AddThis SmartLayers

Herald takes flack as gay sex storm rumbles on

An outspoken vicar’s opinion on whether a gay man could become bishop ignited fierce debate on the pages of the Tamworth Herald.

The newspaper itself has also come under fire and has been accused of sensationalism, inaccurate reporting, and giving over space to bigoted views.

The debate was sparked by Rev Alan Barrett’s viewpoint on gay priest Canon Jeffrey John, who withdrew from the post of Bishop of Reading after a furore in the Church of England. Mr Barrett said homosexual relationships were wrong and he would not recognise the ministry of a gay clergyman.

Some Christians believe that the Bible teaches against homosexuality, while others believe that it teaches universal love.

The paper devoted two pages to letters on the article, as well as a comment column from the editor, Sam Holliday, and a further article from Mr Barrett, in which he confirmed that he stood by what he said – and what was reported in the Herald.

Sam told Holdthefrontpage: “It was a really healthy debate. And we know the letters we received were just the tip of the iceberg, the people that made the effort to put pen to paper to write to us.

“We went to the vicar and asked his opinion – he could have said no, or said something different but but spoke out and was prepared to take any criticism that came from that.”

Sam told his readers: “Whether you agree with Mr Barrett or not, the fact that he can make such ‘un-PC’ and potentially inflammatory remarks shows he is a man of real belief who is prepared to stand up and be counted.

“We live in a sometimes frightened world of ‘spin’, where too many people say what they think we would want to hear rather than what they truly believe.

“Mr Barrett has laid his cards on the table and many others have also done so this week in a powerful example of open, serious debate.”

Among the comments in letters published were:

  • “I find it laughable that your clearly ill-informed reporter describes Rev Alan Barrett’s attitude towards gay sex as ‘not very Christian’.”
  • “You have acted as if Rev Barrett’s views are unusual, because without that assumption the story is nothing.”
  • “I was disgusted by his remarks.”
  • “I found the front page of last week’s Herald highly insensitive.”
  • “Surely in this day and age we are liberal-minded enough about the Bible not to treat them [homosexuals] as second class citizens and to accommodate the views of those who disagree.”

    Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or
    e-mail pastill@nep.co.uk

  • Take part in our Reader Survey here