Archbishop of Canterbury says African massacre sparked by gay acceptance “in America”

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Updated, with this story from Anglican Communion News Service, which places the grave Archbishop Welby spoke of in South Sudan.

Archbishop Justin Welby suggested in a talk radio interview today that African Christians have been massacred due to the acceptance of homosexuality “in America”, and that more may be killed if the Church of England accepts equal marriage.


LBC radio has made a six-minute excerpt of the conversation available, and The Guardian also filed a story:

“I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that. We have to be aware of the fact,” Welby said. If the Church of England celebrated gay marriages, he added, “the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic. Everything we say here goes round the world.”

This reasoning has until now been kept private, although both Welby and his predecessor, Rowan Williams, anguished about it in private.

Welby also condemned homophobia in England. “To treat every human being with equal importance and dignity is a fundamental part of being a Christian,” he said. Although he continued to uphold what he called the historic position of the church, of “sex only within marriage and marriage only between a man and a woman”, he agreed with the presenter, James O’Brien, that it was “completely unacceptable” for the church to condemn homosexual people more than adulterous heterosexual people.

African churches do not share this opinion, and the Anglican churches in both Uganda and Nigeria have given enthusiastic backing to laws which criminalise even the expression of support for gay marriage.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace said he could not comment further on the archbishop’s statements, and would not say whether Welby was making reference to the Episcopal Church’s consecration of openly gay and lesbian bishops.

The archbishop will be in the United States next week to speak at Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace, an Episcopal Church-sponsored event in Oklahoma City.

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Lisa Fox
Guest

As some here anticipated, Welby's comments have been picked up in the secular press, and it does nothing to help us Anglicans/Episcopalians.

The wildly popular John Aravosis titles his response with tongue in cheek, "We must discriminate against gays lest someone think we're gay and bash us." http://americablog.com/2014/04/anglican-church-archbishop-must-discriminate-against-gays-lest-someone-think-were-gay-and-bash-us.html

He begins:

"In a horrific statement, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that Anglicans must discriminate against gays, lest bigots in Africa think Anglicans themselves are gay, and then gay-bash them.

Yeah, he really did."

After quoting Welby, Aravosis goes on to say: "This is a church we’re talking about. This is the head of the church. Could Archbishop Justin Welby have said anything less Christ-like than this?"

When a secular columnist asks what is Christ-like, the Church of England (and, God help us, the Anglican Communion) is in deep doo-doo.

Because Aravosis thinks that American Episcopalians are under the thumb of Welby, he concludes his column with this: "For the leader of an entire faith to make this kind of comment is simply unbelievable. Over the years, the Anglicans (aka Episcopalians, as we call them in America), have had more than a few run-ins with their own bigotry. And I’ve always suspected that at its core the Anglican Communion was just as bitter, nasty and hateful as the Catholic church, the Mormons and all the rest. And Justin Welby just confirmed it."

Justin Welby, you just set back the Episcopal Church by about 50 years. Please sit down, shut up, and confine your comments to the little island on which England sits.

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Lisa Fox
Guest

By the same reasoning, "Americans" should not speak out against ethnic cleansing in Africa, nor against genital mutilation in Africa, nor should we speak against any other injustice in Africa. For we might offend our brothers and sisters in Africa.

Meanwhile, we have people like Bishop Senyonjo in Uganda suffering terrible persecution in Uganda, because he dares to minister to LGBT persons.

I thought the See of Canterbury could sink no lower after Abp Williams. Obviously, I was wrong.

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John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton

Tobias hits NAIL ON HEAD!

"Perhaps the greatest irony (and tragedy) is that Welby sees a connection (or easily accepts there is one) between same-sex marriage in America and England/Wales and violence in Africa, rather than seeing the more obvious (and verifiable) connection between violence against gays and violence against anyone, in Africa, America, England and Wales and where ever it takes place. It is violence he should be addressing, not marriage."

And this is a marvelous point as well, "I am also weary of folks who claim the overturn of the Biblical dietary Law offers no good analogy for overturning Biblical marriage law, appealing to Romans 14 (Paul's call to abstain from foods that offend ones brother)."

It calls to mind this blog post,

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2008/07/bryan_caplan_po.html

although that's merely my association with the issue Welby has handed us.

