Thursday, 2 March 2006

InclusiveChurch open letter to archbishop

InclusiveChurch calls on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support lesbian and gay Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda

Press Release

InclusiveChurch and its Partner Organisations have called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support lesbian and gay Christians in Nigeria and Uganda and asked him to encourage the Anglican Churches in Nigeria and Uganda to desist from denigrating them and denying their existence as committed and active Anglicans.

InclusiveChurch welcomes the establishment of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Integrity Uganda as legitimate voices of gay and lesbian Africans within our Anglican Communion. InclusiveChurch believes that the dire situation of lesbian and gay Anglicans in these countries is exacerbated by the actions of our own church.

In their joint letter to the Archbishop, the Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President of InclusiveChurch and the Rev. Giles Goddard, Chair say, ‘We are deeply concerned that in Nigeria in particular the Anglican Church appears to be encouraging the State to engage in active persecution of gay people and those who speak for them.’

Successive Lambeth Conferences have called on the Anglican Communion to engage in dialogue with gay Christians and to listen to their experiences. Integrity Uganda and Changing Attitude Nigeria provide ways of responding to this call. InclusiveChurch believes that all Anglicans should welcome the establishment of these groups and seek to assist them in their difficult and dangerous situations. To deny them a legitimate place in the life of the church is reject the call of the Lambeth Conference resolutions.

InclusiveChurch believes that the full inclusion, without conditions, of women, lesbian and gay people, people from all ethnic backgrounds and people with disabilities at all levels of the church is essential as a sign of the universal love of God.

InclusiveChurch is a campaigning organisation which is committed to celebrating and maintaining the Anglican tradition of inclusion and diversity. More information at www.inclusivechurch.net.

For further information contact The Rev. Giles Goddard at giles@inclusivechurch.net 07762 373 674

The full text of the open letter appears below the fold.

Text of Open Letter

The Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lambeth Palace
London SE1

21st February 2006

Dear Archbishop,

Inclusive Church and its Partner Organisations welcome the establishment of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Integrity Uganda as legitimate voices of gay and lesbian Africans within our Anglican Communion. We are deeply concerned at the hostility and aggression that those who belong to, and those who support these organisations, have met from their respective Anglican Churches and ask that they be affirmed as members of the Anglican family with the right to be heard and respected.

Successive Lambeth Conferences have called on the Anglican Communion to engage in dialogue with gay Christians and to listen to their experiences. Integrity Uganda and Changing Attitude Nigeria provide ways of responding to this call. We believe that all Anglicans should welcome the establishment of these groups and seek to assist them in their difficult and dangerous situations. To deny them a legitimate place in the life of the church is reject the call of the Lambeth Conference resolutions.

We are deeply concerned that in Nigeria in particular the Anglican Church appears to be encouraging the State to engage in active persecution of gay people and those who speak for them. We hope that you will encourage all Anglicans to support these vulnerable Christians and to encourage the Churches in Nigeria and Uganda in particular to recognise the members and supporters of these groups as part of our Anglican family, and to desist from denigrating them even denying their existence as committed and active Anglicans.

We recognise how very difficult it is to raise this concern in the current climate of conflict within the Anglican Communion but the dire situation of these Anglicans can not wait for the Anglican Communion to resolve its internal difficulties, the physical dangers that they face are, we believe, being exacerbated by the actions of our own church. We earnestly hope that you will be able to recognise their situation and encourage all concerned to cease the campaign against them and recognise the Christian duty to protect, not persecute, these vulnerable Christians.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President
Rev. Giles Goddard, Chair

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 1:07pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: InclusiveChurch
Comments

Right on! It's about time someone stood up to Archbishop Williams on this issue!

Posted by: Kurt on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 6:14pm GMT

It's a nice try, but the Lambeth Resolution calls for dialogue, not for giving official recognition to campaigning organisations, either InclusiveChurch or Reform.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 7:00pm GMT

Will it do any good, standing up to ++Rowan Cantuar enthralled as he is by the bully homophobe of ++Abuja?

Posted by: John Henry on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 7:07pm GMT

Maybe the Gileses can point ++Rowan Cantuar the way to his missing cojones (and conscience)?

