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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Head to head: Gay bishop
Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
The Bishop of Oxford has defended his decision
The Bishop of Oxford's appointment of Canon Jeffrey John as the Bishop of Reading has caused anger in the Church of England.

Reverend David Banting, of evangelical group Reform, and Jane Griffiths, MP for Reading East, give their opposing views.

Reverend David Banting of Reform:

The decision probably cannot be reversed by anybody except by the man at the centre of it, Dr Jeffrey John.

He could withdraw his nomination because he would recognise there is already deep division, deep unsettlement in the Church in this country and around the world.

And his appointment going ahead would only deepen that with very difficult consequences.

We don't know yet whether the Church has yet survived the division caused by the ordination of women.

There's a big debate to come again and it's trying to live with the consequence of that.

But the issue here is not only the issue of lifestyle, but his teaching and what he will seek to teach positively and what he will seek to defend the teaching of the Church against.

We're talking about people who are seeking to listen to the Word of God rather than the voice of culture

That is the principle area this appointment will make very difficult.

He lives one thing and says he will teach one thing, but on the other hand he says he will uphold the teaching of the Scriptures.

Those two things cannot be done together in this particular case.

The guidelines within the Church of England suggest ways of handling the Scriptures and one of them is that the Bible must be read as a whole.

The question of selectivity is helped immensely by seeing the whole and focusing on the teachings of Jesus and his interpretation of it.

He did not explicitly say anything about homosexuality, but he did not say anything about incest or bestiality and most people don't think there's an issue there.

What he did say when asked about human sexuality - our language today - he would take people back to the Book of Genesis, when God created men as men and women and in that complement, love is to be expressed.

We have to be careful not to polarise by talking about bigots and extremists.

We're talking about people who are seeking to listen to the Word of God rather than the voice of culture.

Jane Griffiths, MP for Reading East:

I think it's utterly wrong for a duly and properly appointed bishop - and nobody has questioned the process of appointing him - to be forced out of that position because one sect within the Church, an extremist group, wants him not to take up that position for homophobic reasons.

It's un-Christian.

The leader of the Church in Nigeria has said he thinks homosexuality is an abomination.

The people of Reading are better than that - they are not bigoted and homophobic

That's his point of view and he's entitled to it, but he's not representing his whole church.

The people of Reading have a tendency to support our new bishop and they want him to take his place.

There have been lots of polls on this, it's been a big story in the last few days.

And so far only one person on the streets of Reading has said he should not take up his appointment and that person was too embarrassed to give his name.

The people of Reading are better than that - they are not bigoted and homophobic.

People have expressed concern and outrage to me that this kind of view can be presented as the Church of England's.

And I'm talking about people within the Church of England - deeply religious, believing people.

Gay bishop dispute grows
20 Jun 03  |  UK
Bishop fuels gay row in church
18 Jun 03  |  Berkshire

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