Thinking Anglicans

opposition to discrimination?

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

A recent news item concerned the UK government’s banning members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church from entering the country. Less widely reported was the joint statement issued by six Christian organisations, the day after government action, including the Evangelical Alliance, which said:

“We are dismayed that members of Westboro Baptist Church (based in Kansas, USA and not associated with the Baptist Union of Great Britain) might picket the performance of The Laramie Project in Basingstoke on Friday.

“We do not share their hatred of lesbian and gay people. We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation, and we unreservedly stand against their message of hate toward those communities.

“Neither the style nor substance of their preaching expresses the historic, orthodox Christian faith. And we ask that the members of Westboro Baptist Church refrain from stirring up any more homophobic hatred in the UK or elsewhere.”

This prompted Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia to issue the following response:

“It is welcome that a number of churches and evangelical groups have made a public statement and joined the many others who are opposing Westboro’ Baptist church-style hate speech. But it is relatively easy to issue statements against extremists, distance oneself, and condemn them. It is more challenging, and uncomfortable, to acknowledge what one might have in common with those we find abhorrent. But that is what the message at the heart of the Christian faith requires.

“This is the real challenge that Westboro Baptist church presents. And among those who have condemned Westboro are some who preach rejection of faithful gay relationships, who deny their baptism and Christian ministry, and who refuse their wisdom. Some have attempted to negotiate opt-outs from equalities legislation so they can themselves discriminate against lesbian and gay people in employment and in the provision of goods and services. The Evangelical Alliance in particular removed the Courage Trust from its membership when the Trust made a Christian commitment to affirming lesbian and gay people.

“The six churches and groups have said with one voice: ‘We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation’ We invite them to reflect these words in their actions.”

Ekklesia also issued a background report, Churches condemn Westboro hate speech, but challenge remains.

The other five organisations were: The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Evangelical Alliance UK, Faithworks, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church and the Bible Society-funded thinktank Theos.

Update Monday

A further statement has now been issued by another group of Christian organisations:

…Accepting Evangelicals, Courage, the Network of Baptists Affirming Lesbian and Gay Christians, the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian & Gay Christians, and the Christian think-tank Ekklesia have issued a joint statement saying that opposition to the Westboro Baptist Church USA’s hate-stance towards gay people does not go far enough.

“The real challenge to evangelicals is to face the need for change themselves,” they say. “This means: engaging more fully and openly with lesbian and gay Christians and accepting them as equal under God; examining the way prejudice against gay people has distorted biblical understanding; prayerfully re-thinking church policies of exclusion and acknowledging the harm they cause; and recognising the growing number of evangelicals who have had a heart-change and now affirm faithful gay relationships.”

Ekklesia has the full statement at Evangelicals call for change of attitude on gays.

Update Wednesday

Simon Barrow has written about this at Comment is free Evangelicals who love their gay neighbours.

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Joe Rawls
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Good for you, Brits! Now if we could only send these people into another dimension, so as not to pollute another country with their hate.

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

As a Yank who has seen Phred Phelp’s Phundamentalist Phamily in action, I extend a hand across the Pond, and say “Thank you, Ekklesia!” It’s easy to condemn Fred Phelps and his family. It makes the Falwells, the Southern Baptists, and their counterparts in the Anglican movement (paging ++Akinola, paging ++Akinola) feel smug and superior. “Oh, we’re not like them!” they can say in Christian sanctimony. I have to hand it to Phelps: He doesn’t hide behind platitudes, he doesn’t hide behind the Godawful “Love the sinner, hate the sin” smugness. He puts it right out there for all to… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

It is difficult to validate the exclusion of those who stir up hatred toward foreigners and Moslems while the Daily Mail and others make such a good fist of it every twenty-four hours. Likewise I find the Evangelical Alliance’s response to the Phelps story about as credible as I would a Daily Mail editorial charging the Guardian with xenophobia. Even those still within the EA argue that few churches can presently safely accommodate “celibate gays” – yet alone give the rest of us a loving welcome. Recently this practice of saying something is so, no matter how untrue, is becoming… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Very interesting editorial in the Churchman ( Church Society’s theological journal) by Gerald Bray he states that, Rowan Williams holding the line against homosexuality, although he believes otherwise is as unconvincing as a Pope saying he agrees with contraception, but must hold the line!

