Church of England mis-tweets big time

Matthew Cobb found this thread on Twi**er in which someone in charge of social media at the Church of England screwed up. Here’s the first post:

Thomas More and John Fisher were Roman Catholics who, you may recall, were executed for refusing to give up their allegiance to Roman Catholicism and recognize the Church of England with Henry VIII as its head.

Hilarity ensued (there are others in the thread):



  1. Posted July 8, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    The Episcopalian Church does claim apostolic succession, and venerates More’s work on the liturgy.

    More was executed for refusing to recognise Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage. He makes an awkward martyr for freedom of opinion, as some would have him, since he approved of burning as a response to such dangerous documents as Tyndale’s translation of the Bible. Not the books – the people circulating them

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, much as I decry More’s execution, he was a complete a-hole himself who was all for killing non-Catholics when he was in power.

      • Posted July 9, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        He was as bad if not worse than the ones who burned Him, he was a fanatic,Thomas Cromwell affered him the chance to avoid his fate,by just accepting the Divorce; and to pick the Stake before signing a bit of Paper,he had to be the ultimate Zealot.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 9, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          More wasn’t burned; he was beheaded.

    • Tom
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Odd how what was so important then is now scarcely brought to mind correctly.

  2. Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    This is not so much the social media intern screwed up, as a sign of the “inclusivity” (for lack of a better word– perhaps “broadmindedness”, or “ecumenism”, or “contriteness”, would be better) of the Church of England. More and Fisher are indeed officially venerated by the Church of England as “Reformation Martyrs”, diplomatically leaving out that they were martyred by the Reformation, not for the Reformation.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I think “ecumenical” is the word they use to describe the policy.

    • BJ
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Yup. I know we all don’t like religion here, but until I see an official statement by the Church saying that this was a mistake, I take it to mean that they are, indeed, honoring what they see as two brave men who died for opposing Henry VIII and the Church 500 years ago.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s a bit like the Catholic church canonizing (and declaring a martyr) Joan of Arc, who was in fact executed by church authorities for alleged witchcraft.

      Except Joan of Arc was a more admirable person than Thomas More, who in old age had become a cruel vindictive person.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 8, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        If Joan had lived longer, she too might have become a cruel vindictive person. I think it may come with the territory.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      “Latitudinarianism” might be another word that fits (although the term used to have a specific doctrinal connotation within the C of E in ye olden times, as I understand it).

  3. pck
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Something something world war 4 will be fought with tweets and blogs?

  4. ploubere
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    The bottom line here is that people of different religious affiliations had no problem horribly murdering each other over stupid theological disputes, thereby discrediting any claim to moral superiority of either side. And they’re still willing to fight about it.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      I think a case can be made that these particular disputes were neither stupid nor purely theological. Tyndale’s death was about whether rank-and-file Catholics had the right to read and interpret Scripture for themselves. More’s was about who gets to decide who the King of England can marry.

      • Posted July 9, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Those seem like quite stupid reasons for murdering people. Not that there are very many good reasons for murdering people….

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 9, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          Whether or not the executions were stupid, my point is that the underlying issues were not “stupid theological disputes”; they were significant political disagreements.

          • Diane G.
            Posted July 10, 2017 at 1:14 am | Permalink

            Man, that sounds like hair-splitting to me. On what were the disparate sides basing their arguments if not church doctrine?

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted July 10, 2017 at 1:45 am | Permalink

              On basic questions of human rights, authoritarianism v. self-determination.

              • Diane G.
                Posted July 10, 2017 at 2:15 am | Permalink

                Okay, I see what you’re saying.

            • Posted July 10, 2017 at 2:35 am | Permalink

              The issue was, precisely, power; not whether divorce was premissible,but whether the King had the power to grant it. If the Pope had granted it, as Henry had asked, More would have had no problem.

              • Diane G.
                Posted July 10, 2017 at 3:04 am | Permalink

                And religion is nothing if not about power. (But then, so is royalty.)

                Thanks, Paul.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted July 14, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

                Which, to drag things back to the 21st century, is why the power-grab (for Westminster, from the devolved governments) written into the proposed “Brexit Bill” is being described as “Henrycian” in it’s scale.
                A better historian than I could probably mke an argument that Henry’s centralisation of power during the political bits of the Reformation set the stage for the conflict between Parliament and the monarchy a century later, which might have been avoided if he hadn’t abrogated that power to himself.

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 10, 2017 at 1:14 am | Permalink

          My thoughts exactly.

          • Posted July 14, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            For analysis of the power-grab aspects of brexit, see this by the Professor of Constitutional Law at Cambridge:

            Not easy going, but then cosntitutional law isn’t. Peroration: 2Some will doubtless find clause 1 of the Bill, which boldly proclaims that the European Communities Act will be repealed on “exit day”, intoxicating. They should make the most of it. Because the rest of the Bill palpably demonstrates that those drunk on the notion of taking back control need to face up to the fact that they — indeed, we — are in for one hell of a hangover.”

            • Diane G.
              Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

              You may have meant this reply to go to Aidan, but I did read the article–so ominous. It’s still hard to accept that the Brexit vote actually went the way it did. Such a very short experiment after all.

  5. Posted July 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    “It is so often the way, sir, too late one thinks of what one should have said.
    Sir Thomas More, for instance, burned alive for refusing to recant his Catholicism, must have been kicking himself, as the flames licked higher, that it never occurred to him to say, ‘I recant my Catholicism.'”–Edmund Blackadder

  6. nicky
    Posted July 9, 2017 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    Were More and Fisher brothers? They look quite similar, especially the noses.
    I agree, ‘Reformation Martyrs’ sounds suspiciously like for the Reformation.
    Talk about a mis-tweet, worthy of Mr Trump (usurper of the US presidency, not the 1950’s film character).

  7. Diane G.
    Posted July 9, 2017 at 4:04 am | Permalink


  8. Nell Whiteside
    Posted July 9, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    To burn someone alive on the stake is beyond comprehension. In contrast, beheading seems almost humane. Capital punishment is our greatest shame.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 14, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Which is why burning was used for witches and heretics (also I think, some ecclesiastical primness about shedding blood with those god-pissed-upon hands), hanging by the short drop (ie : death by slow strangulation, up to a half-hour, even with your family pulling on your legs to make it quicker) for the commoners, hanging, drawing and quartering (the drawing sometimes being of the entrails, sometimes of the sex organs, and sometimes both) for traitors; and the relatively quick beheading for the nobility.
      “Relatively quick”, if it was done right. Charlie-1 got shortened with one blow, but not long before someone (it may have been More, I forget) took the first blow to the shoulder, was still alive at blow five or six, and took a total of nine blows and some knife work before his head was lifted off the block.

      Capital punishment is our greatest shame.

      Oh, that’s arguable. Making a complete mess of capital punishment, despite a clear ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” is a contender. As is the evident pleasure some politicians take in promoting it as a panacea.

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