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LGBT topics and Christian faith groups

The Church of England and LGBT topics:
Events and developments:: 2007 & 2008

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In this web site, the acronym LGB stands
for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual persons

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Developments concerning homosexuality from 2007 and 2008:

bullet 2007-FEB: UK: Motion passed at 2007 General Synod: Rev. Mary Gilbert submitted a private member's motion at the 2007 General Synod that stated:

"That this Synod

(a) commend continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion;

(b) recognize that such efforts would not be advanced by doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978: 10; 1988: 64; 1998: 1.10);

(c) welcome the opportunities offered by these Lambeth resolutions, including for the Church of England to engage in an open, full and godly dialogue about human sexuality; and

(d) affirm that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church." 1

She explained to the Synod:

"The motion this morning has a number of aims, which seek to move us forward in the way we corporately view and accept our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers. The motion seeks to acknowledge where we are in the Church of England at the moment with regard to lesbian and gay Christians. It also invites an acceptance that those of us who believe in the full inclusion of lesbian and gay Christians hold our views with integrity and after careful study of the Bible. Finally, it attempts to move us on as a Church, to become a place of safety, not of fear. It is not the aim of this motion to split the Church, but the motion is brought in full recognition of the fact that this is an emotive and difficult issue for many in the Church. However, emotive and difficult issues do not go away if we do nothing. We need to be able to hold honest and open debates; we need to listen to each other, and to the experiences of faithful, committed lesbian and gay Christians." 2


bullet

2007-JUL: UK: Gay man wins employment discrimination case against diocese: John Reaney, 42, won a decision against the Church of England because he was turned down when he applied for the position of youth director of the Diocese of Hereford. He is gay. Bishop Priddis testified that he was rejected because he was in a long-term sexually active relationship with another man. He was not refused employment because of his homosexual orientation. Bishop Priddis said: "Such sexuality in itself was not an issue but Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese."

The employment tribunal's judgment is the first time that complaint had been heard under a new set of Sexual Orientation Regulations which had been passed during 2007-APR. 3


bullet

2007-OCT-08: Bishop threatens to boycott Lambeth Conference if U.S. bishops invited: Every ten years, the bishops of the Anglican Communion gather in the UK to exchange information and develop joint policies for the worldwide group. The conservative Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that he will boycott the 2008 conference if liberal American bishops from the Episcopal Church, USA are also invited. Church members in New Hampshire elected the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as their bishop. The U.S. bishops later ratified that decision and consecrated the first openly gay bishop in the Communion. Another conservative bishop, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester claimed that most English bishops are debating whether they will attend.

Bishop Nazir-Ali also backed up the calls of African archbishops for an emergency meeting of all the primates to decide whether to discipline the American church or to postpone Lambeth. 4


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2007-NOV-22: Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that CoE accept LGBs: The group recommended that the Church accept gays and lesbians fully into the life of the church. They sent a statement to the Church of England’s Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality that said:

"There is no scientific or rational reason for treating LGB people any differently to their heterosexual counterparts. People are happiest and are likely to reach their potential when they are able to integrate the various aspects of the self as fully as possible. Socially inclusive, nonjudgmental attitudes to LGB people who attend places of worship or who are religious leaders themselves will have positive consequences for LGB people as well as for the wider society in which they live."

The College also recommended strongly against attempts to change LGB's sexual orientation through therapy. Their submission stated:

"A small minority of therapists will even go so far as to attempt to change their client’s sexual orientation. This can be deeply damaging. Although there is now a number of therapists and organization in the USA and in the UK that claim that therapy can help homosexuals to become heterosexual, there is no evidence that such change is possible. The best evidence for efficacy of any treatment comes from randomized clinical trials and no such trial has been carried out in this field." 5

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2008-JAN-18: UK: Church of England in a gay crisis? Theo Hudson, author of the book: "Anarchy, Church and Utopia: Rowan Williams on Church." has concluded that:

"... the tradition of liberal Anglicanism is finished. Those Anglicans who carry on calling for an "inclusive church" are relics of a previous era. They should face the fact that the religious landscape has changed utterly. Liberal Anglicanism has become oxymoronic. For the first time this church has defined itself in opposition to liberalism, taking a decisively reactionary stance on a crucial moral issue.

