Behind closed doors: Smyth, Fletcher, secrets and lies

CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
Jonathan Fletcher has released an extraordinary statement confirming the rumours that he engaged in naked spanking and massage sessions but apparently not seeing this as in any way an issue. Denial much?

Following the extensive and horrific revelations about John Smythe’s activities and the increasing evidence that many in Iwerne and Proc trust knew this was going on, does the con-evo public school wing of the CofE have any credibility left? Or is their entitled self belief so massive that they think they can just ignore and amble on?
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Comments

  • CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
    Links to all statements and commenting articles and blogs via Thinking Anglicans here. Sounds like there may be more to surface...
  • In which case it might be wise to wait a while before commenting!

    It all sounds very smutty and childish, though.
  • CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
    Rather more than that if this is, as it increasingly appears, part of a pattern of abuse which has been covered up for years. In combination with everything that’s emerged via IICSA it’s pretty disturbing.
  • Yes, you're right. Time will tell, but I agree that my wording may have been a bit of an understatement.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
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    Please pay most careful attention to Commandment 7. Posting anything which speculates about what may yet to be revealed in a way that might be deemed libellous poses a grave risk to the continued existence of the Ship. If this warning is not adhered to the thread may be closed without further warning.
    Host hat off
    BroJames Purg Host
  • CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
    Certainly no intention of doing that. All the commentary linked to above is directly based on the statements made and information in the public domain.
  • In which case it might be wise to wait a while before commenting!

    It all sounds very smutty and childish, though.
    I think that taking that view is to deny the very real harm done and to belittle people who were bullied and physically beaten - not speculation, that much is known about Smyth already, it was detailed in the report into his antics which was written by a curate of Mark Rustons, one Reverend Fletcher.

    All of this is in the public domain: that it would appear certain sections of the CofE have chosen to ignore the bits they haven't tried to bury is beyond belief.
  • Once again, I apologise for a bad choice of words - I certainly did not mean to belittle anyone abused.

    FWIW, I'm dealing (with help from TPTB) with a safeguarding case at Our Place, and appreciate (dimly, I admit) the damage abuse can cause, and which lasts lifelong.
  • The weird and abusive nature of much allegedly Christian people is exactly as weird and abusive as irreligious people.
  • I discovered the world of Iwerne while at university in the world of the CU*.

    It was quite a bit later, when I read the biography of Jim Packer, that I discovered what Iwerne and its Bash Camps were designed to do (provide a supply of future evangelical Anglican clergy from suitably privileged backgrounds).

    It doesn't come as a surprise that such a deliberately discreet and elitist system should produce abuse. However, anyone claiming such abuse and such climates are the sole preserve of any wing of the Church is kidding themselves. And I don't believe everybody going through Iwerne was either a victim or a perpetrator.

    *It was much later before I learned how to spell "Iwerne".
  • CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
    I don’t think anyone is claiming either of those things. But abuse under the guise of mentoring and nurture is horrific, and the extensive and long-lived covering up which has gone on, especially when many involved were or are high up in CofE and establishment power structures, speaks of a sick institution.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    Eutychus wrote: »
    It doesn't come as a surprise that such a deliberately discreet and elitist system should produce abuse. However, anyone claiming such abuse and such climates are the sole preserve of any wing of the Church is kidding themselves. And I don't believe everybody going through Iwerne was either a victim or a perpetrator.

    Your last statement is undoubtedly correct, though I suspect you you underestimate the extent to which it has been a surprise to people, especially those within that circle.

