There are many churches these days in the C of E that define themselves as ‘inclusive church.’ They are grouped into an organisation: http://inclusive-church.org.uk/
As Edward Dowler says in his new book ‘the terms ‘inclusive’ and ‘inclusivity’ are currently used as a sort of shorthand to denote a liberal attitude, which seeks fairness for women, gay people and minority groups.’
What’s not to like?
Of course the church should be welcoming to all, and of course it has not been, and still is not in many parts of the world. When we turn people away because of our own prejudice, something is very wrong.
However, for a long time I’ve felt uneasy about the ‘inclusive’ label, because it also means being ‘exclusive’ of all those who don’t agree with those who embrace it. Members of churches that hold different attitudes are often vilified.
‘ Once a directory is compiled of those parishes or other organizations who define themselves as ‘inclusive,’ then this automatically implies that those who are not featured on the list do not share this identity. The very term ‘inclusive’ thus comes to be used as an instrument of exclusion, effectively creating ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups.’
This is so plainly true that I am glad to see that Edward Dowler, highlighted by Ian Paul, is asking pertinent questions about ‘exclusivity’ and ‘inclusivity’, and following the assumptions contained in these two attitudes to their logical conclusion.
I dislike polemic and polarised attitudes and this thoughtful study is taking a much more nuanced view, which sheds light rather than heat.
In my humble opinion, of course!