A Church of England bishop reported an elected church leader to the police over his tweets condemning so-called queer theory and the sexualization of children. Last week, the head of the entire church also sent a letter seemingly threatening to remove the man from leadership over his remarks.
“There’s a vocal minority that control the church and are using its resources to bully me into silence,” Sam Margrave, an elected member of the Church of England’s General Synod, told The Daily Signal in an interview last week.
Margrave provided The Daily Signal with letters from the offices of the bishop of Coventry, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Cocksworth, from Cocksworth’s lawyer, and from the leader of the church himself, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Margrave described a campaign of harassment and death threats from LGBT activists leading up to his appearance at the General Synod in July 2022. (An elected body, the General Synod considers and approves legislation affecting the Church of England, formulates new kinds of worship, debates national issues, and approves the church’s annual national budget.)
Margrave, a former community worker in the church, won his election on a platform pledging to “stand for Biblical Truth on life, death, sex, and Marriage” and to “campaign against sexualisation of Children.” [This article preserves English spellings in written material.]
He proposed a motion urging bishops to outline the church’s position on “pride”—as many in Great Britain refer to the LGBT movement—and to declare it incompatible with the Christian faith if it is. He noted that many churches raise rainbow flags outside, a violation of the Church of England’s official rules.
“I thought it would be a useful thing to raise,” Margrave told The Daily Signal. “I ended up getting death threats, threats from clergy, threats from LGBT groups. I had phone calls day and night.”
He attended the General Synod in July escorted by security. He installed CCTV cameras on his home and a panic button on his phone.
According to a letter Cocksworth’s office sent to Margrave on Nov. 11, the bishop of Coventry had contacted Margrave seven times between June 22 and Aug. 6, raising concerns about his posts on Twitter. In that letter, the bishop told Margrave that his office “had no option … [but] to report your offending tweets to the West Midlands Police.”
West Midlands Police confirmed to The Daily Signal that the office opened an investigation “into an alleged online hate crime” on June 24. The police spoke with Margrave last October.
“After reviewing the case and after speaking to all parties, the case has now been closed with no further action to be taken,” Mike Woods, the police news manager, wrote in an email statement.
Jenny Dymond, Cocksworth’s legal secretary, sent Margrave a letter on Jan. 30, alleging that Margrave’s tweets constitute defamation, harassment, and malicious communications. Among other claims, she highlighted Margrave’s tweets saying that “Queer theology builds on the work of paedophiles”; “Pride is the Nation’s next Jimmy Saville”; and “You don’t belong on General Synod. You belong on a register.”
Christian Concern, which represents Margrave, explained that Margrave traces queer theory back to the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s. The Gay Liberation Front pushed the sexualization of children as part of its case for banning therapy for homosexuality, and it targeted Christianity and Judaism with the idea of “smashing heteronormativity.”
Gayle Rubin, a founder of queer theory, defended pedophilia as a sexual orientation. Queer theory, like critical race theory, is a Marxist approach to challenge longstanding social norms regarding sexuality and normalize LGBT identities and lifestyles.
Margrave explained the Jimmy Saville reference to The Daily Signal. Police posthumously concluded that Saville, an English DJ, was a sex offender after hundreds of people came forward with sexual abuse allegations against him after his death. An April 2022 Netflix documentary on Saville explored why so many of his victims kept silent during his lifetime.
Margrave argued that both pride and Saville demonstrate “a culture where people are too scared to speak up. In order to protect people, you have to have a culture where you can debate issues.” He posted disturbing pictures of a sexual performer in front of children.
Margrave also admitted that he told Winnie Frigerio, another lay member of the General Synod who is a member of the pro-LGBT “Inclusive Church” movement, that she belongs “on a register.”
Frigerio had condemned Margrave for retweeting a message calling the rainbow flag “the preferred flag of nonces,” a slang term for sex offenders. She said she was “mortified” by Margrave’s retweet and said the Synod needs “an enforceable code” of conduct.
“You want to limit freedom of speech and protect those who sexualise and groom children,” Margrave responded. “You don’t belong on General Synod. You belong on a register.”
Margrave told The Daily Signal he did not mean a sex offenders register, but he said that “because some on her side of the argument were saying those of us who are Bible believing should be put on a naughty list.”
“By addressing the growing influence of queer theory in the church, Mr. Margrave has been accused of calling gay people paedophiles, which he categorically denies,” Christian Concern’s Tom Allen told The Daily Signal.
Welby, the head of the Church of England himself, joined the Archbishop of York, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Cottrell, in sending a letter to Margrave on Thursday. They wrote that Margrave’s tweets “failed to distinguish between serious allegations of criminal behaviour of specific individuals and the wider law-abiding LGBTQI+ community.”
Welby and Cottrell demanded that Margrave apologize publicly, “moderate your language in future on social media,” and “refrain from making generalised allegations of the behaviour of LGBTQI+ people.”
They ended the letter with a potential threat: “Membership of the General Synod is a privilege and a way in which we serve before our God.”
“I will not apologise for speaking the truth,” Margrave said in a public response to the Welby-Cottrell letter. “I do not believe I have done anything wrong. I have been honest, transparent and faithful.”
Margrave condemned the letter as “a thinly veiled and bullying threat for me to be silent or be removed from synod.” He noted that the archbishops “make no reference in their letter to the constant abuse and death threats I have received for speaking biblical truth and for standing for the Church of England’s own teaching on human sexuality.”
“I am being thrown under the bus, excluded, and treated like a leper in the name of inclusivity,” he added. “The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are holding tight to their copy of Marx while leaving the Bible on a bookshelf.”
“Any conservative orthodox Christian beliefs are being pushed out of the Church of England,” Margrave warned. “If it is me now, who will it be next?”
He claimed that the Church of England has been “politically infiltrated by Stonewall,” a British LGBT activist group. “The promotion of queer theory, the acceptance of pride flags, and now reporting any vocal opposition to the police, bares all the hallmarks of Stonewall and a repressive regime that wants to silence biblical truth at any cost.”
“All I have wanted was to protect children and give a voice to parents by standing against the sexualisation and grooming of children, which was part of the manifesto I was elected to synod on,” Margrave concluded.
The Church of England does not endorse same-sex marriage, but Welby and other leaders have endorsed church blessings for same-sex couples.
Margrave told The Daily Signal that some church leaders “are sacrificing the church at the altar of political activism and I just want to stop it. It’s not homophobic to say that we should uphold the doctrine that we say we believe. It’s not homophobic to say that we want to protect children.”
Neither Cocksworth nor Welby responded to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment.
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