Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Anglican archbishops write to Prime Minister

The Church of England has published the text of a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair.

Dear Prime Minister,

The Church of England, along with others in the voluntary sector, including other churches and faith communities, have been in discussion with the government for some time over what has become known as the Sexual Orientation Regulations. Those discussions have been conducted in good faith, in mutual respect and with an appropriate level of confidence on all sides.

Last week that changed. Speculation about splits within government, fuelled by public comment from government ministers, appears to have created an atmosphere that threatens to polarise opinions. This does no justice to any of those whose interests are at stake, not least vulnerable children whose life chances could be adversely, and possibly irrevocably, affected by the overriding of reasoned discussion and proper negotiation in an atmosphere of mistrust and political expediency.

The one thing on which all seem able to agree is that these are serious matters requiring the most careful consideration. There is a great deal to gain. It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that much could also be lost, as the letter from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor makes clear.

Many in the voluntary sector are dedicated to public service because of the dictates of their conscience. In legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups the government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights to have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk.

The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.

On numerous occasions in the past proper consideration has been given to the requirements of consciences alongside other considerations contributing to the common good, such as social need or human rights - the right, for example, of some doctors not to perform abortions, even though employed by the National Health Service.

It would be deeply regrettable if in seeking, quite properly, better to defend the rights of a particular group not to be discriminated against, a climate were to be created in which, for example, some feel free to argue that members of the government are not fit to hold public office on the grounds of their faith affiliation. This is hardly evidence of a balanced and reasonable public debate.

As you approach the final phase of what has, until very recently, been a careful and respectful consideration of the best way in which to introduce and administer new protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in England and Wales, we hope you, and cabinet colleagues, will do justice to the interests of the much wider grouping of interests within the nation that will be affected. It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest. And that conditions are not inadvertently created which make the claims of conscience an obstacle to, rather than the inspiration for, the invaluable public service rendered by parts of the voluntary sector.

Yours faithfully,

Most Rev and Rt Hon Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

Most Rev and Rt Hon John Sentamu
Archbishop of York

Reference is made above to a letter from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. That letter can be read here.

Press coverage
Earlier reports from the Telegraph Jonathan Petre Gay laws would force closures says Cardinal and A bare fist fight.

Later reports from The Times Ruth Gledhill and Greg Hurst Anglicans back right to deny gay adoption and Tony Blair: torn between two loves.

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Comments

Rowan Williams will not go down in history as a champion of civil rights and inclusiveness.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 11:48pm GMT

The suggestion in Gledhill's article that Catholic agencies could be mandated to refer same-sex couples to secular agencies seems like a good one that could potentially save face for both sides, and serve the children well by not forcing the Catholic agencies to close.

Instead of threatening to close the agencies rather than have them allow same-sex couples to adopt, it seems that people could have saved themselves a lot of accusations of homophobia by saying that no, we will not serve gay couples, but we will refer them to secular agencies.

I found out that one American Catholic adoption agency found another compromise:

Elizabeth Fernandez, writing for the San Fransisco Chronicle, highlights how a US Catholic adoption agency came to an accomodation between San Fransisco nondiscrimination laws, and the instructions of the Vatican not to place children with same-sex parents.

'While the agency will no longer directly place children in homes, it will provide staff and financial resources to connect needy children to adoptive parents, expanding from 25 placements a year to assisting in the adoptions of as many as 800 children annually, say those involved in the program.'

What is it about homosexuality that strikes such fear or loathing into the hearts of people like Bishop O'Connor? I mean, at the very very worst, it's a sin just like any other one. If people like O'Connor realized that they would act a lot differently. Instead, he has "sodomy, sodomy, sodomy!!!" running through his head, and he makes threats that will affect the lives of children.

Posted by: Weiwen on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:47am GMT

Was that letter about the understated unmentionables?

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:51am GMT

"It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest."

What does this mean? That allowing gay couples to adopt would harm children so adopted? What century are these men living in?

They might be interested to know that in states in the US that do not discriminate against same sex couples adopting that it is often hard to place children whom gay couples choose to adopt.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:16am GMT

All too sadly this puts the churches Roman Catholic and Anglican squarely in public on the side of maintaining unquestioned exclusive straight legacy privileges - based on religion mainly. Can certain Muslims be far behind in this religious rush to exclusive straight privileges?

Just how it is, then, can easily be seen by imagining the shoe, pretty much on the other foot.

Non-straight people claim a right of conscience to deny straight people services, accommodations, or business which is otherwise wide open to public participation without discrimination, except that of course straight people are so obviously wack that they alone justify an exception in favor of the very non-straight people who close the doors on them (and their parenting and their children), categorically, no matter what.

Watch this tilted, pressurized debate because it will likely engage in high dudgeon about children's rights to have the very best parents available, who will always just happen to be remarkably golden, glowing, highly idealized straight parents.

The real choices in the real world of adoption that children and their potential parents face, however, most often will not be exclusively for or against a simple choice: Yes, or no? ...to the most ideal straight people available to parent you that any of us have ever seen?

The real adoptive choices are yes or no, about a whole spectrum of less than ideal, less than perfect potential adoptive parents, and the less than ideal and less than perfect children who will conceivably be up for adoption to them. The real world of adoptive parenting is actually about good enough parents.

(Thanks to famous British psychologist Donald Winnicott for that beautiful turn of phrase. He was widely viewed as something of a natural genius when it came to understanding childhood and children.)

It is all these good enough parents against whom religious people will have special privileges of conscience to categorically shut the door, no matter what. Sooner or later, surely some of these good folk will disclose to your children that it would have been ever so much better, more ideal, more glowing, more sacred and more perfect - if your two daddies or two mommies had been replaced in one fell swoosh by just the golden sort of straight people they just happen to be.

This is the best thinking that highly educated believers can offer us?

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:48am GMT

This is just the sort of thing that starts off reverberating so traditionally, like the proper sounding of a really big apostolic gong - whang - yet in the longer run greatly assists people to finally get what the analysis of exclusive straight legacy privileges - aimed categorically against a target people - are all about.

Don't wait for Sentamu and Williams and O'Connor and the rest to see the light - just keep on following Jesus.

Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:50am GMT

The comments that follow Jonathan Petre's article reveal quite succinctly what the smooth words of the three Archbishops front up, whether they like it or not. I am fascinated that, despite the evidence, these three men have concluded that under no circumstances could it be in a child's best interests to be adopted by gay parents. At least Rowan and John have finally acted, so we all know where they stand. The real sense of joy I felt at their appointments has been snuffed out this morning.

Posted by: Greg on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 7:37am GMT

I am probably being dull, but having just listened to Archbishop John talking about this on BBC Radio 4, I do not understand how this is a matter of conscience. He compares this adoption issue to that of UK doctors being allowed not to perform abortions if it is against their conscience. I can see that potentially killing someone is a matter of conscience. I do not see how giving a child the best start possible in life, by entertaining the idea that sometimes gay parents might be best for them, is anything other than a practical issue. Evidence, such as that mentioned by Cynthia Gilliat, surely supports this?

Posted by: Greg on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 8:18am GMT

First, the Cardinal's letter is without doubt the smoothest, most delicately veiled, but clearest and ugliest threat I have ever read. "You must allow us, in good conscience, to act on the basis that homosexual couples are unfit to rear children. No matter how well suited they may be otherwise, the fact that we disapprove of them (I use the word deliberately) and their 'lifestyle' must be allowed to prevail. We have no evidence to support our belief - or at least we have chosen not to tell you about it if we do. If you don't agree, we will withdraw and the resulting harm - again for which we have no evidence - will fall at your feet."

Then the Anglican Archbishops fall into the fallacy that only those who disapprove of homosexual people are acting according to conscience. On the contrary, it is because of conscience that Parliament has been moved to ensure that this discrimination based on ignorance and prejudice should not be allowed to hold sway(and benefit from public funding).

I have no doubt that if the Catholic Church were to withdraw others willing not to discriminate would fill the need, doubtless for the benefit of those children who are the pretext for the Cardinal's ugly political ploy.

Posted by: Rodney on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 8:40am GMT

I find both the Cardinals letter and those from the Archbishops to be kind of like honey over a boil. It looks sweet on top but underneath it is full of corruption.

