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Church of England's plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishops

Church of England's plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishops

Photo: General Synod meeting in 2015.

By Danny Wiser
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/
December 23, 2018

The Church of England's plans for transgender baptisms have been condemned by bishops who have described the practices as "theologically and pastorally questionable".

Ten bishops criticised the ceremony, which some priests are boycotting, as they believe baptism should be about affirming faith rather than gender identity.

The idea first drew attention when Reverend Chris Newlands was asked to debate the issue at the General Synod in 2015.

Three years later, the practice, which allows transgender Christians to recognise their chosen name as opposed to their birth name, received official endorsement from the church.

However, bishops have denounced the ritual as they believe gender is assigned by God.

Reverend Ian Paul, who is a member of the Archbishops' Council, urged the "bishops and other leaders ... [to] stop allowing themselves to be hijacked by these very small special interest groups", according to the Sunday Times.

Outrage also led Julian Mann, the vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension in Oughtibridge, Sheffield, to write to the Archbishop of York, claiming that he would oppose any disciplinary action that would result from his refusal to conduct a service.

It is thought that priests will be free to refuse the service, as the Church of England said: "There is no obligation on the clergy to offer the service ... to anybody in any context (whether in connection with a person identifying in a new gender or for any other reason).

"The only services that the clergy are under an obligation to provide to individuals are baptism, marriage and burial. This does not change the doctrine of the Church of England."

Yet, there have also been protests against the Church of England's attempts to safeguard against transphobia from a network of 50 evangelical leaders in Chester, as well as John Fenwick, the bishop of the Free Church of England.

Claims that the practice could lead to family break-up were made by Rod Thomas, bishop of Maidstone, who said the church needed to decide what action to take if someone who had transitioned subsequently sought a marriage service.

This is controversial, as same-sex marriages are not currently conducted by the Church of England.

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: "The church should be compassionate and sensitive towards those who experience gender dysphoria, but its fundamental teaching must be based on a revealed truth and objective biology and its relation to social structure."

END

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