An institution that discriminates against homosexuals is without moral credibility - and moral credibility is rather important in religion. Furthermore, it contravenes the spirit of Jesus's teaching. His commandment "Judge not" could almost have been invented for the problem of homosexuality, which most straight people find challenging on some level, but must learn not to condemn. Tolerance seems the only moral response, and a rule against gay priests obviously falls short of tolerance. It institutionalizes prejudice." 6


bullet

2008-JUN-16: Same-sex priests undertook marriage ceremony: LifeSiteNews reported that:

The Rev. Peter Cowell, a London hospital chaplain and a minister at Westminster Abbey, and David Lord, a minister from New Zealand, used a traditional wedding liturgy, involving the exchange of rings and vows, in a direct act of defiance of the Anglican Church's own norms."

Observers are now openly admitting that two warring camps exist in the Church of England and the Worldwide Anglican Communion in general, and many believe that the unity of the Anglican Church will not survive next month's Lambeth Conference
 
Jonathan Wynne-Jones notes in the Daily Telegraph that the event could not have come at a worse time for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is likely facing an irreversible schism in the Anglican Communion over the push by liberals for acceptance of homosexuality.  
Rev. Cowell said that: "Some people have to be courageous. ... It was a conscious decision. We did it for each other and for family and friends."

The Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, the bishop of Winchester said: "Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modeled on the marriage service and the occasion is modeled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion." 7

The ceremony happened at a critical time for the CoE and the rest of the Anglican Communion, as the GAFCON conference of conservative Anglicans started one week later, and the Lambeth conference -- the once a decade meeting of Anglican bishops from around the world started one month later.

bullet

2008-JUL-14: UK: Lambeth Conference held minus some bishops: Every ten years, the approximately 880 bishops of the Anglican Communion gather in the UK to exchange information and develop joint policies for the worldwide group. However, because of the controversy over the consecration as bishop of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the conference was minus that one bishop who wasn't invited, and minus another 230 bishops who refused to attend because of Bishop Robinson.

In recent years the Communion has been brought close to complete schism over the whether LGBs should be treated as equals and be fully integrated into the life of the church, or should be restricted to simple membership. In his wisdom, Rowan Williams, the the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury -- the spiritual head of the Communion -- decided that the goals of the Lambeth Conference would be best accomplished without a gay voice being present. As a result, Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire was not invited to the conference.

Bishop Robinson responded:"I think a mistake was made in not including me in those conversations. I was the only openly gay voice that might have been at the table. But I will do all I can from the fringe. Miracles happen when people who are divided by something get to know one another."

He was in Canterbury during the conference, but was not permitted to attend any of the sessions. With Sir Ian McKellen, he co-hosted the UK premiere of the U.S. documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So" which discusses homosexuality and the Bible. Sir Ian suggested that the church, like the UK armed forces and schools, were homophobic. Their leaders had also considered LGBs as a problem. He said: "That particular problem is homophobia and, having it, they root around in the Bible for the bits that seem to be relevant." 8

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Lesbian and Gay Christian Synod debate 2007," The Church of England, at: http://www.churchofengland.org/
  2. "Third Day," CofE 2007 General Synod, 2007-FEB-28, at: http://www.churchofengland.org/  This is a PDF file.
  3. Hilary White, "Homosexual Man Wins Landmark Discrimination Case Against Church of England," Life Site News, 2007-JUL-18 at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  4. Jonathan Petre, "Church of England gay clergy row intensifies," The Telegraph, 2007-OCT-08, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  5. Dave Rattigan, "Psychiatrists Warn Church of England to Reject Reparative Therapy," Ex-Gay Watch, 2007=NOV-22, at: http://www.exgaywatch.com/
  6. Theo Hobson, Face to faith," The Guardian, 2008-JAN-19, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  7. Hilary White, "Two Homosexual Church of England Ministers 'Marry'," LifeSiteNews.com, 2008-JUN-16, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  8. Riazat Butt, "Church of England: Gay bishop accuses church leaders of mistake over invitation snub," Guardian newspaper, 2008-JUL-14, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

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Copyright © 2008 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2011-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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