As for Westboro Baptist Church…its almost a stereotype of hatred…yet some of their views (or views verging on their own) can be seen on Stand Firm and Virtue online web sites…

JPM
Guest
JPM

Exactly, Robert: the difference between the Phelps cult and the so-called “orthodox Anglicans” and “conservative evangelicals” is simply one of tact.

john
Guest
john

JPM, Don’t agree. Previous head of Evangelical Alliance, Joel Edwards, not exactly a pinko liberal, said a while back: ‘Christians have to stop shouting about homosexuality’. I think he registered (a) that it was bad publicity; (b) that – even within that world-view – it showed a lamentable disproportion. Many Evangelicals (so-called) don’t care about this issue (i.e. they actually think there’s nothing wrong with homosexual behaviour); many are in some sort of process of learning. They should be encouraged – not sneered at – least of all by Robert, who is -currently, but impermanently – in a far worse… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Well, I actually don’t think the difference is tact… But that some groups don’t want to be associated with the Phelpses.

Why this is so, is not immediately evident from outside. As you said, there is precious little difference from what is seen on sites not to be named.

What makes groups, that don’t want to be seen as over the top, distance themselves? What is it they percieve???

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“A recent news item concerned the UK government’s banning members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church from entering the country. Less widely reported was the joint statement issued by six Christian organisations”

One wonders: Where were the mainline Churches in all of this? Did they not consider it worthwhile speaking out on this issue? Or were they sanguine about it?

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

I should very much like to picket Fred Phelps’ funeral. Tomorrow.

The sign would say “God even loves Fred Phelps, but she’s upset at his misrepresentations of her feelings toward gays.” 🙂

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I disagree John..the Catholic Church is unequiviocal but always compassionate and merciful. If you were resident in the Diocese of Sydney, under that expression of Anglicanism would you feel the same?

Kennedy Fraser
Guest
Kennedy Fraser

One wonders: Where were the mainline Churches in all of this? Did they not consider it worthwhile speaking out on this issue? Or were they sanguine about it?

… or they didn’t want to give this any more publicity than it had already received.

(I say this more in hope than in expectation).

Kennedy

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The whole situation reminds me of home-spun racist trashing Hitler…

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I actually don’t think the difference is tact… But that some groups don’t want to be associated with the Phelpses.” Goran, I think the only reason they don’t want to be associated with the Phelpses is that the Phelpses lack tact. I honestly believe that, left to their own devices, many of the anti-gay crowd would behave in much the same fashion. One of the leaders of the anti-gay movement in Anglicanism wants to jail us, after all. Not only that, they lie about us, promote hate based propaganda as though it were science, and do their utmost to paint… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Pleeeeze, Robert Ian Williams! The Diocese of Sydney is “Anglican” in name only; it’s really Calvinist.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Luke 18:11 comes to mind.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

I believe Fred’s “thoughts’ may still be found at the church website, godhatesfags.com

For relief, visit godhatesshrimp.com

I think those addresses are about right.

The dangerous thing about Fred, and the late Falwell, and the increasingly ignored and wacko Robertson, is that very few nice middle class Christians would act or speak like they do, and thus they might complacently assume that they are ‘fairminded’ and ‘moderate.’ It’s a little like saying, “I would never lynch a Black person, so I’m not racist.”

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Many years ago, when the Episcopal Church Triennial Convention was in Indianapolis, a friend of mine attended and was involved with Integrity. He was lamenting the lone presence of Phred Phelps and his merry little claque of haters, when another in our conversation remarked that Phred had actually done much good in the Episcopal Church in galvanizing sympathy for LGBT issues with his stark message of hatred and bigotry. So I would tend to agree, peterpi. RIW: Despite it not getting an “Oscar” I would encourage you to go and watch “Doubt”, when an out-of-control nun overflows with compassion and… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Here is a voice of compassion:

http://www.truefreedomtrust.co.uk/

I notice that even sensitive Evangelicals who wish to minister to people with ‘gay issues’ have to act with great tact, keeping their forthcoming conference venue under wraps. I hope it does not mean they get a hard time for their trouble.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“examining the way prejudice against gay people has distorted biblical understanding” {*}

This is *key*: THANK YOU, Accepting Evangelicals et al.

