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Dean of Southwark speaks out against opposition to Pride flag on churches

24 June 2022

Southwark Cathedral

THE Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, has spoken out against the private member’s motion (PMM) submitted by a lay member of General Synod that calls for the Archbishops’ Council to prohibit the flying of the Pride rainbow flag on church buildings (News, 10 June).

Sam Margrave (Coventry) is calling for the House of Bishops to “state that support for Pride (including use of the rainbow flag and participation in Pride events) is incompatible with the Christian faith”.

Mr Margrave argues that Pride’s “agenda” is “contrary to scriptural teaching and doctrine by promoting sexuality and promiscuity, and by the denial of the distinction between male and female”. Commenting in a thread on Twitter this week, he wrote: “Pride is the nation’s next Jimmy Savile.”

Speaking at the second national conference of the MOSAIC network (Movement of Supporting Anglicans for An Inclusive Church), Dean Nunn said that Mr Margrave’s position was ironic, given the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process. “For me this PMM gives the game away, that as much as it would like it not to be so, there is a homophobic element within the structures of the Church of England that isn’t interested in moving forwards,” he said.

Dean Nunn said that he hadn’t taken part because he, like others, had had enough. “It’s not so much long grass that we seem to be in but more like a swamp which is impossible to escape and is sucking the life out of us. Yet I recognise that for many people and for some congregations the conversation has needed to take place and the issues explored in a facilitated way.”

The principles of learning to live together were important, he said; and that meant listening to people with whom we disagree intensely.

“Then we have to decide — and that is going to be the really tricky point in the whole process,” he said. “Do we ultimately decide that we can’t decide and so decide to disagree into the future? In many ways that is exactly how we have made decisions so far — around the remarriage of those previously married, around the ordination of women.

“We have used local decision-making, conscience, and fig leaves like ‘mutual flourishing’ to move forward. If that is the outcome then what has stopped us so far? Why have we not simply decided not to decide and instead decided to disagree and move on with some process of the accommodation of differing views?”

He continued: “Unless there are more delaying tactics hidden under the mitres of fearful bishops we have to move forward; the days of long grass have to be over and almost behind us. We have to now do what it has said on the can; we have to live in love and faith.”

The full text of Dean Nunn’s address is available here

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