, but there’s always an implicit and unresolved tension.  For those who oppose homosexual sex, it would be a fatal moral compromise.  And for those who do not, although they may think it is easy to welcome ‘in love’ those who oppose them on this matter, in practice what they are asking is that their opponents fail to carry through the natural conclusions of their moral disapproval.

So we ought to be clear that there is no united way forward on this, as perhaps on other conflicted issues.  All there can be – at least as a bare minimum – is a set of operational rules, or courtesies, by which we try to contain the explosive consequences of our own disagreements, and work together, despite our clear differences, in the hope that some greater wisdom might ultimately emerge, and we will eventually come to see our own and others’ views differently.  That has to be done out of utter conviction in the truth of the position we defend – in other words, it has to be done as we try to convince our opponents they are wrong –  but with the open and honest commitment to ‘know our enemies’ as best as we can.

Posted in Church of England, Human Sexuality, Jeremy Morris | 4 Comments

Is Organised Religion Inherently Abusive?

by the Revd Canon Rosie Harper, Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham and Member of the General Synod
Rosie Haarper

Time to think about General Synod. I always find it a very complex experience, and working through last week has been made even more challenging because of the Oxfam issue. The actress Minnie Driver resigned as an Oxfam Ambassador not because of the abuse that has been happening which she named as abhorrent, but because of the way the Oxfam failed to respond adequately. Their deputy chief executive Penny Laurence resigned saying that she was ashamed and took full responsibility.

So I have to face the scary question: Is it right to stay within the  institution of a church which treats its weakest with such disdain?

In his excellent booklet ‘We asked for Bread but you gave us Stones’  Andrew Graystone quotes our Archbishop: ‘The silencing of abuse victims is itself a form of abuse as bad if not worse than the first betrayal’. Yet, on Saturday morning we were given a presentation which began with edited quotes from survivors some of whom were sitting in the gallery and were more than capable of speaking for themselves and could quite easily have been invited to do so. We then heard how much more brown stuff was going to come our way in the next months, and how we now have upgraded process and resource to meet these challenges. It was admitted that the bit we hadn’t yet got right was the response to survivors. I sincerely believe Archbishop Justin when he says ‘The victims are the people we care about most. They really, really matter.’ The truth is that we are nowhere near making that the way we actually respond.

What if it is impossible? More than that. What if the whole idea of The Church of England as a spiritual rather than a cultural institution is smoke and mirrors?

When you walk round Church House during Synod its very quickly apparent that there is no such thing as ‘General Synod’. It’s a collection of different groups and individuals who form coalitions of convenience  on certain issues and will go back to their home churches and do pretty much what they want to do anyway. I sometimes sit next to people whose God is so radically different that I am not at all sure it’s the same God.

As part of national identity the Church of England still resonates, and we have Royal weddings and babies on the way, but I wonder how things will change with the death of the Queen. Our historic buildings of course and the glory of a special but niche form of Church music are culturally deep, but can you organize what goes on in people’s hearts?

The response from the Evangelical Alliance to the recent CDM judgement on Tim Davis which upheld allegations of spiritual abuse shines a light on this. There is a way of doing organized religion where the leaders feel entitled to tell people they don’t even know how God wants them to live their lives. Even if you thought God worked in that way, the potential for confusing your own opinions with those of God is vast and has often led to abuse.

It’s been nagging at me over the past few months. Is there something inherently abusive about organized, institutional religion?

Think of the philosophical illustration about the Prince and the peasant girl. He fell in love with her, but disguised himself as a peasant because he knew that the only love he wanted from her was that freely given. He could not and would not order her to love him. Once organized religion moves from the functional and cultural it steps into a space in  people’s life of faith where power and control have no right to be. Worse than that we start making judgments about the depth and validity of other people’s faith.

Jesus related to people through acts of love and through open questions. His tough words are mostly reserved for the professional guardians of the faith.

The antidote to General Synod  for me is to get back to the local. People pitch up for all sorts of reasons and I don’t judge any of them. People share their stories of faith if they choose to and help each other along the way. They are bound together by friendship and acts of kindness far more than by theology, and so they find God far more though love than through judgement.

That is how I answer the question about staying. Sit light to the institutional stuff but try to help, and hold the local and personal as most precious.

Posted in Church of England, Rosie Harper, Sexual abuse | 6 Comments

Valuing People with Downs Syndrome – A Place to Start

by the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester


For five years, in my time as a parish priest, my default activity for a Tuesday afternoon was to visit what was called an Adult Training Centre. The adults being trained had a number of conditions, including Autism and Downs Syndrome, that impacted on their abilities to learn and to retain knowledge. The centre laid on a mixture of general life skills and, for those able to manage them, particular pieces of industrial training – assembling plugs and the like. I was Industrial Chaplain in the town, and the places fascinated me by the ways it both resembled and differed from the other establishments I visited on my rounds. I was struck by how little money and status mattered to the lives of the trainees relationships were clearly far more important and required the greater effort. And there was a refreshing willingness to see dependence not as a failure but a natural framework within which life should be lived to the full.

During my time there, a small number began to come to church, and the rest of our congregations discovered how to support and sustain them. And then the most exciting thing of all happened. Two of the trainees had developed a deepening relationship. I was asked to marry them. With help from social workers and the Housing Association I was on the board of, we discovered how living with appropriate support, in their own terraced house, would work. I’ve forgotten many of the hundreds of weddings I’ve taken, but this one sticks. I’ve never known hymns sung so joyfully, or a congregation so clear in its delight for the couple.

I know that I learned things from those five years, meeting regularly with people who were all too readily written off by society, that I could never have gleaned from books and lectures. I don’t idealise them, they were as capable of sins and misdemeanours as any of us. But their perspective on life, borne out of living with their particular conditions, was different, refreshingly so; it changed mine forever. Not least it played a part in my emerging call to be a Franciscan.

So, as I prepare for three days of General Synod in London, I have just one small quibble with the ordering of the business. Whilst I can see the value of scheduling a debate about valuing people with Downs Syndrome as a positive note to end on, I think it would have made an even better place to begin. To start by recognising and affirming the contribution made to God’s Kingdom, Christ’s Church and society at large, by a group who cannot be corralled into the usual tribal patterns of church life, would have set a tone for the following debates. It would have been a powerful reminder that our being one in Christ crosses bridges that span our very genetic makeup. It might have enabled us to see more clearly that other differences are equally subservient to that core identity; the lesson I was taught so generously thirty years ago.

Posted in Bishop of Manchester, Church of England, Social Justice | 1 Comment

Rolling With the Punch(line)

by the Very Rev Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s

David ison 2

‘My wife complained that her feet hurt. I said: “You’ve got your shoes on the wrong feet.” She said: “But these are the only feet I’ve got.”’

Tommy Cooper was a great comedian. He knew how to use the punchline of a joke to get a laugh. And the laugh usually comes because the punchline is unexpected. In the example above, it’s the collision of two different ways of seeing things.  One direction of thinking collides with another, and we suddenly see something which is incongruous or ridiculous, something we hadn’t noticed or hadn’t acknowledged before which a comedian, like a court jester, calls to our attention: the emperor has no clothes, a word has two meanings, the action you think obvious appears to others absurd… and so we laugh.

For religious people, laughter can be rather threatening. Umberto Eco’s book ‘The Name of the Rose’ has a story that revolves around the determination of some monks to be serious and never to laugh because it’s disrespectful to God, who has no unresolved discontinuity and is never ridiculous. But of course, we’re laughing at ourselves and not at God, and ridiculous is often what we are. Especially when we think we’re not. And serious religious people, like serious politicians or anyone else with power, are still in need of a sense of the ridiculous and can end up being cruel and un-integrated because they take themselves too seriously.

Laughter discharges tension and helps us understand or live with the discontinuity which humour has unmasked. And sometimes that can be very helpful: to be able to laugh rather than take the whole of life very seriously is often a saving grace that helps us endure difficult things. But humour can be satirical too, drawing attention to the failures, abuses and cruelties of those with power: and when the audience laughs then, they may also be thinking about how they could change their vote, or stop supporting a party or group, or start a campaign for change. In that context, when humour exposes injustice or unkindness, simply to laugh and go away feeling better is not enough. We need to turn our perception of the ridiculous into a determination to make things better.

A way of self-defence against satire used by those with power is to be like a boxer who rolls a punch, i.e. moves their body away from a blow in order to lessen its force. So, when laughed at, the powerful may smile and admit there’s a bit of truth in what’s said, but it’s really about others and not about them, and anyway reform is around the corner and things will change. Some time. Perhaps. And religious people with power do this too. Because it’s hard to face our own need to repent and change; easier to laugh and deflect the criticism, and leave things as they are.

The Church (not just Anglican) has done, and still does, a lot of good in caring for those on the margins of society and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. But it’s also faced a large amount of criticism from wider society over the centuries for its misuse of wealth and its hypocrisy. As society has moved on, the focus has shifted to its impact on vulnerable people, whether in safeguarding failures or insensitivity to minorities of all kinds. The collision of different ways of thinking about safeguarding or good disagreement can be laughable indeed, though it isn’t often funny – it’s too serious for that; but the Church at large is still too prone to rolling with the punchlines, unwilling to hear the sharp points being made and to change as a result.

Part of the irony – the jest – in this is that God is very good at punchlines. The Scriptures are full of them. Jesus uses them a lot.* God uses punchlines to point to our ridiculous self-importance and our obsessions with control and status as being more important than love for God and neighbour. And when we read or hear Scripture, we need to be careful to be still and to listen: not to roll with the punchline, not to soften the blow and evade the word of God to us by clever argument or by obsession with the detail rather than the big picture.

Tommy Cooper and other comedians help us to be open to being surprised and challenged. And we need to respond to the incongruity and confrontation between different perspectives by enlarging our understanding. Not by refusing to listen and insisting on our own rightness. Which others as well as God will find ridiculous.

‘This little old lady was frightened. She looked at me, she said ‘Do something religious’.

So I took a collection.’

* For an example of how we can reflect on this see my sermon at

Posted in Church of England, Dean of St Pauls, Human Sexuality, Social Justice | Leave a comment

Why Religious ‘Tolerance Clauses’ are Morally Reprehensible.

by Jayne Ozanne, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and Editor of ViaMedia.News

Jayne Ozanne new

On Thursday evening the States of Jersey voted by 40 votes to 5 to reject a so-called “Tolerance Clause” within their proposed Same-Sex Marriage legislation.  Had it passed it would have enabled local business owners to refuse to provide goods and services to any same-sex couple wanting to get married on the island.  Photographers, cake-owners, hotels, venue-providers – anyone could have refused to provide services to a couple seeking to arrange an event, which for most is the most important day of their lives.

Whilst this controversial clause was presented as a “Freedom of Religion” clause for islanders who do not approve of same-sex marriage, it was in effect a clause that would have set islander against islander and caused a deep rift in a small close-knit society.  In my mind this would have caused untold damage – not just to the island’s standing in the international community, but more importantly to the local LGBTI community who have until recently been subject to prejudice and abuse in a highly conservative society.

What few of the advocates for the clause appear to understand is the lasting harm and damage that their law would have inflicted on an already marginalised group within their society.  International healthcare professionals are unanimous in their concern for the well-being of LGBTI people given the far higher levels of mental health problems they experience compared to heterosexuals.  This is particularly true amongst LGBTI youth, who suffer extremely high levels of depression, self-harm and sadly even suicide.  All are clear that it is the discrimination and prejudice caused by those in their immediate societies that can lead to this.

What is more worrying however, is that this action flies in the face of Christ’s command to “love our neighbour”.  In giving us this command, Jesus did not of course give us any caveats of exemption clauses.  Instead, he drove home his point by telling a story in which he chose a hero, a Samaritan, who would have been shunned and rejected by the religious leaders of his day – both for the beliefs he held and the way he chose to live his life.

The inconvenient truth is that the story is designed to force us to stop and consider – Who is my neighbour?

Is he or she purely someone like me?  Are they people I agree on everything with?  Or are they the people amongst whom I have been called to live and witness, no matter how different or difficult I find them?

I happen to be blessed with most incredible neighbours.  They have shown me love and kindness at a level I’ve not encountered before, and frankly frequently don’t believe I deserve.  One is an ardent atheist, the other a firm Catholic – both show me equal love, as I myself also try to show them.   Together we have forged a little community where we have learned to respect each other’s’ differences and ensure that our own thoughts and beliefs are sharpened by the constant wholesome discussions we have with each other.

I believe it is perfectly possible to live in a society of people who hold differing beliefs on a range of matters – which I as a Christian am called to respect.  This does not mean that I agree with them, but it does mean that I understand their point of view and treat them with the same dignity and respect that they kindly afford me.

This is what forms the bedrock of a cohesive, tolerant and stable society.

The significant problem caused by any “tolerance clause” based on “freedom of religious belief” is that it moves from respecting different beliefs whilst treating people the same, to disrespecting their beliefs and so believing we have cause to treat them differently.

We therefore start to judge our neighbour against a set of predetermined criteria and treat with respect only those with whom we agree.

In effect, a law like this would allow and encourage the creation of categories of those we “cross the road to help”, and others we assiduously avoid.  In other words, it gives us permission to “walk on by” past some we do not approve of – ostensibly because our righteousness seemingly demands it.

To me this is theologically bankrupt and morally reprehensible.

This is not the Gospel of Love as we have been taught it.

Our role as Christ’s disciples is simple.  It is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to and learn to JUST LOVE our neighbour – whoever he or she may be.  No caveats, no exemptions and no tolerance clauses!



