In 2014, a married priest, who advocated for the promotion and honour of marriage, was suspended for five years after confessing to an extramarital affair with one of his congregation members. The Reverend Martin Howard, who is married with children, also tendered his resignation from his role as Team Rector of Hampreston in Dorset.

Mr. Howard gained attention in 2013, during the same-sex marriage debate, when he displayed a sign outside St. Mary’s in Ferndown, near Bournemouth, asserting that “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman.” He argued that “society thrives when marriage is encouraged, respected, and safeguarded.”

He further expressed concerns about potential discrimination claims against clergy who declined to officiate same-sex weddings if the law changed. He questioned whether this aligns with the tolerant society people aim to build, stating, “In displaying our poster, we hope to preserve marriage as we know it.”

Thankfully, at the time, many in his parish were disgusted and challenged Howard’s blatant attempts to restrict freedoms and impose his own bigotry.

Following a complaint about his relationship, the Diocese of Salisbury initiated an inquiry, which led to Mr. Howard’s admission of guilt. In an official statement, the diocese announced, “A complaint of adultery was filed under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure, and it has been upheld. The Reverend Martin Howard has voluntarily resigned from his position as Team Rector of the Hampreston Benefice, effective immediately. As part of the penalty, Martin Howard has agreed to a five-year prohibition from ministry.”

The moral of the story?

When someone makes a noise about others, it is often to distract from something they don’t want discovered about themselves.

Douglas James

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