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The Archbishop Of Canterbury Tells Gathering Of Christian Leaders, ‘We Have To Be Really Really Repentant’ For Our Homophobia

by Jean Ann Esselink on August 29, 2013

in Discrimination,Jean Ann Esselink,News,Religion

Post image for The Archbishop Of Canterbury Tells Gathering Of Christian Leaders, ‘We Have To Be Really Really Repentant’ For Our Homophobia

The Archbishop of Canterbury is like the Pope of the Anglican Church. They sometimes refer to the position as the “Primate of All England”, a title no doubt going back to a time when the word “primate”  didn’t conjure up the mental image of a great ape with a banana. Trust me, in the world of religion he’s a major player. His job title goes back about 1400 years.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury is a man named Justin Welby. He was one of the leading opponents of the bill that legalized same-sex marriage in Britain, and as a member of the House of Lords, he voted against it. Archbishop Welby explained his vote this way:

 “What I voted against was what seemed to me to be the rewriting the nature of marriage in a way that I have to say within the Christian tradition and within scripture and within our understanding is not the right way to deal with the very important issues that were attempted to be dealt with in that bill.”

Now, with the bill passed and the prospect of marriage equality in Merry Old England just months away, Archbishop Welby seems to have had a crisis of conscience about how Christians have treated the gay community. The UK Guardian reports that while speaking today at the opening of the new Evangelical Alliance headquarters, a high profile event chock full of his religious subordinates, the Archbishop offered a harsh critique of the manner in which the Christian community has contributed to a climate of homophobia. Speaking of the newly minted Same-Sex Couples Act, Archbishop Welby told his fellow Anglican leaders:

“The bill was clearly, quite rightly, trying to deal with issues of homophobia in our society. As I said at the time in the House of Lords, the church has not been good at dealing with homophobia – it has at times, as God’s people, either implicitly or explicitly supported it, and we have to be really, really repentant about that because it is utterly and totally wrong.

We have seen changes in the idea about sexuality, sexual behaviour. We have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 not only think that what we’re saying is incomprehensible but also think that we’re plain wrong and wicked and equate it to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice. We have to be real about that.”

justin welby 2While the Archbishop appears to finally have his train of thought chugging along on the right track, he stopped short of announcing the Anglican Church would endorse gay marriage. (He did, after all, lead the fight for churches to exempt themselves from marrying same-sex couples, so his evolution might take awhile.) The Primate of All England did however, leave that door open. Archbishop Welby:

“I haven’t got the answer one way or the other. Until my mind is clear on this, I’m not going to get into the trenches.”

In the world of “things you never expected to see” this has to be up there with Rick Santorum tongue kissing Ken Cuccinelli and Colin Powell wearing sparkly tights on Dancing With The Stars. I can hardly wait to see what the Archbishop decides, once he has his mind “clear”.

Photos from Archbishop Welby’s Facebook Page

tncrmJean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.

Follow me on Twitter as @Uncucumbered or friend me on Facebook.

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GayUltraCon August 29, 2013 at 2:24 am

I've followed Archbishop Welby's career. As an Episcopalian, I have a vested interest in knowing what the Archbishop of Canterbury has to say about things.

This statement comes as no shock. His Grace is not where we gay folk could hope. By no means. Yet, he is in a far better place for us than most religious leaders. He has roundly, and consistently, rejected homophobia, which is unusual when it comes to the Evangelical Wing of the Anglican Communion. He seems to be sitting right about where his immediate predecessor, Archbishop Williams, sat, on the issue. I applaud Archbishop Welby. Although His Grace is not in the optimal place, he is on the path. I hope and pray for his conversion on issues of marriage equality, but I do laud his strong statements against homophobia.

BJLincoln August 29, 2013 at 4:41 am

At least we know he is listening. The world is beginning to understand we are not the horrible monsters we have been made out to be. The 30 and under crowd know this and are standing up to the homophobia. It is time for the church to stop with the hate speech including "Love the sinner, hate the sin" shit.
With so many countries having equal marriage and the current issue with Russia and the Olympics, more people are seeing the pain, suffering, and injustice we have endured. They are beginning to find out about places that are worse than Russia. I hope this all combines to create change for all LGBT people everywhere.

tgflux August 29, 2013 at 5:21 am

"The Archbishop of Canterbury, is like the Pope of the Anglican Church."

Um, no. Not REMOTELY that kind of power (even within the Church of England, nevermind the Anglican Communion).

I'm not saying his words today are a bad thing (to this Episcopalian). Still pretty incoherent, though, in the context of his vote against marriage equality [Though it's important to understand, marriage in England is complicated for the Archbishop, due to the CofE being "established". There's not the same STRICTLY civil marriage, vs. religious marriage, difference, as we have it in the U.S.]

Bose_in_SP_MN August 29, 2013 at 5:27 am

Yeah, the Anglican/Episcopalian tradition is so much about wrestling openly with ambiguity and mystery, and on top of being a moral leader, Welby is tasked with sustaining a global flock.

It strikes me that his experience in the House of Lords repeats what we've increasingly seen here: Those who believed they had thoughtful, principled ground to stand on while opposing marriage equality were disquieted (disgusted, even) to find themselves sharing that ground with those expressing hard animus towards LGBT folks.

Welby is masterfully indirect with his "people under 35" comment — he himself isn't declaring the church's stance on marriage to be incomprehensible, wrong or wicked (at least yet), it's those younger people. But that's a conversation starter, not a blocker, an invitation instead of a command.

jchastn September 1, 2013 at 12:18 am

Nothing like the smell of pure hate to dissolve sensible peoples delusions

kafoodie August 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

While I'm certain he's still the same deluded bigot, I've got to give him credit for seeing the writing on the wall. Smarten the hell up and at least pretend to support human rights or his little cult is going to continue its fade into obscurity.

barbonine August 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I seem to recall laughing through a fit of schadenfreude a few years back, when the good Archbishop spoke out, publicly complaining about the marginalization of religion's influence in today's society.

And I was laughing because this church has done untold harm to people in the last 2000 years of its evolution, and now it cries because nobody is listening to it any more.

Goodness CAN prevail, and that goodness is in the hearts of all fair-minded people, not behind the doors of religions starring men in weird hats and cunningly fancy frocks.

SocialFlutterby August 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I rejoiced when I saw the headline, but then I read (in the Telegraph) more of what he said. Oh.

"… he said he stood by his vote (against gay marriage) because he did not believe “rewriting the nature of marriage” was the best way to end discrimination against gay people." By these words, his continuing homophobia is revealed. 'Gay people' are different. 'Gay people' have different needs. 'Gay people' should be shown that their needs can be better served in other ways. We're being subjected to a more subtle version of, "Love the sinner, hate the sin". So, okay, let's be really nice and welcoming to gay people, emphasising that we're all sinners, and helping them to 'see the light' and overcome their particular sin. Then, of course, they'll understand that marriage is not for them anyway. So, we'll welcome LGBTQ people on our terms, not theirs.

The words he could say, are really quite simple. "I acknowledge, here and now, the incontrovertible truth, that homosexual people are made in the image of God, just as He created them. Their sexuality is a God-given, intrinsic part of their human condition. And any Christian that denies this, is denying the work of God."

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