Wednesday, 28 August 2013

"Justin Welby gets real on homophobia"

Updated thursday, twice

The Archbishop of Canterbury opened the new headquarters of the Evangelical Alliance today, and made some interesting remarks while he was there as these reports show.

Andrew Brown in The Guardian Justin Welby gets real on homophobia

…First, he admitted that the church was “deeply and profoundly divided” over the issue [gay marriage]. This is not at all what he said in the House of Lords at the time, when he claimed that all the major denominations opposed the bill. Yet there is very clear polling evidence from the Westminster Faith debates, to show that Christians, even evangelical Christians, are very conflicted about this, and the opinions of the lay members of the church much more resemble the opinions of unbelievers than they do their own leadership.

Second, he used the term “homophobia” in an honest way. There are still some evangelicals who claim it is a made-up term that refers to nothing in particular. Not so Welby. Gay marriage was, he said, an attempt to deal with issues of homophobia. “The church has not been good at dealing with it. We have implicitly and even explicitly supported [homophobia] and that demands repentance.”…

John Bingham in The Telegraph Archbishop urges Christians to ‘repent’ over ‘wicked’ attitude to homosexuality

The Most Rev Justin Welby told an audience of traditional born-again Christians that they must “repent” over the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past and said most young people viewed Christians as no better than racists on the issue.

Archbishop Welby, who as a young priest once opposed allowing gay couples to adopt children, said the church now had to face up to what amounted to one of the most rapid changes in public attitudes ever.

While insisting that he did not regret voting against same-sex marriage in the House of Lords, he admitted that his own mind was not yet “clear” on the wider issues which he was continuing to think about….

The Guardian also has this report from the Press Association: Young people think opposition to gay marriage is wicked, says archbishop.

The archbishop of Canterbury has said his stance against gay marriage could be seen as “wicked”. Justin Welby said he stood by his decision to vote against same-sex marriage legislation, but said opposing the move could be seen by some as akin to “racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice”…

The Evangelical Alliance itself has reported the event, but does not appear to have heard what the Archbishop said about homophobia: Welby calls on Church to model racial unity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the UK Church to re-commit to unity across ethnic divides, 50 years after Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech…


Paul Bignall in The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury: My gay marriage view can be seen as ‘akin to racism’

The Evangelical Alliance has now published this, Official opening with the Archbishop of Canterbury, with links to a video of the Archbishop’s address, and to audio from the official opening (Q&A session starts at 36:55).

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Categorised as: Church of England

Is the penny beginning to drop? Congratulations to the ABC for entering the lions den of the new EA headquarters and saying it as it is. And how revealing that the EA report makes no mention of this at all.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 7:30pm BST

Let 'Festina lente' thy watchword be.

And meanwhile, some of us in our sixties upwards have been waiting sixty plus years.

How's that for social justice or ethics ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 7:56pm BST

"Archbishop Welby, who as a young priest ... "

And when would that have been?

Posted by: Geoff on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 8:00pm BST

Fortunately the EA have been outed by the quality press. They may not bury their heads in the sand forever.

No wonder Evangelical churches around the UK are in decline.

Posted by: Laurence on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 9:09pm BST

Praise the Lord!!!

"We have implicitly and even explicitly supported [homophobia] and that demands repentance."

So right now I'm stranded across the Potomac River from today's March on Washington - I couldn't get there but I've been listening to the speeches, most of them including sexual orientation in the liberation movement inspired by MLK.

What awesome news from ++Justin! Obviously, I'm not going to agree with him about equal marriage. But what a step, a truly great step. A healing step. I am in tears.


Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 9:40pm BST

Previously I have said Archbishop Justin has been unwilling to seriously deal with the issues around sexuality in the church. These latest remarks suggest he is doing so, at his own pace. Yet they neither compensate for, nor repair the damage caused by he and the bishops failing to read the pulse of how ordinary people's attitudes - Christians included - have changed.

Posted by: Tim Moore on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 9:46pm BST

I simply CANNOT make sense of [para.] "we need to repent of our youthfully-DESPISED homophobia" set alongside "I don't regret my [youthfully (et al) -DESPISED] vote against marriage equality".

It's just incoherent, +++Justin. You have to choose one or the other.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 10:41pm BST

Incoherent? Why would it be incoherent to condemn homophobia and vote against 'marriage' between people of the same gender? Wasn't this the same view held by his predecessor, and Christians of wide scope worldwide? People can condemn +Welby and +RDW for holding this position, but incoherent it isn't.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 at 11:39pm BST

If the Evangelical Alliance cannot be honest enough to accurately report the content of Archbishop Justin's speech, how can they be trusted with the Word of the Lord ?

