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Press: Bishops back Brexit — but no one reports it

04 October 2019


THE Daily Mail carried an extract from the memoirs of Lady Glenconner, a friend of Princess Margaret’s, which casts some light on traditional morality: “Like most brides of my background, I was a virgin and I was anxious about our wedding night. All that my mother had told me about sex was: ‘Do you remember Daddy’s Labrador getting on top of Biscuit? Well, that’s what happens when you get married, except you’ll probably be lying down.’”

“Probably” seems a wise qualification, given her husband’s character: “I knew he had been very promiscuous, often visiting Mrs Fetherstonhaugh, who ran one of the ‘poshest brothels’ in London, where the ‘ladies’ were quite often vicar’s wives who worked part-time shifts for pocket money, returning to their civilised lives in the evenings.”

This story worries me. If I don’t believe in the vicars’ wives story, and I don’t, must I also stop believing that all the sex education she got was from her father’s Labrador?


IT IS, at least, a pleasing reminder that there are some problems in the world which have nothing to do with Brexit. The College of Bishops’ statement last Friday contained one significant sentence, almost certainly untrue, which was entirely ignored in the coverage: “We affirm our respect for the June 2016 Referendum, and our belief that the result should be honoured.”

“Bishops come out for Brexit” seems to me a real story, even if it was buried in the second sentence of the letter and many of them must have had their fingers crossed when they signed it. The condemnation of violent language was taken as a rebuke for the Government, not of the Opposition.

“We call on politicians to adhere rigorously to the rule of law. . . Changes to our principles and values of government, if necessary, should be through careful planning and consultation. . . Further entrenching our divisions, whether from uncertainty or from partisanship, is not worthy of our country. . .”

At least no one is going to read those sentences and think that the Bishops have at last spoken out against the terrible threat to British institutions represented by a unanimous Supreme Court.


STILL, their intervention was better-judged than that of the Revd Deirdre Mackrill, an assistant curate in St Keverne, in Cornwall, who led members of her congregation in loud prayer outside a tearoom where a medium was giving a talk.

The live portion of the tearoom audience — about a dozen people — strongly objected to the noise. The owner, Jo Brown, said: “It was intimidating and disruptive. It was totally wrong and out of order. The woman told me that what we were doing was totally wrong and dangerous.”

Ms Mackrill said: “Some of us felt called to go out and stand outside in the square. We didn’t have placards and we weren’t shouting. We just stood there and prayed.

“It clearly says in the Bible — and we believe the Bible is the word of God — it says do not try to make contact with the dead. If any of you are mediums or spiritualists, don’t do it.

“We did not disrupt the meeting, the woman came out to object, which is fine.”

All these details are from The Times, where the subs were clearly having a lazy afternoon; for they went with the very obvious “Unholy row” headline instead of something involving “Holy Mackrill”.


MUCH further out of the ordinary was a piece on the Telegraph’s sports pages (we press columnists work hard for you, you know). It was about the part played by Christianity in the Rugby World Cup. This had nothing to do with clean-cut public schoolboys reciting Newbolt and delivering crisp uppercuts under cover of the scrum. The players here were all from the southern hemisphere.

“Moments after the final whistle . . . amid the bedlam of Yokohama’s International Stadium, Ardie Savea and Cheslin Kolbe were knelt on the turf, locked in a quiet embrace. It appeared the very picture of sporting magnanimity . . . and quickly went viral on social media, where the consensus was that the pair were enjoying ‘an emotional moment’.

“In fact, the two were deep in prayer, ‘giving thanks for our many blessings’, as Savea later made clear on his Instagram account. Yet this version of events, when it was confirmed, barely merited a mention by the same people who had so eagerly shared the original picture.”

The rest of the piece dealt with the difficulties caused when a couple of Polynesian professionals playing abroad had condemned homosexuality on their social media accounts. The twist was that these comments had been understood as hurtful and divisive in Samoa, as well as elsewhere. One player was sacked by Australia, the other retained by England, after he tweeted that “man was made for woman to procreate”.

Perhaps he should have a word with Lady Glenconner.

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