A VICAR who caused outrage by comparing LGBT-inclusive teaching to child abuse is being investigated by his bosses in the Church of England.
Comments made by Wickersley St Alban’s Church Rector Rev Peter Hughes, who said lessons could “open the door to sexual predators” and described the teaching of same-sex relationships and transgender issues as “anti-Christian and harmful”, are under scrutity by the Diocese of Sheffield.
Neighbouring St Alban’s Church of England Primary School, where Rev Hughes is an ex-officio governor, has launched its own investigation into his position.
The school said it had appointed a senior educational practitioner from a neighbouring local authority to lead the inquiry “to ensure objectivity”.
Last week’s Advertiser front page story about Rev Hughes’ controversial column in the St Alban’s parish magazine created a stir online, with the majority of Facebook users condemning his stance, while the paper received letters both in support and against the vicar’s remarks.
Meanwhile, LGBT supporters holding rainbow flags gathered outside the church on Sunday during the family service - at which the rector was not present.
Among them were members of LGBT support group, The Rainbow Project, including Emily Wraw (32), of Stag, whose late father, Rev John Wraw, was Rev Hughes’ predecessor at St Alban’s.
She said they were not there to protest but to give the rector and his parishioners the chance to speak to LGBT people and to invite them to their events.
They took educational RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) books with them to give people an understanding of what the classes involve.
“Most people gave us a very positive response,” said Emily, adding that many of those people who approached them had been “friendly and chatty”.
The Diocese of Sheffield last week distanced itself from Rev Hughes’ views and said his words were “regrettable”.
This week, a spokesperson for the body said it was investigating the “serious matter” in accordance with its policies and procedures but would not comment further, except to say: “We remain determined to ensure that churches and church schools across the Diocese of Sheffield are safe places for all.”
In a joint statement, Andrew Waldron, the chief executive of Sheffield Diocese Academies Trust, and Alison Adair, executive headteacher of St Alban’s Church of England Primary School, said an investigation into Rev Hughes’ position as a governor and whether he had brought the school into disrepute had begun.
“St Alban’s Primary School, working with the Diocese of Sheffield Academies Trust, have established the grounds for investigation and have shared these formally with Reverend Hughes,” they said, confirming that a current senior educational practitioner from a neighbouring local authority, who is also a National Leader of Governance, would lead the inquiry.