The UK's only gay Humanist charity says it's time the Archbishop of Canterbury conducted a "spring clean" of his church, in spite of his condemnation this week of death threats against the director of a gay Anglican group.
The Rev. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, says recent threats against his life have been encouraged by the outspokenly homophobic language of some in the Anglican Church.
While Dr Williams has condemned the threats, his words "ring hollow", according to the 16-year-old charity the Pink Triangle Trust, which supports both gays and Humanists.
Dr Williams has called the death threat the "latest round of un-Christian bullying", and, according to the online gay news outlet Pink News, has also spoken out against violence directed at sexual minorities in countries such as Nigeria, whose primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has frequently condemned homosexuals.
However, just a year ago, the gay campaigning group OutRage! condemned Dr Williams's silence over ministers' support for antigay laws in Nigeria that make same-sex unions illegal and ban gay organisations.
At that time, Dr Williams would not comment on Mr Akinola's support for the law, and told a delegation at the World Council of Churches: "There is a difference between what might be said theologically about patterns of behaviour and what is said about human and civil rights."
He called it a "real challenge to give effect to the listening process in situations where gay people are actively persecuted", adding: "The question is whether their churches can find ways of acting on that recognition on the wrongness of persecution."
Now, Dr Williams has spoken out, but the Warwickshire-based Pink Triangle Trust says the archbishop's words ring hollow when huge swathes of his church, especially in Africa, are displaying the most virulent homophobia.
The Trust's secretary, George Broadhead, says that much of the violence towards the gay and lesbian community is as a result of criticism of gay sexuality and lifestyles, and most of that criticism comes from religion. He asked how Dr Williams's words could be taken seriously until he had publicly and roundly condemned Peter Akinola and other African bishops who denounce gays and gay lifestyles so savagely.
"It's time the archbishop set about a spring clean," he said. "While we broadly welcome his words, he still needs to put his house in order. As things stand, his words ring hollow.
"We recognise that most of the criticism of gay people has not come from the archbishop or from more liberal quarters of the Anglican Church, but more and more strident voices are being raised against gay people from the many homophobic elements in the church, and he and other leaders need to address this unequivocally and as a matter of urgency. Then his words might carry more conviction.
"We realise that Dr Williams cannot force churches within the Anglican Communion to do his bidding, but as its leader he is its most influential spokesman, and he should speak out unequivocally against all forms of homophobia, wherever that takes place."
Saturday, 12 April 2008
Time for a spring clean, Archbishop
The Pink Triangle Trust has told the Archbishop of Canterbury that it's time for a "spring clean" of his church, to rid it of its homophobia. The Trust was responding to Dr Rowan Williams's condemnation of death threats against the director of a gay organisation, but the Trust says his words "ring hollow". Here is a news release just put out by the PTT: