“Justice is rebuffed and flouted while righteousness stands at a distance;
truth stumbles in court and honesty is kept outside,
so truth is lost to sight, and those who shun evil withdraw.”
These two verses from last Wednesday’s lesson for Evening Prayer resonated in a week when I was reflecting on the coming year and the strategy which Changing Attitude needs to follow in response to the events of 2009 and the issues which I anticipate will become the focus in 2010.
The Anglican Covenant is now on the table and the Church of England will be invited to adopt the Covenant. If it will in any way inhibit the presence of LGBT people in the Communion, then it has to be opposed. Will the Covenant be brought to General Synod for ratification before Synod is prorogued at the end of the July session?
Justice for LGBT people in the Church of England, the Anglican Communion in general, and countries like Uganda and Nigeria specifically, is being denied and flouted. For the majority of LGBT Anglicans, righteousness is a distant dream, truth stumbles in court (literally in many African and Caribbean countries), and honesty is a quality tragically lacking in groups opposed to homosexuality.
As a result, truth is far too easily lost to sight. I have to really focus and concentrate as I read documents and reports to catch the places where truth elides into myth and falsehood. The recent article in Red Pepper in Uganda is simply the latest example of the way in which lies are easily told and disseminated. But Red Pepper’s lies and myths are obvious and relatively easy to check. Less easy to identify are the myths being created by conservatives in the UK about Equality Legislation (take a look at Thinking Anglicans’ report ‘What Michael Foster really said about the Equality Bill).
Those who shun evil withdraw, says Isaiah. This is a great temptation. Why continue to engage with a church which so easily supports and encourages attitudes about homosexuality (which some who call themselves traditionalist hold with real integrity) but which swathes of Christians use to persecute and vilify LGBT people?
For my spiritual health and my ability to maintain a creative relationship with God, the world, my friends and those I love, involvement with the church is sometimes the last thing I need. Many LGBT Christians and supporters of equality and truth have given up on worship and commitment to the life of the institutional church.
The increasingly ambivalent, intolerant attitude of the Church of England towards her faithful LGBT members is hard to live with and leads people to abandon not only the church but support for groups like Changing Attitude.
In 2010 we must continue to publicize and challenge the teaching of Anglican leaders which is contrary to Christian principles. In much of our Communion LGBT people live in an environment of fear and intimidation, an environment created with the active support of bishops and Primates. The Archbishop of Canterbury is reluctant to alienate the larger, growing Churches from the Communion by criticizing their attitudes towards homosexuality, even when Primates support legislation that would imprison and execute gay people.
We are now fighting for our place in the Anglican Communion. In England where LGBT people have been granted significant legal equality, we are being marginalized by the Church. We are invited to sacrifice our place in the church for the unity of the Communion.
The Anglican Covenant is in danger, indirectly, of institutionalizing the persecution, murder and demonization of LGBT Anglicans. For the sake of our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the Communion, for the sake of LGBT members of the Church of England, and for the spiritual health of all Christians, the Covenant must be vigorously opposed.
“Justice is rebuffed and flouted while righteousness stands at a distance.”
We LGBT Anglicans cannot afford to allow righteousness to stand at a distance, not in Uganda, Nigeria, Brazil, South East Asia, India, the West Indies, the USA, England, not anywhere in the Communion. We can never ultimately rest until the threat of execution, imprisonment, violence, prejudice, exclusion or diminishment of our place in the church is overcome and defeated.
Our call as LGBT Christians in 2010 is to live into our dream, our vision for the future of our Communion and the Christian church. We will continue to work to create a truly inclusive, LGBT loving and affirming church by living the vision ourselves.