What is the Government up to?
As important as the "gay marriage" issue is to society in the abstract in reality it is of no importance to most people. Each year less than 6,000 civil partnership ceremonies take place, one may expect less "gay marriages" to take place. Even in the gay community it is not a major issue, some of the first people who signed the Coalition for Marriage petition here might well define themselves as being Catholic members of that community.
So, what is the Government up to?
I thought "Dave" was just trying to distance himself from "Sir Tufton Bufton" and "Section 28" Conservatism by saying he supports gay marriage because he was a Conservative, trying to say we are not the "Nasty Party" but I think there is more. Most Conservatives of course don't give a fig about it.
If you want to know Government is up to look at the up-coming budget, it is the economy, stupid, but actually it is a very great deal more.
When Mrs Thatcher did her great bit of social re-engineering in the 1980s, with her "no such thing as society", the biggest, most intellectually articulate source of opposition was the C of E's document "Faith in the City" which highlighted the damage her policies were doing to the poorest and the fabric of our society. The CofE ceased to be the Tory Party at Prayer and became its enemy.
Whilst Christians are getting angry about the marriage issue and being accused of, crime of crimes, homophobia - see Brendan O'Neil's article on the fall of Abp Sentamu - the govermnent are heading to removing Sunday trading, at the moment, ad experimentum - no longer an issue which gets Christians too upset but up it does upset those involved protecting the rights of low-paid service and shopworkers and their family life. Also under attack are child allowances, not just for the wealthy but across the board, suggestions are being made for a curb on it for larger families. Similarly the end of collective bargaining for public sector employees, were there will be a cut in the pay of the some of the least well off, it is going to affect so many families. All the straws in the wind suggest the Cameron government are intent on pushing unbridled Capitalism.
Already as a parish priest in a very mixed parish I notice an increase in those who beg and those who are homeless, the increased number of people who are either unemployed or who have had hours - therefore their incomes - cut. We are in for a time of cuts and for a dismantling of familiar British institutions which will hurt the poor and families.
The organisations that care for the poor are increasingly having what help the government offered pruned heavily, so much so that those who used our parish facilities for education, training, advocacy can no longer afford either the rent, we cut the charges, or to pay helpers.
Dr Williams self described as "a bearded leftie", similarly, the inclinations of Catholic bishops too, is to the political left, formed by an "fundamental option for the poor" are the natural and historic critics such policies. Getting Christian leaders excited by "gay marriage" and forcing them into what appears a politically "reactionary" position means that not only are they distracted from any criticism of government cuts and social re-ordering but also, amongst the chattering classes of the media, their criticism is discredited and the group that has traditionally championed the poor and oppressed is marginalised.
A clever bit of politics but no help for the needy.