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tobias haller
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tobias haller

Perhaps the greatest irony (and tragedy) is that Welby sees a connection (or easily accepts there is one) between same-sex marriage in America and England/Wales and violence in Africa, rather than seeing the more obvious (and verifiable) connection between violence against gays and violence against anyone, in Africa, America, England and Wales and where ever it takes place. It is violence he should be addressing, not marriage.

I am also weary of folks who claim the overturn of the Biblical dietary Law offers no good analogy for overturning Biblical marriage law, appealing to Romans 14 (Paul's call to abstain from foods that offend ones brother). We are not talking about food here, on either side, but human beings.

Those who do violence defame the image of God. Those who marry honor the image of God in each other. There is no comparison -- or connection.

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Robert Martin
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Robert Martin

There are a lot of things we do in America.

-- we respect the rule of law and individual conscience

-- we value life and grieve and honor the dead

--We don't kill people and bury them in mass graves

--we don't have religious militias that go about the country murdering people

-- we don't use children as weapons or soldiers

Killing 300+ people and putting their bodies in a mass grave is barbaric. It's indefensible. To blame this on anything but the evil and sin of the perpetrators themselves is indefensible.

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laurenstanley
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laurenstanley

One thing I would like to point out: Archbishop Welby is quoting what he has been told by the Anglican bishops in several countries in Africa. This is the case many of them have been making for years. THEY are the ones who spread this rationalization, in great part because this is how THEY feel, and in small part because this is what they have experienced in their own places. I served in what is now South Sudan - I heard this from my friends, colleagues, and bishops repeatedly. They would repeatedly claim that Christians in Africa had been, were being and would continue to be killed because of gays in America.

I am not excusing Archbishop Welby. But perhaps we could include those bishops who have made these claims in our disapproval? After all, they are the ones who told Archbishop Welby this version of history.

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etseq
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etseq

I think everyone gave Welby too much credit and assumed he was more sophisticated than your run of the mill Alpha Course Trinity Brompton evangelical. I think the COE & AC got a wealthy corporate executive with great PR skills who actually believes all the nonsense that comes with evangelicalism. I know its deemed "elitist" by many to say this - we are supposed to respect the "piety" of these earnest modern day know-nothings but at some point, enough is enough...

Jim Green (added by editor)

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aebrain
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aebrain

Some mainly US Christian Evangelists have been spreading the Good Word that Gays are possessed by Demons, and a threat to Humanity's very existence. This was and is laughed at in the US, so they took their message to more fertile and superstitious ground - witness Scott Lively's efforts in Uganda. And the money rolled in.

Some mainly US Christian Evangelists have issued Jeremiads, condemning mainstream Christianity for not massacring Gays as God commands, and predicting woe, trial and tribulation falling on the heads of everyone as Christians are not hating Gays nearly enough. This again doesn't go over well - even in Scotland - so again, they spread this word to those more likely to fall for it, and send money.

The consequences in Africa and elsewhere are entirely foreseeable.

The two sermons -

That Gays are Evil incarnate;

That Christianity tolerates them;

Taken together means that of course Christians will face the same persecution that they themselves all too often visit on Gays.

This is what happens when hatred and homophobia is not just tolerated, but encouraged by a Church - it can backfire, badly. Evil tends to do that.

[please sign your name when commenting. Thanks]

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Clint Davis
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Clint Davis

"...he agreed with the presenter, James O'Brien, that it was "completely unacceptable" for the church to condemn homosexual people more than adulterous heterosexual people."

I find this statement to be completely and utterly insulting. ADULTERY IS ABOUT DAMAGED RELATIONSHIPS AND BETRAYED INTIMACY, and sometimes there isn't even SEX involved in adultery! How can he just sit there and say that my loving relationship and our household that blesses our families and friends are, to paraphrase, no worse than heterosexual adultery? If this is what he "believes" then it ain't going to get better from him, until he first has a change of heart THERE, with THAT pernicious, officious "belief". I don't care if he's flying into town next week, he needs to fly into my apartment and meet my partner and I, and tell us face to face that we, you know, are no worse than adulterers. Then he needs to open his big ol' English ears and listen to what comes next. Maybe we could introduce him to couples who have been together longer than I've been alive, who got together when it was dangerous to do so, and he can tell them his "belief" too, see how well that goes over.

