At the end of last month, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the second-ranking cleric in the Church of England, told The Telegraph marriage should strictly be a male-and-female thing. Criticism of the archbishop rang around the Internet.
Now, though, we know from Sentamu's publiclicst that
A large quantity of correspondence was received in response to the archbishop's interview with the Daily Telegraph, which touched on a wide range of issues.
Among many positive emails that he has received, there have been a small number of abusive and threatening emails of a racist nature which North Yorkshire police are investigating as hate crimes.
Particularly disheartening in light of how Sentamu expressed views on racism during the same series of interviews.
When I was a vicar there was a lady who didn’t want me to take her husband’s funeral because I was black. I took one funeral and at the end a man said to me, "Why did my father deserve to be buried by a black monkey?" We received letters with excrement in.
I used to chair the committee for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, and we seemed to be making some progress but that now seems to be going backwards. Where we have lost out is black people who had been realised Anglicans, who are now joining Pentecostal churches. That’s a huge drain.
Changing Attitude has condemned these communications:
Those who have sent abusive and threatening emails to the Archbishop are not modeling the teaching and pattern of Jesus Christ, who embodied the infinite, intimate, gracious love of God. We have been victims of homophobic abuse and know what it can feel like to be on the receiving end of abuse and threats. We pray for Dr Sentamu, his wife, and the staff at Bishopthorpe. No-one should be subjected to hate mail.
We at the Café join our voices to condemn actions that subject anyone, cleric or otherwise, to threats of physical violence, or that engage in unproductive discrimination. Whatever places the Body of Christ in peril should be prayerfully addressed.
Needless to say - but I'll say it anyway - this is a moment in the life of the Anglican Communion in which "cooler heads" are so desperately needed. Whatever gets us away from that can't possibly help.