The EA's refusal to be truthful in their report of events speaks volumes about them and I hope ++ Justin is made aware of their selective editing of what he has said , not least because he will then realize the true extent of homophobia and the problems he faces .

The EA have indeed been outed by the quality press (and TA!)

Posted by: Salopian on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 12:32am BST

"Incoherent? Why would it be incoherent to condemn homophobia and vote against 'marriage' between people of the same gender? Wasn't this the same view held by his predecessor, and Christians of wide scope worldwide?" - cseitz -

Christopher, are you being serious? I thought the whole problem for ACI, ACNA and GAFCON was the fact that the Church should support homophobia!

That the Archbishop of Canterbury has roundly condemned homophobia (while admitting his personal doubts about Same-Sex Marriage) should not be too surprising for the rest of us. But for a member of ACI to even implicitly suggest that perhaps the ABC might licitly support Gay people, must surely be out of synchrony with ACI's fundamental polity, that questions the integrity of homosexuals.

Incidentally, Archbishop Justin displays a certain integrity in his willingness to actually listen to the arguments on behalf of LGBT people. This helps to demonstrate his separation from the anti-gay sympathies of his predecessor, Lord Carey. No doubt his experience of spiritual renewal has made him more open to new revelation by the Holy Spirit on matters concerning the complexities of gender and sexuality, which may not be said of ACI.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 1:32am BST


Well, yes. Once you come to the conclusion that all people really are created in the image of God, then it becomes illogical, at best, to discriminate, be it the state or the church. We are all part of God's diverse creation.

However, I can't stress enough that it is a huge shift from coddling human rights abusers and feeding homophobia to calling for repentance. MLK said that you can't legislate that a man love me, but you can legislate to stop him from lynching me... something like that.

Getting to "first, do no harm" is a dramatic and healing step, and it was made courageously.

It is easier to talk about the particulars with real agape when you aren't subject to hate supported by the full weight of the church. When ++Justin lifted that weight today, he opened mighty doors to hope, compassion, and tolerance.

I heard the Good News of Jesus Christ from the ABC today for the first time in my life. It might not have been perfect, but we are all human after all.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 3:01am BST

That's a dreadfully Comical Ali moment from Evangelical Alliance. Ignoring a speech, made at the opening of your own headquarters, covered by every national media outlet, because it happens to present an inconveniently truthful picture of the world is just sad.

The leader of one of the last great bastions of counter-revolutionary sentiment is capitulating before the world's media. Meanwhile, some are still pretending the absence of tanks in the streets is because the revolution hasn't happened, rather than because it is already over.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 7:48am BST

Yes, Dr. Seitz, it -is- incoherent. If we are real people and our relationships are equal (which they are, that is not up for debate. period/full stop.) then standing in the way of marriage equality directly contradicts any condemnation of homophobia.

It is the same as if one of the old segregationist governors of the deep south had stood in the doorway preventing desegregation of universities while at the same time saying that they condemned overt racism.

Oh, wait, they did just that. Outside of the rabid segregationists, the "moderate" segregationists spoke out against racism and called for time for slow change and tried to look like moderates.

And guess what? They are now, in our memories and in the books, numbered among the old fashioned racists and hardcore segregationists. History doesn't make the fine distinctions that they were trying to make. They are simply recorded as racists, too.

I wonder what that might tell you and your side of this current debate about the future judgment of history. Think about it.

Posted by: Dennis (formerly in Chicago) on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 8:22am BST

It's not incoherent, it's a step along the journey.
Even gay people didn't think, decade ago when we first campaigned for civil rights, that we would ever want to marry or be able to.

Awareness is a process, you don't jump from Apartheid in one single big step to a black President.

I am delighted that the Archbishop is serious about tackling homophobia, even if he might not yet know where that thought will eventually and logically lead him to.
We should not swat people who are on a journey of positive development but encourage them.

But, czeitz, we should also not forget that EA and many other conservative organisations are not just opposed to marriage equality but that they have bitterly opposed any recognition of gay people. There is a wobbly agreement that it's ok to be gay but celibate, but there is still a strong movement that believes in the ex-gay movement and that any true Christian gay person should change their orientation.

You can (still) be against marriage equality without being homophobic. But the larger part of the official conservative movements in the CoE are against any recognition of gay relationships and believe them to be immoral. They are, indeed, still homophobic and genuinely discriminating against gay people.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 8:44am BST

Thanks for the helpful responses. +Welby's view that the Communion is on the edge of a precipice is confirmed.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 9:42am BST

I agree that there is some frank recognition of just how disgusting many young people find the Church's official opposition to homosexual relationships.

However, words are one thing, actions are another.

I feel a little wearied by top-down comments which express "tolerance" of gay and lesbian relationships.

