Tagged: Church of England

Church of England Drops Opposition to Marriage Equality

church_of_englandIn a dramatic reversal, the Church of England officially announced yesterday that it was dropping its opposition to marriage equality.

The announcement came in the form of a short statement released by the Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, who heads the church’s delegation in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords. In its statement, the church acknowledged the inevitability of marriage equality after landslide votes in Parliament in favor of the freedom to marry:

Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape.

The bishops will now seek to change the marriage equality bill to include an adultery clause — which would recognize adultery as valid grounds for divorce — and a provision ensuring that both same-sex spouses are classified as legal parents in the event the couple has children. Continue reading

Anglican Vicar Embraces “Ex-Gay” Myth

steven_hanna_ukAn Anglican clergyman in the east London suburb of Dagenham is coming under heavy criticism in the UK after calling same-sex relationships and marriage equality sinful and claiming that “people can be cured from being gay.”

Rev. Steven Hanna, the vicar of St. Elisabeth’s of Becontree Church, made the comments in an interview with the Barking and Dagenham Post. The reporter asked him for comment on a recently-released letter signed by 21 local faith leaders voicing “concerns” about same-sex marriage and claiming that granting equal civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, as the government plans to do, would “bring God’s judgment upon us.” Hanna said,

I am not saying that being gay is a sin. I am saying gay practice is a sin and gay marriage is a sin. There is a difference between having gay thoughts and performing gay practice. I can have adulterous thoughts and yet not commit adultery. People can be cured from being gay. Not everyone is but everyone can be.

Of course the claim that “people can be cured from being gay” is absolute rubbish. Literally every single mainstream organization of medical and mental health professionals has denounced “ex-gay” therapy as ineffective and potentially harmful, including the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the British Medical Association. So regardless of Rev. Hanna’s personal opinion on sexual orientation change efforts (and isn’t it quaint that he thinks he’s entitled to an opinion on a matter of scientific fact?), the truth is that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed nor “cured.”

According to Huffington Post UK, a Church of England spokesperson emphasized that “there is no place for homophobia in the church,” but went on to clarify that the church has not taken an official position on gay “cures.” Instead, they pointed HuffPost UK to comments the Bishop of Norwich gave last month during an equal marriage debate. The bishop said, “There are Christians who believe it to be curable, but that is not the view I take.”

gay_bibleWhat an appalling false equivalency. There are not two equally legitimate sides on the issue of “ex-gay” therapy. Opponents of this barbaric practice have the full weight of scientific consensus — you know, the truth — on our side. Proponents of “ex-gay” therapy have nothing but junk science and religion-based bigotry. Frankly, if the Bishop of Norwich’s remarks truly represent the official stance of the Church of England, then there most certainly is a place for homophobia in that church, or at the very least the repugnant and willfully ignorant accommodation of it.

Equality supporters and LGBT rights activists in the UK were quick to pounce on Hanna’s anti-gay remarks. Andy Wasley, a representative of Stonewall — the largest LGBT organization in Britain — told HuffPost UK:

In the run-up to Christianity’s most important festival it seems odd that Rev Hanna is discussing his parishoners’ sex lives instead of asking them to pray for the one billion people in the world going to bed hungry every day.

“Voodoo ‘gay cure’ quackery causes harm and distress and has been utterly discredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It’s sad to hear it being promoted by a man whose first concern should be people’s wellbeing.

Anglican Church’s Arguments Against Marriage Equality Becoming Increasingly Hysterical

gay_jesusRipping a page from the playbook of Cardinal Timothy Dolan — who ominously claimed that marriage equality would turn the State of New York into a communist dictatorship — the Church of England warned hysterically today that the British government’s plan to allow same-sex marriages presents the greatest threat to the relationship between church and state in 500 years.

The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the established religion of the United Kingdom. Its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is appointed by the Prime Minister on behalf of the British Sovereign and is the highest-ranking non-royal in the realm. According to an article from The Independent, the relationship between the Anglican Church and the United Kingdom has lasted half a millenium and weathered threats as diverse as the Spanish Armada and the English Civil War, but senior clergymen have threatened to disestablish the church from the state if marriage equality were to become law as the government intends.

The government argues that no religious institution would be compelled to perform marriages between same-sex couples in violation of their religious beliefs, but the church counters that changes to the civil definition of marriage would do just that due to the entanglement of canon and parliamentary law. The Independent notes that critics — including many within the Church of England — have dismissed the church’s feverish claims as melodramatic scaremongering, especially in light of the fact that other established religious bodies in European countries like Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden have embraced marriage equality.

These latest developments come in the midst of a concerted push by the UK government to give same-sex couples the same right to civil marriage that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy. The effort is being led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who famously said, “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’’ Cameron has also released a video for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.