Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Wakefield writes about homophobia

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…

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13 years ago

“I do not meet rampant homophobia in society”

So Colin Coward believes homophobia only subsists inside the Church? Blimey. I’d suggest he needs to get out more, but it might be safer and more comfortable for him to remain exactly where he is.

13 years ago

I WANT to be impressed by +Wakefield’s call—really, I do.

It just SOUNDS like it was dug out of time capsule—something the Church should have been saying, oh, 1990 or so?

“Like a Mighty Tortoise, Moves the Church of God”, as the parody goes. I guess we queers should just be thankful, better LATE than never? O_o

Spirit of Vatican II
13 years ago

Colin Coward is right. The Church (both CoE and RCC) will soon be the last group to see homosexuality as a “problem” — young people today tell each other frankly “I like boys” or “I like girls” or “I like both boys and girls” as the case may be. The alleged disordered nature of the homosexual orientation is a non-issue. The fact that homophobia is “rampant” is no excuse for church obscurantism, just as the fact that racism is rampant would be no excuse for the churches to debate the “problem” of skin colour or racial inferiority.

13 years ago

Well the bishop of Ws comments are most welcome, especially in those remarks where he takes a very special and open look at his own varying degrees of responsibility as a church leader, along with his own individual capacities for any sort of responsiveness expressed in seeking out relationships with queer folks and in listening. However, by now, with the new fangled covenant pending that will be the death knell of exactly this sort of listening to queer folks – it all seems a bit late and a bit short. In the USA countryside, people talk about being a day… Read more »

Colin Coward
13 years ago

rjb, I wrote accurately that I, personally, do not meet ‘rampant’ homophobia in society. I did not say that I didn’t meet homophobia in society nor did I claim that it isn’t there.

Your snide and ungenerous comment, which chooses to ignore what I wrote, in a careful, accurate and considered phrase, echoes my experience of conservatives opposed to LGBT people in the Anglican Communion. They distort reality and misrepresent what those advocating the full inclusion of all God’s people write.

This may not be your position, and I am not assuming that it is.

Father Ron Smith
13 years ago

Let’s just hope that Bishop Stephen Platten’s appeal for better understanding of homosexuality in the Church of England bears significant fruit. At least +Wakefield has the intestinal fortitude to speak for a down-trodden minority, whose path of faith in the Anglican Communion can be very hard – and in some places (Uganda and Nigeria) even life-threatening. About time the English Bishops as a Body rose up in the cause of justice for all the Baptized – including women and the LGBT community. ‘We are all one Bread, one Body, for we all partake of the One Bread’ – True, or… Read more »

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