    Think about the public statements that have been put out on this story this afternoon; I think this part of the church (which in some ways is my own from a theological perspective) has an incomplete understanding of the corporate nature of sin and to the kinds of failure modes they were opening themselves up to by uncritical baptism of particular power structures within British society.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited June 2019
    I think it's fair to say that many evangelicals are functional perfectionists (i.e. believe themselves, or at the very least, their new selves, to be incapable of sin) even if they wouldn't consciously sign up to the actual doctrine of "entire sanctification".
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    I think it's fair to say that many evangelicals are functional perfectionists (i.e. believe themselves, or at the very least, their new selves, to be incapable of sin)

    Possibly, though I'm not sure that's necessarily the primary thing at fault here; adopting a system which is "deliberately discreet" (and elitist) necessarily heightens the occasion for certain types of sin.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited June 2019
    Yes it does, but being convinced one is above that sort of thing certainly exacerbates matters.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I think it's fair to say that many evangelicals are functional perfectionists (i.e. believe themselves, or at the very least, their new selves, to be incapable of sin) even if they wouldn't consciously sign up to the actual doctrine of "entire sanctification".
    I sort of, just about, get where you're coming from, but I'd query whether this is right in this case. The whole notion of chastising yourself or being chastised because of one's sins or as a discipline to subdue the body and resist temptation, particularly lusts of the flesh, may sound more of a Catholic thing but it has a long Christian history.

    If you're interested, you might like to look at this intriguing website a brief google-search has turned up.
  • anoesisanoesis Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    The whole notion of chastising yourself or being chastised because of one's sins or as a discipline to subdue the body and resist temptation, particularly lusts of the flesh, may sound more of a Catholic thing but it has a long Christian history.

    If you're interested, you might like to look at this intriguing website a brief google-search has turned up.
    I have to say, nothing I saw on that website served to convince me that it wasn't 'more of a Catholic thing'.

    But, this?
    CJCfarwest wrote: »
    statement confirming the rumours that he engaged in naked spanking and massage sessions but apparently not seeing this as in any way an issue. Denial much?
    I spent Friday writing a section of dialogue for the book I'm working on, in which the protagonist of my story attempts to justify, to another character, the adulterous affair that he's engaging in with his cousin. Re-reading it afterward, I had a moment of doubt, where I asked myself, is this sort of level of self-deception actually realistic, in an adult human being? Clearly, I needn't have worried...
  • CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
    edited July 2019
    Its the potent combination of abuse, with networks of power and privilege that I find particularly disturbing.

    John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher were speakers at the same IWERNE camps. Through which passed, as intended, many who have positions of influence in church, politics, education.

    Fletcher and Peter Ball were members of the same (private, all male) dining club ‘Nobody’s Friends’ with senior clergy, politicians and public school heads.

    [Redacted pending Admin decision]
    They influenced others in those circles and were protected by them.

    IICSA has begun to unpick the wilful blindness and reluctance to listen to victims (at best, active cover ups at worst); but I can’t see that the church as institution has really taken on board with any level of seriousness and depth how compromised it is.

    There may not be the sheer volume and extent of abuse we’ve seen in Catholic institutions, but the CofE’s Establishment (both structural and the web of ties to ‘the establishment’) add an additional element.
  • [tangent]Iwerne is not an acronym, it's the name of villages and a river in the Blackmore Vale, Dorset: Iwerne Minster and Iwerne Courtney (now also called Shroton). They are on the River Iwerne which feeds into the Stour and that river flows through Iwerne Minster along a street in picturesque manner. The Iwerne Camps were originally held in Dorset, although Iwerne still exists as an organisation offering camps but now is based on Oxford) [/tangent]
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Host hat on
    There are important issues here which deserve to be discussed, and we don’t want to shut down on that, but there is also a difference between matters proved or admitted and allegations still under investigation. Lumping all together in the same boat risks putting the Ship in danger of legal action which it cannot afford to contest.

    I’ve temporarily redacted your post @CJCfarwest to allow others to consider whether it does pose a risk. In the meantime, please can everyone pay most careful attention to Commandment 7.

    Host hat off
    BroJames Purg Host
  • CJCfarwestCJCfarwest Shipmate Posts: 40
    Sorry. Didn’t mean to cause a problem.

    Completely aside from abuse allegations or proven episodes, this has made me much more sharply aware of how tied into establishment structures the CofE is. I have never felt terribly strongly about Establishment (capital E) but find myself now feeling much more strongly that to regain any credibility, the church needs to disassociate from that network of privilege and influence and ‘who knows whom’.