Posted in Human Sexuality, Jayne Ozanne, Social Justice | 2 Comments

“Spiritual Abuse” – A Pandora’s Box?

by the Revd Canon Anna Norman-Walker, Rector of Streatham and past member of General Synod

Anna Norman-Walker

In Greek mythology Pandora is created by Zeus and given as a wedding gift to the brother of his enemy Prometheus along with a jar containing the many evils of the world.Pandora's Box  Pandora opens the jar and on realising what she had done she tries to close it in haste; the anguish of the moment is captured in a painting by FS Church in which the young bride kneels helplessly on the box – as one might an over filled suitcase – in an effort to contain the escaping forces of evil.

Over the past few weeks the call has gone out for the church to address the issue of spiritual abuse. This was triggered in part by a recent report carried out by Bournemouth University on behalf of the churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) in which 62% of respondents to the study’s research survey believed they had been subject to spiritual abuse. Within a few days of the report’s release, news broke of Oxford Priest Revd Timothy Davis’ suspension from duties for the spiritual abuse of a teenager he had been mentoring following an investigation under the Clergy Discipline Measure (see also Are You Suffering From Spiritual Abuse by Jayne Ozanne).

This case and the report itself has highlighted the urgent need for the Church of England to provide some clear definition of what spiritual abuse is and provide guidelines for parishes to follow in order to ensure good practice and the safeguarding of both those who may be vulnerable to spiritual abuse, and the alleged perpetrators it.

I for one would welcome such a development and as General Synod gathers in a week or so’s time I hope that space will be made for the issue to be raised which might lead to the commissioning of a much-needed piece of work.

However, as vital as this work is, we should be prepared for the opening of our own Pandora’s box.

Just as #Metoo went viral on social media as women all over the world acknowledged their experience of sexual harassment, the Church may very well have to navigate a similar response from those whose experience of spiritual abuse in the church needs to find validation.

The Oxford case was clearly a gross abuse of power but where should the lines be drawn?

I can still recall vividly at the age of 13 sitting in a tent meeting on the final night of a Christian youth camp at which the leader, who we all adored, delivered the invitation to ‘stand up for Jesus’ and ‘make a commitment to follow him for the rest of our lives’. My rear was firmly glued to the chair, partly out of extreme embarrassment, but also by a genuine uncertainty that I was up for it. One or two ‘keenies’ jumped to their feet but there wasn’t what you would call revival breaking out. Then the leader said ‘The devil is pinning some of you to your chairs – come on, stand up for Jesus – don’t let the devil win!’ Immediately children were jumping to their feet all around me, one or two bursting into tears. I wasn’t going anywhere, and I was left with the sneaky suspicion that I was working for the opposition!

Was that my #Metoo moment? Did some of those there look back and feel taken advantage of, abused?

I don’t know (I am delighted to ‘stand up for Jesus’ these days) but my point is that I have no doubt  the wonderful camp leader sincerely believed that the devil was pinning the children to their chairs ( mine included) and he sincerely believed that we needed saving from powers of darkness and I have no doubt he gave thanks to God that evening when we were all tucked up in our sleeping bags, that the victory had been the Lord’s at the meeting that night. I slept very well rather enjoying my rebel status, but what about those who had cried and stood trembling as they made their profession early in the evening?

What about the thousands of impressionable young people who flock to the front at youth events seeking prayer for a wide range of issues in their lives? Does sincere belief mitigate against a claim of spiritual abuse ? From ‘Father knows best’ to ‘The Lord has told me’ churches; thin ends and wedges come to mind….

Faith and belief are complex issues and what is or is not coercion or the abuse of power will be hard to define in many instances. What some experience as abusive or damaging, others will welcome as the work of the Spirit and the discipline of discipleship. Is it possible or desirable to legislate for the experience of another?

For many I suspect the realisation of spiritual abuse will remain undefined and unexpressed until the maturity of adulthood or the gift of hindsight is available to them.

What the church needs to be clear about is that the issue of spiritual abuse and the stories of its victims are not going away.

Pandora’s box is already open and we would be very unwise to try and shut it.

The saddest thing about the story is that by the time Pandora managed to shut the box there was left inside just one thing and it was ‘Hope’.

Any attempt to dodge the issues at hand here would likewise smother hope for many.

We need to open this issue up, it will be painful and I don’t know where the boundaries should be drawn, but we can’t duck it if we are genuinely to be a Church of healing and flourishing.

Posted in Ann Norman-Walker, Church of England, Spiritual Abuse | 3 Comments