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 8:54pm GMT

And who exactly will that dialogue be with if not the organisations allowing those currently oppressed within the church a voice?

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 12:13am GMT

Nice try? Glad you approve, if you do. The letter, whilst coming from and supporting a campaigning organisation with a clear agenda, nevertheless is moderate, humane, balanced, and totally Godly in its instincts. What practical assistance and good news would you advocate for gay people in Nigeria?

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 12:25am GMT

Yawn! Another opportunity to keep the agenda of destroying the Church open. Cannot and will not succeed.

Posted by: Tunde on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 8:29am GMT

As an evangelical, I think this letter is to be applauded, and it's about time we had a similar missive from Anglican Mainstream and similar groups, whose much-vaunted claims to be against homophobia and persecution as much as they are against homosexual activity look pretty thin when they keep silent at times like this.

Posted by: Sean Doherty on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 11:57am GMT

Neil, The practical assistance and good news is all to be found in the scriptures. The problems begin when sexual expression is no longer confined within the marriage of man and wife. Both Uganda and Nigeria have immense problems with sexually-transmitted disease, which simply would not occur if biblical standards were followed by straight and gay people alike. Indeed in Uganda the best results in the campaign against AIDS have been achieved by promoting chastity.

I see nothing humane or godly about organisations which promote sexual expression outside Christian marriage: quite the opposite, since such behaviour results in a greatly reduced life-expectancy because of the damage and disease caused by abuse of the body, which is not designed for multiple partners or unnatural intercourse.

But you would protest if the Lambeth Conference officially recognised Reform as its partner in campaigning for Christian marriage as the only place for sexual expression. And it is probably better for it not to approve any campaigning group, Reform or Integrity, rather to devise its own forum for listening to views on both sides of the debate.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 12:05pm GMT

Excuse me, but Uganda's anti-HIV efforts have been the ABC method: Abstinence, Being Faithful, and Condoms.

Archbishop Akinola's comments on the hateful anti-gay legislation are as irresponsible as his thinly veiled invitation to anti-Muslim violence. So far the ABC has said nothing of consequence about either.

The spinectomy seems to have been a complete success.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 1:30pm GMT

Abstinence and being Faithful are a substantial component of Uganda's achievement. There would be no STD if everyone practised Christian chastity.

And how many people here ACTUALLY know what Lambeth has said about this issue? It is not safe to assume that because you have not read it in the press, nothing has been said.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 3:50pm GMT

"Yawn! Another opportunity to keep the agenda of destroying the Church open. Cannot and will not succeed." Tunde

It's difficult to believe that Tunde is a spokesperson and/or *voice* for anyone/anything honorable with his snitty and childish (scary/
make-believe?) comment.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 5:42pm GMT

"Yawn! Another opportunity to keep the agenda of destroying the Church open. Cannot and will not succeed."

God have mercy upon you, Tunde. :-(

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 7:49pm GMT

I would agree with Alan that being gay in Nigeria/Uganda and in many parts of the world can result in your life being dramatically and brutally shortened.

This is a useful letter but it’s worth pointing out that we already know that its recipient was challenged on the proposed Nigerian legislation (which I find as clear as mud) when in Brazil and promptly sat on the fence.

Anyway, it now appears that Peter Akinola has said nothing about it, only his mouthpiece it seems has shown his approval and his master may yet take a different tack. We will wait and see, though I must say that when I appear as the spokesperson for the LGCM on radio I am careful to say what my boss tells me, or make it clear it’s my personal view.

If I may I want to jump back a little to the startling announcement Peter Akinola made about the Christian/Moslem violence. It has been much criticised, but for once I think Akinola may have a point.

When I played around with the text and changed Moslem into Christian and Christian into homosexual in a couple of places, I was inspired! It reminded me of the Stonewall riots, when those brave American gays decided they weren’t just going to lie back and take it any more but stood up to the thugs and defended themselves.

So inspired am I that I believe it’s about time we gay Anglicans took Peter’s advice and stood up to the violent bullies who would destroy our lives, take away our liberty and condemn our families to ignominy.