{*} As opposed to the canard that it’s the other way ’round.

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

Ford Elms, Luke 18:11 is spot on!
Fred Phelps takes all the heat while the other hard-line Evangelical or Calvinist Anglican groups quietly go about preaching a very similar message, but more diplomatically put. Fred Phelps is a marvelous diversion for them.

Geoff McLarney
Guest
Geoff McLarney

Kurt: RIW’s party line is that Sydney Anglicans are simply being faithful to “Reformation principles” and Anglo-Catholics are just deluding ourselves.

davidwh
Guest
davidwh

Hey! Many conservative Christians know and love gay people; quite a few are gay! The question is not whether God loves everyone – of course God does – the question if whether same-sex sex is one of the (many) forms of sexual relationship that are against God’s intentions and, therefore, to be abstained from by faithful Christians. It worries me that so many liberals, even the Ekklesia “Think Tank”, seem to be unable to understand the difference between loving someone and approving of their behaviour… Does that mean Ekklesia think you are free to hate people whose behaviour you disapprove… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

For those who watched the Oscars, the Westboro Baptists were the protesters Sean Penn talked about in his acceptance speech.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Ford, I think most of us on this site know about Rome’s duplicity on this and other important issues touching the treatment of Gays and Women. What perhaps is more important at this point in time is that of the mainline Churches’ need to encourage both clergy and laity into dialogue with each other, on a cross-denominational basis, on the meaning of Scripture for today. This could well alter the Churches’ treatment of a category of the truly disadvantaged of society: the LBGT community and Women who seek to share fully in the ordained ministry of the Church. Only then… Read more »

Brian Ralph
Guest
Brian Ralph

I am an Anglican living in Sydney. I also was employed for 25 years in Catholic Diocesan schools. As a gay man I found acceptance amongst the laity and religious within the schools but the hierarchy was quite opposed. Cardinal Pell can give ++Jensen a run for his money in opposing homosexuality. However I am able to attend an Anglican parish in Sydney which openly welcomes homosexuals including +Gene Robinson (although they could not ask him to preach or officiate in any way). Jensenism is often criticised from the pulpit (aklthough not too openly by the Rector). Recent activities at… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“The question is not whether God loves everyone – of course God does – the question if whether same-sex sex is one of the (many) forms of sexual relationship that are against God’s intentions and, therefore, to be abstained from by faithful Christians.” – Davidwh (on Monday) – Davidwh. You have certainly isolated your problem with your question: “Whether same-sex sex is one of the (many) forms of sexual relationship that are against God’s intentions and, therefore, to be abstained from by faithful Christians?” I would ask you, in turn, whether it might be possible that same-sex sex is natural… Read more »

counterlight
Guest

I love Fred Phelps!

He’s the best friend the movement for LGBT emancipation ever had. He makes the closet brothers/sisters mad enough to come out. He forces their hetero friends to stand up for them. He makes other heteros take a good hard look at themselves and their own feelings. And he embarrasses the hell out of the segregationist reaction and makes them all look like hypocrites or cowards.

Years ago I sent Phelps a letter thanking him for all he’s done on behalf of the LGBT movement and to keep up the good work.

He didn’t answer.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

As David Wh implies there are 4 possibilities: (1) Love someone and approve of one given aspect of their behaviour; (2) Love someone and disapprove of one given aspect of their behaviour; (3) Hate someone and approve of one given aspect of their behaviour; (4) Hate someone and disapprove of one given aspect of their behaviour. While it may be granted that 1 and 4 are liable to be slightly more common than 2 or 3 (so far as I can see, this entirely depends on which particular aspect of behaviour is highlighted), the liberals here are taking the surely… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Many conservative Christians know and love gay people; quite a few are gay!” I would dispute the second statement, but maybe you are right. As to the first statement, many might KNOW gay people, but love them? Can you show me one loving act towards gay people carried out, officially, by GAFCON in the past 5 years? Just one. Individual members? There may be a few, but the official voice of GAFCON, and therefor of conservative Anglicans, is one of unbridled hatred and revulsion, and reveals pretty clearly that the leadership doesn’t consider us fully human. If the rank and… Read more »