I deplore their letters and the attitudes towards LGBT folk that birthed them. Gay Couples are just as good as potential adoptive parents as Heterosexual couples and they are sometimes much, much better.

Surely the right of a child to a loving, supportive home is more important than the right for churches to legislate for the public who is acceptable to them?

Posted by: Ray McIntyre on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 8:51am GMT

As depressing, and predictable as this all is, I really should have stopped reading the comments made in response to the Petre blog. Bare-faced, ignorant homophobia at it's worst:
"a gay couple...is not the proper environment for a child as far as their affection relation it is not natural"
"What right has this deviant community to impose gay/lesbian lifestyle on children? Where is the difference between this and "grooming"?".
These are the opinions of those who support the stance taken by our church's leadership. To those outside the church, this is how the Church of England appears today; a homophobic institution which is willing to put it's own narrow interpretation of scripture ahead of the interests of children. It will take more than a flashy lenten website and posting sermons on YouTube to attract people to a church that looks like this.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 9:37am GMT

I agree with Graham Ward. And, meanwhile, the Most Reverend Archbishop No Mates is still being panned, even for this letter, by the conservatives on the Titus1:9 board.

So they're losing everyone.

This bit is particularly rich:

“It would be deeply regrettable if in seeking, quite properly, better to defend the rights of a particular group not to be discriminated against, a climate were to be created in which, for example, some feel free to argue that members of the government are not fit to hold public office on the grounds of their faith affiliation.”

Trouble is, people do argue precisely that, and they do so because the Church is perceived as bigoted and prejudiced and unable to minister equally to all, so that (it is said, yet again, in this morning’s papers) an active member of the Church, like Ruth Kelly, is not fit to hold public office.

In other words, the responsibility lies with the Church for what people think about it. It’s no use complaining when they draw their own conclusions from what the Church chooses to highlight amongst its teachings. We got ourselves in this mess, and making our institutional homophobia the big issue, yet again, in a rare joint statement of the English primates, is not going to get us out of it.

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:10pm GMT

Guilt-mongering double-speak!

What’s wrong with this man? When he should speak up he doesn’t, and when he needn’t speak at all he puts his foot in it!

:-(

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:29pm GMT

Cardinal Murphy-O'Cormac released a letter the church had sent to Downing Street, saying:

"We believe it would be unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the government to insist that if they wish to continue to work with local authorities, Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the church and their own consciences by being obliged in law to provide such a service."

But surely, it would be only “reasonable, necessary and just” discrimination, as per the new Catechism?

The sum of it: If you don’t comply, you will not be allowed to convert.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:30pm GMT

Hi Rodney
You spoke about 'no evidence'. This is not only untrue, but the very reverse of the truth. Pretty much every scientific study in existence indicates the considerably higher 'scores' of homosexuals in matters like STDs, promiscuity, early death, suicide, various other nonsexual but related diseases. [Even (with an alarming ratio) paedophilia - but time has taught me to add the proviso that these are averages and therefore do not apply to every individual. I do, however, suspect that the people to whom I mention this actually are very well aware of what an average is.)] This, on the back of the fact that the practices in question are dubiously natural for three reasons:
(1) lack of physical fit;
(2) lack of biological fruit to support its claim to be natural;
(3) constant need for protection against disease, which no natural act needs, and which compromises the whole act;
(4) the staple diet itself, anal intercourse, is medically risky.
So, I guess what I am calling for is 'evidence' for your claim that there is 'no evidence'.

Posted by: Chrsitopher Shell on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:32pm GMT

"It will take more than a flashy lenten website and posting sermons on YouTube to attract people to a church that looks like this."

Sadly, no. It will attract the kind of people for whom the Church has never committed acts of violence against gay people, for whom Nigeria should be able to jail us and anyone who tries to support us, who believe we are intrinsically promiscuous and incapable of sexual continence yet demand that we be celebate in order for them to accept us. You will find such people everywhere. Most of these people will be attracted to Evangelical Churches that preach this message that they already believe anyway. The Catholic witness of the Anglican Church will be weakened to the point that it will be destroyed by the Fundamentalist "Our way or the highway" mentality, and the Anglican Church will become a Fundamentalist institution. Since I believe the Catholic faith to be true, I believe God will not allow it to die. People like me will just have to go elsewhere than the Anglican Church to find it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:16pm GMT

What is the matter with homosexual couples who wish to adopt going to secular rather than church agencies? It seems that an "opt out" for the churches on conscience would not mean that homosexual couples could not adopt as such, just that they could not adopt from that agency. There seems to be a drive to over-uniformity here, for the sake of political correctness, which I, coming from an anarchist background in politics, take strong exception to. Uniformity leads all to often to a kind of fascism, and that seems to be happening here.

