Thinking Anglicans

Open Letter to GAFCON leaders

Updated again Friday morning

The following letter has been sent to the Leadership Team of GAFCON. A press release from Changing Attitude LGBT Anglican leaders threatened with murder and violently attacked in Nigeria and England explains the background to the letter.

Open Letter to the Leadership Team of GAFCON

Dear friends in Christ,

You may know that there were several instances of actual physical violence and threats of violence and death enacted against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders of Changing Attitude in Nigeria over the Easter Weekend 2008. The leader of a Changing Attitude group was violently beaten. Subsequently, death threats have been issued against the Directors of Changing Attitude in Nigeria and England.

The discourse taking place in the Anglican Communion about the presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches must be conducted in the context of Christian love and mutual respect. If it is not, then people will continue to perpetrate abuse and violence against LGBT people.

Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.

Changing Attitude understands that the Anglican Communion is engaged in an extended period of debate about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches. We are committed to engage in this debate and in the Listening Process which is integral to it and authorised by the Councils of the church.

Conservative Anglicans will want to argue against the position which Changing Attitude represents. They will continue to question the pattern of life and identity adopted by some lesbian and gay Christians. We recognise the integrity of those who hold this position at the same time as we disagree with it. We are not resistant to engaging in the debate with those who hold radically different views.

We recognise that it is extremely difficult to conduct this debate in language that does not polarise opinions or inflame tensions. Tension will grow more intense in this period immediately prior to the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON event.

The language we use has direct consequences on the lives of LGBT Christians. Language affects us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We ask that all of us within the Anglican Communion be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people. We ask that all of us actively discourage any form of threatening behaviour so that we may all engage in respectful listening and conform the pattern of our lives to the pattern of love embodied by our Lord Jesus Christ.

None of us wishes to encourage or condone violence and none of us wishes to be responsible, indirectly, for murder or violence perpetrated on another person, whatever their sexual identity.

Yours in Christ,
(Signed)

Revd Canon Professor Marilyn McCord Adams
Rt Revd Michael Bourke
Rt Revd Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking
Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ramsbury
Very Revd Vivienne Faull
Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Rt Revd Richard Holloway
Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme
Revd Sr Una Kroll
Rt Revd Richard Lewis
Rt Revd Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield
Rt Revd John Oliver
Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon & Leeds
Christina Rees
Rt Revd Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire
Rt Revd John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln
Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby
Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
Revd Dr Anne Townsend
The Revd Canon Angela Weaver

Letter sent to:
Rt Rev Nicodemus Okille, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Rt Rev Martyn Minns, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Archbishop Greg Venables, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop Justice Akrofi, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Rt Revd Michael Nazir Ali

Update Wednesday evening

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this statement:

Archbishop condemns recent violence against lesbian and gay people

Wednesday 09 April 2008

In response to reports of violence and threats towards Christians involved in the debate on human sexuality, the Archbishop has given the following statement:

“The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”

Update Thursday

Additional information from Changing Attitude at Nigerians threaten English and Nigerian Directors of Changing Attitude.

And the BBC has published Archbishop criticises gay threats.

Friday morning
The Church Times has Gay Nigerians suffer violent abuse by Pat Ashworth.

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david wh
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david wh

Don’t CA think that ALL people have a right to protection from violence? Why just LBGTQ people? Many Christians have been beaten, and even killed, in Nigeria recently! Why didn’t CA speak about their rights? Or do they think that GAFCON is behind the violence? Having a moral view about sexual behaviour is not the same as fomenting violence. I worry about liberals who think that all disapproval leads to violence… what will they do to me one day?! ps Nice to see so many Bishops acknowledging the Rt Rev Martyn Minns’ orders…. can we assume that they will now… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

“Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.” Changing Attitudes

We know that is NOT your intention?

http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com/2005/09/archbishop-akinola-gays-produce.html

We know that is NOT your intention?

http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com/2006/01/why-listen-when-we-can-beat-defame-and.html

I think hoping for “good intentions” is playing a dangerous game of “pretend” with those who would/do instigate crimes of hate.

Pluralist
Guest

Yes, an important letter and timely. The reports heard recently are concerning. They should be able to condemn violence even though some of the stuff published has a nasty tone about it.

