Is the Church of England a force for good in society?
This morning the College of Bishops together with eight elected senior women meet to discuss the Pilling Report. The LGB&T Anglican Coalition and Changing Attitude have said that matters concerning the place of LGB&T people in the Church should never be discussed without us being present. Of course, there will be some gay men in the room, but all will, so far as we know, continue to stay in the closet. That’s one of the reasons why the Pilling Report is so inadequate and why many people think the Church is no longer a force for good.
In an article for the Guardian, Andrew Brown notes that “the bishops are meeting in the wake of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which represents an irrevocable move towards the acceptance of gay people in this country. But they are also meeting in the shadow of astonishingly homophobic laws supported by two of the largest Anglican churches in Africa – in Nigeria and Uganda.”
Andrew quotes research by the Pew Foundation which shows overwhelming hostility to gay people in Nigeria where 1% of the population is in favour of “society accepting homosexuality.” The situation is almost as bad in Uganda where 4% of the population accepts homosexuality. In Britain the Pew figures say that over 70% of the population is pro-gay rights.
A number of conservative evangelical organizations and churches have aligned themselves with Uganda and Nigeria against any recognition of equality for same-sex relationships. As Andrew says, the Church is faced with a profound moral divide – the positions are incompatible.
Says Andrew, “The law in Nigeria and the proposed law in Uganda are iniquitous. They must be rejected by anyone who believes in justice and human dignity. There are many in the C of E – among them Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury – who sincerely admire the courage, faith and energy of the African churches. Welby himself has several times risked his life in the cause of reconciliation and it would be arrogant and wrong to claim that African churches’ wicked views of homosexuality outweigh the good they do. But their views are still wicked, and the church here must clearly reject them.”
In this article, published on-line by ‘Changing Attitude’ in the U.K., they present a picture of how the rank and file membership of the Church of England views its effectiveness as a force for good in English Society. After the demographics, we have C.A.’s questioning the wisdom of the fact that the just concluded College of bishops Meeting to discuss the findings of the ‘Pilling Report’ intoGender and Sexuality has not included anyone who admits to being of a same-sex orientation – even though the meeting has discussed the attitude of the Church of England towards such people.
In quoting an article and a BBC broadcast by the journalist Andrew Brown, C.A points to the incongruity of a rampant homophobia in the GAFCON Churches of Nigeria and Uganda, in these words:
“A number of conservative evangelical organizations and churches have aligned themselves with Uganda and Nigeria against any recognition of equality for same-sex relationships. As Andrew says, the Church is faced with a profound moral divide – the positions are incompatible.”
Having heard the BBC broadcast, (53 seconds in, after the cooking promotion) at:-
– where Andrew Brown interviews the C. of E. Bishops of Buckingham and of Leicester – as well as religious commentators from academic institutions – one can see the moral dilemma in which the Church of England and its Bishops finds itself, as a direct result of its seeming collusion with conservative provinces of the Anglican Communion on issues of gender and sexuality.
How the Church will deal with the likelihood of members of the C. of E. taking advantage of same-sex marriage facilitation by the state in the U.K. in March of this year, will no doubt be a leading matter for discussion by the House of Bishops at its later, May, 2014 meeting.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand