The UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) – owner of this blog – is said to be very concerned to learn that the UK Ministry of Defence is employing chaplains representing religions that are ultra-homophobic.
The MoD spends £22 million annually on Christian chaplains and currently employs 280 chaplains in all three services, says the PTT. It employs and funds the chaplains, but their authority comes from their Sending church. At present, the permitted Sending churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist/URC/Congregational, Church of Scotland/Presbyterian, Elim and Assemblies of God.
A statement on homosexuality on the Assemblies of God website states: “Clearly on every front whether it be moral, spiritual, physical, or psychological, the practice of homosexuality has proven itself devoid of any individual good or social benefit.”
Another Sending church, the Elim, made headlines when one of its followers, Iris Robinson, former MP and wife of Peter Robinson MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland, compared the sexual abuse of children to homosexual relationships. Robinson stated in Parliament: “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Robinson reiterated her views and said she was following scripture.
The PTT’s secretary George Broadhead commented: “The most recent annual British Social Attitudes survey published earlier this year revealed that 51 per cent of the population have no religion. It would seem perfectly reasonable, therefore, for the MoD to provide nonreligious counsellors, for example humanists, to cater for the needs of what must be a substantial number of service men and women with no spiritual beliefs.
“Also, the entrenched homophobia of some of the Sending churches must be a cause of great concern for LGBT people and hardly seems consistent with a service that describes itself as committed to equality and diversity.”