Tuesday, 11 March 2008
What is the Global South?
Michael Poon has published an essay on Global South Anglican which is titled The Global South Anglican: its origins and development.
Several bloggers, including Ruth Gledhill here, have drawn attention to his comments on GAFCON:
There is however a persistent undercurrent within “Global South Anglican” that defines itself doctrinally against the wider Anglican Communion, and posits itself against “liberal leadership” in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. The primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are at the centre stage of the transatlantic conflicts in the Communion. Strictly speaking, they are true to the “global South” spirit (and methodologies). The GAFCON movement that suddenly erupted in late December 2007 brought this undercurrent to the surface. Doctrinal matters are not central to GAFCON. It is telling that Archbishop Peter Jensen did not clarify what “Biblical Anglican Christianity” entails. (He was silent on whether such biblical Anglican beliefs, for example, include particular views on ordination of women and lay presidency at the Holy Communion.) The central issue is in fact the restructuring of the Communion. It would be reconfigured by the geopolitics of globalisation and of the “global South”. Transnational alliances – with the aim in expanding interests through border crossing – replace geographical dioceses and historic ties as the building blocks of the Communion, and with the same stroke dethrone Canterbury as the focus of unity. This of course is in line with Hassett’s earlier analysis.
GAFCON holds before the Communion a new and unfamiliar utopia that is post-modern to its core. Webmasters and web bloggers render synodical processes irrelevant. They preside over web blogs in the virtual worlds of their own fabrication. Its power in shaping public opinion on ecclesiastical authorities simply cannot be ignored. A communion that is no longer dependent on patient face-to-face encounters and governed by geographical proximity: it is a Gnostic gospel that renders the Cross in vain.
Dr Poon refers repeatedly to the work of Miranda Hassett. See here for details of her book, Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism, which as I have said elsewhere is essential reading.
Reviews of this book can be found in the Christian Century by Sam Wells, see Anglican maneuvers, and in the Church Times by Mary Tanner, see How a new global network spread. Also see Alan Wilson’s comments here.
The original PhD thesis Episcopal Dissidents, African Allies: The Anglican Communion and the Globalization of Dissent is here as a 1.1 Mb PDF file.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 6:21pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
I'd guess that the GAFCON movement "erupted" in December 2007, not 2008... Unless we're time-travelling, in which case we'd already know what happened at GAFCON and Lambeth, so why bother holding either? ;)
All that +Rowan has to do to get the Global South back on board for Lambeth is to disinvite TEC's bishops, unless they personally renounce the consecration of Gene Robinson.
He could expect another "short, sharp exchange of views" from some of the smaller, liberal, provinces, and a couple of english Bishops, but they would still come to Lambeth... WHERE ELSE DO THEY HAVE TO GO?
Michael Poon wrote: “Strictly speaking, they are true to the “global South” spirit (and methodologies). – Doctrinal matters are not central to GAFCON. It is telling that Archbishop Peter Jensen did not clarify what “Biblical Anglican Christianity” entails. (He was silent on whether such biblical Anglican beliefs, for example, include particular views on ordination of women and lay presidency at the Holy Communion.) The central issue is in fact the restructuring of the Communion. It would be reconfigured by the geopolitics of globalisation and of the “global South”.”
Just now, on the TEC HoB/D list Canon (North Carolina) of T 1:9 is complaining of the “inconsistency” of TEC, being "flexible" on Morality (such as the taking of Rent was once considered) and in-flexible on Church structure.
Michael Poon wrote: “Webmasters and web bloggers render synodical processes irrelevant. They preside over web blogs in the virtual worlds of their own fabrication. Its power in shaping public opinion on ecclesiastical authorities simply cannot be ignored. A communion that is no longer dependent on patient face-to-face encounters and governed by geographical proximity: it is a Gnostic gospel that renders the Cross in vain.”
Life's little Ironies (from Iron, no doubt ; = )
It seems Ruth just cannot accept how deeply she has been deceived.
David wh: "unless they personally renounce the consecration of Gene Robinson" - what planet are you on here? Have you any idea how deeply unAnglican such a way of speaking is? We are not a Church which demands of individuals that they make such statements - you want to go to the RC Church or extreme Protestant sects if dramatic renunciations are your forte, but they are not the genius of the Church of England. I wish people who make statements would stop trying to take over the C of E: we are, and long have been, the liberal option when it comes to mainstream denominations. Unless you are planning to clamp down on the remarriage of divorcees and the use of contraception, and introduce oaths of celibacy for the clergy (I for one have never taken one, and resent being treated as if I had!), then the C of E is going to remain the intelligent liberal option, n'est-ce pas?
You are of course quite right, and the original has now had this typo corrected, and I am about to change my quotation to match.
David wh: "All that +Rowan has to do to get the Global South back on board for Lambeth is to disinvite TEC's bishops, unless they personally renounce the consecration of Gene Robinson."
Even if the TEC bishops were to crawl on broken glass to each of the GAFCONites, it would not be enough. Appeasement will not work here, it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. It isn't surprising that GAFCON isn't about Doctrine, because even a cursory examination of the agitators shows no communal ecclesiology. After the split, the (would be) wolves will soon turn on each other because the one thing they are united in is renouncing the traditionally Anglican broad church view.
"They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students." Matthew 23: 2-8
"GAFCON holds before the Communion a new and unfamiliar utopia that is post-modern to its core."
Actually it's been around a lot longer than GAFCON, it's just until the internet and legal protection against brutal genocides and church repression, we didn't know it was going on.
An isolated/murdered nobody in one diocese, unable to link to another isolated/abused member in another diocese in another country can draw no patterns. The fear of financial sanctions through law suits prevents outright murder, and the internet enables victims to share their stories.
GLBTs have common experiences that are not unique to them, and the internet has enabled souls to share their stories in a public arena where the churches can no longer deny they happen.
Actually, they still do deny they happen, but in their attacks against their victims, they actually condemn themselves of the very things they purport they don't do.
"All that +Rowan has to do to get the Global South back on board for Lambeth is to disinvite TEC's bishops, unless they personally renounce the consecration of Gene Robinson."
And if they were to do that--which they won't--what happens to the Diocese of New Hampshire? Because I can assure you the people of that diocese are not going to accept that their duly elected/duly consecrated bishop isn't a bishop.
FrMark, I might ask which C of E you are living in? All the large and growing parishes are evangelical and nearly all are in sympathy with, or actually have direct connections with, the Global South. Liberal parishes on the other hand tend to be small and dying out.
And all clergy must affirm they hold to the apostolic catholiic faith, and affirm your commitment to living according to biblical morality, when you are ordained and each time they take a new post. That means either celibacy or marriage - as spelled out by the House of Bishops in "Issues" and "Some Issues of Human Sexuality". However, despite the apparently large number of lgbt clergy, I have only ever heard of one who was honourable enough to resign his living because he wanted to look for a partner.
Le libéralisme n'est pas le christianisme intelligent. Peut-être il y avait les intellectuels libéraux plus fortement qualifiés que les intellectuels évangéliques dans les années 60. Mais pas plus.
“Unless you are planning to clamp down on the remarriage of divorcees and the use of contraception, and introduce oaths of celibacy for the clergy (I for one have never taken one, and resent being treated as if I had!), then the C of E is going to remain the intelligent liberal option, n'est-ce pas?”-- Fr Mark
Right on, Father Mark!
>>>I wish people who make statements would stop trying to take over the C of E
The greatest irony of this whole soap opera, yet the one most seldom discussed, is how the very least Anglican among us are the ones most determined to take over Anglicanism.
From Ruth Gledhill: "Chris Sugden's response to Poon's essay was understandably sniffy.'Canon Dr Michael Poon appears not to know what the GAFCON Pilgrimage really is, and has exercised a creative imagination on this. His view therefore gives no basis for a reasonable comment,' he told me."
