On Monday the Guradian carried an interview with John Sentamu by Stephen Moss. The Archbishop chose to focus on the trust he has set up to help young people in the diocese of York and threatened to cancel the interview the previous day when Stephen said he wanted to talk about schisms in the Church of England, racism, the lack of cohesion in British society, Robert Mugabe and maybe even God.
With the Uganda Bill and the refusal of Archbishop John to make any public statement about the Bill in my mind, I wondered how some of his comments would read if I inserted ‘LGBT’ in place of ‘young people’. So:
“I have found [LGBT] people will respond,” he said, “if you use a language which is not one of condemnation, which is not one of judgment without understanding, which is non-doctrinaire but actually speaks of love and compassion, of goodness and kindness.” Quite so.
Stephen asks the Archbishop whether the church really can speak to [LGBT] people, or is now so marginalized as to be irrelevant. John Sentamu responds:
“I think that, for a very long time the message has been, ‘Come and see what we can give you,’ instead of: ‘We come to you and together we’ll find out what’s the best way of doing it,’” he admits, “So are we connecting with [LGBT] people? All I can say is this man is trying his best.” If only.
If only… If only Archbishop Sentamu were trying his best to respond to LGBT Anglicans not only in England but in places in the Communion where LGBT people are threatened with humiliation, brutality, life imprisonment and death.
Gug, the gay Ugandan – the Uganda where John Sentamu studied law in Makerere Universtity where last week’s debate was held, where he became a barrister and was appointed a judge aged 24 – gug has written today of the war, fuelled by Christian extremists, that he, a non-believing gay man, finds himself in the middle of:
“I am in a war. It is not my choice. I have not asked for it. Just that I was born at a time and place and of a sexual orientation that is different from the rest of the world. I don’t understand why the enemy fights me. True, I don’t really understand. But, my understanding goes as far as knowing that they really will stop at nothing to win their war.
“They say that they love me. So all that they do in the name of their god, they do for love of me. I didn’t ask them for their love. What I see is that I am a fellow human being, a citizen of this earth, but they say they are the inheritors. And they want to drive out all those who are like me, in the name of love and Christ and religion.
“They have lots of justifications. I do not claim to understand all their logic, all the long winded arguments. What I understand is that they are persecuting me.
“I am gay. I cannot deny being a human being like you. You look too much like me for me to deny we are related. I don’t understand your hate. But it still hurts. I am in a war, not of my choosing. And an arrow into my chest hurts as much as it would hurt, shot into yours. I am in a war to the death. I will not hold back, because I don’t understand your hate of me.”
And neither Lambeth Palace nor Bishopsthorpe nor 815 will make a public statement condemning the Bill as antithetical to Christian practice and Anglican teaching. I will write more about this in the next post.