Changing Attitude has issued a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter outlines his perspective on the crisis affecting the Anglican Communion and his plans and expectations for the Lambeth Conference and the proposed Covenant.
The Archbishop naturally focuses his attention on the Primates, bishops and Instruments of Communion, and the leaders and pressure groups who are exacerbating the crisis.
What the Archbishop is unable to do is articulate the experience and views of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) members of the Anglican Communion. We are a minority but our numbers are not insignificant. If the Communion has 75 million members, at a conservative estimate there are likely to be 3.75 million LGBT people among them.
Attention is further focussed on one faithfully partnered bishop. The experience of 3.75 million LGBT members of the Communion is ignored. Changing Attitude and Integrity between us give voice and visibility to a tiny minority of the minority.
Hostility to LGBT people in the Communion is primarily expressed towards those who live in the “west”. We have benefited from over a century of progress in the development of confidence, visibility, secular political action and Christian integrity among LGBT Anglicans. The majority of the 3.75 million live in nations with penal codes condemning homosexual people to death or long-term imprisonment and a culture of prejudice and aggression towards LGBT people.
LGBT people in those countries internalise the hatred and prejudice targeted at them by those in our Communion who hold extreme conservative views, justified by Biblical literalism and fundamentalism. They are subject to demonisation, hatred, arrest, rape, torture, imprisonment and death. The Anglican Communion cannot resolve its differences without attending to the scandalous injustices perpetrated against LGBT people, often using the justification of scripture and Christian tradition.
In this context, the election to the episcopate of a partnered gay or lesbian person or the blessing of same-sex relationships cannot be allowed ultimately to determine the future of the Anglican Communion and the place of LGBT people within it. Our full inclusion must be the only outcome.
Dr Williams asks whether those holding a variety of views can be recognised as belonging to the same family, asking this especially of those who have gone “against the strong, reiterated and consistent advice of the Instruments of Communion.“ LGBT people in every Province already belong to the Anglican family. The Archbishop risks sending a message to us, yet again, that we are either to be treated as second-class citizens in our church or rendered so invisible as to be not worth taking into consideration.
Dr Williams identifies the present practical challenge as finding ways of working out a fruitful, sustainable and honest relationship for bishops who have committed themselves to the proposals of the Windsor Report in the Camp Allen conference, as well as others who have looked for more radical solutions both with their own province and with the wider Communion.
There is a more critical challenge for LGBT Anglicans beyond this problem of how groups with different Christian perspectives live together. How does the Communion live, in every part of the world, with LGBT Anglicans who are baptised and confirmed, engaged in lay leadership, ordained as priests and bishops, some of whom, in every part of the world, live in loving, faithfully-partnered relationships? This isn‘t solely a problem for The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of New Hampshire or for couples who receive the blessing of the church. It is a challenge to the whole church to recognise that God creates and calls LGBT people to become Christians and to fall in love.
Ultimately, it is in this wider context that the Anglican Communion will have to think about the present crisis. Can the church fully, honestly and gratefully recognise the gifts that LGBT people bring? The debates about sexuality may at present be a standoff between those who are 'for' and those who are 'against' the welcoming of homosexual people in the Church. The debate will not be resolved by the adoption of a Covenant nor agreement by bishops at Lambeth. It can only be resolved when the church honours in full the integrity of partnered LGBT people in congregations and in the ministry of the church in every Province.
Read it all here.