Posted by: Tony on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:44pm GMT

Deadly directives directed against parentless children and LGB Christian/other "committed couples" by a cover-up-pedophilia "challenged" RC Bishop and two Anglican Archbishops who betray "truth" while degrading their fellow Anglicans with pintsized falsehoods and murky/dirty "conscience" reasoning reveals a oversized inability to face Gods basic truth in everyday REALITY. Ignoring them both in favor of perpetuating fear, hate and discrimination against LGB couples adopting "needy" children is simply unholy and very damaging to everyone concerned.

All three of these ill-speaking clergy cowards are dangerous men when "preaching" to us, or ANY government, their factless and twisted moral wisdom. Denying parenthood to "some" fellow Christians and *other* qualified couples is demoralizing and demonizing. ++Rowan and ++John have now added extra inspiration to the basic ingrediant that crimes of hate and discrimination are made of against LGBT people everywhere.

All ought resign as they preach lies of discrimination and create more hate!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 2:54pm GMT

I must admit, though, that the archbishops' letter is terribly well meaning, like the government is, whereas Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor knows how to bend fingers and pull nails. I agree very much with Graham Ward's last two sentences. The archbishops ought to realise that they do not represent all opinion on this matter, including the before-the-job opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 3:34pm GMT

Rowan Williams is a disgrace to the Church and should resign NOW!

Posted by: Kurt on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 3:50pm GMT

The religious hatred currently being shown by many secularist liberals and gay rights supporters and campaigners especially towards Christians is appalling. It's ironic for a group of people who claim to know what it was like to be persecuted are now the persecutors.

Christians have no right to judge anyone as we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. One day we will all be judged for our sins that includes homosexuals and heterosexuals, people of faith and those of no faith. Real Christians believe we are all equal before God.

The new Sexual Orientation Regulations are unnecessary as there is already plenty of legislation in place to stop discrimination to protect homosexuals. These new laws are about rubbing peoples religious beliefs in the dirt. Telling them what they can believe and how they can live their beliefs, even to the point of forcing people to act against their beliefs. Now where is the equality in that? Do two wrongs make a right? If the respect is not mutual, but only one way, then what is it worth?

During the last week of the SOR debate I have heard nothing but divisive words coming from those who claim to represent the oppressed homosexuals, is this helpful in an open free democracy? Or is it true that liberals are only liberal when you agree with them; anyone who dares to hold a different view or hold different beliefs and values should be treated with the utmost contempt. Please tell me how this makes them any better than the people they love to criticise?

I attended the demonstration last Tuesday night outside Parliament,(ONE WRITER IN THE GUARDIAN SAID MONDAY NIGHT, HE OBVIOUSLY DIDN'T MAKE IT AND COULDN'T GET THE DAY RIGHT JUST THREE DAYS LATER!) it was peaceful, over 3000 Christians attended from all over the UK. Including lots of Children and families. We sung hymns and said prayers but most of all it was dignified and a quiet responsible protest from the silent majority, making their voice heard for once. Nothing like the false stories of Quote: 'aggressive fundamentalist and bigots' that have been reported as by the militant gay groups and their secularist and atheistic supporters. Who obviously were not there, it seems they just accepted misinformation third hand and third rate, false reporting readily accepted without question or maybe they preferred to use their pre-wriiten biased and prejudiced view of Christians perpetuating the myth that we are all homophobic?

I saw no evidence of any homophobia, no angry voices against gays whatsoever, just Christians asking that their beliefs and rights are respected also, in a quiet democratic torchlit protest.

It seems to me we have a new Christianphobia alive and well in the UK fully supported by the liberal secularist and atheistic media and Government.( andeven some from within the church attacking their fellow Christians in public, how sad is that.