    Is that something we can discuss in a more abstract way?
  • It is not the capital E Establishment that is particularly at fault here or which was responsible for setting up and promoting things like the Bash camps. It was the lower-case E establishment of a certain type of churchmanship which sought to set up within the Church of England a network of "suitable" Old Boys to rival that which they saw in things like the Colonial Service, the Civil Service, etc.

    As an OE Justin Welby was an oddity for Iwerne which on the whole couldn't get any hold in Eton, Harrow, Marlborough or Westminster. Of course, JW went as an undergraduate to be employed as camp counsellor because the same network which worked through Iwerne and the Bash camps then moved on to university CUs.

    In fact if you look at the network established through the Bash camps it starts at a far younger age than the secular Establishment they sought to emulate and reached beyond places of employment and, with the creation of Alpha (another direct link to Iwerne) into the family.

    But for the fact that I'll be howled down and because the whole thing is now viewed as being "mainstream" and gets the stamp of approval from a palace south of the Thames, there is a word beginning with C that would ordinarily describe an organisation that seeks to influence people from prep-school age (8) through to end of life...
  • I find myself (after many, many, too many years in ConEvo-Iwerne-graduate churches) at a refreshingly working-class church. The new vicar is in his 50s, having retrained from social work, and while there are a smattering of unlikely professional people, the majority of the congregation are lower-middle and working class folk. We don't have that network that you talk about CJC, and I believe that ties us much more closely into the local church and diocese than would otherwise be the case - because, what else is there?

    In the previous shack (I will name it - Jesmond Parish Church), the neighbouring churches were ignored at best, despised at worst, and the relationship with the diocese was one of outright warfare. But there was always a steady stream of other ConEvo visiting preachers, and extra-territorial bishops, and certainly, a map of GAFCON in the UK could simply be transposed onto a map of minor public schools.

    You could reasonably argue that such a network allowed like-minded churchmen to coordinate, but the counter-argument is that it allowed them to ignore local structures and relationships in favour of those already forged outside (and in potentially abusive environments).
  • If it looks like a cult, if it acts like a cult, if it "sticks to its own" like a cult - Its a Cult.
  • an organisation that seeks to influence people from prep-school age (8) through to end of life...

    I take it you're thinking of Monkton Combe school?
  • Also, sociologist Max Weber once famously described the Catholic church as "a sect that succeeded", so...
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    an organisation that seeks to influence people from prep-school age (8) through to end of life...

    I take it you're thinking of Monkton Combe school?

    Out of curiosity, why only that school in particular?

    Some of its students are OK.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    I find myself (after many, many, too many years in ConEvo-Iwerne-graduate churches) at a refreshingly working-class church. The new vicar is in his 50s, having retrained from social work, and while there are a smattering of unlikely professional people, the majority of the congregation are lower-middle and working class folk. We don't have that network that you talk about CJC, and I believe that ties us much more closely into the local church and diocese than would otherwise be the case - because, what else is there?

    In the previous shack (I will name it - Jesmond Parish Church), the neighbouring churches were ignored at best, despised at worst, and the relationship with the diocese was one of outright warfare. But there was always a steady stream of other ConEvo visiting preachers, and extra-territorial bishops, and certainly, a map of GAFCON in the UK could simply be transposed onto a map of minor public schools.

    You could reasonably argue that such a network allowed like-minded churchmen to coordinate, but the counter-argument is that it allowed them to ignore local structures and relationships in favour of those already forged outside (and in potentially abusive environments).

    Your new church sounds rather like Our Place. We are blessed IMHO by NOT having any Con-Evo parishes in our area (we're far too poverty-stricken), but there are some charismatic- or open-evangelical churches in our Deanery, with whom we get on well.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    If you're interested, you might like to look at this intriguing website a brief google-search has turned up.
    anoesis wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    The whole notion of chastising yourself or being chastised because of one's sins or as a discipline to subdue the body and resist temptation, particularly lusts of the flesh, may sound more of a Catholic thing but it has a long Christian history.

