Updated again Friday morning
The following letter has been sent to the Leadership Team of GAFCON. A press release from Changing Attitude LGBT Anglican leaders threatened with murder and violently attacked in Nigeria and England explains the background to the letter.
Open Letter to the Leadership Team of GAFCON
Dear friends in Christ,
You may know that there were several instances of actual physical violence and threats of violence and death enacted against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders of Changing Attitude in Nigeria over the Easter Weekend 2008. The leader of a Changing Attitude group was violently beaten. Subsequently, death threats have been issued against the Directors of Changing Attitude in Nigeria and England.
The discourse taking place in the Anglican Communion about the presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches must be conducted in the context of Christian love and mutual respect. If it is not, then people will continue to perpetrate abuse and violence against LGBT people.
Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.
Changing Attitude understands that the Anglican Communion is engaged in an extended period of debate about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches. We are committed to engage in this debate and in the Listening Process which is integral to it and authorised by the Councils of the church.
Conservative Anglicans will want to argue against the position which Changing Attitude represents. They will continue to question the pattern of life and identity adopted by some lesbian and gay Christians. We recognise the integrity of those who hold this position at the same time as we disagree with it. We are not resistant to engaging in the debate with those who hold radically different views.
We recognise that it is extremely difficult to conduct this debate in language that does not polarise opinions or inflame tensions. Tension will grow more intense in this period immediately prior to the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON event.
The language we use has direct consequences on the lives of LGBT Christians. Language affects us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We ask that all of us within the Anglican Communion be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people. We ask that all of us actively discourage any form of threatening behaviour so that we may all engage in respectful listening and conform the pattern of our lives to the pattern of love embodied by our Lord Jesus Christ.
None of us wishes to encourage or condone violence and none of us wishes to be responsible, indirectly, for murder or violence perpetrated on another person, whatever their sexual identity.
Yours in Christ,
Revd Canon Professor Marilyn McCord Adams
Rt Revd Michael Bourke
Rt Revd Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking
Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ramsbury
Very Revd Vivienne Faull
Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Rt Revd Richard Holloway
Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme
Revd Sr Una Kroll
Rt Revd Richard Lewis
Rt Revd Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield
Rt Revd John Oliver
Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon & Leeds
Rt Revd Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire
Rt Revd John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln
Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby
Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
Revd Dr Anne Townsend
The Revd Canon Angela Weaver
Letter sent to:
Rt Rev Nicodemus Okille, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Rt Rev Martyn Minns, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Archbishop Greg Venables, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop Justice Akrofi, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Rt Revd Michael Nazir Ali
Update Wednesday evening
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this statement:
Archbishop condemns recent violence against lesbian and gay people
Wednesday 09 April 2008
In response to reports of violence and threats towards Christians involved in the debate on human sexuality, the Archbishop has given the following statement:
“The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”
Additional information from Changing Attitude at Nigerians threaten English and Nigerian Directors of Changing Attitude.
And the BBC has published Archbishop criticises gay threats.
The Church Times has Gay Nigerians suffer violent abuse by Pat Ashworth.