Posted by: Simon Icke on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:05pm GMT

Simon Icke,
I have experienced the media publishing false stories about people here as well. One story published in the Boston Globe last year described in graphic terms events that actually took place three days after the publication of the story and bore no resemblance to what was depicted in the article! It had nothing to do with religion, either. I do not doubt you when you say an aggressive secular media reported misinformation about the "ignorant Christian bigots". Still, I can't help but think how you would feel if I, an Anglo-catholic, refused to offer you services because are an Evangelical(an assumption for the purposes of this discussion) and therefor preach a belief system that I believe to be in deep error and that contains ideas I believe to be blasphemous and I don't want my children exposed to that. My understanding is that there are laws against that sort of thing. My understanding is that these laws would merely extend to gay people the protection you already enjoy for your religious lifestyle choice. Can you not make some allowance for the anger that arises out of the hurt gay people have suffered at the hands of the Church? It doesn't make such things right of course, but these attacks, right or wrong, do not come out of thin air. Many on the other side would consider them to be retaliation, think about why that might be. You cannot claim to be oppressed just because those you have injured in the past now rise up against you. That isn't oppression, it's rebellion, and not against God, but against how you have presented Him. I sympathize, but Conservative Christians cannot claim to be oppressed because their victims are fighting back.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 7:07pm GMT

Surely, anti-discrimination laws are not meant to appeal to those that discriminate; they are intended to reduce the ability to practice these attitudes.

Moreover, legislation is directed against the doing, not the being; against the Sin, not the sinner.

Up to now, this has been claimed to be the right thing by those defending hierarchic social policies – why not now?

Ah, the icke-factor!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 8:40pm GMT

[Christopher Shell, your above post is *beneath* contempt. Bogus, contentious, irrelevant---if not outright LIES. Shame! >:-(]

I am sick and TIRED of *discriminators* CLAIMING to be *discriminated against*. NO ONE is denying practicing RCs the right to adopt!

The standard is "the best interest of the child": in a free, pluralistic society, this CANNOT be defined in sectarian terms. Adoption agencies (religious or secular) have NO evidence, prima facie, that same-sex couples are unqualified to be (excellent!) parents. To *invent* a sectarian "must not be gay" qualification, is unacceptable! (as the law RIGHTLY recognizes)

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 9:43pm GMT

Christopher Shell wrote:
"...the practices in question are dubiously natural for three reasons:"

Ummm. First, you've offered four reasons, not three as claimed - perhaps you need to learn to count.

I agree with JCF - this IS beneath contempt. If you're a god-fearing straight who has never deviated from the missionary position, what EXACTLY do you know about how gay people have sex in order to claim that the "staple diet" is anal sex?????????

And since when did any gay person judge the worth of your humanity simply on the strength of how YOU have "intimate relations"???? (and I mean a real situation that has actually happened, not some inference based on something you claim to have seen or heard)

Many raised eyebrows around my breakfast table, followed by peals of incredulous laughter. If this is evidence of anything, it's how blind idealogy can make us if we're prepared to wear the blinkers.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 12:07am GMT

>Or is it true that liberals are only liberal when you agree with them; anyone who dares to hold a different view or hold different beliefs and values should be treated with the utmost contempt.< Simon Icke

It is not even about beliefs and ideas of *some* Christians, but the reality that people are being discriminated against according to that one section of the population affecting these others - and the wider community, represented in parliament, thinks otherwise.

So it these private institutions cannot provide these services to all, others should.

I'll defend the right of the National Front people to speak to their own and stand for election until what they say has an impact on behaviour that discriminates, and it is the same here. Believe what you like, but the community has been and is coming to the view that there should be no discriminatory impact.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 12:21am GMT

Yes, Graham Ward is right to point to the macro-context of vile homophobia (largely a product of Christian education, alas) that can cause our delicate concerns with the autonomy of the Christian conscience to be misunderstood as cloaked discrimination. Moreover, the perception that the Anglican prelates and the Roman Catholic ones are singing from the same hymnsheet will confuse many into thinking that Anglicanism also holds homosexuality to be objectively disordered and homosexual relations to be gravely immoral. This, rather than nuances about conscience and principle, is the bottom line of the RC bishops' objections, and their Anglican confreres do not seem to have made any effort to distance themselves from this.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 6:10am GMT

Oh, Christopher Shell! You're such a tease! Or at least I hope you're teasing. If not, well, JCF and Kieran said what I would like to have said.

