The manifestation of faith in public life – Synod approval

On Sunday 8 July, the General Synod of the Church of England voted by a substantial majority [For: 263; Against: 25; Abstentions: 52] for the amended version of Fr Stephen Trott’s motion on the Manifestation of Faith in Public Life

‘That this Synod: (a) express its conviction that it is the calling of Christians to order and govern our lives in accordance with the teaching of Holy Scripture, and to manifest our faith in public life as well as in private, giving expression to our beliefs in the written and spoken word, and in practical acts of service to the local community and to the nation; and b) request the Archbishops’ Council to introduce draft legislation to embody this conviction in the Canons of the Church of England’.

An earlier amendment

‘Leave out “in accordance with the teaching of Holy Scripture” and insert “following the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures”’

was lost [For: 134,  Against: 187;  Abstentions: 11].

The text of Fr Trott’s speech to Synod can be found here.


The proposed motion was considered in an earlier post, and as predicted, was carried by Synod.  Whilst the Revd Professor Richard Burridge’s failed amendment would not have altered the legal position, the final version incorporating that of Dr Philip Giddings is significant in requiring the Archbishops’ Council to draft legislation to embody the conviction within the motion.

The formulation of Church legislation is a ponderous process, and those producing the draft will have the opportunity to consider the implications of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in September 2012 on McFarlane v. United Kingdom (no. 36516/10), Ladele v. United Kingdom (no. 51671/10), Eweida v. United Kingdom (no. 48420/10), and Chaplin v. United Kingdom (no. 59842/10).  They will also need to ensure that the new Canon satisfies the criteria within the Synodical Government Measure 1969 and the Human Rights Act 1998, and is consistent with other relevant Canons.

However, two issues must be addressed: Will the resulting Canon be sufficiently specific to address the issues referred to the proposal, GS 1859A? and, How will it be taken into consideration by the courts?