The Archbishop of Canterbury is shockingly wrong in his attitude to murder, abuse and prejudice

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in a phone in on LBC this morning, claimed that African Christians will be killed if the Church of England accepts gay marriage.

He said he had stood by a mass grave in Nigeria of 330 Christians who had been massacred by neighbours who had justified the atrocity by saying: “If we leave a Christian community here we will all be made to become homosexual and so we will kill all the Christians.” He said he has: “… stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that. We have to be aware of the fact.” He added: “If the Church of England celebrated gay marriages the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic. Everything we say here goes round the world.”

The murder of people is evil.

The murder of 330 Christians by their neighbours is a shockingly evil event and would be so whatever the reason given by the neighbours.

Their argument that Christians should be attacked and killed because they might make them become homosexual is based on prejudice, ignorance and magical thinking.

The abuse and murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is evil and wrong in every circumstance.

The Archbishop’s inability to articulate clear Christian teaching about murder and abuse is really shocking.

How can he articulate the idea that protection for one group of people, those who are LGBTI, can be sacrificed for a greater good – the protection of Christians – because the larger group is being subjected to attack and murder based on a prejudice both the attackers and the attack hold against LGBTI people?

All groups need equal protection and mutual understanding. It is ignorance, prejudice and violence that must be condemned and eradicated.

The Archbishop’s comment gives legitimacy to the intense ignorance and prejudice against LGBTI people held by our brothers and sisters in some parts of the Anglican Communion. This is a scandal and the Archbishop’s thinking as a Christian leader is scandalous.

The solution to what has already happened in Nigeria (which may be more related to prejudice between faith communities) is to provide a clear exposition of the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to educate people away from blind prejudice based on religious, sexual or gender differences.


  1. Dr Michael Blyth says

    I found our Archbishop’s comments highly disturbing. They imply that no challenge needs to be given to non-Christians/Christians in other parts of the globe who believe they can be ‘made’ homosexual as if it were some kind of communicable ‘disease’. If these are the ideas he wishes to protect then that sends a disastrous message not just to LTGBI Christians but to wider secular society – which will rightly conclude that the church is locked comfortably into the darkness of medieval ignorance. The implication is quite clear that faith has no place in the life of any self-affirming gay or transgender person who believes in the primacy of human rights. (I note incidentally that nothing is ever usually said about polygamy).

  2. says

    Hmm, I must go back and listen again. I thought I heard him responding to a question of why we cannot have an agree to disagree practice in the church. His answer was “it’s very complicated”, and he went on to talk about the mass graves.

  3. Cheryl says

    There was an article in recent years where an African woman’s head was cut off because she was disrespectful to her husband. Should Christianity turn back women’s rights because some Christians will protect women from abusive husbands? Refusing to protect GLBTs because some might be abused is the same as refusing to protect women because some might be abused. The common denominator in both is abusive souls threatening others and relying on others to wimp out. In reality, they will kill and abuse, it isn’t whether, but how many. Pandering to thugs only extends their influence and the number of souls they hurt.

  4. says

    I agree with you.
    My comment elsewhere:
    I’m trying to work out the difference JW’s statement will make in the minds of the people in various African countries. He is assuming a great deal, it seems to me – for example that their religious leaders will inform them of the subtleties in thinking between the Church of England and their African variations; that the Queen as supreme head of our church was forced to sign the equal marriage act at gunpoint by representatives from parliament. Actually, what he was told at the mass grave was a ‘get out of jail free’ reply to an appalling crime. May we hear what reply he was given about that? I doubt I can be convinced JW’s statement stacks up morally and intellectually.

  5. Steven Bradshaw says

    Welby’s reply to Widdecombe was clear enough and really says all that needs to be said about his attitude to gays in the Church and equal marriage. Marriage is between a man and woman and all sex outside marriage is wrong. That’s his stance and that’s all I need to know.

    I’m not interested in soft soap about “facilitated listening processes” or spurious arguments about gay marriage in England being bad for Christians in Africa. I will not be a member of a church that tells me I am and will always remain a second class citizen no matter what the law of the land now says.

    Quite honestly, I just don’t understand why any self-respecting LGBTI person would WANT to remain an Anglican in the face of such attitudes. Here in France I ask myself, how many Arabs are clamoring to join the National Front? And how many women are advocating for a return to pre-revolutionary ideas of Salic Law and domestic slavery? Precious few, I think.

    The equal marriage débâcle has quite literally killed the Church of England stone dead as a faith choice for me.

  6. James Byron says

    Very well said, Colin, this is nothing but moral blackmail and victim blaming. If Welby didn’t intend that, he was certainly careless about the effect of his words, and should apologize unreservedly.

    It’s disappointing to see his fellow open evangelicals leap to his defense. While their belief in biblical authority might force them to oppose gay relationships, it doesn’t oblige them to defend how Welby went about it.

  7. jason says

    Here is what he said in a nutshell: We should remember that the archbishop has made his views on same-gender marriage clear. In an address to the House of Lords he reiterated, as he did in the radio interview most recently that marriage is a sacred institution reserved for heterosexuals. In fact, in this most recent interview the Guardian wrote that the archbishop did not want LGBT people to be treated with any greater severity than adulterous heterosexuals are treated. The core idea here if anyone cares to look closely is that same-gender relationships are sinful.

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