What I seek is *celebration* of gay and lesbian relationships. Then we'll know there's been a true change of heart and new conviction.

When the Anglican Church allows individual parishes to decide how they believe, in conscience, they should be gay-friendly...

When churches are free to *celebrate* gay relationships with public blessings, because their PCCs and priests believe, in conscience, it's the right thing to do...

When diversity is *celebrated* not simply tolerated and 'managed'...

When diocesan websites have lively LGBT support sections (try carrying out a survey, LGBT is almost airbrushed out of existence on most)...

When, instead of being 'called' by honest young people on what IS a justice issue, the Church (like the Episcopal Church in the US) becomes a beacon and 'champions' gay and lesbian and heterosexual love, care, fidelity, devotion and intimate expressions...

Then I'll believe there is more than managerial words, but rather, a conviction and change of hearts, that young people in our country can recognise and respect.

Posted by: Susannah on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 9:48am BST

Actually, Dennis, a closer analogy would be to those who denied being racist yet supported the miscegenation laws that prevented blacks and whites from marrying each other.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 11:30am BST

That's right, Pat, we support miscegenation laws and are homophobic bigots -- that's what concluding the BCP understanding of Christian marriage, as faithful Christian belief and practice, now amounts to. When homophobia is extended to upholding the standard Christian understanding of marriage then Rowan Williams, Justin Welby, and the vast majority of Christians living and dead are in reality supporters of miscegenation laws.

This is Thinking Anglicanism.

Who could possibly think this new version of required teaching and belief will not eliminate all opposition and demand division?

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 8:29pm BST

Cseitz refers to the BCP's understanding of Christian marriage. Does that means he thinks that those who enter it do so because they are "brute beasts that have no understanding"?" Or is he rather in favour of the 1928 version that allows one to use another Preface? The same form of service allows for marriage without the possibility of procreation, which would imply that sexual relations are a means of relationship building. A possibility that is open to couples of the same gender. The opening up of marriage, once that step has been taken, is no more a redefinition of the Sacrament or the state than the admission of women to Holy Orders. The Orders are not redefined by this extension. A woman is a priest in exactly the same way as a man is. A woman is a bishop in exactly the same way as a man is. If the extension of ordination to include women is not 'a Communion breaking issue', then believe you me the marriage of same-sex couples isn't. Nobody is reliant on them for a valid sacramental ministry. Nobody will be left in any doubt about their spiritual life by the fact of such marriages.
When will those in positions of power & authority in the Anglican Churches have the wit and wisdom to point this out?

Posted by: Christian on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 10:24pm BST

cseitz, you rely on the BCP marriage service - but the Book of Common Prayer understanding of ordination was that it was for men only, and the ordination of women is now accepted widely in Anglicanism, so there is nothing unthinking about allowing for progress in our discernment since 1662.

Similarly, you rely on what you call "the standard Christian understanding of marriage", but our standard Christian understanding of race has changed so why not of marriage in the light of our changing understanding of normal human sexuality?

Lambeth Conference resolution 24 of 1930 referred to "the Christian obligation on the part of women to maintain a high standard of morals and conduct, especially in their relations with men of a different colour" - but no Lambeth conference would ever be specifically concerned about interracial sex today.

The parallel with changing views on miscegenation does not seem so far fetched in the light of that 1930 Resolution.

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 29 August 2013 at 10:26pm BST

"What I seek is *celebration* of gay and lesbian relationships. Then we'll know there's been a true change of heart and new conviction."

I agree very much. But I do think this is a vital step. It takes some of the heat out of the equation, and that's a much better place for meaningful dialogue.

To me, as an American, it seems that ++Justin will not go on the attack towards TEC as did Rowan. That's a mighty relief.

It also appears that ++Justin is open to dialogue, which is incredibly positive. This is a moment for English LGBT Anglicans to step up, try to dialogue, and see what happens.

I have hope that he's sincere, but time will tell, most certainly.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 1:40am BST

Those scare-quotes you use, cseitz, around the word *marriage*, in regards to same-sex couples' legal vows? As 'marriage'? THAT is homophobia. As such, it's completely coherent that *you* oppose marriage equality.

Just trying to be even more helpful.

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 4:01am BST

I suppose the Alliance are concerned as well about their funding from Churches.

However as a UK teacher I have noted that pupils are far more assertive about homophobia, but there are a few(a smaller and decreasing minority)who still use the word gay as a negative term.

Schools are still slow to pick up on this, unlike a pupil using racist language.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 6:15am BST

as a civil partnered mother of 2 teenagers I have to say that "gay" is a word with two meanings. One of them means homosexual and my girls and their friends have absolutely no problems with gay people.
The other means "unpleasant, unlikeable" etc. and is used in that context by the same people. Both girls used it quite freely around us, not even once thinking that anyone could link it to homophobia.