Ruth has particular access to conservative, and in particular, GAFCON sources. (Chris Sugden's daughter Joanna works for Ruth Gledhill) What is sadly missing here is Sugden's explanation of the meaning of GAFCON. When +Akinola was challenged by +Jerusalem for bringing essentially a divisive conference to Jerusalem, and, in accordance with the minutes of their discussion, conference organizers denied its political purpose, Sugden offered to change the name to "pilgrimage". Clearly that was not enough as +Jerusalem asked that the conference be held elsewhere. The compromise?, the political part in Jordan and the "pilgrimage" in Jerusalem. (I suggest that this is a compromise but we do not know if it was simply +Jerusalem's concession that it was going to happen whether he liked it or not) So, since Sugden+ has stated that Poon is not aware of the purpose of GAFCON, parts 1 and 2, and, as one of its primary organizers and one who is asking, in particular for financial support of the African bishops and their wives to attend the Jerusalem "pilgrimage" portion, Sugden+ needs to inform Poon and everyone else exactly, what the purposes are, and agendas are for Jordan and Jerusalem.
"He could expect another "short, sharp exchange of views" from some of the smaller, liberal, provinces, and a couple of english Bishops, but they would still come to Lambeth... WHERE ELSE DO THEY HAVE TO GO?"- david wh
You have to really feel sorry for David, who seems so delusional as to not recognize that it is clear that Brasil, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Scotland, South Africa, United States, and Wales, plus most of Australia and New Zealand, plus much of several Asian provinces, plus at least a third of England (maybe half?) are not the minor players he would like to pretend they are.
No, David, support for your radical views does come from largely the Central African provinces, and a few "smaller" (to use your words) fundamentalist provinces, plus a smattering of fundamentalist bishops in those provinces not favored by you, oh yes, and the one-third to one-half of English bishops, who, lacking the broad church origination of bishops in England, are rather out of touch with their parishioners beliefs.
Sorry, David, it really isn't going the way that you and your con-evo friends would like, but then you are seeking to make over what the Anglican Church is, and the traditional Anglican parts are simply not buying your line.
LibTEC's Bishops may not be willing to reject as Bishops people who are breaking Christian moral laws on sexual behaviour, but they were mighty reluctant to consent to the consecration of a non-liberal Bishops!
I think it is only too easy for any of us to read with blinkers on. Much of the time that is what I see on this list and I have just been letting it pass, but I would hope the orientation to the real and true will somehow reassert itself (I have seen it in you at times).
Of course after the fact it cannot be a simple matter of renunciation of "Gene Robinson." It will take a renewed sense of awareness and realization that one now hardly dares hope for (e.g. it took centuries for Arians to come to clearer awareness). You go on to say, "we are, and long have been, the liberal option when it comes to mainstream denominations."
The realization at one point broke through about a month ago that there is a need for some kind of "boundaries," and even now with certain matters the realization that "liberal" cannot mean anything goes (so we must do better than rule out people who as you say "make statements"). Simply to equate the AC with the liberal option is certainly reading with blinders! Where is much of the vitality if not with people who have attempted to read scripture seriously for what it says? You can discount people in this way if you want (what does that say about your own "liberalism?") but you will be excluding much of the church here and most of it in the provinces of Africa and Asia. Perhaps we can rethink this sweeping generalization.
David said: "they were mighty reluctant to consent to the consecration of a non-liberal Bishops!"
The original delay to in the consents for Bishop Lawrence were due to comments he had made which were thought by some to advocate schism. Once his clarification was offered, the consents proceeded apace.
Then, entirely without canonical authority I might add, the Presiding Bishop extended the deadline by a weekend to give standing committees the opportunity to provide their consents.
The initial denial was driven by an unintended technicality, and in spite of +KJS's attempts to facilitate the necessary consents.
When Lawrence's name was resubmitted, he was received the necessary consents promptly.
This site is always at its most illuminating when frequented by someone from one of the other many rooms of the Father's house.
David Wh/GAFCON/Oak Hill/Wycliffe/Church Society et al of course come from such a room. At the risk of some stereotyping, their room is one marked with the words "dogmatic" and "certainty". This extends to moral certainty, theological certainty and biblical certainty.
David Wh makes the comment that it is his room and other neighbouring rooms that are growing in the Father's House and that others are less populated.
He may have a point. After all, today's society is one where such a dichotemy of right and wrong, true and false, and black and white is in vogue. The bible of course has a history of being used to justify such certainty and segregation of “right and wrong”. We live in a sound bite age where if your faith can't be packaged into ten brief supper talks and God can't be explained into neat truths and the rest discarded as worthless falsehoods then you might as well not bother. You only have to look at the wider media to see why such an approach may work…at first.
This is a trend of course. Poetry, the greater concept of Truth, uncertainty, mysteries might not be in vogue at the moment but if you look at anyone coming out the other side of conservative evangelicalism, damaged by such haughty certitude with the realisation that life isn’t so black and white, you realise that the time for a different world view will return.
In Britain we are in a conservative era, by which I mean that the 35-55 generation was brought up by Thatcher et al. The challenge for the more liberal rooms of the Father's House is to engage with the future generations who may well not be so ready to accept the rigid certainty and moral condemnation of con-evo’s.
I would argue, as a good Anglican, that there are more than enough rooms within our Church for us all. Unfortunately David Wh, the GAFCONites and their ilk have the magnolia and the roller brushes out and seem intent on repainting what Anglicanism is so that we all look the same and talk the same. It won’t wash.
David Wh: there is a kind of sneery triumphalism that appears whenever Con Evos start talking about numbers in pews. I do know plenty of Con Evo churches that are very unsuccessful numbers-wise, and I often feel sorry for their clergy, as they must get sneered at by their fellow Evangelicals even more than the rest of us do. I don't it is worth arguing on that level, really. The chickens will come home to roost eventually: I just don't believe that homophobic religion has a future as anything mainstream in Europe, simply because I keep my ear to the ground and observe the massive change in attitudes towards gay people that is a defining characteristic of the younger generation throughout Europe. That taboo is finished now, so there's just no point in trying to recreate it, even if were in any sense desirable to do so.
Church history reminds us that many far greater doctrinal upheavals have been experienced over the centuries (the change over usury was far more of a volte face, for example). This one is being blown up out of all proportion for reasons that have nothing to do with doctrine and everything to do with the psychology of a certain type of straight man who is uncomfortable with gay men. That's all it is, which is what sane people outside the Church can see clearly.
I do live according to biblical morality, David, and am partnered. I think "Judge not, that ye be not judged" might be good words for Christians to start listening to for the first time in this context. But remember, the RC Church is the one that demands vows of celibacy, and their system is disastrous. I stand by Article 32 (of the 39): "Bishops, priests and deacons are not commanded by God's law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them... to marry." That option is now open for gay people too, thanks to the recent changes in the law.
To continue Gareth's posting
There are some who are flooding this sight purporting liberalism to be more tolerant than it is.
No one on TA has ever condoned or advocated for pedophilia, genital mutilation of pubescent females, polygamy or adultery.
But then facts and a fair hearing have never been a hindrance for those whose ultimate desire is the extermination of all life on this planet (they won't recognise Jesus unless he kills this planet and replaces it with a "new heaven and earth").
Luke 18:8 "...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Not if some souls had their way. They thought they had the bible so stiched up that the feminine was completely discredited and no metaphysical souls could move to save humanity. Conversely, they thought they had Jesus so condemned that metaphysical souls wouldn't realise the manipulation that had happened and in their anger destroyed this planet and their occupants.
No. The forces that could destroy this planet have sentience, and they realise the manipulation that has occurred. Jesus can be what he was ordained to be (the healer and prince of peace for this planet) or he can be the laughing stock of all creation for killing a whole planet by his "high priests'" theology and manifestations.