David Keen
Guest

I’m so consumed by hatred of sin that I spend every day discriminating against liars, cheats, cowards, adulterers, thieves, investment bankers, people who double park, Jonathan Ross and grumpy people. Members of my congregation regularly go out on a Sunday afternoon to beat these people up and spray rude messages onto their garden fences. Not agreeing with someone’s views or behaviour is not a phobia. Name calling doesn’t help, and shows an irritating inability to actually listen to what people are saying. We’re all sinners, even those people closest to us, and that doesn’t stop us loving them. Thinking something… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“Kurt: RIW’s party line is that Sydney Anglicans are simply being faithful to ‘Reformation principles’ and Anglo-Catholics are just deluding ourselves.”Geoff McLarney

Yes, well Geoff, I think that RIW still can’t get over the fact that America’s first Episcopal bishop, Samuel Seabury, was wearing a mitre (and probably a chausuble) in 1785, long before the Catholic Revival in England.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Bishop Seabury was an interesting case….he attempted to get the Danish Church to consecrate him..and they don’t believe in the Apostolic succession!

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Christopher: The problem is that the “one aspect of their behavior” you disapprove of is one that, in a heterosexual, you would never disapprove of–that they wish to have a physical relationship with the person they love…and, further, that they wish to have that physical relationship acknowledged and blessed by the church. You choose to deny the science that compellingly tells us that homosexuality is more (much more) than a choice of behaviors…that it is an integral part of the person, possibly from birth, but certainly from the very formative years. When confronted by that, you have–in the past–made comparisons… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“Bishop Seabury was an interesting case….he attempted to get the Danish Church to consecrate him..and they don’t believe in the Apostolic succession!”–Robert Ian Williams It’s true that Bishop Seabury was in correspondence with the Danes, but I don’t think it ever reached the stage of his requesting consecration by them. Bishop White, the Low Church Latitudinarian of Pennsylvania, on the other hand, floated a plan for an episcopal church without bishops–temporarily, at least!–which was equally rejected. In the end, in 1784, the American Church received the gift of the Historic Apostolic Succession (as well as the name of our Church,… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

David Keen: but it is very common for gay people brought up in churches to have experienced horrific amounts of hatred and hate-language thrown in our direction: more commonly than not, that is, in fact, the message gay people have been receiving from churches. You need to take our word for it, which first involves listening to us, which in turn necessitates not locking us outside the gates of the Lambeth Conference, for example.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Thinking something is a sin is no bar to a loving relationship with the person who commits it.”

Possibly.

What I indisputably know to be true, is that an intimately “loving relationship with the person who” has similar sex chromosomes and genitalia as I have, is not barred by the fact that someone (misreads the Bible to) believe I am sinning thereby!

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Pat- Points where what you say is not accurate: (1) The vast majority of possible heterosexual sexual relationships are disapproved of by (not only specifically me, but) Christianity and the other large and longstanding world cultures in general. In fact there is only one possible type that they do approve of, whether or not mutual love is involved. (2) You deny the science that tells us that identical twins are not even remotely as prone to share homosexuality as they would be if your theory were correct. (3) You don’t mention that environmental factors may be both positive and… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Christopher, “the liberals here are taking the surely untenable view that 2 is an impossible situation in all circumstances.” In addition to what Pat O’Neil said, Christopher, there is another problem. The anti-gay crowd claim to be acting according to #2, when it is patently obvious they actually follow #4. What is worse, they refuse to acknowledge this, and actually scream and holler “discrimination” every time someone points out how obvious this is. Well, I’m a Newfoundlander, born in the last half of the 20th century. I’ve spent my entire life refusing to say that lies are truth. I have… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“identical twins are not even remotely as prone to share homosexuality as they would be if your theory were correct.”

This is blatantly untrue. Twin studies show a greater liklihood of homosexuality in twins, even those separated at birth. That it is not absolute is merely evidence that it is a complex issue.

“many show the first symptoms of homosexuality in adolescence”

Again, this is blatantly untrue. The idea that what I am has “symptoms” like some disease, not only reveals some of your inner biases, it is also highly offensive.