Posted by: Rodney on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 8:38am GMT

Christopher: those views are irrelevant because being gay and having gay relationships is not illegal, and thus should not be discriminated against on the grounds that you don't like the sound of what you think is gay sex.

You lost that argument many years ago.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 8:51am GMT

“Cloaked”? There is nothing “cloaked” about this. It’s all too obvious.

A complete disaster.

Only a couple of weeks ago someone somewhere in cyberspace in defence of Dr Williams promised that he had rid himself of the Carey appointees at Lambeth and gotten hold of some really wise and discerning advisors “all is well”. Somehow, I didn’t find this very convincing…

Rarely have I seen a more complete failure than this last minute intervention in defence of a particularly nasty letter.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:34am GMT

Really, Christopher! With the exception of the 'lack of natural fit' which, having only recently had breakfast, I'd rather not think about (just as I don't feel like an anatomically explicit description of hetero squelchies), don't you think your arguments are a tad thin? Particularly the 'disease' one (after all, isn't HIV in Africa largely a heterosexual problem? Were the various great syphilitics of history all batting for the other side'?) and the 'issue' one (which is a weakened form of Augustine's argument against all non-procreative sex).

You'll be telling us next that oral sex causes high winds and birth out of time in cattle (hat tip to someone I can't remember — but when two of our folk here learned of that venerable Christian belief, in the middle of last week's storms, they fell about....)

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:52am GMT

Christopher,
Careful. We're getting a glimpse behind your reasonable appearing exterior here.

"1) lack of physical fit;"

Beg pardon? Things fit wuite well actually.

(2) lack of biological fruit to support its claim to be natural;

So if sex isn't procreative, it isn't natural? OK, so no more marrying postmenopausal women then. And the argument that there COULD be a conception in such cases if God wills it is pretty lame. God can turn stones into descendants of Abraham, He can make a conception whereever He likes, including in a gay couple, and wouldn't that be a shocker!

(3) constant need for protection against disease, which no natural act needs, and which compromises the whole act;

Already addressed. Heterosexual sex spreads AIDS in Africa, so, unless you are claiming that heterosexual sex is unnatural between Africans, this is a non-argument. Lots of natural acts need protection against disease, even eating, and the need for protection in gay sex depends on what you are doing, it isn't constant.

(4) the staple diet itself, anal intercourse, is medically risky.

So this is what it comes down to, the 'ick' factor. You seem to think you are up on all the statistics, well you should know that there are lots of gay couples who never have anal sex, and are as "icked out" by it as you are.

You really believe this stuff, and refer to "statistics" you will not reference in order to back it up. Christopher, this is why listening is so important. I would be far more able to accept your arguments that I must repent and be celebate if it wasn't so obvious that you based your beliefs on this kind of ignorance and validate your refusal to listen by referring to unsupported "statistics". You clearly know little about gay people, and wish to hang on to your fondly held prejudices. How do we continue to talk?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 1:19pm GMT

Christopher Shell, you are off topic, but you might like to look at http://www.igreens.org.uk/bodys_grace.htm where the author said:

"In fact, of course, in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures."

The author was Rowan Williams.

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 1:49pm GMT

Hi Mike-
'You lost that argument many years ago': so the criterion of whether an argument is right or wrong is *chrono*logical? And there was me thinking it was logical.

There must be laws that you disagree with. So why are you upholding theprinciple of the rule of law?

Hi JCF, Kieran, Rodney:
The depth of your specific engagement with the points I made takes my breath away. Doctorates of Divinity to you all. ;O)

Sigh! Even in 2007 some ppl think that to be unfashionable is to be wrong. They don't mean the same thing in my dictionary, but maybe they are rewriting the dictionaries too.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 1:59pm GMT

It is prcisely the idea that heterosexual sex is 'disease free' and the even more bizarre idea that a man having sex with a female virgin will have his AIDS cured that accounts for much of the horrific AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharen Africa. It is depressing so see that level of ignorance on this site.