Here is one example:

http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/index.php/2008/04/07/the-gay-gene-hoax/

So people should keep cool heads.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Why is this letter signed only by “the usual suspects”? Where is the Anglican voice on these matters?

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Oh, on second reading I notice that there are quite a number of mainstream bishops among the signatories. I hope this group will continue to keep watch.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David Wh Nothing about the actual violence perpretrated then? Nothing to say to the victims of this, who may well be reading your comments here on TA? Only concern that liberals who question it will be so moved against you because of your posts on TA that we will hunt you down and beat you up? I repeat my plea of a few weeks ago. Are there people here who will stand shoulder to shoulder with me and help me write a letter to all the leaders of GAFCON, affirming that whatever we may think of homosexuality, we do NOT… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Dawid Wh

Further to my previous post…

and quid pro quo I shall sign your open letter to whoever you want to send it, condeming violence against Christians, in Nigeria and anywhere else in the world.
If it helps, I happily identify myself as a Changing Attitude supporter.

Flossie
Guest
Flossie

Most of the signatories to the letter appear to be patrons of Changing Attitude. Are they accusing the GAFCON leadership of incitement to violence? What is the purpose of this letter,exactly?

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Nice to see so many Bishops acknowledging the Rt Rev Martyn Minns’ orders…. can we assume that they will now insist he be invited to Lambeth?”

I expect they are being polite.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Guest
Davis Mac-Iyalla

Violence must be condemned and stopped and as well as the use of hate language. The Church of Nigerian Anglican Communion still put up their false statement against me on their website because they know they can get away with it. I thank God for helping me to escape being kidnapped 2 Sundays ago. And I thank God that he saved the life of the leader of CAN Port Hartcourt who was badly beaten up only a week earlier and. If you ask me who these people feel encouraged by I will have no other person to mention than Tunde… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

David Wh: Why would being against all violence prevent you from taking a stand against violence done to gay people? The point is that there is specifically abusive language directed (it seems, uniquely,) at gay people by church leaders, to their shame, and there is specific violence done to gay people. One does tire of flat-earth churchpeople in denial about the nasty reality of anti-gay violence. I certainly lived it as a gay person growing up in the UK, so I can imagine how much worse it must be in some other societies. I think you need to take on… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Having a moral view about sexual behaviour is not the same as fomenting violence.” No indeed! But saying that gay people are less than animals, a cancer on the Body of Christ, and ought, with those who support them, to be jailed for five years certainly goes a long way to creating this situation. Why is it you cannot see this? Why is it that you believe that in order to express your belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality you either have to speak about gay people the way +Akinola does, deny that it has any effect, or otherwise minimize… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

People certainly need to be aware of the possible consequences of the chosen means of expression.

There is no excuse for death threats and violence, and it is important that, if these people claim not to have such intentions, that they unreservedly condemn such activities.

It is their responsibility to do so, and whilst there are violent acts committed against many people, these are directly aimed at people because of their sexual orientation.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Flossie I shouldn’t think for a minute that CA are accusing GAFCON leaders of violence. But it is true that anti gay violence is often perpetrated by people who are socially and religiously conservative. It is also true that GAFCON is largely about being anti gay, homosexuality being the “presenting issue”. So it would help if the GAFCON could recognise that some people might feel encouraged by its theology. Especially where supposed Christians are beating up gay Christians, as happened in this case, it would be very encouraging if GAFCON could say, clearly: We oppose homosexuality, but we also oppose… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“What is the purpose of this letter,exactly?” To point out the reality of violence in the lives of gay people? It’s certaihnly necessary. Look at this thread! To listen to David Wh, gay people are under no more threat of violence than anyone else, and he certainly seems more interested in defending that position than he is in listening to or trying to understand the testimony of those who are direct victims of this kind of thing. I await his response to Davis’s post. He is not alone. Conservatives routinely deny the reality of anti-gay violence, and certainly never acknowledge… Read more »

PamBG
Guest

Having a moral view about sexual behaviour is not the same as fomenting violence. I worry about liberals who think that all disapproval leads to violence… what will they do to me one day?! Yes, having a moral view about sexual behaviour is not the same as fomenting violence. There are many conservative Christians who believe that homosexual acts are wrong and who do not foment violence and who speak out against violence. However, the Anglican church in Nigeria has fomented violence and – now, as in the past – conveniently ignores violence and will not speak out against it.… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dave Wh wrote: “Having a moral view about sexual behaviour is not the same as fomenting violence. I worry about liberals who think that all disapproval leads to violence… what will they do to me one day?!”

