I was not able to watch the whole debate in the Lords today but I did catch the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth [@5.15 pm in the text] peddling his usual secularised form of Christianity saying: "I believe in the institution of marriage and I want it to be available to same-sex couples as well as to males and females. No surprise there!
Previously [@ 4.50 pm] I heard the Bishop of Leicester concluding his speech with the words: "...if it is the unusual intention of this House to divide at Second Reading, I shall have no alternative but to abstain." That is a disappointment but was there a clue to that intention in the Archbishop of Canterbury's speech earlier [@4.06 pm] which I have now had an opportunity to read. Most of Archbishop Welby's comments are welcome but he finished with words that have caused others to speculate on what he meant [here and here]:
"This is not a faith issue, although we are deeply grateful for the attention that the Government and the other place have paid to issues of religious freedom. However, it is not at heart a faith issue. It is about the general social good. Therefore, with much regret—but entire conviction—I cannot support the Bill as it stands."
Could this be a cunning plan to allow the bishops (as urged by 'senior officials') to abstain as the Bishop of Leicester has already indicated? By declaring that the issue is about the general social good rather than a faith issue it will be interesting to see if the bishops, other than Lord Harries of course, abstain. If they do so it will be a cop out. The bishops would do well to reflect on an excellent speech by Lord Anderson of Swansea [@5.03 pm] who concluded with these words: "Let the people decide."
Voting details here show that nine bishops present voted to kill off the Bill. As previously indicated, Lord Harries of Pentregarth voted in favour of the Bill but that is no surprise as he is from the same camp as the Archbishop of Wales and his mentor the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church whose ideas about Christianity have been stretched to incredulity.