At the last count, fewer than a million people worship regularly in the Church of England. I am one of those, having so far resisted the almost overmastering desire to extract myself from the Church’s increasing wokeness and ever closer conformance to – and infiltration by – the secular society it is meant to serve. My frustrations are usually vented by strident comments on social media and the occasional email calling individuals to task, but the straw which really threatens to break the camel’s back in my case is the Church’s obsession with ‘climate change’.
Why the Church of England is so vocal on a subject about which it clearly knows nothing is beyond me, but when it makes completely unsubstantiated statements in the public domain, easily capable of being refuted by facts, it is time to take action. One source of the Church’s outlandish statements in this regard is the Community of the Resurrection (CR) in Mirfield, West Yorkshire.
Most people – even many churchgoers – think Religious Communities died out forever in the Reformation, but they actually staged a comeback in the 19th Century and to this day there are vowed monks and nuns, many ordained to the Priesthood, living in Communities as part of the Church of England. I came to know the one at Mirfield and it was therefore a great disappointment to witness CR jump on the woke climate bandwagon and promulgate in its official publication, CR Review, what appeared to be climate facts but which, in reality, were nothing more than personal opinions – although this was never once made clear.
I endeavoured to call CR to account and the Community was gracious enough to include in its publication my rebuttal of one offending article, although radically edited. I hoped this would be an end to the matter but no, CR continued to pump out articles and videos making outrageous climate assertions. Each time these appeared I contacted the Community with detailed facts, evidencing the untruthfulness of the statements, but, unlike on that first occasion, the Community became unyielding, refusing to publish any retractions even though the Superior later admitted to me “we are not climatologists”.
Matters came to a head earlier this year when yet another article appeared in CR Review full of inaccuracies and clearly written to scaremonger and possibly to influence voting (the local elections were just around the corner). Yet again, I provided detailed evidence disproving each assertion and once more CR refused to recede from its position. Having reached deadlock, I decided it was necessary to escalate matters.
My initial approaches were to those holding some degree of responsibility for the Community, its doings and its members. However, neither the Archdeacon of Halifax nor the Bishop of Blackburn, Chair of the Advisory Council for Religious Communities in the Church of England, had the courtesy to reply. The Bishop of the Diocese in which CR resides, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, responded claiming that the Community was “not accountable” to him and making it apparent that his sympathies were entirely with the climate alarmists (unsurprising, given his own actions and public proclamations on climate matters). The appointed ‘Visitor’ to CR (a kind of overseer for the resolution of disputes), the Bishop of Lichfield, replied saying the matter lay outside his area of responsibility. Thus, the buck having been well and truly passed, the only route left to me was to raise a formal complaint against CR under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM).
With whom does such a complaint have to be lodged? The Diocesan Bishop. Yes, that meant the Bishop of Leeds, who originally said he had no accountability! Of course, I asked that he recuse himself because, in my view, he had already prejudged the matter. It appeared obvious to me, when he summarily dismissed my initial communication to him asking for help, that this Bishop is part of the Church’s groupthink on climate. I reasoned that he was never going to give me a fair hearing on this subject although, in truth, the chances of finding another suitable person in this woke Church who is not also part of the same groupthink are remote.
The Bishop chose not to recuse himself and pronounced his judgement. Interestingly, the fact that the Bishop of Leeds adjudged this matter apparently meant he did have jurisdiction after all. If he’d wanted to, he could have done something about my concerns from the outset before I was forced to utilise the formal CDM process.
The Bishop dismissed my complaint and gave three reasons.
First, he said it did not relate to Clergy discipline. This completely took me aback. If the matter of Ordained Priests, for whom the Bishop is responsible, repeatedly making untruthful statements in the public domain is not a matter for Clergy discipline then I don’t know what is.
Secondly, the Bishop said that it was not credible that a Priest “be disciplined for adhering to the policy and position of the Church of England on the matter of climate change”. He was effectively saying that because the Church happens to have made a policy on a subject (in this case on Net Zero and one which I believe to be completely erroneous and unscientific) then it is absolutely fine for Clergy to say anything they like echoing that policy, no matter how untruthful those statements might be.