I find it interesting too that this writer - and many others who post to this space with negative attitudes towards gays almost always use male/male examples.

Not that I want people to write bizarre speculations about the icky things women do in bed, but I think it is interesting that hetero males who write anti-gay posts seem to be concerned only with gay men and gay male sexual practices.

Now why is that, I wonder?

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 2:17pm GMT

Sex is about relationships, erotic contact and release, it is not the equivalent of putting a bulb in a light holder or pushing a plug into a socket in order to turn the power on.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 2:21pm GMT

Hello Christopher S., if we are going to go with your hermeneutic approach, then we might add in some additional conclusions, based on your framework or something near enough to it to belong in the same ballpark.

First, we must conclude that heterosexuality causes both domestic violence/wife battering and child abuse/neglect - the statistics are clear, just as your inferences are.

Second, heterosexuality must help cause HIV/AIDS in Africa but not so much in USA - we don't know why yet, and I doubt that anybody in particular is researching this striking sexual orientation difference in categorical causes. (Have you applied for a government or private foundation research grant yet?)

Third, heterosexuality, especially among men, causes bar fights - those statistics are pretty clear, too. Forget alcohol, it is clearly sexual orientation which is the categorical culprit here, no?

Fourth, come to think of it - why didn't I see it a few sentences earlier? - your preferred frame/inference allows me to postulate that heterosexuality must cause everything bad or difficult that heterosexuals suffer, since after all sexual orientation is so big and so important in human nature that it must cause lots to happen in personality, behavior and so forth.

So does that mean that heterosexuality is unnatural and undesirable as so many early church believers thought and said and pledged - bearing their crosses of continuing the human race via heterosexual reproduction though this was widely believed to be innately tangled up with the clearest and darkest evidence among humans for Original Sin? For so many of our earliest believers, the only near holy state was complete celibacy - and even those damnable gnostics were famous for their asceticisms, right along with all the other believers.

Ah, lies, damn, lies, and then we have statistics. Add statistics into the mix with certain ConsEvs ways of preferred categorical or presuppositional thinking, and well - oila, heterosexuality causes lots of trouble. Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 4:44pm GMT

"hetero males who write anti-gay posts seem to be concerned only with gay men and gay male sexual practices."

Indeed, Cynthia. I think it quite telling..

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 6:06pm GMT

You lost the argument, Christopher, because you haven't anything valuable to say which would encouarge any of us to change our minds.Just the same old rhetoric and bogus misuse of statistics along with an unhealthy obsession with bums and willies.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 6:39pm GMT

Like I'm going to waste time, Christopher, making "specific engagement with the points" of a *Klansman*, so I can prove black people AREN'T inferior? Or with a Nazi, proving Jews AREN'T degenerate?

You sir, are a BIGOT. Period. I pray God removes this corruption from your soul!

(Lord have mercy on us ALL---I'm done now, Simon)

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 7:36pm GMT

Pluralist, have you ever thought of writing a sex manual?:-)))

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:12pm GMT

If a white supremicist "church" refused to let black couples adopt white babies or interracial couples adopt at all, should we allow them an exemption on grounds of conscience?

There is no moral difference between homophobia and racism. Maybe the Catholic Church should get out of the adoption business altogether. The depth of Canterbury's complicity with the far right never ceases to amaze me. What happened? He seems to have never escaped some naive assumptions about both Church and world, assumptions that lead him to pander to a pope that has personally sought to silence or discipline almost every great Roman Catholic of the twentieth century. What ever happened to disestablishment, which was the great hope for his archepiscopate. Now, he seems hellbent on stifling the liberatory trajectories of secular society. If his office constrains him thus, perhaps the problem is with the office itself.

Which is worse, one wonders, letting a gay couple adopt your child or having an abortion?


Posted by: Bill Carroll on Friday, 26 January 2007 at 1:21am GMT

Christopher's arguments just expose the depth of his ignorance about gay people and our lives and isn't it unny how lesbians are always left out of the arguments - few if any STDs and no anal sex, so we'll ignore them. They're inconvenient.