Ignore you?

; = )

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Erica,

I’ll gladly sign anything you do.

John Omani
Guest
John Omani

‘Are there people here who will stand shoulder to shoulder with me and help me write a letter to all the leaders of GAFCON, affirming that whatever we may think of homosexuality, we do NOT condone violence against gay people? ‘ I would be very happy Erika. The Changing Attitude letter is timely, and representative of a considerable breadth across the communion. It is particularly pleasing to see Canon Professor MacCord-Adams taking a stand, a woman of great learning. I doubt however you will get very far with David Wh, whose usual tactic is to post an inflammatory comment at… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

A failed opportunity to ask how Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals are making common cause, by hiding their different approaches to morality and contradictory interpretations of the Gospel, and pretending they are Biblically orthodox.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Or do they think that GAFCON is behind the violence?”

David Wh (and Flossie), I think David Mac-Iyalla just answered your question.

Lord have mercy!

Dan
Guest
Dan

Violence has no place in our disagreements. But except for suppositon and conjecture, I have never seen any evidence linking any GAFCON participant to such violence. Moreover, other than anecdote, what is the evidence that supports the proposition that “Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender?” Should I assume that Changing Attitude’s language is what led to the physical assault several years… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“I would certainly prefer to see Global South leaders clearly condemn violence perpetrated against gays and lesbians. Perhaps if they were not accused of encouraging and inciting it on the flimsiest of bases, they might be more receptive to hearing how they might help create an environment that is less dangerous for those who are at risk.” Since Bishop Akinola has been a very forthright and public supporter of the Nigerian government’s anti-gay agenda–an agenda that has, indeed, led to violence against gay citizens of that nation…and since Bishop Akinola is a forthright and public leader of the Global South…and… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thank you, John and Göran.
Simon, do you think it would be acceptable to post my email address here, so people could contact me direct?
It’s erika at blagdonlake dot demon dot co dot uk
I hope many more of you will participate in this.

Kahu Aloha
Guest
Kahu Aloha

“The threats recently made against leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful.” 1. Being attacked by a mob and being beaten to within an inch of your life are more than threats. 2. Such violence against gay people happens every day. 3. Disgraceful? Gambling away the family rent and milk money is disgraceful. Murderous mob violence against another human being (especially one who has done you no harm) is a bit more than “disgraceful”! 4. Prior to the letter sent to the GAFCON folk, only stone cold silence emanated from Lambeth. So much for THAT crozier being a symbol of protecting… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Perhaps if they were not accused of encouraging and inciting it on the flimsiest of bases, they might be more receptive to hearing how they might help create an environment that is less dangerous for those who are at risk. Posted by: Dan on Wednesday, 9 April 2008 at 6:40pm BST Dan, if don’t read the “direct quotes” supplied and if you don’t care about what REALLY is vile and what dangerous and visicious stupidities blurt come out of the mouths of GS Primates, so be it…there is nothing to be done for those who will NOT read/see…MOST Anglicans/Christians don’t… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

I suppose it is consistent that some church leaders throw up that there are other Christians being abused: so why should they worry about whether or not some Christians, e.g. GLBTs, are being abused or whether their own behaviour is complicit or condones such conduct. Perhaps it was that logic that made it tenable for dioceses to aid and abet pedophile priests move from one unsuspecting parish to another rather than dealing with their molestations of parishioners’ children and friends. In many dioceses, it was only after the expensive legal lawsuits enforced by the secular state that some dioceses repented… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest

I suppose you can’t “prove” that the guy shouting “FIRE” in the crowded theatre was responsible for the stampede of people, or for the injuries and deaths resulting from the stampede.