The universe will continue either way, humanity may or may not, and Jesus' credibility in the big picture is affected by what Jesus endorses or fails to affirm. No dark forces move against Jesus, it's far more fun to watch him explain this planet's imminent extinction at his "high priests" own commands. Similarly, no one is going to take this planet off of Jesus' hands. Far be it for any soul to purport to have shaped this planet's destiny. It's Jesus' planet and Jesus is only accountable to God for what is manifested.
"All the large and growing parishes are evangelical and nearly all are in sympathy with, or actually have direct connections with, the Global South. Liberal parishes on the other hand tend to be small and dying out."
I know of conservative churches that are large and growing. I know of conservative churches that are small and declining.
Likewise, I know of liberal churches that are large and growing and others that are small and declining.
The common denominator among large and growing churches is not a rigid Victorianism, nor is it a fundamentalist ideology. It is, rather, an outward focus. Similarly, the common denominator among small and declining churches is not a laissez-faire liberalism nor a doctrine-less fluidity, but rather an inward focus.
At the end of the day, churches grow which chhose to grow.
The beautiful thing is when an inward-looking and insular "keep the doors open" parish decides to become an outward-looking, boldly risking and "tell the world" parish. I have been blessed to be involved in one of these transformations of late.
My apologies - but I haven't had time to read all that came out of the last meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England. Did the three Houses pass a resolution to accept the HoB paper 'Issues in Human Sexuality' and make it definitive of moral and theological teaching in the C of E? One of the contributors seems to present it that way. Or does he simply have a very 'high' view of documents produced by the HoB?
I dont think that attitudes to homosexuality are the major stumbling block to people joining EvCon churches. There are much bigger counter-cultural issues (role of women, exclusive claims to truth, ban on sex outside marriage, rejection of a woman's right to choose abortion, expectation of serious committment to the church, etc etc)
Anglican EvCons *aren't* homophobic in the sense of hating, fearing or thinking that people with lgbt sexual orientations are worse than the rest of us... You may be surprised to know that there are 'lgbt' people in EvCon churches too -- but they believe in lives of celibacy or marital faithfullness. BTW Surely you know that same-sex partnerships are not marriage in law, nor in the sense that Christ taught: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh". (Matt 19:5 quoting Gen. 2:24) Even in countries like Belgium and Spain that have secular legislation for same-sex marriages I think you will find that the churches do not accept that it is Christian marriage!
The difference between the 'usury' issue and the same-sex sexual relationships issue is that only charging interest to fellow Jews was against Old Testament law. They could charge interest on loans to everyone else. So there is an explicit scriptural precedent to reconsider what that might mean in other cultures and economies.. And the NT is silent, maybe somewhat contra (Luke 19:23) on the issue. Similarly divorce was allowed in the OT but banned in Christendom.. However, in the NT both Christ and the Apostle Paul disapproved of divorce but did allow it was acceptable in very narrowly defined circumstances (but NOT a license for serial polygamy).
I find it hard to believe that you don't know that same-sex sex is consistently banned in both Old and New Testaments. Homosexuality is seen as a disorder of natural sexuality (meaning "the naturally intended use of the sex organs and human sexual relationships"... nothing to do with whether "nature" sometimes has examples of same-sex sexual behaviours.. Females of some species sometimes kill and eat the male after sex, but I don't know anyone who is arguing that is natural for humans, yet!)
"I find it hard to believe that you don't know that same-sex sex is consistently banned in both Old and New Testaments. Homosexuality is seen as a disorder of natural sexuality..."
And modern science tells us that is incorrect. Just as it tells us that it is incorrect that the sun circles the earth, or that the universe is less than 6000 years old, or that each species was created separately, rather than evolving from other species.
We have accepted...as Anglicans...all those other scientific concepts, even though they distinctly contradict Scripture. Why is this particular contradiction so different?
