Friday 5 March 2010

Changing Attitude Sussex hits the local press

Changing Attitude diocesan groups continue to make an impact across the country, and this week it’s the turn of the newly-formed Sussex group which covers the diocese of Chichester.

The Brighton Argus has a leading article today responding to an article published on Tuesday by Father Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Brighton. In his article he attacked gay people for being ‘hedonistic’ and complained that local politicians pander to the ‘gay lobby’ and are ‘ignorant of our faith’. Keith Sharpe, Convener of CA Sussex was approached to do a radio interview in response and emailed a letter to the editor of the Argus encouraging other group members to do the same.

The result: two letters in today’s paper and an article on the Comment and Analysis page.

“Is the church to blame for why the LGBT population want nothing to do with it?” it asks rhetorically. “The offensive nature of Fr Blake’s remarks is unfortunate but what is more serious is his failure to understand the extent to which the church itself is to blame for many gay people and many politicians wanting nothing to do with it. Father Blake’s God is for everybody.

“Instead of condemning gay people Father Blake should ask himself what he is doing to evangelise the gay community, and why he does not have more gay people in his church. The answer of course is that gay people are not there because of the Church’s relentless hostility and its misrepresentation of a handful of biblical texts to condemn them.”

Chris Cooke, Chair of the LGBT Hate Crime Forum, wrote saying Father Ray Blake shows that the Forum has a mountain to climb when such ignorant comments are espoused from supposedly ‘educated’ clergy. He congratulates the Changing Attitude group for making great strides in challenging the hostility gay people face in church - just the sort of progressive approach LGBT people need.

In the second letter the Revd Dr Brian Twohig points out that gay and church communities are not mutually exclusive but overlapping. Any church which claims to follow Jesus’ gospel of love and tolerance should protect minorities from discrimination and persecution based on prejudice and ignorance.

CA Sussex has achieved a real impact in Brighton and garnered good publicity for the group – at the bottom of the leader is an advert for the next group meeting with Jeremy Marks from Courage UK.

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