‘Anglican Mainstream’ has written to the Prime Minister asking him “to correct a serious misconception in the speech you made to representatives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Groups at Number 10.” The letter is signed by Dr Philip Giddings and Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Convenor and Executive Secretary respectively of ‘Anglican Mainstream’. Both are members of General Synod.
They think the Prime Minister may not be adequately informed about the terms being used in the debates about same-sex attraction. What they mean is, the Prime Minister doesn’t seem to hold the terms which ‘Anglican Mainstream’ uses to define same-sex attraction, terms held by a small minority of Christians in the UK and absolutely not representative of mainstream opinion.
The small minority represented by ‘Anglican Mainstream’ (and Reform) is not telling the truth when they claim the church is not “locking out people who are gay, or are bisexual or are transgender from being full members of that Church.” Ask many LGBT and straight supporters of Changing Attitude, lay and ordained, whether their experience is one of wholehearted, unconditional welcome by the Church. Thanks to ‘Anglican Mainstream’ and Reform, many LGB&T people experience the Church as unwelcoming, hostile and prejudiced.
Drs Giddings and Sugden reveal their own prejudice by slipping in the phrase “self-identified” as gay, bisexual or transgendered. I am gay and my gay identity is recognized by the society in which I live. Their phrase implies that it is only the individual who identifies him or herself as LGB or T rather than family, friends, colleagues and other Christians. They identify me as gay
Not content with falsely presenting their own narrow ‘Anglican Mainstream’ view as being universally held by Christians, they accuse the Prime Minister of a further misconception.
When he refers to ‘people who are gay, bisexual or transgender’, that want to know whether he means people who experience these attractions or people who engage in such experiences? For the churches, they say, the distinction is critical.
Brothers Sugden and Giddings, I have sat with you in various places and we have talked about the place of LGB&T people in the Church, in creation and in the Kingdom of God. Yet you still haven’t learnt that no healthy human being distinguishes between attraction to another person and expression of love to another person in a permanent, faithful, stable, loving, Christian relationship. The Prime Minister certainly doesn’t make that distinction and nor do the vast majority of people I meet from all walks of life. You make a false distinction and you know perfectly well what you are doing, and the majority of Christians don’t agree with you.
Your chutzpah in writing to the Prime Minister as if you really do represent majority ‘mainstream’ Christian opinion is astonishing and shocking.
It is a blatant lie to claim that those who experience the attraction have always been fully welcomed – an absolute, outright lie. Christian Churches persecute LGB&T people and you know that perfectly well and support Provinces in the Anglican Communion where the Church supports the government in introducing or maintaining legislation that criminalizes, imprisons and in some cases executes LGB&T people. How dare you make such a false claim, my friends?
I await, with little confidence, a retraction and an apology.
No wonder the Church of England’s progress towards a change of attitude in the place of LGB&T people makes such slow and uncertain progress. The Church is up against negative campaigning groups who write to the Prime Minister claiming he misrepresents the views of those with whom he disagrees when they grossly misrepresent Christian attitudes to LGB&T people and our experience in the Church.