Friday, October 07, 2005

Guardian takes off my head

“Your picture’s in The Guardian,” my boyfriend called to say while I was in Tesco yesterday. “Oh cool!” I said. “Don’t get too excited,” he replied, “only I would recognise you – they’ve cropped off your head.” Thanks guys!

Ah yes, I think that photo was taken at a demonstration outside Westminster Abbey at the consecration of two new bishops when there should have been three – openly gay (but celibate – not that it should matter) canon Jeffrey John was meant to have been consecrated as the Bishop of Reading – but was axed at the last minute because, well, you know, he’s gay.

Anyway, The Guardian were more interested in my placard “Defend Gays – Fight Christian Bigots!” than my mug. Though I was wearing a nice tie.

Nevertheless, it was a very encouraging story about the installation (I think that is the right word) of Dr John Sentamu as the new Archbishop of York. African clergy are usually associated with the most stridently homophobic wing of the Anglican communion, but Dr Sentamu appears more outspoken on gay and women’s issues than Rowan Williams himself.

According to The Guardian story, Dr Sentamu delivered this very sensible advice to The Church:

"Some of our disagreements are not Christian really ... It seems to suggest that all the great evils of the world are being perpetrated by gay and lesbian people, which I cannot believe to be the case. What is wrong in the world is that people are sinful and alienate themselves from God and you do not have to be gay to do that. To suggest that to be gay equals evil, I find that quite unbelievable.

"Is somebody saying a gay and lesbian can't live in Christ? What matters in the end to me is to do what my mother said to me as a little child: John, never point a finger at anybody because when you do three other fingers are pointing back at you. All of us are sinners, all of us have baggage. Why should my baggage as a heterosexual be more acceptable than the baggage of a gay person?"

While it is African bishops like Akinola of Nigeria who are the most outspokenly antigay, it is also African clergy, like Dr Sentamu, Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town, and his predecessor, the great Desmond Tutu who are the most outspoken in favour of embracing gay Christians. So why are the British-born Bishops so wishy-washy?

As a non-Christian I’m not really interested in the frayed fabric of the Anglican Communion. I’m only interested in the socio-political influence the Church has, and to my mind having church leaders who speak their minds – whether friend or foe – is better than the soppy equivocations characterized by the Williams regime.


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