The negative meaning of the word was massively fashionable about a year or two ago but is now fast disappearing, as most youth slang does over a period of a few years.

Young people's affirmation of their gay friends remains.

That's not to say that there isn't a lot of anti gay sentiment and genuine bullying still around! But I'd hesitate to use the use of the word gay in evidence.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 8:56am BST

It's not incoherent to hold those two positions.

It's fairly clear, isn't it? that Welby has been badly shaken by the public and parliamentary debate over same-sex marriage and is trying to secure two things: (1) to get those Evangelicals and others who can't shut up about homosexuality to shut up, because he realises how badly it's playing; (2) to move the C of E to a position where in practice it accepts same-sex marriage, whatever the 'private' views of many (not all) of its leaders. Both things are sensible, and will, I imagine, command majority support right across the spectrum. He's making some sort of an effort, in ways that slightly surprise me. It may be, on 'the Nixon principle', that it takes an Evangelical (of that kind) to persuade Evangelicals (of that kind).

Posted by: John on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 9:20am BST

The comments reported in the press were made in response to a question following ++Justin's speech, the audio of which is on the Evangelical Alliance's website. The main report on the EA site covers what he said in his speech rather than the topic the press chose to take the opportunity to quiz him on. This isn't about ignoring what he said.
Danny Webster

Posted by: Danny Webster on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 9:49am BST

Some very thoughtful and impressive comments here. The thing that strikes me, though, is that Welby made a fatal and fateful mistake when he voted against the Second Reading of the government's bill (for that is what it was - a vote AGAINST hearing the arguments) and Hansard does not allow that to be forgotten - ever. Of course he's got to try to defend it now but I bet he regrets it and didn't do what Bp Stevens the convenor did and abstain. Of course he had A. Minichiello Williams beating him up about low bishop attendance..........

Posted by: Tom on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 10:47am BST

I completely agree with Tom. That he voted to cut short the democratic process and to stop all the other Lords from debating the issue further and voting on it goes way way beyond "voting against marriage equality".

I dare say it is one of the reasons some of us now find it very difficult to trust his words.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 11:05am BST

Dr. Seitz:

I am inclined to reply, "You said it, not I". if you do not see that the same people now making your arguments against same-sex marriage were making those very same arguments against inter-racial marriage 50 years ago, then you are blind.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 11:19am BST

Danny: thanks for your helpful clarification. However, the Press having highlighted the matter, and the Archbishop having said what he said about it, it would be helpful for all if you could now say how the Evangelical Alliance responds, wouldn't it?

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 11:35am BST

Welby's position appears to be that old joke of American politics: "these are my principles fundamental to my being, but if you don't like them, I've got others". He was firmly opposed to same sex marriage, in that he not merely voted against it, but attempted to remove the ability of others to vote for it by shortening the debate. His church published endless screeds (labelled "briefings" and "position papers") which dismissed as fundamentally wrong and wrong-headed the mere idea that same-sex marriage could be countenanced, never mind enacted.

Now it's been passed, with his position simply ignored (all those finely worded briefings not even read), he's trying to pretend that he never really thought it was so terrible to start with, and that young people think he's a bit of a bigot (as if he didn't know before) and we should all pretend that it never quite happened.

For a man of principle, he's rather struggling to find any.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 1:13pm BST

That's right. All those fusty old BCP rites that stipulated in the rubrics and in the biblical texts read and in the vows and in the charge and in the prayers and in the blessing: no miscegenation!

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 1:15pm BST

Christian points out the trouble with cseitz leaning too closely on the words of the marriage service. In the current Canadian text, we have the following:

Marriage is for the spouses' "their mutual comfort and help, that they may know each other with delight and tenderness in acts of love [and that they may beblessed in the procreation, care, and upbringing of children]." Allowing for some variations of circumstance around procreation - and the liturgy does allow, hence the parentheses - none of these purposes is at odds with a marriage between two people of the same gender.

So no, believing in the liturgically-stated definition of marriage does not make one a homophobe. The problem rather is that cseitz et al at best _don't_ believe in this definition - or at worst believe it only until they realise it doesn't keep out the families they want it to keep out.

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 3:55pm BST

Interested Observer,
what do you want from him?
Damned if he changes, damned if he doesn't?

From the beginning he has criticised homophobia in the church.
He's the first one to tackle the evangelicals head on.

But he's in this half way place where people genuinely believe that they can object to the extremes of anti gay sentiment while maintaining an equal but different outlook. And yes, he made a terrible mistake when he voted for the fatal amendment.

It cannot be done.
He will discover this.