Thirdly, the Bishop had clearly dismissed every single fact I used to counter the untruths in the article and its predecessors and justified this by making the bizarre statement that the facts in the case are actually “a matter of dispute and opinion”. This has to be the icing on the cake. That a Church of England Bishop genuinely believes factual, empirical and scientific evidence only happens to be somebody’s “opinion” is complete gibberish. A fact is a fact, capable of proof. Perhaps, after all, the Bishop isn’t really a Bishop and it is only his opinion that makes him think he is!
To say I was enraged by the Bishop’s dismissal and his outlandish reasons would be an understatement. He had not considered any other course of action open to him under the Measure or outside of it. These include, inter alia, an attempt to bring about reconciliation – which I would have welcomed – or giving advice or a warning to CR about its future behaviour. No, the case had been perfunctorily dismissed and the Church of England cabal had, as they always do, protected their own.
There is no right of reply to a Bishop dismissing a CDM allegation. The sole remaining option is to refer the matter to somebody called a ‘President of Tribunals’, setting out why one believes the Bishop’s dismissal was an incorrect decision. No further evidence can be submitted. So, as a last attempt to try and inject context, sanity and reality, I lodged my reasons – seven of them – with this grandiosely named personage. All the President (or, as it transpired in this case, the Deputy President) of Tribunals had to do was to refer the matter back to the Bishop and say, effectively, “you ought to think again”. That should have been a good enough steer for the Bishop. I therefore retained a shred of hope.
The Deputy President of Tribunals, who had the final say in the matter, turned out to be His Honour Judge David Turner KC. Hardly independent of the Church of England, he is a Licensed Lay Minster at the evangelical All Souls, Langham Place, acts as ‘Chancellor’ (essentially Judge in the Church Court) for the Diocese of Chester and has been closely involved in church litigation for many years. He ruled that the decision by the Bishop of Leeds to dismiss the case had been “plainly right” and went on to reveal some of his thinking behind his ruling.
Mr Turner referred to “the global climate emergency”, thereby presupposing that one actually exists (it doesn’t), wrote about climate legislation taking place elsewhere (a completely irrelevant point), climate being a “live issue” and a “public concern” (which it is only because of the wall-to-wall barracking by climate alarmists spouting their pseudo-science and unsubstantiated scaremongering) and, surprise surprise, the fact that the General Synod of the Church of England had voted to follow a “routemap for Net Zero carbon by 2030”.
The Deputy President of Tribunals really showed his true colours, though, when he quoted the long since debunked “97% of scientists” consensus nonsense. Mr Turner is clearly sold on this totally false regurgitation (the true percentage is 0.3) and on his belief that science works by consensus. Of course, if it is science it is not consensus and if it is consensus it is not science.
The Deputy President not once sought to open himself up to the possibility that the climate issues so beloved by the Church have never been based on provable, empirical science and clearly discounted all the evidence I submitted with my original complaint and my previous submissions (links to which I provided).
How is it that my facts are, in his eyes and those of the Bishop of Leeds, questionable and open to debate, whereas any so called facts used to support the Church of England in its ridiculous Net Zero policy are held to be sacrosanct?
In summary, Ordained Church of England Clergy have repeatedly made dubious statements in the public domain, the Bishop doesn’t care and believes facts are debatable and merely opinions (except, of course, those facts which suit him). The one person who might have steered the Bishop to a different conclusion has used his own belief in climate change nonsense to uphold the Bishop’s decision.
As the Church of England descends into a woke hell of its own making – and its absurd fixation on climate is just one manifestation of this – I wonder what the churchgoing statistics will be next time they are measured and whether they will, by then, be reduced by an additional one, i.e. me.
Kevin Sims has been scrutinising climate related issues for the past eight years and tries to help debunk false information promoted by the mainstream media and others on the subject.