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

Wrong, Archbishop Justin.

Christians in Africa are being massacred for one reason only: the unwillingness of their murderers to obey God's command, "Thou shalt not kill."

Any justification will be used for that disobedience.

If it's not treating LGBT others the same way we wanted to be treated (a la Luke 6:31), it'll be that we believe in Jesus as God, don't accept Muhammad as a prophet, eat pork, don't veil our women or don't conform to the local authoritarian regime.

Care to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, accept Muhammad as a prophet or forswear pork to prevent the massacre of Christians, Archbishop Justin? That's precisely where your "logic" leads.

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IT
Guest
IT

Let me quote from the aforementioned "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (and if he hasn't read it, someone should send Abp Justin the link).

Quote:

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?

We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

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John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton

Bruce,

And yet even if we had explained what we were doing it would not have made a difference to them or their affiliates in the US (ACNA) -- whose role I think has been overlooked in this debate. We can talk until we are blue in the face but they are simply not going to be moved in the short run.

I suspect that the only thing that will change their hearts and minds is the passage of time and an evolution of attitudes. Recall where we were 10, 20, 50 years ago. We got to where through a process that none of us controlled. That's the way culture is, mostly. We can only speed things along on the margins especially when we are talking not about our culture, but someone elses.

That does not mean they are off the hook. Their homophobia is wrong, especially its violent expression. And so was ours when we were where they are now.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

I posted the following to the bishops/deputies list a short while ago.

Bruce

The situation with Christians in other nations facing danger because of decisions by the Anglican church in the West is one of our own doing. And no, I'm not talking about our decisions themselves. Decisions about LGBT persons, decisions about women's ordination, decisions about issues of race were the correct decisions from my perspective and they were the result, despite what some might claim, of decades of study, prayer, research, prayer, and conversations among many - some not in agreement and some in agreement. The decisions have been made.

When I say the situation is one of our own doing I am referring to our dismal failure to convey to others exactly what we discerned, prayed about, studied, prayed about, conversed about, and prayed some more. We failed miserably to educate others as to what we decided, how we decided and why we decided, based on our studies of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason/Experience....the hallmark of Anglicanism. We didn't do that in The Episcopal Church both within the United States and without. As far as I can

tell, neither did other provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Going further, we also allowed ourselves to be lead around by the nose by the secular media. We never took the lead in providing the secular press what they needed to accurately report what we were doing. We failed most miserably with that in 2003 when the dozens of media cameras shined bright lights on both houses of General Convention. Yet we squandered a truly God-given opportunity to educate about both our polity as a church and our methodology for reaching decisions based on prayer, study, dialogue, prayer, discernment, prayer and care for each other. Too many of our bishops, elected to lead with prophetic voices per their ordination vows, stood around wringing their hands and whining rather than educating their flocks....regardless of where they stood on any of these issues. Even now, it is rare that we provide substantive information to the secular media about anything we are doing as a church. And, sisters and brothers, we have much to share, much of which to be proud and much to give to a hungry group of people who would dearly love to be invited, encouraged even, to worship God with their minds as well as their hearts, and souls and strength.

What do we still fear? Had we taken the initiative and lead in 2003 rather than letting ourselves be lead, we would have had two or three folks join us for each and every one who left. I do not mean all LGBT folks either. I've lost count of the times I have heard straight parents in particular make it clear that they want their children to be raised in a church where everyone is valued and protected and allowed to participate in the work of Christ's Body. We speak of reorganization when we really need to be doing something with the resources we have that lets seekers know where to look for a community of faith, believers in Jesus Christ, who don't claim all the answers but do help each other search for the answers. I guess we will reorganize ourselves another way to hide our light under the bushel basket.

So my question to the Archbishop of Canterbury is simple: What will YOU as the ABC start doing to educate those who would use sexual orientation as an

excuse for mistreatment of some of God's precious children? What will YOU

do to start holding accountable your colleagues who continue to turn a blind eye to mistreatment at the same time they give a wink and a nod to such issues as polygamy, the spread of HIV, poverty and ignorance among those they are supposed to be shepherding? Granted, you do not have so-called "enforcement powers" for anything. But you do have the "brand name" and the title and you could be using both. Or will you continue to allow money from the far right in the US and other places to buy the "gospel" that they want

preached? Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. What is the price

for His continued betrayal by portions of His own church?