I’m always surprised that when previously staunchly anti gay people change their mind, one half of the liberal part of church lays into them for not having changed their mind earlier, for ever having held different opinions, for changing their mind too little too late, for not atoning enough – I understand the emotions but it’s deeply counterproductive.

If we really want change we have to encourage and welcome it wherever it start to appear.

I’m no friend of Justin Welby’s, the House of Lords vote put him in a very very low place as far as I’m concerned.
But I do applaud what he is doing now and I want to do what I can to encourage him along on his path.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 5:06pm BST

In England, 'BCP' means '1662', and that was superseded long since for the pastoral offices - and much else !

But even 1662 could not be said to rule out the marriage of man on man, or woman on woman.

We have had a number of rites since then and all emphasize relationality over gonadal variety.

Posted by: Laurence on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 6:18pm BST

So, Welby's speech said not a word on gay rights and homophobia, only the Q & As following it.

This is not what we were told, not what was reported on TA ! So we have been commenting about what did not happen.

This is much less encouraging than it seemed.

I don't think there will be much for us to hear of any substance, until the Church of England expresses some kind of regret for letting us lgbti down so badly down the decades, and right up to the Vote in the House of Lords, when the bishops put their homophobia on verbal record on Hansard, and in their votes cast.

Posted by: Laurence on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 6:24pm BST

PS--it is good to see the SCOT has deep-sixed the "Dennis Canon" artifice.

I thought this was a death blow:

See TEX. PROP. CODE § 112.051 (“A settlor may revoke the trust unless it is irrevocable by the
express terms of the instrument creating it or of an instrument modifying it.”).

Property in TX belongs to the people whose names are on the title. Think of that.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 6:36pm BST

That's not quite correct. In the main speech he does mention homophobia, albeit briefly.
The Q and A session that followed was planned as part of the event and took place in full view of the audience, not off in a corner with only journalists. So the answers he gave were all heard by everyone, and now form part of the public record. And can be listened to in full via the EA website link given above.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 7:03pm BST

"Welby's speech said not a word on gay rights and homophobia, only the Q & As following it."

Does it matter, as long as he said it?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 7:36pm BST

"But even 1662 could not be said to rule out the marriage of man on man, or woman on woman."

Laurence, while I would MUCH prefer it stated "man with man, or woman with woman", I think your principle point (contra cseitz) stands. The fact that the BCP *states* the terms of marriage in male/female terms, does not means it LIMITS marriage to male/female couples.

And Dr Seitz: while, Lord knows, I'm as guilty of the sarcastic-dominant post as any here at TA, could you please dial it back a little? Thanks!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 30 August 2013 at 9:41pm BST

Erika, I would be happy to see Welby change his mind, if there was any evidence that he had changed his mind.

He's reaffirmed his belief that voting against SSM was the right thing, ie that although he accepts it's going to happen, he still things SSM is wrong. He's also recently reaffirmed his position that sex should only take place in marriage, marriage he thinks should be denied to gays. How is he not homophobic if his position is that all homosexuals should be celibate? And if that isn't his position, how does he square his positions with regard to SSM (against) and sex outside marriage (against)?

So I don't believe Welby's position has moved. He opposed, and opposes, same-sex adoption and same-sex marriage, and thinks that couple of the same sex shouldn't have sex. If that's the new, anti-homophobic Welby, I'd hate to see the other one.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 3:25am BST

If the Archbishop of Canterbury wants to show that his position on the issues surrounding homosexuality has changed in ANY way, he has a simple means of showing it. He could give permission for those who are homosexual and in episcopal orders to be open & honest about this. The personal damage to the present Archbishop would be minimal, as HE did not ordain them.
There could be great personal relief for those thus allowed to re-establish their close relationship with the truth and the Provinces of Canterbury & York could then put forward names to the CNC with a moderate hope that they would get a fair consideration.

Posted by: Commentator on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 8:39am BST

And there we have it 'Interested Observer'. It is all about sex, and particularly the shiboleth of no sex outside marriage. The ABC has got himself into the catch 22 position. No sex outside marriage, gays can't marry, gays can't have sex because they can't marry.

The poor man is terribly conflicted yet doesn't yet seem to recognise those conflcts. One has to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept that he is trying to understand the world as it is. He also seems to be beginning to see the sheer nastiness of much of the church's respose to gltb people and how out of touch it is with the vast majority of the popuation. But until he and conservative Christians resolve this issue in the end their words remain hollow pieties.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 8:54am BST

"He also seems to be beginning to see the sheer nastiness of much of the church's respose to gltb people "

But he sees that as a PR problem, not a problem of decency and principle. So far as I can tell, Welby's personal position is that homosexuality is wrong, homosexuals should repent and stop doing those things that they do, and ideally should stop being homosexual. Adoption, marriage and other institutions of the state should be closed to them, and although they shouldn't be actively punished for their sin, it should be made clear to them that they are wrong in their thought and deed.