    If you're interested, you might like to look at this intriguing website a brief google-search has turned up.

    I have to say, nothing I saw on that website served to convince me that it wasn't 'more of a Catholic thing'. ...
    The point I was trying to make was that odd behaviour that could look questionable and suspiciously fetishistic isn't a new thing. What's being picked up here might merely be a Con-Evo-Public-School manifestation of something with a long history.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    an organisation that seeks to influence people from prep-school age (8) through to end of life...

    I take it you're thinking of Monkton Combe school?

    Out of curiosity, why only that school in particular?

    Some of its students are OK.

    I know several and agree. But it seems to be on the list of criteria for admission to Iwerne circles (or so it seemed to this outsider).
  • Ah, OK. Thanks. This Iwerne thing I know very little about. Only abuse and the ABC happening to have also helped at the camp.
  • As I said upthread, the words "Iwerne" and "Monkton Combe" entered my vocabulary when I arrived in one of the UK university CUs that ends in "ICCU". It took me quite a while to piece together what all this meant, and several years more to discover the term "Bash Camp" and the strategy behind it, as set out in JI Packer's biography.

    A lot of my life in the UK was lived out on the fringes of this particular kind of elitism. At the independent boys' school I attended (basically a machine for producing Oxbridge students, as I eventually realised, and an overt recruiting ground for Freemasonry) there were widespread whispers of sexual abuse by staff and, with hindsight, situations which today would be described as grooming by staff.

    In Christian circles, I experienced what were probably emulations of Iwerne (thinking of both official and unofficial Crusader leadership training camps), but I never caught so much as a whiff of improper behaviour of any kind in these environments.
  • There's another university CU with ICCU as initials that is also almost certainly linked into this - and I ran a mile from.

    I met a couple of ex-Bash club public school types showing them around the local listed church and they had an expectation of a much more evangelical expression of churchmanship than is there. (They were definitely ex-Bash club from what they said, which I probably wouldn't have picked up on if not for the Ship.)
  • Though these days some of them prefer to work via Fusion rather than via the CUs.
  • Ah, OK. Thanks. This Iwerne thing I know very little about. Only abuse and the ABC happening to have also helped at the camp.
    Actually the ABC did rather more than that. He went back after his initial summer with them (something he "forgot" to mention), and he stayed in touch with Smyth after his time at Iwerne (also initially denied until evidence showed otherwise), and the report on Smyth's behaviour was written by someone he described as a "great influence": all of that is in the public domain and all was initially denied by the ABC. Now call me nasty-minded but is there anything else to come out?
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    edited July 2019
    In the same vein but concerning someone else, what are we to make of this less-than-clear statement from Bishop Andy Lines? Perhaps one of his vocal supporters, dare I suggest Bishop Julian Henderson or Keith Sinclair, could enlighten us.

    And where do the good people of Christ Church, Harris, who have only recently put themselves under the episcopal guidance of ACNA in Europe (Bishop = Andy Lines) go now?

    There is also the question for ACNA (and GAFCON) that since Bishop Andy Lines was "commissioned" by Jonathan Fletcher in Wimbledon after Fletcher's PTO had been withdrawn by Southwark, was the commissioning valid?
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Admin
    edited July 2019
    The validity or otherwise is moot. Either you recognise Lines' authority or you don't. (I don't)
  • Meanwhile I'm sure some in Evangelical churches will be looking to articles like this from Christopher Ash for advice, guidance and comfort.

    (Seeing he is at Tyndale House one is bound to ask Do all roads in this context lead to Cambridge?)
  • edited July 2019
    In the same vein but concerning someone else, what are we to make of this less-than-clear statement from Bishop Andy Lines?

    I had a little look at that. I don't know any of these people, but when people go into print like that, after revelations in the press (as he says in his intro) - it looks like a load of image -enhancement PR waffle to me. And that smells pretty bad, given the subject.

