From Mr Richard Ashby
Sir, — I have read the Bishop of Carlisle’s letter (20 July) a number of times now. He may not have said “that pro-gay legislation had provoked God to send the storms”, but, try as I might, I can only see that he clearly believes that there is a connection between our lack of care for the planet, “lifestyles”, and environmental consequences.
If he believes that our response should be to pray “Lord, have mercy,” then in some way he believes that divine retribution needs to be averted by prayer and contrition. I don’t see much difference between that and the views ascribed to the Bishop. But then I am not a theologian.
The Bishop cannot be allowed to get away with the statement that somehow the Government’s support for a “choice of lifestyles” undermines marriage and family stability. It has done nothing of the sort. Being gay is nothing to do with choice; and the provision for civil partnerships and the Sexual Orientation Regulations — promoting stability and commitment — are an attempt to provide equality and protection in the face of the sometimes violent hostility of a minority led by, and supported by, “Christians”.
But then the whole debate is not about logic, reality, or truth. It is about maintaining control. So it is not surprising that bishops and others in “authority” should try to frighten us into submission by threats of environmental damnation, when their threats of an ecclesiastical one have clearly failed.
The Porter’s House
9-10 Railway Terrace
Hunwick, Crook DL15 0RA
From Mr Donald Leighton
Sir, — Instead of drawing comfort from Paul Vallely (Comment, 13 July), the Bishop of Carlisle should ponder Andrew Brown’s press column (same issue). It set his recent outpourings in the context of earlier utterances firmly in the public’s mind, not least in this diocese, causing much hurt and offence.
How can a bishop comment on matters including flooding so crassly, when there are people in his own cathedral city still unable to return to their homes two and a half years after Carlisle’s own floods?
Alas, his self-justifying letter only repeats a view of God far distant for the one who endured crucifixion for mankind. The last thing Jesus could want is to add to the self-inflicted wounds of our errors by “punishing” even the guilty, never mind the innocent along with them.
As a member of the Bishop’s Council, I support and work for our Survival to Revival process. Many, of course, needed no reminder that our mission and welcome should apply to all. We frequently lament the sheer lack of knowledge about Christianity today. Yet, dim though it is, most rightly associate Jesus’s name with love and forgiveness.
Those in this diocese who are most eager to help all come closer to Jesus are crippled by a bishop whose words repeatedly paint so sub-Christian a view of God that those we wish to welcome are repelled.
90 Sycamore Road
Maryport CA15 7AG
From Mr Clive Scowen
Sir, — I wish to express my gratitude to Bishop Graham Dow for his courage in speaking about the connection between human behaviour, God’s judgement, and natural disasters, and for the helpful elucidation of his remarks in his letter. I believe many in our nation, including people of other faiths and none, long to hear Christian leaders speak clearly about such matters.
London General Synod member
69 Brooke Avenue
Harrow HA2 0ND