Giles Fraser awarded honorary doctorate by Open University
Pro Vice Chancellor, colleagues, graduates, guests,
The Reverend Dr Giles Fraser is a distinguished philosopher, respected broadcaster, and a dedicated servant of the Church of England. Well known for his liberal, compassionate and inclusive views, Giles has taken a thoughtful, principled and outspoken stand on many of the critical issues facing the Church today.
Giles served as Curate of All Saints in Streetly in the West Midlands, before becoming chaplain at Wadham College, Oxford, in 1997. After earning his doctorate in Philosophical Theology from Lancaster University in 1999, he also became a Lecturer at Wadham. He continued to lecture at Oxford when he moved in 2000 to St Mary’s, Putney, as Team Rector. He is an expert on Nietzsche, and has published several books, including Redeeming Nietzsche, On the Piety of Unbelief, and Christianity with Attitude, as well as lecturing on Religion, Philosophy and Ethics.
In 2003 the Bishop of Reading was forced to withdraw, when it became known that he was in a celibate relationship with another man. As a result Giles founded Inclusive Church, an organisation which began campaigning for lesbian and gay inclusion within the Church. It now works to make the Church welcoming to all, especially those who may traditionally have felt excluded, including women, black and minority ethnic people, and those with disabilities or mental health issues.
In 2009 he became Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, and Director of the St Paul’s Institute, a role which saw Giles play a key link role between the Church of England and the City of London. His ministry, coinciding with the repercussions of the credit crunch, encouraged debate on issues of morality and capitalism. In 2011 St Paul’s was the setting for the Occupy protest. A strong supporter of the right to peaceful protest, Giles resigned his post when the Church took legal action to move the protesters on, citing concerns that it might lead to violence in the name of the Church, attracting national attention for his principled stance.
Today Giles is the priest at St Mary’s, Newington, where he grapples with many practical concerns of poverty and hardship in his Parish, working with the Robes Project, for example, to tackle the problem of homelessness.
His intelligent, enlightened, passionate opinions are in demand across the media. He is a regular contributor to Thought for the Day and The Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4, writes a column, Loose Canon, for The Guardian, and is on the editorial board of that newspaper.
He is also a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics.
He has spoken openly and honestly about his own struggles with mental health.
In 2012 he was named Stonewall’s Hero of The Year.
Giles has consistently stood up for equality, justice and fairness. putting his beliefs ahead of his own ambitions. His outspokenness on issues such as gay priests and women bishops has not always been popular with the more conservative and establishment figures in the Church, but it has won him a significant following and admiration from others inside and outside the Church. He speaks truth to power, regardless of personal cost, and has combined a successful academic career with a broader practical contribution, both in his parishes and beyond. The values the Giles stands for of inclusivity, acceptance and understanding, are critical not just to the Church of England but to our whole society. Values that we, at The Open University, are proud to share and promote.
Pro Vice Chancellor, by the authority of the Senate, I present to you for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University, Giles Fraser.