But he realises that saying that in public is bad PR, and makes the CofE look vile. So he's trying to frame a position which says that homosexuality is in fact OK, so long as homosexuals don't do anything associated with being homosexual, and build themselves nice Ikea closets to live in.

He's not moving the CofE's doctrine, or his own thinking, a millimetre. What he's trying to do is rebrand bigotry as a sort of regrettable foible that we should excuse because he's just so loveable, while to the faithful of his evangelical flock he maintains the same message of exclusion, distaste and segregation. His position is, at root, dishonest: he wants people to believe he's a thinking man, when in fact there isn't an inch of daylight between his position now and the position of the most staunch anti-gay evangelical. No marriage. No adoption. No sex. No acceptance.

Welby will be remembered as a man who continued to be a bigot while all around him society was becoming decent. The CofE, in choosing him as ABC, has opted to fight a culture war that in the UK has essentially no troops, and has rendered the CofE politically impotent.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 12:41pm BST

I agree with Interested Observer here. There's no change in substance, only a change in tone, and that change is more about damage control than about any change of mind or heart.

I think the same thing can be said about Pope Francis' recent statements.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 2:24pm BST

I'd like to think that Erika is right, that we are being too hard on the Archbishop, but as Gertrude Stein once said about Los Angeles, "There's no there there."

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 2:26pm BST

I hear you, Interested Observer. What you say sounds plausible. I sincerely hope you're wrong.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 3:02pm BST

No 'sacramental (or any other kind of) assurance' in a lying, deceitful Church .

Posted by: Laurence on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 3:59pm BST

Except that Stein said that about Oakland, CA, not LA.

Posted by: Paul on Saturday, 31 August 2013 at 4:32pm BST

"Except that Stein said that about Oakland, CA, not LA."

There's still no there there.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Sunday, 1 September 2013 at 1:08pm BST

Although by no means a fan of Welby I must say I think people are being far too harsh on him. Last night I watched his address to Synod. It was very impressive how he went directly to the topic and sought to take the Synod with him. He chose the event at EA of all places to make the remarks he did. Sometimes doctrines don't get changed, they just get forgotten. I think we should be somewhat more charitable. Of course deeds may not in the end follow in which case criticism will be amply justified.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 1 September 2013 at 3:07pm BST

Agree entirely, Craig Nelson, as I myself tried to indicate above. I grew up in Protestant Northern Ireland and for decades experienced determined negativity. There are two things about determined negativity: (1) it's self-fulfilling; (2) it's stupid.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 1 September 2013 at 7:16pm BST

My husband often tells me that leaders ought to be judged not by their words but rather their actions. Welby voted for an amendment to destroy the marriage equality bill and worked consistently against equal treatment for same-sex couples. Words will not change that reality that he still thinks same-sex couples deserve "separate but equal" treatment within the Church of England.

It might have been easy if he had stated that civil and religious are different, in which case he could have supported the bill. But he didn't.

Time will tell if he changes his attitude or whether his remarks were simply damage control.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Monday, 2 September 2013 at 3:17am BST

"leaders ought to be judged not by their words but rather their actions."

Exactly. Welby claims he isn't an knee-jerk bigot. Except when he votes, when he votes as a knee-jerk bigot. He then attempts to distance himself from his own actions, in the manner of an alcoholic blaming the bottle. But the reality is that whenever Welby has had the opportunity to vote on decent treatment of gays, he has voted against it. Every time. Consistently. Who cares what he says, when his actions speak so much louder?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 2 September 2013 at 11:30am BST

I think you are right on this certainly hear it less used and thankfully that dreadful word " poof " seems to have gone forever.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Monday, 2 September 2013 at 2:08pm BST

I agree in judging by actions. In this context words are however very important. I don't think it entirely fair to judge Welby by his Lords vote. I am sure he thought very carefully about his vote and was trying to do the right thing. Put it this way - there is more joy in heaven aetc etc. Welby is on some kind of journey. It is not yet clear if he's just nipped out to buy a packet of cigarettes or planning a trip to a new country. He is however on the move.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 2 September 2013 at 5:18pm BST

The claim here, from others besides myself, is that Welby may be initiating a change, a change which, if it occurred, practically everyone here would approve. Since we're talking about (the possibility of) change, the fact that before that (possible) change he 'consistently' did not change is not a decisive argument against the possibility that he is now attempting to make a change. Personally, I'm not interested in his motives or whether he's 'genuinely' changed his opinion on the question at issue: but I am very interested in the possibility that some of the things he now says may herald desirable change. Since, as I say, practically everyone here wants that change (and more), we should be encouraging him - and those like him - not always saying, triumphantly, you never changed in the past, you're not changing now, we hate you.