I think it should be my personal mission to carry Peter’s battle cry into their midst of those who eventually are invited to Lambeth 2008 and to single out those who do us so much harm and to make their visit to the UK memorable.

Thank you Peter! Be sure, you will remember your inspiring words.

Ricardo Don’t snap at poor Tunde, he may soon be out of a job!! Come to London in 2008 - and help me give his boss a warm welcome.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 7:59pm GMT

Dear Martin

As I keep repeating (and most conservatives do too) I find violence intimidation and oppression repulsive - whether it is examples of anti-gay violence or your threatened anti-conservative violence !

Who in the west is doing real violence to "gay people" ? Don't you really just mean "moral and legal disapproval" ? Certainly no conservative Christians I know of approves of any form of violence, intimidation or oppression. Yet you approve of, and threaten, violence..

If you could influence gay folk to behave better sexually you could have a real effect on the health and well-being of gay people, reduce sickness and early death, and would show the rest of us that your real agenda isn't just "I have a right to do whatever I want to with anyone who is willing". Many gay people expose themselves to severe risk of illness and early death (along with substantial numbers of straight, bi and other queer people) because of their promiscuous behaviour. How about campaigning for an A-B-C for gays (rather than the failed "C"-only policy) ?

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 4 March 2006 at 9:47pm GMT

Dear Dave,

I hardly know where to start.
There are some 80 countries where the punishment for homosexuality includes: death, torture (flogging – castration), life imprisonment etc. Even in countries where there are no laws such as Brazil, in the Province of Bahia there were some 200 recorded murders of LGBT folk in the five years up to 2003 by “moral” disapprovers. As one Primate told mine in a matter of fact way recently: “We don’t have any of those people, if one appears they are stoned.”
The first Gay Pride March held in Riga, Latvia last year saw the local Christian community take common cause with Fascists and other political extremists. Whipped up by the local Christian radio station several hundred turned out to physically and verbally attack the marchers, police had to rescue them from the Anglican Church where they held the final service.
Here in the UK our help-lines are constantly dealing with people, mostly teenagers, who are gay (or perceived as gay) and experience the most horrific bullying. Sadly, too many of these commit suicide.
The new legal oppression of gay people civil rights in Nigeria has been welcomed by Canon Popoola and I now see above at least one Anglican bishop there. Five years in prison in Nigeria for a gay person can be (in effect) a death sentence, gay people find this intimidating, oppressive and it does them violence.
Dave, we would welcome you if you have a day or rather a spare week to come and talk to those of us who monitor the abuses gay people suffer in the world, sometimes with the active support of religious leaders sometimes supported tacitly by their failure to teach differently. Our records tell of the most horrendous violence against gay people who have chosen celibacy often at the insistence of their Churches this is no defence against the naked hostility they encounter.
It is a dark place for most of the LGBT people in our world Dave, and my argument has always been that those you describe as “conservative Christians” have, in my view, to work ten times harder than I do to ensure that the civil liberties and lives of gay people are not threatened by those who may be touched by their teaching. Sadly most are ignorant or careless of what is happening, others are not.
If you and those like you cannot or will not stand up for us Dave then we will have to stand up for ourselves and fight back against the very things you claim repulse you. We are no longer going to stand by wringing our hands while our brothers and sisters are thrown onto the bonfires of hate.
As a priest and pastor I have spent my whole life advocating, preaching, teaching and celebrating marriage. In my last parish we had a huge number of marriages and offered a first class course of preparation and invested heavily in making the ceremony the highlight of the day by providing (as standard) a wide range of musicians (harpists, trumpeters etc) fantastic lay support for the couple and a loving Christian community that welcomed them in. It was one of the main platforms for evangelism for us.
We included lesbian and gay couples too, offering the same teaching of life-long fidelity and supporting them also when life together got tough. Within the community of faith they were often a blessing to us all and an example of faithfulness and devotion. I remain a strong advocate and believer in marriage for all, this Holy Covenant is most often the way Christian people deepen their faith as they work out what love means for each other in a Christian context.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 5 March 2006 at 11:42am GMT

Dear Martin, How horrendous! I guess that many of the 80 countries that punish homosexuality are the same ones where religious conversion is either punished legally, or by the family, sometimes with death. I think I heard that the estimated figure is about 10,000 Christians killed or attacked or imprisoned each year just for having converted or trying to convert someone, or even just for being a Christian in the wrong place at the wrong time... as well as many churches burned (the main thing that sometimes hits the news) properties siezed, imprisonment for being a Christian etc etc.

I'm not saying this to diminish the problems of the LGBT people you are concerned about, but to put it into context. In many countries violence is still an accepted way of disciplining people and threats, intimidation and violence are commonplace... In the liberal-democratic west where we live, many more deaths, sickness, relationship breakdown and unhappiness are caused to people by the "I have a right to be happy" attitude and promiscuous behaviour, than by physical attacks and intimidation. STDs in the UK have, I believe reached 1 million NEW infections a year - that is a huge number in compared to the overall "sexually active" adult population ! As you know HIV, HPV and Hepatitis B are real killers, especially in the Gay community, and several other STDs are making large numbers of women infertile. Yet I've yet to hear any liberal Christians speaking out about the risks... never mind the immorality.

I am against real oppression and violence, though I can't support sinful / immoral behaviour (of any type).. so would never agree with gay marriage. I think that most people can tell the difference between moral disapproval and violence! I often reflect on how blessed we are to live in liberal democracies where disapproval is usually limited to teasing, criticism or ostracism (all of which it is quite a common experience for many evangelical Christians).

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 7 March 2006 at 5:28pm GMT

Dave,

I do not think these personal conversations are necessarily what this blog is about, but as you repeatedly raise the issues above I hope that Simon and other readers of TA will forgive the continuation of this dialogue.
Yes the persecution and murder of LGBT people is indeed horrendous, intolerance and the persecution that emanate from it are matters for our prayer and considered action. Sadly, as we can see in the liberal democracy of Brazil and elsewhere a large number of people find it difficult to differentiate between moral disapproval and intolerance with deadly consequences. In my own country homophobic attacks and murder are all too frequent and reported cases are rising.
Equally sadly there is a very thin line between teasing and criticism in the mind of the one being teased and criticised and bullying, whereas ostracism can be a fearful tool as those who live in my country and remember the power of the “Sedd Fawr” can bear out. I would say in general I would teach that “teasing” is to be avoided, humility is a grace while humiliating others is very much something else, ostracism should be avoided on all occasions.
The health considerations and moral implications of the increase in STD’s are something all people should be concerned with whatever tradition they come from. I would teach faithfulness within a lifelong relationship even if there were able to wipe out all STD’s tomorrow, so now you have at least one “liberal” batting with you.
It seems that we only differ on the inclusion of same-sex couples in this framework, which is a difference I can live with.
You mention that some 10,000 Christians suffer death or violence each year for being Christian. I have never heard a figure mentioned before, but it sounds credible if not conservative. I have personally known gay Christians who have been murdered for their faith by members of other religious groups, rather than murdered by their own for their sexuality. The violence we see in our world is often not between different religions but in the main between co-religionists who see the other as apostate. This is, as you know, the sorry story of Christianity and is particularly true today of the internecine struggle within Islam. Over the last twenty years we have seen perhaps millions die in this battle for the “soul” of Islam, there are those who see that returning to the Christian faith too as the “liberal” consensus breaks down and is replaced with increasing hostility, I can only pray that is not the future we would want or will have.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 8 March 2006 at 12:40pm GMT

Dear Martyn

I hope that Inclusive Church will also acknowledge that we can be "tolerant" without having to "approve" of same-sex sexuality; this would make it's criticism of the Nigerian Province more palatable. Too often all I read is hyperbole equating morality with violence - reminiscent of the "property is theft" polemic, rather than generous and rational debate!

After all homosexual sex was illegal in Britain 50 years ago (and CPs therefore too) - and if actual attacks are increasing nowadays, despite the legal approval of homosexuality and the dwindling influence of traditional Judeo-Christian morality, this indicates that there are other factors at play than moral disapproval..

ps A few posts ago you were threatening conservatives attending Lambeth 2008. That doesn't square with your avowed rejection of bullying and violence ?

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 10 March 2006 at 7:35pm GMT
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