Exactly how does making these statements reveal any love for me?

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“many show the first symptoms of homosexuality in adolescence”

Yes, Christopher, this is HIGHLY OFFENSIVE!

JPM
Guest
JPM

Ford, the fundamentalists need someone to revile, since reviling is what they do most and best, and we are a very safe target. If, say, they were to campaign against adultery, they would offend a large part of their base, even their own leadership, like a certain “orthodox” bishop who dumped his wife in order to take up with his secretary yet is still much loved and admired by the Stand Firm crowd. And if they were to speak out against greed and violence that would risk alienating the right wingers among them, like the Bush Administration apparatchiks in the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher

At what age to people show the “first symptoms” of heterosexuality?
And do we therefore conclude that they are not born with it but have acquired later?

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Christopher:

Are you right-handed or left-handed, or are you ambidexterous?

When did you decide?

Handedness is innate, not chosen, but nobody has yet discovered “a” handedness gene.

When you force a lefthanded person to use the right hand for everything that is single-handed, you do not produce a righthanded person. You produce a frustrated lefthanded person, who uses the right hand awkwardly.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Ford, the fundamentalists need someone to revile, since reviling is what they do most and best, and we are a very safe target.” Believe me, I know! It’s really quite interesting. To them, God is angry. They state unabashedly that humans are criminals and under God’s judgement, and that we have to get “right with God”. So they do not question the idea that one becomes a Christian out of fear. I honestly believe they don’t know of a reason to be a Christian other than fear of punishment. To them then, the only way to preach the Gospel is… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Hi Christopher-

Were you born with symptoms of judgmentalism or did you detect this in your adolescence? Have you grown out of your adolescence yet?

Have a sparkling Ash Wednesday! Don’t forget to get your face painted this eve!

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Christopher: :(1) The vast majority of possible heterosexual sexual relationships are disapproved of by (not only specifically me, but) Christianity and the other large and longstanding world cultures in general. In fact there is only one possible type that they do approve of, whether or not mutual love is involved.” Which relationships would those be? Polygamy? Fully accepted by most non-Judeo-Christian religions and, indeed, by Biblical era Judaism. Or are you speaking of what is euphemistically called “positions” in sex? Are you saying only the “missionary” position is accepted in most world cultures? It is to laugh. “(2) You deny… Read more »

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

Christopher’s #2 at 13:09 on 2/24 is identical to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, which has got to be, hands down, one of the most sanctimonious statements ever uttered. “Oh, look at me, Lord, look how noble I am. I love this man even though he’s vile and repulsive.” It’s a smug attitude par excellance. Fred Phelps is at least honest enough to go straight to Christopher’s #4 of that same post. The second half of Christopher’s #1 post on 2/25 is highly debatable. Not all major religions insist that the “missionary position” deployed solely for making babies is… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

I think sometimes that we all focus too much on the sexual activity involved in close human relationships – granted that they are basic to most such, whether hetero- or homo-sexual. Not enough, to my mind, is said about the clear closeness and validity of such relationships – apart from their sexual content (although i do believe that the erotic can even be part of some relationships of any kind). What I’m really thinking of here is the pure and unadulterated love of people of the same gender whom we happen to admire – for their gentleness, humour, loving-kindness, and… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Peterpi- Loving sinner and hating sin is the way we continually regard the main people who figure in our lives, namely our children, ourselves and so on. This love-sinner-hate-sin position, far from being a lying facade for something more sinister (and any such allegation of lying would, logically, need to be made from a position of greater knowledge than that possessed by the original speaker – and is, consequently, in your case, illogical) it’s a pretty omnipresent everyday reality! To go further and deny it is even a *possible* position to exist (among all the multifarious billions now inhabiting… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“No citing of evidence, no debate, just pre-packaged conclusions.” There is in fact a lot of research into handedness and its causes. I’ll see if I can get some citations from a university faculty friend who has done academic research in this area. She has told me that research into handedness shows that there is likely a genetic factor, likely a factor having to do with hormones encountered in utero and also a componant linking handedness with some other conditions. That is, people with certain congenital conditions tend to be statistically more likely to be lefthanded than people without that… Read more »