    Perhaps I just read too much Private Eye.


  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Actually, the matter was mentioned in the latest Private Eye - which arrived in my post today and I wondered if that was where CJCfarwest, Shipmate got his OP
  • Perhaps I just read too much Private Eye.
    Impossible!

    Over the years some have tried to sue Lord Gnome, a couple have been awarded damages; of the latter all were later found to be lying.

    Lord Gnome has very good sources in the church, perhaps because it is almost a rule that the Editor of the Eye is a churchgoer and from the earliest its links to the children (frequently disillusioned) of the great-and-good have been too numerous to count.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited July 2019
    Just so.

    The Eye is a far more reliable source of news than the mainstream Meeja.

  • Meanwhile I'm sure some in Evangelical churches will be looking to articles like this from Christopher Ash for advice, guidance and comfort.

    I find articles like Ash's supremely unhelpful, because rather than attempt to look at the root of the issue it views it as an isolated incident which is used to stifle any structural critique and the injunction against 'gossip' is used to stifle discussion that may expose other issues.

    The Gospel Coalition has form here - they have published articles with a similar tone on the occasions of other similar issues - and have given clean bills of health to organizations that were later deemed to have been found wanting, often after much struggle on the part of victims.

    Similarly, the churchtimes report on Smyth back in April reported the perception that the Titus Trust had 'closed ranks'- this does make for a healthy end result.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    I'm curious as to how the various factions overlap.

    The -ICCU with which I was familiar was practically a front organisation for the local Anglican Reform church, which was very Calvinist, anti-charismatic, anti-liturgical, anti-Catholic, and which would not even allow women to lead Bible studies if men were present. It had virtually seceded from the diocese and hung around with like-minded churches instead.

    But I associate The Most Reverend The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury with Holy Trinity Brompton, which, although it may not be everyone's glass of gin, is charismatic, generally OK with women's ministries, and relatively open-minded about other forms of Christianity. At the same time, I understand that its plants have managed to create their own imperium in imperio within the Diocese of London.

    So did the Iwerne public-school old-boys'-network shift its allegiance from conservative to charismatic evangelicalism? While retaining the same desire to do their own thing independently of diocesan structures?
  • I have HTB pegged as a pure Iwerne product. Which doesn't mean other flavours don't exist.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I'm curious as to how the various factions overlap.

    The -ICCU with which I was familiar was practically a front organisation for the local Anglican Reform church, which was very Calvinist, anti-charismatic, anti-liturgical, anti-Catholic, and which would not even allow women to lead Bible studies if men were present. It had virtually seceded from the diocese and hung around with like-minded churches instead.

    Not a shack high in the hills of Western Sheffield? If not there must be two of them!

  • Eutychus wrote: »
    I have HTB pegged as a pure Iwerne product. Which doesn't mean other flavours don't exist.

    Surely conservative evangelicals are often rather suspicious of charismatics in general and HTB in particular?
  • I think "reformed" type anti charismatic anti women's ministry evangelicals are a shrinking minority in the UK, and that Anglican evangelicalism has been largely influenced by charismatic style (Not necessarily substance) since John Wimber's visits to the UK with David Watson in the 80s around the time of Mission England (ft. Graham Kendrick).
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    I have HTB pegged as a pure Iwerne product. Which doesn't mean other flavours don't exist.

    Surely conservative evangelicals are often rather suspicious of charismatics in general and HTB in particular?

    I think in the case of HTB it was the case of a bunch of ex-Iwerne product branching out, and then like minded people joining them over a number of years.

    The EMA/proctrust/Reform grouping would still be institutionally wary of charismaticism, even if it contains a few people who are somewhat sympathetic.
  • Do you think people objected to the idea of training cadres of public school boys to be leaders in church, schools, military, etc? Well, you could argue that public schools do that anyway, but apparently some Christians saw it as their opportunity to train leaders. My mind boggles, which probably shows how naive I am.
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