david wh
Guest
david wh

I can’t imagine how anyone who follows Jesus would dream that they should use violence against, or abuse, people because they have an LGBT orientation… or even people who have extreme or abusive sexual desires. But publicly rejecting homosexual sexual behaviour as immoral, and verbally opposing campaigners for gay marriage, is not violence.. nor is it condoning violence. Now, in the UK, a disproportionate number of gay men do suffer and even die each year due to other people’s bad attitudes and behaviour…. But the biggest part of that by far (many thousands) is due to sexually transmitted diseases… that… Read more »

David R. Lyon - lay- Dallas
Guest
David R. Lyon - lay- Dallas

As a Baptized Anglican for 68 years , I must take issue with wording in the third ( 3rd ) paragraph above…I do not “Identify” myself as a Gay person , I was Created homosexual , by a Just and Loving God..and again in the 5th paragraph…( 5th) I am not living a ” life and identity adopted ” as Gay…I am a Christian living the life God has purposed for me to ” walk in , and be fruitful…” In other words , I have not made a MORAL CHOICE to be homosexual…I am homosexual.. How can ++ Peter… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Will gladly sign it Erika.

Robert Leduc
Guest
Robert Leduc

“ps Nice to see so many Bishops acknowledging the Rt Rev Martyn Minns’ orders…. can we assume that they will now insist he be invited to Lambeth? [david wh]”

No one has disputed that these men are bishops. The reason they have not been invited to Lambeth, per communication from the ABC, is that they are not part of the Anglican Communion.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Lambeth the Sphinx has spoken.

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

i’ll gladly sign, erika. oh, great, RW has condemned violence against gay people. isn’t refusing to ordain gay people an encouragement to those who want to treat them with less respect? isn’t withholding the invitation to lambeth from gene robinson encouragement to those who consider gay people to less worthy of equal treatment, and therefore easy victims? RW wants to have his cake and eat it. he is at the forefront of violent acts against gay people and his example gives comfort to those who commit physical acts of violence. akinola’s words make him less suitable as a guest at… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

David: I trust that you would offer the same advice to the many, many more people who are infected by STD’s in Africa, most of whom are supposedly conservative Christians? And, heterosexual. Or maybe not. Also, few people actually die of STD’s these days in the UK – HIV , for example, is much more of a chronic illness which can be controlled with drug therapies. I am sure that Christian gay groups do support the promotion of stable and faithful relationships. Jeffrey John has written about them. But of course, you don’t support them, you old hypocrite! I look… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

“If Changing Attitudes put as much energy into changing attitudes to irresponsible sex as it does into remonstration about UK conservatives’ attitudes to sexual morality it would save a lot of real suffering.” In Australia, it was the GLBT movement that was the most effective in coming up with strategies to manage the outbreak of AIDS and how to slow down its spread. I’ve dealt with a few Christian GLBTs, a lot of their focus is on having responsible sex. A large part of their education programs are based on helping GLBTs understand how self-loathing can make souls behave irresponsibly… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

Frankly, I don’t know that I believe a word that Davis-MacIlya says. I suspect he has found a way to make money from westerners willing to contribute money to protect him from threats that may be mostly imagined or even invented.

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

poppy,

If what you say about RW stands for conversation here than slander has become the order of the day! In accord with this people can not speak for themselves – we will say what their words and actions mean: get real!

Ben W

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

ben w. i struggled to find a sentence in your last post, but i think you are disagreeing with me. look at it this way. when you help to create a moral climate in which gay people are not regarded as equal to straight people (and this is what RW has done) then you open the door to violence against them, you legitimise those who would go further. we have laws that prevent people singling out people for special and second-class treatment because of their race or their gender or their sexuality, but the c of e is exempt from… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Dan
I know Davis Mac-Iyalla personally and I confirm that every word he says is true.

Money from Westerners? If only! And I mean that very seriously.

Anyone who does feel they would like to support him can do so via the Changing Attitude website.

