Tuesday 17 February 2009

Changing Attitude plans for the ACC meeting in Jamaica

Changing Attitude has begun to think about our presence at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica from 2 to 12 May. Brenda’s budget research suggests that it might be nearly four times more expensive to go to Jamaica than Egypt (and that doesn’t include the cost of staying in the same hotel as the meeting (which is any case already fully booked).

Being present in Jamaica presents a great possibility than in Egypt of connecting with LGBT activists and Christians, and with Anglicans in particular. The only LGBT organisation that my research has so far discovered is J-FLAG http://www.jflag.org/

The web site contains a page addressing Body & Spirit - Religion and Spirituality:

“One source of real pain for many of us is the rejection we receive from the church and our spiritual communities. Being raised in a spiritual community, whether Christian or other can and should be a very nurturing experience, but for many of us, our experience of such communities is the opposite. From an early age we are taught that to be anything other than heterosexual is evil, sinful, corrupt, and that we are destined to burn in the fires of hell for all eternity.

This kind of rejection by our churches and our communities is very damaging to our spirits. Many people internalise this message and it takes a lot of strength and courage to reject this way of thinking, especially when the fundamentalists have armed themselves with quote after quote from the bible to justify their bigotry. Fundamentalist Christian churches dominate the spiritual landscape in Jamaica, making it difficult for people to explore alternative thinking on homosexuality.

However, there are alternatives to the mainstream church, including some Christian churches which focus more on nurturing the spirit and drawing the positive from people, rather than on condemning people and focusing on guilt and sin. Some of these alternatives operate from a Christian perspective, and others present alternative belief systems.”

The web page has a link to follow for information on gay-friendly churches in Jamaica. I for one will be interested to discover if there are any Anglican churches listed as gay friendly.

CA being present in Jamaica for the ACC meeting is advantageous, as we have discovered in Alexandria and Dar es Salaam. Telling the story of meetings from a pro-gay, inclusive, open church perspective makes a difference. If we weren’t present, the story would be told by George Conger, who reports wisely for the CEN and Living Church from a conservative perspective, and David Virtue, who is homophobic and obsessed with homosexuality. Riazat Butt may also be there with other media people in a dual role – accompanying their bishop as well as reporting the event.

I realise that being in Jamaica could present a bigger opportunity for engaging with the homophobic culture of Jamaica than I had imagined. Amnesty International and ILGA may help us communicate more effectively, highlight Jamaican prejudice and add to the pressure on the Anglican Communion to change its teaching, its collusion in violence and oppression against LGBT people in Jamaica and elsewhere.

With your help, we can be present in Jamaica and effective in communicating to the wider Communion. Visit the CA web site to make a donation.

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