Pat, No, the discussion is about how you define 'disordered'. A modern definition looks at harm and associated problems; the biblcal definition looks at God's intention.. per the last paragraph of my last post. Science can assess something against a particular definition. Deciding which definition to use is a matter for ethicists. But I think that the much higher rate of STDs among MSM suggests that same-sex attraction is strongly associated with unsafe behaviours (not always of course) which should worry everybody.
ps Commentator, I don't have a high view of HoB documents but "Issues" was in fact more liberal than the *preceeding* GS resolution in 1987 - which was very similar to Lambeth 98 1.10, and closely resembles the biblical beliefs of the Global South!
Pat and David:
Why homosexuality/heterosexuality? I suggest that it is because the very survival of the human race across the generations depends on it.
So is environmentalism, but it's only recently that the Evangelicals have joined liberals on that bandwagon...
"Pat, No, the discussion is about how you define 'disordered'. A modern definition looks at harm and associated problems; the biblcal definition looks at God's intention.. per the last paragraph of my last post."
And, again, I have to ask--if being homosexual is not a choice, and is something inherent to the individual, and therefore is a part of the way God made that individual--why would a loving God create an inherently "disordered" being? Clearly God intended him to be the way he is.
"Science can assess something against a particular definition. Deciding which definition to use is a matter for ethicists. But I think that the much higher rate of STDs among MSM suggests that same-sex attraction is strongly associated with unsafe behaviours (not always of course) which should worry everybody."
And, of course, all those things are part and parcel of our refusal to let homosexuals participate in society on the same level as heterosexuals...they cannot marry, and even when they form long-term loving relationships (as many, if not most, do), they are looked on as inferior. You want to reduce the "unsafe" behaviors of homosexuals? Let them marry.
David Wh wrote: “Pat, No, the discussion is about how you define 'disordered'.
Not a Biblical definition, certainly. Not a Biblical Concept. A Biblical discussion cannot be about alien Concepts. Nor is any kind of Concept of “Nature” Biblical. God is outside nature. The Creator of all things.
It’s Philosophical, Gnosticist. There were several such; the Stoics’ un-differenced Concept of “Nature” (katà/parà fúsin; along/besides nature, ranging from the un-usual (bad) to the existing… (OK) cf Romans 1 and 11, and the Platonists’ negative Concept of “Nature” (nature being a no-no to be shun at all costs, cf Clement’s Fables and alias Romans 1:26-27 ; = )
The Scholastics added a normative Concept of “Nature” (le Legge Naturale ; = ), City-gents as they were…
David Wh wrote: “A modern definition looks at harm and associated problems; the biblical definition looks at God's intention..”
This is merely the Academic claim (Anselm was the first to dare…) that Hellenist Philosophy is Christian, for it’s TRUE… (absolute CLAIM to o w n absolute Truth through Sperm). But it can’t be Christian – it pre dates any Christianity (and to Christians G o d is Truth).
David Wh wrote: “per the last paragraph of my last post. Science can assess something against a particular definition.”
David Wh wrote: “Deciding which definition to use is a matter for ethicists.”
David Wh wrote: “But I think that the much higher rate of STDs among MSM suggests that same-sex attraction is strongly associated with unsafe behaviours (not always of course) which should worry everybody.”
Dr Cameron alive and kicking again ; = )
David Wh wrote: “ps Commentator, I don't have a high view of HoB documents but "Issues" was in fact more liberal than the *preceeding* GS resolution in 1987 – which was very similar to Lambeth 98 1.10, and closely resembles the biblical beliefs of the Global South!”
“Beliefs”, maybe, but certainly not “Biblical”. “Creative” but BAD translations of the “Dynamic Equivalence” kind.
“Dynamic – sure, Equivalent – not much.”