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

According to the egregious Dr Sugden on Anglican Mainstream, this letter is from the Bishop of Portsmouth. There is no acknowledgement that three other diocesan bishops as well as a clutch of suffragans signed it. But the Bishop of Portsmouth recently spoke in favour of the proposed embryo research bill. He said that were it not for such research, he would be dead. He has been suffering from leukaemia and has had two if not three bone marrow treatments. Has this turned him into A-M’s Target for the Week? Sugden’s singling him out in this way seems potentially to have… Read more »

Paige Baker
Guest
Paige Baker

Dan–on what basis have you decided you can’t believe a word Davis Mac-Iyalla says? Have you ever met the man? Do you seriously doubt that there is violence against GLBTs—either in Nigeria or in the U.S.? (Two words for you: Matthew Shephard) I am always curious as to why those who are in no danger for their views are so quick to dismiss dangers to others. Full disclosure—I have hosted Davis Mac-Iyalla in my home. If he *is* a con man, he has got to be the most gentle, sincere con man in the history of the world. For one… Read more »

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

poppy,

If principled disagreement in the context of respect for the people with whom we disagree is to be equated with support of violence then any meaningful conversation is at an end!(who is falsifying here? when has RW ever spoken or acted to say that gay people are less than equal human beings?).

This amounts to a tactic simply to co-opt those who disagree (like the domineering husband, “It does not matter what you say, I know what’s good for you and you are called to submit that is all there is to it.”)

Ben W

Dan
Guest
Dan

Other than his own personal statements, is there any objective evidence to substantiate threats against him? Other than the claim that an unnamed person was assaulted at a funeral by unknown assailiants, is there any objective evidence the incident occurred and that the bizarre statements alleged to have been made by the assailants actually were made?
Erica – you confirm everything he says. Is that simply becasue you believe him to be truthful or have you witnessed the incidents?

Malcolm+
Guest

I would agree with conservatives that principled opposition to homosexual behaviour, to the blessing of same sex unions and to the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals is not the same thing as advocating violence against homosexuals. Indeed, there are any number of conservatives who speak in very measured tones, who make their case respectfully and honestly, who actually do “hate the sin” while loving the person they perceive to be a sinner. Such people do not refer to homosexuals as “cancer.” Such people do not refer to homosexuals as “lower than animals.” Such people do not spread discredited data claiming that… Read more »

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

ben w. you ask for an example. there are many. I’ll give you one. RW made Jeffrey John withdraw from the post of bishop for the simple reason that he was a homosexual who had been in an active sexual relationship. now, that is treating him as less than a heterosexual and that contributes to a climate of opinion. within that climate of opinion some diocesan bshops refuse to appoint youth workers who are gay, and some thugs beat up homosexuals. they take comfort and support from one another. i don’t for a moment believe that RW wants gay people… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Event 1: public statement “x is bad/immoral/evil” Event 2: anonymous statement “Kill x!” (*) Event 3: covert action, ASSAULT on x. It is not necessary to believe that the perpetrators of Event 1 *directed* Events 2 and/or 3, for them to have the *moral responsibility* of PREEMPTIVELY DENOUNCING events like 2 or 3, ***every time*** they say “x is bad (etc)” (*) I write from Somewhere in the American Heartland, where just two days ago, Event 2 occurred in a nearby city (in a neighborhood w/ a significant gay population): “Kill Gays!” spray-painted all over the neighborhood. 🙁 [NB to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Dan, Let’s turn this the other way round. The Nigerian church has persistently made allegations against Davis, but has persistently been unable to provide the tiniest shred of evidence against him. His story can be tracked through the web pages of Changing Attitude. Colin Coward has also repeatedly asked Tunde Popoola in open conversations on Thinking Anglicans to provide evidence for his continuing slander of Davis. He has never received a reply. This can be tracked through the TA archives. In the recent attacks there has been evidence that the police is taking the assaults very seriously. They would not… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

JCF
I don’t doubt gays and lesbians suffer violence at the hands of others. That it happens at all is obscene. But that truth does not require me to accept as true every allegation made nor this fellow’s speculation as to who instigated some alleged incident.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“He said that were it not for such research, he would be dead.”

I’m not sure how informed the bishop is in this case. I don’t know the bishop or his treatment, but bone marrow transplants have been an essential part of some leukemia treatment for years, as have stem cell transplants (the cells in that case come from thre patient’s own body). Such treatments did not come from research on embyros, as far as I am aware, though I stand to be corrected. It is possible to study, and transplant, stem cells from an adult human.