A poison has been spreading in the Anglican Communion since the publication of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality in February 1997 by the second Anglican Encounter in the South. It was a statement about the Bible, homosexuality, the ordination of practising homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions. Its target was the Episcopal Church of the USA. It found no conflict between clear biblical teaching and sensitive pastoral care. It planted the poisonous seed which has resulted in schismatic threats, abuse, and support for legislation which attacks the core human dignity and rights of LGB&T people.
Baroness O’Caithain’s amendment
Let’s keep the real poison until later. So, yesterday an attempt to add another poisonous ingredient of prejudice against LGB&T people in the UK was defeated, thank goodness. The amendment to the bill to block civil partnerships in religious buildings introduced by Baroness O’Caithin was withdrawn. The Bishop of Oxford spoke against her amendment, thanks to God. The defeat was one small victory against prejudice and poison.
Radio 4 profile of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Also yesterday, I went to the BBC Swindon studios to record an interview for a profile of the Archbishop of Canterbury to be broadcast by Radio 4 at 7pm on Christmas Eve. They asked me because they wanted someone willing to bring a more critical voice. You’ll have to wait for the programme to hear what I said, but I am more directly critical now of +Rowan’s failure to be more confident about his theology of human sexuality and to have been more prophetic in challenging the poisonous spread of the evil which is homophobia, fuelled by Biblical fundamentalism and the so-called Global South axis.
Homosexuality and the Life of the Church: The Lepers Among us
This is the title of a book and a conference being held in London on Friday 29 January 2012 at Emmanuel Centre in London. Jim Reynolds, author, will consider compassionate ways of ministering to same sex attracted believers, those who struggle with same sex sins. Same sex sin, says the flier, is a disease of epic proportions, a malignancy spreading through the church.
Yesterday I realised how outraged and angry I felt at the use of the word leprosy in this context. It is foul, and undermines my identity and sense of self and well-being. It’s an attack on the core of my being.
If the conference were likening Jews to lepers (as indeed the Third Reich propaganda specifically did) there would be an absolute outcry, and I suspect legal action. Well, Changing Attitude has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate because we believe the conference organisers are guilty of a hate crime.
One of the CA National Trustees who is a lecturer in law sent the flyer to a contact in the police force asking whether it breached hate crime laws. They concurred and have logged the complaint as a hate incident (which may or may not be a criminal offence). The key definition is that an incident should be ‘perceived by the victim, or any other person to be racist, homophobic, transphobic or due to a person’s religion, belief, gender identity or disability’.
The conference is sponsored by Core Issues Trust, which believes that celibacy is the only option, homosexual acts being forbidden by the Bible. Two members of the Trust’s Council of Reference are Canon Chris Sugden and Andrea Minichiello Williams, both members of General Synod. Both campaign in Synod on an anti-gay platform, building on the campaign started nearly15 years ago in Kuala Lumpur.
There has been a reluctance in the Anglican Communion to name the poison for what it is – evil – a prejudice that puts the lives of thousands of LGB&T people at risk and causes misery for millions. It is manifest in the Church of Nigeria’s active support for the current anti-same gender marriage act. It is manifest in the campaigns of Anglican Mainstream, the Christian Institute, the American conservative lobby groups and schismatic churches in North America.
It’s time to campaign vigorously for appropriate pastoral and liturgical provision for LGB&T people in the Church of England and the world-wide Communion. It’s time to campaign vigorously for an end to abuse, prejudice and homophobia. We urgently need resources for our campaign. Please click on the donate button below and send a donation or even better, become a supporter.
If you would like to report the flyer and conference to the Metropolitan Police, you can do so online: http://www.met.police.uk/csu/hatecrime.htm.