Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stephen Bates has another shot

Yesterday, the Church Times printed this article about the Oxford PPH review, which raises some interesting questions. Stephen Bates (notorious Guardian columnist) respun it here.

Nastinesses Mr Bates committed in doing so:

  • He repeats the "allegations of misogyny and homophobia". Those were made in an anonymous (and libelous) document which only seems to have appeared when the Guardian published an article based on it. It wasn't true then, and isn't true now either. Nor is it news.
  • Mr Bates says the report was about Wycliffe Hall. As I understand it, it doesn't single out Wycliffe for criticism at all. It is a report about the PPHs at Oxford, of which Wycliffe is one.
  • It suggests that the report was a response to the issues at Wycliffe. Actually, the report was underway long before that and was (I think) actually a response to an application from Oxford Islamic Centre to be allowed to be a PPH
  • "doubts about whether it is offering students full intellectual development" - what the report actually doesn't like is the PPHs offering non-Oxford university courses. That's partly because Oxford University doesn't offer the range of courses required to train students for Anglican ordained ministry.

The broader question of what place confessionalism has in academia is an interesting one. In a secular university, there shouldn't be confessional requirements on posts. In a college training people for Anglican ordained ministry, there should. The obvious solution then seems to be to have two separate recruitment policies, but if staff at either are qualified to teach in both (i.e. academically respectable enough and confessionally in the right place), then there needn't be a problem with that.

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