..what is odd in this case is that employment has been refused by a potential employer (note that the Church is not an ”˜employer’ of clergy in ministry posts, since they are ”˜office holders’ and not ”˜employees’) on grounds which are quite separate from the process of appointment or employment. If Jeremy wants to pursue a case in an employment tribunal, then he would surely have to pursue it against the NHS Trust, and not against the bishops.
..whilst one bishop might not wish to instigate difficult and costly proceedings to remove a licence, these are perfectly good grounds, procedurally and theologically, to refuse to grant a licence. It is really difficult to see how a Tribunal can overturn this, given equality exemption, even if it thinks it does have jurisdiction, and even if it thinks the actual position of the Church is wrong. If the Tribunal were to overturn it, this would signal the end of exemption for the Church of England, and by implication for all religious groups. Is that really plausible?
What, then, is the point of making the claim? The answer perhaps comes in the Press Release from Changing Attitude from the day before which specifically mentions Jeremy’s situation. The statement concludes:
You need to respond to the anger and frustration being felt by LGBTI laity and clergy. The temperature is rising and people are calling for urgent action. We are not prepared to wait for the conclusion of the mutual conversations for the changes which have already occurred to be approved by the House of Bishops.
The key phrase here is ”˜we are not prepared to wait’; nothing is more important than changing the Church’s teaching on this question””not the reputation of the Church, not relationship with bishops, not any consideration of those who hold a different view, not the Pilling process of facilitated conversations. There are no grounds for conversation or negotiation.
Jeremy must have known in April that the new post was coming up. He was also well aware of the challenge to the bishops of his living in one diocese (whose bishop was likely unwilling to take disciplinary action) and working in another (whose bishop was more likely to). In the timing of his marriage, it is quite hard to see Jeremy as the hapless victim rather than as a well-planned campaigner.