Bishop Pete Broadbent And Republicanism

So Bishop Pete Broadbent has been allowed to return to work. I, for one, am pleased.

Let’s leave behind some of the questions when he first mocked the forthcoming royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Was his language intemperate? Yes. But most of us – me included – are guilty of that at times. Did it stink that his boss, the Bishop of London, allegedly a ‘close personal friend’ of the Royal Family, suspended him, despite his fulsome apology? Oh yes, indeedy: blood must be spilled.

But it’s this question that puzzles me: is there really an incompatibility between Anglican clergy and bishops taking the oath of allegiance to the Queen and holding republican views? If it is, then it seems that the Church of England makes this her defining doctrinal stance. Other church leaders have publicly set forth views far from orthodoxy, but have not been disciplined. But the moment someone lampoons our apparently untouchable royal family, then it’s off with his head, despite his orthodox theology.

Furthermore, the clerical oath of allegiance is just about word for word the same as the oath of allegiance that Members of Parliament have to take. We all know that for decades there have been openly republican MPs. Maybe they cross their fingers behind their backs when they take the oath. Maybe the Sinn Fein MPs had more integrity by not taking their seats. But it seems to me it’s perfectly OK to work within a system as it is, while campaigning for change. To my mind, that’s what the bish has done, and is doing. There are certain things I don’t like within Methodism. However, every year at the ministerial synod, I renew my promise to accept and administer the church’s discipline, and I work for change within the denomination for change. I’m not convinced Pete has done anything different.


  1. Hi Dave,
    You raise a very interesting point. I blogged about this a while back and the reason was because of the comments of a colleague who used to be a URC minister. For him the Oath of Allegiance issues was very important and caused me to do some thinkng.
    I’d be interested in your perspective as a Methodist minister. Thanks for this, I think I’m broadly in agreement with where you are coming from.


    1. I can’t recall the words exactly, but when I became a British citizen, I had to make an oath that was very similar to the one that Phil took to become an Anglican cleric. I did actually give a matter a bit of thought, given the history between the United States and Great Britain. My personal understanding is that the oath was one of allegiance to the Queen in her capacity as the Head of State which meant, for me, an oath of allegiance to the country and people. I never understood it to mean that I had to be a royalist or that I could not hold personal opinions about the Royal Family or their actions that some people might deem to be “negative”.

      I am a Facebook friend with Pete and, having seen the original Facebook conversation, I genuinely believe that much of the negative press about what he said and how he said it was exaggerated in the extreme. Being pragmatic, however, one could understand why this slap on the wrist happened. However, if a friend of mine had taken the stance of “That comment to someone else’s remark was slightly intemperate and might mildly offend some people, so let’s leak it to the press as if it were a planned out and intentional rant against the Royals”, I doubt I’d personally ever trust that person again.


      1. Pam, I’m with you all the way here. It would be outrageous to use the oath of allegiance to enforce a pro-royalist stance on people, and I fear that’s what certain people have done with +Pete’s case, elevating Article 37 of the 39 Articles to the same level as belief in the resurrection.

        As to the person who leaked his FB comments, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Presumably the Daily Mail paid them thirty pieces of silver.


    2. Hi Phil,

      Good to hear from you – shame our paths never crossed when I was in Chelmsford. I think the position is technically different for a URC minister, given the Congregational and Presbyterian roots which go back to the Civil War (I’m thinking of the Crown versus Cromwell comment in your post) whereas Methodism is technically a ‘free church’ but not ‘non-conformist’, because our roots are, as you know, 18th century. Methodists hold a variety of views on the subject. However, I think I’m right in saying that the Methodist Conference no longer sends the traditional Loyal Greetings to the Queen at the beginning of its annual sessions. That may be more out of political correctness, of course. I’m not sure whether we have any official position, but maybe one of the Methodist readers here will enlighten me on the subject. A quick search of our national website produced nothing. Perhaps I’ll have to blog again!


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