David wh: "same sex attraction is strongly associated with unsafe behaviours". Your fundamentalist world view clearly leads you to make dangerous assumptions based on a narrow view of information. Do you similarly hold that because proportionately more black people get arrested they are unsafe or do you see that as being more complicated? That perhaps there might be a complicated set of societal and other factors at play. Implicit in your statement above is your prejudiced assumption that all same sex relationships are based only on the physical and that whom this is with is not important. To go back to basic arguments, this is true for some homosexual people just as it is for heterosexuals. I don't think anyone here is suggesting this is condoned by scripture, more that scripture never deals with monogamous same sex loving relationships. Despite your protestations that con-evo churches have gay members (how they must feel loved and accepted) I wonder if you've ever met a gay person in a loving monogamous relationship or would this spoil your perception that they all hang out in a seedy club off Old Compton street?
"All the large and growing parishes are evangelical"
No, David wh - they're not - at least not where I live, no matter how much propaganda and rhetoric you might have heard to the contrary.
And I live in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney...
Nor where I live...Diocese of Pennsylvania. In fact, one of the most conservative, evangelical parishes in the area just closed its doors, having declined to a membership of just 35!
OTOH, two moderately liberal parishes--my own and one just "next door"--are growing and thriving. We've added two dozen families over the past three years and our pledges have doubled in a decade.
David Wh: when is a marriage not a marriage? The RC church in, for example, Spain or Belgium does not accept the civil marriage of gay couples as valid marriages, you are correct. But then, neither does it accept the civil marriages of divorcees in those countries, which must be a high proportion of those civil marriages which, presumably, you yourself would accept as valid. Do you actually go around telling divorced and remarried people that they are living in sin? Or do you approve of their remarrying in some cases but not in others, in which case, do you make that point to them in the same way you express your disapproval to gay people like me? Or do you just not criticise any of them because they are straight? It's a foolish game that churchpeople are playing, sitting in judgement on people's loving relationships, and possibly one of the main reasons why the Catholic Church is in freefall in most of Western Europe at the moment. Gay marriage has 66% public approval in Spain, despite very concerted efforts by the RC Church to mobilise Catholics against it, and Zapatero has just won the election there again largely on the strength of his progressive social agenda. In Belgium, gay marriage is not remotely controversial at all, nor in the Netherlands or the Scandinavian monarchies - all the countries most similar to Britain in many ways, except without our stupid history of sexual hypocrisy, prudishness, high rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs. At some point, Christians in Europe will need to get real about the way sensible ethical adults live happily, without trying to persecute or exclude anyone they don't like. It's that or extinction, and rightly so: Christians need to start being Christlike and attractive rather than sneery judgmental hypocrites, which, I am afraid, is the reputation Christian homophobia is currently giving us.
Oh, and about whether "homophobia" is the correct term: if many people from an ethnic minority tell an organisation it is institutionally racist, then we have to accept that it is so. Similarly, if loads of gay people are telling you that Con Evangelicalism is homophobic, then you have to accept that it is so: they are the experts here, not you. Evangelicals have as many gay kids as anyone else: the gay community is full of ex-Evangelicals with stories to tell. (Have you seen Brokeback Mountain, for example, or read Oranges are not the Only Fruit?)
"... despite very concerted efforts by the RC Church to mobilise Catholics against it..."
They have mobilised the Opus Dei against it (forming about a 5th of the Spanish church organisation 20 Bishops) coming in busses from all parts of the country to Plaza de Cibéles...
This, bringing awareness of the Spanish realities of the past century into focus, surely is an important factor in their failure ; = )
david wh: "the much higher rate of STDs among MSM suggests that same-sex attraction is strongly associated with unsafe behaviours (not always of course) which should worry everybody."
Having just been worrying about the risks from unsafe behaviours I think this is very poignant: We heard the other day from a friend who has been in a 'stable' same-sex relationship for years; he's recently been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and given 10 years to live.
Very sorry to hear the news of your friend, but what's your point David?
Did you realise that it is easier to contract Hep C from sharing razors, toothbrushes and other grooming items like toe clippers and fingernail cutters than it is through sexual contact be that homosexual or heterosexual?
You need to get out more, instead of allowing your prejudices to brew.
Yes Gareth Morgan, believe it, we queer people also caused Hurricane Katrina, didn't you know?