Posted by: John on Monday, 2 September 2013 at 8:35pm BST

Craig Nelson how long have you got ?

For some of us time is short.

In this context to imagine you or the Church or Welby can operate outside time is bordering on criminal.

Fortunately few members of the church-going public -let alone the general public care much about the opinions of successive archbishops of Canterbury.

(Williams even signed the letter of dissent after that notorious Lambeth conference, but when the chance truely to do something for us lgbti - he walked by on the other side.

Posted by: Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 3 September 2013 at 1:51am BST

John - I don't think that the views thus far expressed imply the "We hate you" that you read. But, having been consistently prepared to give ++Rowan and the English House of Bishops the benefit of the doubt in the past, the time has come to ask for actions that echo words. If ++Justin wants people to believe he's on a journey and not just a PR trip, then there are definite things he could do. He could offer his support and protection to his fellow bishops who are homosexual and encourage them to be open & honest.
The Church of England has gay bishops. There isn't a ban on them, there's simply a ban on the truth. Such a ban is far more scandalous and damaging to the Gospel than the existence of a gay bishop or the consecration of another one

Posted by: Christian on Tuesday, 3 September 2013 at 7:14am BST

"we should be encouraging him - and those like him "

Encouraging him in what? Here's his position on SSM:

He signed off on complete opposition to the entire concept of SSM, not just for the CofE, but for everyone else as well. It's apparently bad for society, bad for people, bad for everyone. The document explicitly says "The arguments set out in this paper, and in the Church of England’s submission to the Government consultation in June represent the position of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York". If the CofE media office is publishing stuff as Welby's view that isn't, in fact, his view, then he needs to sort his staff out, doesn't he?

So I don't believe a word of this claim that he's on a journey. His declared position, his voting record, everything he's written, published and said is opposition to SSM. His claims of now having concerned about that are disingenuous and insincere. Either he makes clear statements and recants his past position, and then takes practical action to repent, or he will continue to just sound completely insincere.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 3 September 2013 at 8:30am BST

The problem is that, while the Church of England maintains the fiction that there are no homosexuals amongst its clergy and bishops, there can be no hope for freedom from obfuscation on the subject.

While inherently gay clergy (and bishops) are condemned to deny the reality of their situation, the fact is that clergy are no less affected by the phenomenon of homosexuality than any other category of human beings. What may be different about them is that their employment conditions militates against openness and leads to a culture of enforced hypocrisy - which cannot be good for the health of the Church.

One can hardly blame the clergy affected for not 'coming out of the closet' - especially when this could lead to their instant dismissal, in the light of uncertainty in the Church about the validity of their personal sexual identity. The sooner the Church of England accepts the fact that a minority of human beings are intrinsically differently-ordered in sexual attraction; and that this is not a matter of personal choice but an inbuilt reality; the better for all concerned. Then we can get on with the business of preaching the Gospel to all creatures.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 3 September 2013 at 10:47am BST

Welby doesn't see that marriage has been redefined (yet again) in recent decades. It was an arrangement for an orderly transfer of property between families (including the bride), and the church got involved only around 1100 BCE. Now marriage is an agreement between equals. As such, it is appropriate for any two people who love each other and want to become part of the social order as a couple. Same-sex marriage doesn't change marriage, it simply enlarges the base.

Welby worries, "We have seen changes in the idea about sexuality, sexual behaviour. We have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 not only think that what we're saying is incomprehensible but also think that we're plain wrong and wicked and equate it to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice." But the church's whole approach to life insists on imposing ideology on experience, and the ideology mostly doesn't jibe with experience. Fixing the church's approach to sexuality won't make it more relevant. Perhaps lessen the contempt.

Posted by: Murdoch on Wednesday, 4 September 2013 at 3:00am BST

I agree with you, Murdoch, but in order to persuade people one has as far as possible to work within their own frames of reference (sometimes it's not possible, of course). One has no chance whatsoever of persuading Evangelical or even fairly ordinary Christians if one argues the way you do. Not only does it not persuade them, it alarms them and makes them think that liberal Christians are completely different from them - which they're not.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 4 September 2013 at 10:52am BST

"But the church's whole approach to life insists on imposing ideology on experience, and the ideology mostly doesn't jibe with experience."

This isn't necessarily true. There's a vast amount of theological writings about the very radical life of Jesus Christ, noting that he regularly affirmed the outcast against the status quo. Some of the church is actually coming to grips with with the life and teachings of Jesus and the real life of people, such as LGBT persons. And some branches of "the church" have embraced a theology that affirms people's experience.