At the HEIGHT of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s the CDC estimated that 10% of the entire North American gay male population had the disease. This is in contrast to the 20%-30% or so Africans in Botswana, South Africa and Zambia who have it now.

Who is at greater risk?

Really Christopher: have you taken the time to wonder why people like you are losing the battle on this issue, and so quickly? Has it occurred to that maybe it is because your arguments have no basis in reality and that maybe you should just stop repeating what other bigots have told you and start thinking and questioning for yourself? Or, is that too risky because you might change your mind?

Posted by: toujoursdan on Friday, 26 January 2007 at 4:32pm GMT

Having just discovered this blog through the reference to Rowan Williams' liberal views posted on my website www.igreens.org.uk, perhaps I may add another view.

The crucial issue is whether the discriminating organisation is private or public. We may deplore private discrimination on grounds of race, gender or sexual orientation, but we should leave it alone. The private employer who hires white people in preference to better qualified black ones cannot long continue in his unattractive ways without being undercut by a more tolerant competitor. He will only be able to hold out if the government gives him special priviledges.

By analogy discrimination against gay adoption by Catholic agencies is deeply unattractive but, so long as they are receiving no special priviledges, we should leave them alone. In contrast discrimination by the Anglican Church, the established church in England with bishops in the House of Lords, would be intolerable.

Having said all that I understand that Catholic adoption agencies receive government grants for their work. If so, they should also be required to stop discriminating or lose those grants.

Posted by: jim thornton on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 9:09am GMT

Hi Toujoursdan-
thinking for myself? As far as I am aware, there are very few people ploughing my statistical furrow: most christians are ploughing the biblical one. If you read my posts carefully, you will see that I am alsways calling for argument and not assertion. That equates to supporting the principle that people should think for themeselves.
None of us can attain the facts on this issue by logic alone. We need social-scientific statistical data. It is precisely those who rely on such data, whether or not it squares with their presuppositions, who are being maximally objective and thinking for themselves.
Surely you see that reliance on statistics as the bottom line means that wherever statistics favour homosexuals I am compelled by my own principles to be pro-homosexual. That is a good deal more open-minded than the statistics-shunning approach of 90% of our correspondents. Don't you agree?

Re: lesbian relationships, the average duration has been computed at between 2-3 years, less than the male 3-4.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 12:39pm GMT

You need to give n a m e s Christopher.

Assertions won't do.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:11pm GMT

Christopher Shell you just have to be viscerally nasty ( do you ?).

There ARE no reliable general/ global statistics about same sex relationships as the virulent homophobia that is ONLY just beginning to abate has made such research generally impossible. ( I know you are doing your best to maintain hatred. Fair play.

But with the high divorce rates and 'serial monogamy' I'd say you are on a sticky wicket. Martin Reynolds has published here that he and Chris have been together for many years and raised a child; and elderly mother.

Many other couples have been together for many years, and my partner and I have been together for almost 34 years ourselves; and also cared for an elderly, bed-ridden family member.

Posted by: laurence on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 6:17pm GMT

Average - Median, mode or arithmetical mean??

Trouble is, what are the equivalent hetero figures? ANd how do we correct/compensate for the effect of state support of hetero relationships (it's harder to get out of a marriage, after all).

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 8:55pm GMT

Since we are actually supposed to be discussing adoptions, perhaps it would be helpful to remind those without personal experience in the field of the statistics of adoption.

People who adopt are generally not able to breed children themselves. Their infertility (ah! I spoke the word) is cause for much anguish and pain to them, given the prevailing late modern Biologism and fertility cult attitudes. Insensitive questions and all that…

Their function as parents after years of pain and inability to accept and adapt to their situation, may be damaged as a result.

The result is that a relatively high percentage of adopted children will display the same symptoms as children do in a l l dys-functional environments, biological or no.

In my experience the child is generally blamed for this – behind their backs to other “normal” (= middle-class) people – never the surrounding attitudes.

Also, as many as 30% of Swedish adopted children (nearly all of them come from other parts of the world, Korea, Sri Lanka, South America) believe that adoption should not be permitted for anybody, homo, hetero – whatever.

Conclusion: the Archbishops letters are a little out of focus.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 29 January 2007 at 9:48pm GMT
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