If both the plight of LGBT Christians in the west and the sight of a mass grave including LGBT folks burns itself into your soul, when will you start trying to do something about both?

I would ask for a response, but I have no doubt I would be ignored....the same way I was ignored by part of the previous ABC's staff when I tried to get him to understand that these were children of God and not mere political issues to be dismissed. I got a blank look when I raised that question following a meeting with the Executive Council several years ago.

Yes, there is a degree of anger in this post. The Gospel should always provoke some emotion in us or we are not really reading it very closely.

And the misuse of the Gospel should provoke even more.....

Bruce

Bruce Garner

L3 Atlanta

bruce.garner@att.net

"When fascism comes to the United States, it will come carrying a cross, wrapped in a flag." ("It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis in 1935)

"Since when do you have to agree with people just to defend them from injustice?" Lillian Hellman, Writer (1905-1984)

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.." John 16:

12-13a

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” - Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Archbishop Welby's anguish, perhaps even trauma,at the graveside of murder victims is understnadable. Compassion is a crucial character trait in any leader. However, it must be matched by a thirst for justice and a sense of resolve in the face of violence.

Responsibility for the deaths he describes are the responsibility of the those who committed such terrible criminal acts. Welby ought to be condemning the atrocities and advocating for the rule of law and security on the ground where these things happen. Using such awful events to engender guilt in people in North America is completely unacceptable coming from anyone who aspires to be a leader at the Communion level.

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Christian Paolino - Integrity USA
Guest

We at Integrity read this with dismay. Our President, the Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall, who is a native of Britain, offered her reaction on our blog:

http://walkingwithintegrity.blogspot.com/2014/04/archbishop-of-canterbury-links-attacks.html

I agree with J.C. that this sort of thing gives LGBT people one more reason to view the church with richly-deserved hostility.

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tgflux
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tgflux

I note that this story has been picked up by Pink News, and will spread all over LGBT media. Making our mission to preach the Good News *that much* more difficult.

JC Fisher

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Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

Twisted thinking, damaged beliving. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury was here in Guatemala. He preached at the Cathedral of Santiago. If he had dared to speak of blaming vile human atrocities on LGBT people, Anglican or not, in the Americas or in the U.K. or anywhere else, I would have grabbed him by his collar and hauled him to our Central Cemetery. A centuries old place where many REAL victims (and their politcally/socially correct murderers) are entombed. So much for double-talking, rationalizing, shifty-eyed, pontificator from Canterbury...someone said he was a good business man, maybe that is true...The Merchant of Penitence?

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Ethan Vesely-Flad
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Ethan Vesely-Flad

The archbishop's comments are effectively critiqued by many above, and I particularly appreciate the comments by (1) Jim Naughton in challenging the ABC on his evidently easy acceptance of the reasoning for this massacre, and (2) John Chilton in lifting up Letter from Birmingham Jail, so timely on this anniversary day of Rev. Dr. King's assassination.

But I am further troubled by the coverage of this story by the Anglican Communion News Service. The lead paragraph of the ACNS article reads: "The Archbishop of Canterbury revealed today that Christians in parts of Africa face abuse, violence and even death because of decisions on sexual equality made by Anglican Churches in the West." ACNS's decision to use the word "revealed" (which presumes fact or truth) rather than "alleged" or "argued" is exceedingly problematic and shows a lack of journalistic integrity.

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tgflux
Guest
tgflux

Just saw this over at Thinking Anglicans. Utterly, heartbrokenly GOBSMACKED. This textbook victim-blaming is UNACCEPTABLE from a leader of the church!!! >:-0

Kyrie eleison. Why, O Lord, WHY? How long???

Bless and protect ALL victims of violence, esp the LGBT least-of-these...

JC Fisher

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Linda Gaither
Guest

This reminds me of the news from the Oct. 23 House of Bps. meeting, where Canon David Porter, the ABC's Director of Reconciliation, reportedly ended his talk with a sobering reminder that peace and reconciliation are usually quite costly. Usually somebody who deserves justice doesn't get it. But embracing that difficult truth is preferable to perpetuating the cycle of violence; this is the heart of Gospel ministry.