Somehow this powerful theological wave has missed the CoE hierarchy. But the CoE hierarchy is not "the church." But it appears that the ABC might indeed "jibe," and come about to a new understanding. Let's hope he doesn't capsize.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 4 September 2013 at 5:57pm BST

John @ 10:52amBST -- You're right, of course. If it's any comfort, I'm not really a liberal Christian, more post-Christian. I entered the Episcopal Church in 1953 and drove straight through in about 30 years. I'm out the other side, now, but appreciate the beauty of the journey. Essentially, I found that the tradition was clueless about sexuality, and that obtuseness raised questions about the rest of the teaching. I found life and love more fully in the gay community, although I can't regret the journey that brought me to present happiness.

Now, it's not just the church's retrograde views on sex that mar its witness. The Christian story is that humankind is being led by divine guidance to a fulfilling end -- yet the church seems only to be nudging individuals to be nicer, and more helpful in their communities. You'd think that the God of Creation would have long since got across the message, Enough being fruitful and multiplying -- you're crowding all other creatures off the earth and poisoning the atmosphere and oceans. Repent! But we're promoting good manners on the Titanic. In all the people and groups being guided by the Spirit, there seems to be no central voice. Everyone hears echos of their own concerns.

But John is right. It doesn't help to badger people involved in their own journeys. They must find their own ways to the edge. Fortunately, many are now starting outside, and have less baggage to shed.

Posted by: Murdoch on Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 4:19am BST

Thank you, Murdoch. Very enlightening, both personally and argumentatively. I'm still on the inside - or try to be.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 8:51am BST

I'm not as optimistic about Welby's comments as some here. It strikes me as being more of the same policy: say nice things about how bad homophobia is, but continue doing all the homophobic things we do and pretend they're not really homophobic at all.

I expand here:

Posted by: AndrewT on Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 11:38am BST

I would suggest that it might be more fruitful to hold the ABC to his words with encouragement and optimism, than with cynicism.

Of course he voted the "wrong way" and said ridiculous things during the equal marriage debacle. He was in line with the crazy stuff coming out of the hierarchy. But he said something quite provocative in the lion's den. To me, this signals the potential for movement.

While cynicism about CoE hierarchy is well deserved, perhaps it's possible to have a healthy skepticism and still keep the door open. If Justin is on a journey, he needs companions on the way. It would help to see that we can show the compassion that we are asking for.

There will be ample opportunity to slam the door if he continues to go the direction of being on the wrong side of human rights. He's addressed bullying, he's said that homophobia is a sin that requires institutional repentance. Give him time and holy space, support him in prayer, and yes, hold his feet to the fire.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 4:25pm BST

You're right, Cynthia, but I think there is a converse risk of indulging in sycophancy over what were, after all, only words. Welby has given no indication of intending to change church doctrine, employment policy, or position on marriage or civil partnerships. Until he does, these words are empty, because these aspects of our church are homophobic tout court.

Posted by: AndrewT on Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 5:18pm BST

I hear you AndrewT. It's also true that my church, TEC, is way ahead on LGBT inclusion. Most of all, we got there from a highly representative process and a lot of stories, prayer, study, and listening. CoE is not nearly as representative and I don't get the feeling that the top listens to the rank and file, or have read any theology written prior to around 1960. That paper on marriage looked like a stunning 1950's thing. I bet they were drinking Sherry as they wrote it...

He uttered powerful words, words that indicate that he is listening as no other before him. I am not advocating wait and see, I'm advocating for dialogue so that ++Justin can hear the stories, so that he can Witness, so that his heart and mind opens to a whole new realm of God's good creation.

No dialogue = no movement.

My fight involved wanting CoE bigotry out of TEC affairs. Your task for change is dialogue. Liberation has NEVER come from the top down. Just ask Martin Luther King, or Gandhi, or Desmond Tutu. You have work to do. And ++Justin opened the door.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 9:53pm BST

Dialogue isn't likely to prove fruitful if you come up with wildly inaccurate (and surely hugely offensive) caricatures like 'not read any theology written post [evidently] 1960'.

Posted by: John on Friday, 6 September 2013 at 8:52am BST

John, do you remember that marriage statement out of the CoE leadership? That was a highly offensive caricature of marriage. Not only did it offend millions of people, it's purpose was to continue oppressing millions of people as well as liberal denominations wanting to perform marriages as a matter of their conscience.

Stuff that bad needs to be illuminated. And the offense caused by calling out the bad, hardly rates on the scale of offense of trying to use actual POWER to oppress people.

Dialogue doesn't mean politely accepting a load of hooey such as that marriage document. That's the road to the current troubles.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 6 September 2013 at 5:06pm BST
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