‘Intentionally divisive’ bid to ban Pride flag from Church of England buildings sparks outrage

Pride flag flying from church building

A bid to ban churches from flying the Pride flag has been condemned as “offensive” and “intentionally divisive”.

The General Synod, the body which considers and approves legislation for the Church of England, received a private member’s motion asking the Archbishop’s Council to ban the Pride flag from being displayed on church buildings, claiming that it promotes “sexuality and promiscuity.”

Synod member Sam Margrave filed the motion. According to Church Times, Margrave asked the Synod to, while “affirming that God loves all people irrespective of their sexual orientation, nevertheless consider that the ‘Pride’ rainbow flag and what it represents in terms of the ordering of lives and relationships is contrary to the word of God”.

In the motion Margrave calls 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.” He argued that the LGBTQ+ “agenda” is “contrary to scriptural teaching and doctrine by promoting sexuality and promiscuity, and by the denial of the distinction between male and female”.

Margrave also asked the Archbishop’s Council, which co-ordinates and leads the work of the Church of England, to pass legislation that would “prohibit the display of any political or other campaigning flags in or on church buildings”.

Margrave said that he was spurred on to put forward his motion because of the “significant” number of churches celebrating Pride Month.

He said: “The number of churches, cathedrals and clergy endorsing Pride, which promotes values contratary to scripture, has been significant this year.

“Whether or not they agree with the proposal, we as a church need to discuss the Church’s approach to Pride and the increasing use of political flags inside our churches.”

The motion requires 100 signatories to pass. (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)

Jayne Ozanne, a Synod member who campaigns for the rights of LGBTQ+ people of faith, was among those to react to the motion with fury.

Ozanne told Church Times: “As someone who had the privilege of carrying the Pride flag in the Queen’s Jubilee pageant, where we were met with cheering crowds along the whole route, I find this motion both incredibly offensive and intentionally divisive.

“It is about time the archbishops spoke out once and for all about this prolonged and sustained attack on the LGBT+ community from a section of the church who are indifferent to the harm that they cause.”

Ozanne also slammed Margrave’s suggestion that the LGBTQ+ flag is “promoting promiscuity and sexuality.”

She said: “The Pride flag symbolises inclusion and has nothing to do with ‘promoting promiscuity’. We must remember that God’s love has no boundaries, God’s gospel has no exception clauses — those who wish to create them are clearly acting in a way that is ‘contrary to the word of God.”

On Thursday (9 June) a spokesperson from Church House, the headquarters of the Church of England, told Church Times that motions need to be supported by at least 100 signatories.

The spokesperson said: “The proposed motion shared on social media has not yet been published to begin collecting signatures and, for the avoidance of doubt, is not scheduled for debate.”

Recently, broadcaster and former Church of England parish priest Reverend Richard Coles expressed frustration at the lack of respect afforded to LGBTQ+ people by the church.

“The big battle for LGBT people in the Church of England has been trying to get for us the equal treatment that the rest of the world is used to,” he told PA.

The Church of England does not perform same-sex marriages and refuses to bless same-sex civil unions. LGBTQ+ clergy members are allowed to be in relationships, but must remain celibate.

PinkNews contacted Sam Margrave for comment.