This sounds too much like the ancient & fearful wisdom of expediency that we will rehearse soon at our Good Friday worship: "... it is better to have one person die for the people." (John 18:12).

Why do we continue to exact costly sacrifice of those who seek a just peace, on behalf of stability & order? And then make saints of those we have silenced or killed? What are the crazy dynamics of our sacred violence?

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Paul Woodrum
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Paul Woodrum

The shot of British homophobia heard round the world under British colonialism still reverberates. That the Archbishop of Canterbury should embrace it for the C of E and blame unintended consequences in Africa on North American Anglicans may be cunning but is both illogical and totally unethical. It may preserve Canterbury for a while but in the end will destroy its precious primacy.

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John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton

Susan, where's his lament? There is none -- he's under the thumb of extortionists?

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revsusan
Guest
revsusan

Sad but sadly not surprising.

How can our hearts not break when members of our human family fall victim to the scourge of sectarian violence?

And yet, how can we remain blind -- as noted above by earlier commenters -- that being blackmailed into bigotry against some members of the human family only serves to feed the pathology of demonization of "the other."

Where is the lament from the ABofC for LGBT youth who choose suicide over bullying? For those who live in fear of arrest or assault because of their sexual orientation or gender identity? Or for those who are dying the slow death of internalized homophobia not only condoned by but contributed to by "the church."

La lucha continua.

Susan Russell

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Peter Pearson
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Peter Pearson

We do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, or did I get that wrong?

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Jim Naughton
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Jim Naughton

If this grave was indeed in South Sudan, a part of the world which has been at war more often than it has been at peace since the mid 1950s, it seems exceedingly unlikely to me that the massacre which took all of these lives was caused in any significant way by events of any sort in North America. I'm open to be proven wrong. But the archbishop hasn't offered any proof, just a very serious, and to this point unverifiable allegation in support of an argument he is making against including LGBT people more fully in the life of the church.

I listened to the entire interview, and the relevant parts several times. I was impressed by how hard he strove to be fair, but in this significant instance, he was not.

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John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton

It's taken me a while longer than Tobias to sort out the ethics here.

Welby is taking the position of the white preachers MLK addresses in his letter from a Birmingham jail.

Welby is taking the position that a well meaning opponent the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution might have made -- that it might lead to bloodshed by the very people you want to help.

Welby is uncomfortably close to taking the pre-Civil status quo position of most members of The Episcopal Church regarding slavery. Let's not take a position on slavery for fear that it will divide the church.

I'm not sure though that I would label this emotional blackmail. His fear probably is sincere that there could be terrible unintended consequences. What does a family do whose child has been kidnapped? Pay the ransom, no?

(If it's not obvious, I'm conflicted.)

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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Cynthia Katsarelis

This is such horrifying reasoning! What about the rape and subjugation of women that is so dreadful in much of Africa? Is that because of Women's Lib in the West?

Or is it possible that human rights, in general, are a problem in these places in Africa? There is certainly a problem in Christian ethics in the ABC's reasoning.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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Cynthia Katsarelis

This is such horrifying reasoning! What about the rape and subjugation of women that is so dreadful in much of Africa? Is that because of Women's Lib in the West?

Or is it possible that human rights, in general, are a problem in these places in Africa? There is certainly a problem in Christian ethics in the ABC's reasoning.

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tobias haller
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tobias haller

What a fragile grasp Welby appears to have on Christian Ethics.

Do they do CPE in England? Has he no concept of taking responsibility for ones own actions, and allowing others to do the same?

This is a complex of emotional blackmail, pure and simple. Let your Yes be Yes and your No, No.

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Max Maxwell
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Max Maxwell

And what about the LGBT people of Africa? Now especially those of Uganda and Nigeria who need our support. Is it not possible that the acceptance "of homosexuality 'in America' " may give our African LGBT brothers and sisters hope in their sufferings? Or, is it that the lives of "Christians" are more important than those of LGBT people? (Leaving aside the issue that there are people who are both Christian and LGBT.)

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Deacon Charlie
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Deacon Charlie

So good to see that co-dependency is alive and well in the Anglican Communion and that the lowest common denominator is controlling the agenda. Let's be just like Jesus and not p**s anybody off.

Sigh.

Deacon Charlie Perrin

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