“The Church must apologise for casting out LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) faithful”. That was The Sunday Times headline over a letter from the Church of England’s gay rights wing, sent in advance of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s meeting of global Anglican archbishops today.
Must it? For what? Has the Church cast them out? When was that? I’ve not exactly noticed a shortage of gay clergy. In fact they seem rather more prominent these days than the straight ones. My impression was that the Church has gone to great lengths to be ‘inclusive’.
Isn’t the former St Paul’s cleric, Dr Giles Fraser, who presents the BBC’s Thought for the Day at least once a week, it must be, the C of E’s best known parson? If not him it must be that pop star to pulpit vicar who fronts the BBC’s Saturday Live show, Rev Richard Coles – who shares his idyllic country rectory with his civil partner, the Revd David Oldham. We hear more from them ever than we do from either archbishop. More come in than cast out, and with the Church’s blessing too.
So what can this letter be referring to? Gays turned away from the church door on Sundays? I don’t think so. Or is it that gay clergy won’t be satisfied until there is a gay archbishop of Canterbury? Maybe. I find it hard to believe it’s really about about trans-sexual or trans-gender discrimination. There’s no Danish Girl demanding to be a vicar yet, let alone any demanding promotion, as far as I know. But more of that below.
Or was it simply timed to put those troublesome Anglican bishops from Africa in their place, the ones who are standing in the way of total gay and trans-sex enlightenment and the reinterpretation of Christian doctrine, and send them on their way as fast as possible back home?
Is that why their letter was a tad hyperbolic in its criticisms of the already metrosexually and liberally under pressure Church? Was it all to a purpose? After all there’s nothing like succeeding in getting an ‘aspersion casting’ headline, or getting the BBC to follow your line, for effective PR or campaigning, especially when you can gift wrap it in the sanctimony of the moral high ground.
This I suspect was part of the calculated campaign Rev. Julian Mann identified yesterday, started before the Archbishop of Canterbury’s meeting of global Anglican archbishops, that I woke up to on Ed Stourton’s BBC Sunday programme.
Here at last was crux of the complaint – self-proclaimed transgender Christians feel insufficiently understood by their local churches. Or to be precise two of them do. The first spokesman/woman fielded to relay his/her victim story however told how he/she subsequently did find a parish where he/she was surrounded by love and that the Church could not be blamed for the hate crime suffered.
So why then the ‘need’ for the Church “to apologise for perpetuating rather than challenging ill informed beliefs about LGBTI people” and the demand for public repentance on the matter? The truth, I fear, is that it was deliberately provocative.
The Church like everyone else is being bullied into kowtowing to the myth that different lifestyles are equally valid, equally unproblematic and fulfilling, when they are not. What’s more to say anything else is to be homophobic or transphobic and guilty of discrimination which is of course totally to blame for the hurt and pain such people experience. Interpretation of the scriptures must therefore be changed accordingly to fulfil the pretence that this is not otherwise.
This is the lie behind the letter’s demand that: “the time has come for acknowledgement that we, the Church have failed in our duty of care to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) members of the Body Christ around the world.”
And nothing less than public repentance – the holy alternative to re-education camp – will satisfy its signatories.
Few in the Church sadly are now brave enough to disagree with this self deception. And when they do they are smeared, as was Anglican Mainstream by David Ison, the Dean of St Paul’s, for not falling into line with the new orthodoxy – and without being given a right of reply – on Ed Stourton’s programme.
Ison, of course, was given all the time in the world to dismiss the former Bishop of Rochester, Nazir-Ali’s one-minute prerecorded response to his demand for worldwide repentance.
But it is Nazir-Ali’s wise words that Welby should heed, not Ison’s manipulative narrative. To apologise – as these modernists well know – would be to cast out African Christians from the Church – and at a time what’s more that they have never been so threatened, persecuted and besieged by Islamists in Africa. This, Archbishop Welby, is the paramount Christian concern of the day, not selfish me-culture obsessions and transgender right politics. I hope he tells them.
If the Church has let some people down or if there has been any lack of love, compassion or understanding that should be indeed be repented. That, as Nazir-Ali says, is quite different from renouncing the unanimous teaching of the Church down the ages about Christian belief or about human sexual identity. It is also quite different from being bullied into blind obedience to the latest cultural insanity and secular fashion.