What about this for episcopal double speak (O'Brien is referring to the English government's plans to legalise same sex marriage):

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said the plans were a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right."

It's not just Cardinal Gumby's brain that is hurting. My brain is in serious danger of complete melt down if I carry on trying to make sense out of that one.

Oh, and there's more. The "If I'm not allowed to do it then I am damn well going to stop you doing it" brigade have obviously had enough of comparing equality for gays with Nazism. O'Brien has decided on a new slur. According to this particular celibate, same sex marriage is the same as owning slaves.

"Imagine for a moment that the government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that 'no one will be forced to keep a slave'. Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right?"

What a nasty little man.


GUMBY OF THE DAY — 17 Comments

  1. I was rather flummoxed by him saying that gay marriage would “shame Britain before the world” when he is part of an organisation which has been embroiled in sexual abuse scandals which it has, at times, tried to cover up or minimise!

  2. I think that they (RC clergy) have to keep in line with the decisions of the Vatican because that is the”obedience” they have vowed and they will find themselves transferred to the North Pole or some other nasty place of they don’t toe the line. but the decree doesn’t make much sense so they have to reach and stretch for explanations to defend the indefensible. and so u get
    Public statements like this that really don’t make much sense. good luck to them!

  3. Didn’t the church condone slavery in the past? He’s just got stuck, poor man. Someone should either pull him out of the mud or shove his face in it. Just saying.

  4. Yes parts of the Church of England (and at least one bishop) not just condoned but owned slaves when Britain abolished slavery in the 1830s (they got money for the loss of their property). The Pope, Gregory XVI, in 1839 condemned the slave trade but under some interpretations did not call for abolishing slavery (the Catholic church made a distinction between just and unjust slavery). An endorsement of anti-slavery in all forms came in 1888.

    Oddly enough two of the religious groups that are most supportive of gay rights including marriage, the Quakers and the Unitarians, were also two of the earliest and most opposed to the slave trade and slavery back then.

  5. How is that odd, Erp? Seems consistent to me. Quakers and Unitarians honor ALL the Imago Dei. Popoids (like the Cardinal) don’t [Anglicans, so-so]

  6. Does the socio-economic niche the Quakers and Unitarians overwhelmingly occupy have anything to do with their social statements? e.g. How many blue color or “people of color” Unitarians or Quakers are there in the US or Britain? Aren’t they pretty much middle/upper middle class White? “The Guardian” at prayer?

  7. JCF, odd that the cardinal in his message (intentionally?) lumped the two longest established religious groups openly calling for equality in marriage as equivalent to pro-slavers when they were among the first to oppose [the Quakers a bit more than the Unitarians though individual Unitarians were quite prominent early]. The other religious groups supporting equality didn’t exist back then. Whether this was intentional probably depends on how well the Cardinal knows his history; I’m certain the Quakers and Unitarians are well aware.

    As for diversity amongst Quakers and Unitarians, I can’t say though neither denomination is very large (there aren’t enough of them to be the Guardian at prayer). Within Britain or the US, probably not too diverse color wise though the current head of the US Unitarian Universalist Association is Hispanic and internationally African Quakers outnumber their brethren in the US or UK (though most/all African yearly meetings are not supportive yet of rights for gays or lesbians). There are certainly poorer Quakers and Unitarians. But does that matter when it comes to social justice issues? Should one have not supported the anti-slavery movement because it was supported by rich Quakers and Unitarians? It is not as though Unitarians and Quakers aren’t activists on class issues either.

  8. “How many blue color … Unitarians or Quakers are there in the US or Britain?”


    Is that painted blue, ala their Celtic ancestors?

  9. JCF, I was thinking of anoxia.
    Erp, I was thinking of groups that make frequent calls for inclusion but whose memberships remain about as diverse as Vermont. Are these groups truly progressive if they remain socially exclusive? Or are they simply the best non-white (including blue) people can do-they have to take what allies they can?

  10. From my experience US Quakers and Unitarians seem adverse to recruiting (don’t want to be seen as coercing people in any way) so new people of any color are fairly rare (the US Unitarians may be getting over this) and the average age for both groups is elderly. Both groups have a large number of people who are attenders (perhaps very active attenders) but not members (perhaps because each side expects the other to make the first move). It is also a fact in the US that Sundays tend to be very segregated. For at least the Quakers and Unitarians this is a concern. According to one article in “weighted numbers show that 89 percent of UUs identified as white in 2007, 3 percent as Asian, 3 percent as Latino/Latina, 1 percent identified as black or African American, and 4 percent as “other/mixed.” (

    Bayard Rustin was one prominent Quaker who was black (raised by his grandparents one of whom was AME and one Quaker, he remained in the Quaker tradition). He was also an early gay civil rights leader. He is also a rarity in the US.

  11. I don’t think many black people would like all the being quiet stuff – which is no insult as I hate being quiet too.

  12. Not many people like all the being quiet stuff which is perhaps why there are so few Quakers (though the majority world wide are black). However when they decide to take action they tend to be tenacious.