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Friday, 22 January 2010

Protesting too much

Some Christian campaigners are stirring things up by “encouraging churches to help people to ‘overcome’ their attraction to members of their own sex”, the excellent Christian think tank Ekklesia tells us. “They have been criticised by other Christian groups and human rights activists.”

I bet they have.

The Ekklesia report continues:

The campaigners developed their approach at a conference in London yesterday (21 January), entitled What can I possibly say? – Pastoral responses to today’s sexual confusion. It was organised by Anglican Mainstream with the support of other groups such as Christian Concern For Our Nation (CCFON).

The nice people at Ekklesia are far too polite to say it, but regular readers of PT will know that CCFON are a bunch of Right-wing, bigoted, intolerant, prejudiced, dogmatic, hate-filled tossers. They shall surely burn in the eternal fires of hell. Anyway, Ekklesia continues:

Speakers at the event included a number of people who define themselves as “ex-gay”, such as Phelim McIntyre, who says that he is now “happily heterosexual”.

But Sharon Ferguson of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) accused the conference organisers of giving “the impression that all people with a same-sex attraction are desperate to change and cannot find peace with God or themselves until they do so”. She insisted that, “This is simply not the case”.

The organisers say that they were very pleased with the turnout of around 150 people, many of whom were in their thirties or early forties. Issues discussed included the nature of sexuality, legal matters and the role of clergy and parents.

Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream said that a question that had come up often, was why so many Evangelical Christians are now accepting the legitimacy of same-sex relationships.

At a press conference after the event, several of the speakers emphasised their belief that Christians attracted to their own sex should be able to speak to their minister about it. They said they want more clergy to be aware of the “support” and “counselling” available.

However, the speakers are facing strong criticism for suggesting that almost no same-sex couples enjoy exclusive monogamous relationships.

Speaking at the press conference, Phelim McIntyre said that, in twenty years of involvement in these issues, “I have not come across a same-sex relationship in which both partners are faithful.”

His comment provoked criticism from the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who insisted that, “some gay couples are faithful, others are not – just like many heterosexual couples”.

Speaking to Ekklesia about the conference, Tatchell said that, “No affirmative lesbian or gay Christians were invited to attend, to give their perspective. None of the speakers were credible, authoritative psychologists or sexologists with independent, objective expertise in the field.”

The organisers were also accused of one-sidedness by the Evangelical writer Jeremy Marks of Courage UK, which encourages gay and lesbian Christians to “reconcile their faith and sexuality”. He suggested that “diverse opinions or other conclusions from pastoral experience” did not appear to be welcome.

However, several of the speakers insisted that they are open to calm discussion with those who disagree with them. Canon Dr Vinay Samuel said “I welcome disagreement, I welcome dialogue.”

Lisa Nolland of Anglican Mainstream said that they had not publicised the venue due to “fear of intimidation” and added that she had received threats of physical violence.

Nolland said that “gays are pioneers of a new way of doing relationships”. She expressed concern that changing attitudes to homosexuality would lead to the acceptance of sadomasochism, polygamy, polyamory, paedophilia and bestiality.

The conference also discussed chastity before marriage and gender identity. Several speakers promoted “therapy” for transgender people.

When questioned about intersex people (those whose sex is ambiguous at birth), McIntyre said that intersex was a “very unique situation” that was “actually quite rare”.

His approach was criticised by a theologian, Dr Susannah Cornwall of Exeter University, author of a forthcoming book on Christian responses to intersex issues. She said that intersex is “roughly as common” as Down’s syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

“The significance of intersex goes far beyond its statistical frequency, since it forces us to re-examine the whole notion of a binary sex system,” said Cornwall. “It is simply not possible to say with any certainty where the line between maleness and femaleness lies.”

They do get rather worked up about sexuality, don’t they? These people protest too much, methinks.

1 comment:

Stuart Hartill said...

As Anglican Mainstream (contrary to the suggestion in their name) are the UK arm of that mob which wants to break away from the middle of the road Anglican church(after nicking the family silver)and set up a rival body it's not suprising they didn't even invite gay Anglicans to their bitchfest.
It's also funny to see them put up a woman speaker - weren't they also involved in that daft campaign at Blackburn Cathedral where the communion bread and wine were 'pre-blessed' by a male priest because sensitive sexists just couldn't bear to accept the host from a lady vicar?
Wonder if Lisa Nolland ever saw that old 'Help the Police: beat yourself up' poster. She seems a little eager to collude in her own humiliation.