Thinking Anglicans

Church Leaders in Liverpool condemn homophobia

Updated Friday 27 November

Church Leaders in Liverpool have issued a joint statement condemning homophobia. The statement has come from the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed and Baptist Churches and the Society of Friends (Quakers).

So far the statement has only been reported by Pink News, having apparently been overlooked or ignored by the local and national press.

Church leaders in Liverpool release ‘groundbreaking’ condemnation of homophobia

Here is the statement as quoted by Pink News.

The church leaders condemn this latest homophobic attack and extend their sympathy to James Parkes’ family.

We are concerned by the number of homophobic incidents on Merseyside.

The leaders of the churches in Liverpool believe it is wrong for anyone in the community of which we are all part to be victimised, or threatened with victimisation, on account of their race, creed, colour or sexual orientation.

We affirm our commitment to work with others to build a community where all can have their place of belonging, feel welcome and live in safety.

As church leaders, we represent a rich variety of Christian traditions, with different perspectives on some issues, but we stand together in condemning the use of violence and other forms of intimidation against minority groups who are especially vulnerable.

The city of Liverpool has a long tradition of welcoming people of difference. In the past we have discovered, sometimes painfully, the importance of learning to live peacefully together. This lesson we must never forget.

The Liverpool church leaders include the Rt Revd James Jones (Bishop of Liverpool, Anglican), the Most Revd Patrick Kelly (Archbishop of Liverpool, Roman Catholic), the Revd Jim Booth (Methodist), the Revd Howard Sharp (URC) and the Revd Phil Jump (Baptist).

Update The statement is now online at the Diocese of Liverpool’s website: Statement from the Church Leaders in Liverpool. This makes it clear that the statement came from the Presidents of Churches Together in the Merseyside Region, ie the five church leaders listed above plus the local Salvation Commander, Major Michael Highton.

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Father Ron SmithMerseymikeDave RattigananthonyMartin Reynolds Recent comment authors
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Counterlight
Guest

I don’t know, but I anticipate that this statement will be greeted with wildly enthusiastic indifference by the local lgbt community. Most lgbts see religion and religious institutions as the source of their problems and not the solution. Most lgbts see religious leaders and institutions as enablers of the violence and discrimination that they face. They’re not stupid. They have to live with the consequences of solemn pronouncements that put a qualifying asterisk on their humanity, and that declare their relationships and families as illegitimate. I’ve seen these sorts of statements before, and I have to ask, is this really… Read more »

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

Counterlight is spot on. When these folks turn the fingers of their statement on themselves and the institutions they represent, we’ll be getting somewhere. It’s easy to put out public condemnations of this sort because they don’t implicate those putting out the statements. Much harder to reflect on one’s own part in the violence.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Well, I think that many lesbians and gays will view the statement as a beginning. It’s hardly “radical” but it at least has the bulk of the community’s faith leadership saying violence is wrong. It’s a start.

Kurt
Brooklyn USA

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I’d still rather they condemned the violence than not condemn it!

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

I have to agree with Counterlight and Christopher, I must say.

We don’t expect much from the Churches

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

DAZE/DAYS LATE! Michael Causer was murdered DURING The Lambeth Conference last year (a little over a year ago) in Liverpool, England…the Archbishop of Canterbury breezed along with his anti-LGBT hufftalk (excluding Bishop Robinson for extra measure) and his fantasyland views on appropriate exclusion of LGBT Anglicans at ALL levels of Anglican Communion life while life support came to a DEAD END in Liverpool. Nice the ¨clergyfolk¨ of Liverpool have finally pulled their sense of decency together and issued a statement (after yet another Gay person was brutally attacked)…where or where are Archbishop Rowan and Archbishop John, Lord of York and… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Nothing much wrong with the public statement as such, of course; condeming homophobia is one of the fastest reactions we all get from church leaders, the moment any bloodied queer folks show up on the doorsteps. Tsk, tsk, tsk, just awful, we can always predict leaders will say. This popular reply is surely high on the reply list, perhaps topped only by that other familiar reply … yawn, silence. Round the edges of the traditional silence-invisibility-powerlessness, we can always infer whispers of, Well that queer person must have brought it on himself or herself, oh my, when will those queer… Read more »

ghm
Guest
ghm

…and isn’t this statement still an improvement over the deafening silence on the Ugandan anti-gay bill?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“I’ve seen these sorts of statements before, and I have to ask, is this really about the welfare of the local gay community, or is it about religious institutions trying to protect themselves? Do they really care about the freedom and dignity of gay folk, or are they trying to distance themselves from the blood oozing in their direction?” – Counterlight – Let’s not be too dismissive of this statement by the Liverpool Churches. For instance, can you imagine what this sort of statement from the Heads of Churches in Nigeria and Uganda could do for the countries concerned –… Read more »

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

Yes, it’s quite pathetic and shameful to see that leaders such as the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA and The Archbishop of Canterbury remain wrapped in a cloud of fog and silence when it comes to attacks like this and the unethical and violent proposals of the new Uganda laws that will bring genocide to glbt people. The bigots of organized religions of all persuasions bring violence and hatred to the table when it comes to glbt issues.

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

The Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican prelates owe an apology to the glbt community in regards to their continued silence on the proposed genocidal anti-glbt Uganda laws. There is blood on their hands if they fail to speak out against these draconian measures. I think some ACTIVE and very PUBLIC picketing of these Anglican prelates is in order. They must be shamed into ACTION! Yes, Liverpool has shown some moral backbone on homophobia and I take my hat off to them. This however is simply NOT enough.

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

When it comes to statements from religious leaders, all gays and lesbians around the world are citizens of Missouri whose state motto is SHOW ME.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Violence against glbt people is only the outward and visible sign of the inward spiritual malady of homophobia and heterosexism. That those with the chronic malady point fingers at those with the acute form is just a way to make themselves feel better. It is not therapy, but self-medication for a dysfunctional system.

anthony
Guest
anthony

Clergy signing or “supporting” statements against violence, whether in Liverpool, Wyoming, or Uganda, is a sop. If they want to do their part to stop violence, they should start marrying gay church members who want to be married. Also employing, ordaining, consecrating without qualifications not imposed on straights. If they don’t want to do that they should just state that they are sorry for people’s troubles, but do not intend to get involved at the moment. These people need to trim their fringes.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I think this quite an important debate. If we accept this condemnation in the spirit Erica suggests are we not allowing these people to escape from the fact that some of these groups have teachings that attack and undermine gay families and are even today calling for their execution? Should we not hold English Anglicans, Catholics and others to account for the actions and words of their brothers and sisters elsewhere? Elsewhere? I do not think we have far to travel. The statements of the Catholic bishops in the west are increasingly hostile and violent while the bishop of Winchester’s… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Martin To be honest, I’m not really sure what spirit of acceptance I’m suggesting. In the Uganda debate we have been scandalised that our own hierarchies have remained silent but we have been encouraged by the fact that some evangelical groups who oppose homosexuality have nevertheless spoken out against the proposed law. Was that a wrong response to their speaking out? Is there only a “unless you think as I do you might as well count among the worst for all the damage you’re doing”? On the other hand, of course, crocodile tears and mere lip-services don’t inspire any kind… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

I’d rather not pile on Erika.
She’s right. Speaking out against this violence is better than silence or worse.
My contention is that it is not enough. At best, it is a first step. It becomes institutional self-protection when that first step is also the last step.

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

I am glad that the faith groups in Liverpool have come together to make their statement in support of LGBT folk in Liverpool. As many say it is a beginning, and needs now to be taken up by faith groups throught the Uk. Then we need to see positive action of acknowledgement of the value of LGBT in the faith groups as active members. So many are in these faith groups, but feel they must keep their sexuality a private matter for fear of being ignored by the pharisaical few.. If all of us in the Anglican/Roman church stepped out… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“On the other hand, of course, crocodile tears and mere lip-services don’t inspire any kind of trust and don’t further genuine inclusion, worse, encourage and sustain a climate of inequality and hatred. So what is the right response? – Erika Baker, on Tuesday – Erika, I believe your response to all of this is quite credible. When we are reduced to systemic criticism of the action of Church Leaders who do actually speak out against violence towards the LGBT community, we rather tend to obscure our real and laudable aim – to moblise further public statements from our Church Leaders,… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I think Erika gives a very good account of her (and others) dilemma. It is, to a large extent, an old argument.

I think other comments here are helpful too.

anthony
Guest
anthony

I am not in disagreement with Erika, in that a statement is better than silence, and the statement that was made is better than it might have been and is surely not harmful. But I will not sit up and take notice until the church leaders clean their own houses. Cleaaning their own houses is what they are responsible for, the task they have been assigned. And their own houses are the only houses they are really able to clean. The best of the prophets from Amos to Gandhi learned with their mothers’ milk the trite but inescapable insight that… Read more »

Dave Rattigan
Guest

As someone else said above, the right response is “Show me.”

However, I think there are solid reasons for welcoming this statement as a good start, as I argue on CIF today

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/26/liverpool-homophobia-bishops

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I would agree, Dave. Within the Liverpool context this is progress indeed

When I was in the Church I liaised regularly with Bishop James and I do think his stance has softened significantly

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Church leaders may have a way to go, and I won’t make excuses for the homophobia that still dominates religion, but nor am I ready to dismiss this one as just another sop to the PC crowd. Making excuses is not necessary to be able to acknowledge and support religious leaders when they make genuinely positive and conciliatory steps towards ending homophobia” – Dave Rattigan: Guardian Comments – Precisely my point, Dave. And a very good article indeed. If we who support the LGBT community omit to be aware of the value of such statements from our religious leaders, then… Read more »