This week’s Church Times has an editorial about the new church guidelines on homophobic bullying in schools commending their existence as much as their content.
After years of clumsy official statements (e.g. Resolution 1.10 from Lambeth 1998), it is good to read: “Pupils may justify homophobic bullying because: they think that homosexual people should be bullied because they believe homosexual people are ‘wrong’; they do not think that there is anything wrong in bullying someone because of their sexual orientation; they do not realise that it is bullying . . .”
Bullying is tightly defined by the report: insensitive use of language, direct abuse and physical harm.
But, says the Church Times leader, if the definition is widened to include discriminatory behaviour, persistent condemnation, and the scapegoating of equal marriage for “undermining” Christian marriage (unmarried cohabitation, divorce, and serial marriage being a few elephants in this room), surely the Church would find itself in detention.
Thank you, Church Times, for identifying the fundamental challenge faced by the Church of England, a challenge which the Archbishop is unable to see and the House of Bishops corporately unable to confront (although many bishops know their policies about LGBTI people in the Church are untenable).
Changing Attitude does more than find the Church in detention.
The use of the Bible to discriminate against LGBTI people is prejudiced and homophobic. The Pilling Report and the House of Bishops Guidelines on equal marriage, the inhibition on equal marriage for lesbian and gay clergy, the quadruple lock denying freedom to celebrate equal marriages in church, and the continuing conservative dogmatic against the full inclusion of LGBTI people in Church and society are all examples of homophobia in the Church.
Why treat adults this way, asks the Church Times. The Church of England urgently needs policies to replicate what we now have for schools. Instead we have Pilling, Facilitated Conversations, and yet more delay and appeasement.