Whatever next? Apparently Labour’s Chris Bryant, former Church of England priest and now MP for Rhondda, wants to have the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, beneath the Palace of Westminster, stripped of its Christian identity, turned into a multi faith room, and made available for same sex wedding ceremonies. After which, it is rumoured, he wants to use the venue to be the first MP to have his Civil Partnership converted into marriage.
Honestly, the lengths to which some people will go! It would seem not enough for Mr Bryant to want to abolish the traditional institutions of marriage and the family; but now, because he wants a prestigious venue for the upgrade of his relationship, he has to attack Christianity too. Which is what this is – a direct attack on our Christian heritage.
Now admittedly this historic Chapel, which originally formed the crypt of a larger two storey church built by Edward I in 1297, has had something of a chequered history. From the thirteenth century it was the favoured place of worship for the court and royal household, and subsequently saw two royal weddings, a royal funeral and the consecration of Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury. However, when Westminster ceased to be a royal residence, it became used for a variety of purposes, including a wine cellar, a dining room for the Speaker of the House of Commons, and even a stable for Oliver Cromwell’s horses.
And I guess it must have seemed the fat lady was well and truly singing when a fire in 1834 totally destroyed the main body of the chapel, leaving the crypt below damaged almost beyond repair. As they say, however, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, and the crypt was about to rise phoenix-like from the ashes. Against all odds, it was painstakingly restored and then reinstated as a place of worship. Such it has remained ever since, in frequent and regular use, with Communion celebrated weekly while Parliament is in session, and providing a much favoured venue for marriages, baptisms and memorial services for members of the Lords and Commons. Which, of course, is precisely why Mr Bryant now has it in his sights.
This is scandalous. St Mary Undercroft is no ailing and empty mausoleum, but a much loved and hard working place of Christian worship, at the very heart of government – which makes the symbolism obvious. What possible justification can there be, therefore, for destroying it?
It has been argued that the legalisation of same sex marriage is not just an attack on traditional marriage and family, but also on Christian faith, leading inevitably in time to restriction of the right to public displays of faith and suppression of freedom of speech which runs counter to the liberal agenda. Mr Bryant’s proposal would seem dangerously close to confirming that.
The idea may seem lunacy, but worryingly it’s apparently being given serious consideration by Speaker John Bercow and the Government’s Equalities Minister, Helen Grant. Although, of course, the fact the Chapel is a ‘Royal Peculiar’ means that any change can’t take place without permission of the Queen. Voice for Justice UK humbly suggests that readers of this blog write to Her Majesty and their MPs today, telling them such redefinition would be a betrayal not just of the historic foundations of St Mary’s, but of the Christian roots of our country.