The Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten, wrote an article in last week’s Church Times in which he argued that the C of E should take a lead in engaging with gay people. Its prejudices need challenging, he said.
Read his article in full at Listen, and build a less homophobic society.
OTHER people’s problems and opportunities can often remain theoretical, until they hit us clearly in the face. I learnt this sharply when I accepted an invitation recently to visit a group in Halifax.
We arrived at the secret destination (it is still seen as too dangerous to publicise the venue), both my colleague and I wearing clerical collars. We were warmly welcomed by one ebullient young man, although others were suspicious. In some sections of the room, conversation died, as glances were stolen. In a couple of cases, there was almost a hysterical nervousness, and individuals bounded over to talk at us.
The event was a regular evening meeting of Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale. Half a dozen people made a presentation, aimed particularly (but not uniquely) at the Christian Churches…
Colin Coward has written an article which comments on this piece. You can read that at Two cheers for Bishop Stephen Platten.
…Having re-read the article, I want to be more critical, especially since bishop Stephen wants the Church universal to take a lead in ‘real’ listening. My first message back to Bishop Stephen is that it’s a bit rich to ask the Church to take a lead in ‘real’ listening. The Church is so far behind secular society which having undertaken a process of ‘real listening’ has mostly dealt with the ethical, moral, emotional and legal dimensions of homophobia and has already transformed the landscape for LGBT people. It is primarily in the church, and in particular pockets of society, in football, in schools that homophobia continues.
Bishop Stephen says the Church is not unlike our culture in which there are a variety of views with both calls for equality and rampant homophobia. I do not meet rampant homophobia in society, but in the church I meet an all-persuasive prejudice which has a rampantly homophobic effect. Try getting appointed to a new post in the church if you are in a civil partnership or recommending to a lesbian, gay or transgender seeker a church in which you can confidently guarantee they are going to receive a prejudice–free welcome. Changing Attitude has just 30 churches out of 10,000 listed in our Welcoming and Open scheme…