Nick Cohen of the Guardian is not so keen on the Church of England, and neither are the headline writers who called this piece “A church fit only for bigots and hypocrites.” It includes this bit:
The African bishops played on Williams’s white man’s guilt. Decent treatment for homosexuals was an imperialist assertion of western values, they implied. Williams folded and forced John, who was once his friend, to stand down. He admitted that among his motives was his desire to appease the “resentment toward the United States and England in some former colonial areas”.
The fault of anti-imperialist politics in either its left or liberal forms is its inability to see distinctions among the formerly colonised. Williams’s retreat has mollified the Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, who says: “Homosexuality is evil, abnormal and unnatural as per the Bible.” Williams has kept him on board. Held the Anglican communion together.
But how can Anglicans oppose the Ugandan government’s attempts to mandate death sentences or life sentences for homosexuals? Can Anglicans expect anyone to believe them when they say there is no connection between theological justifications for homophobia and the terror the Ugandan state and the Ugandan Anglican church wish to direct against homosexuals?
The language of “communion” and “engagement” sounds kind and woozy. There is nothing kind about the prison cells that await gay men in Kampala – nor grace behind their bars.
In Archbishop William’s defense, words that don’t come easily to my fingertips, I think he believes–mistakenly–that the Anglican Communion’s ability to work among the poor in some of its member provinces depends heavily on the quality of the relationships between the province and the leading donor provinces–the Church of England, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. For him, this hasn’t been entirely about theological abstractions.
And about the headline: We are all hypocrites, so no church can avoid having hypocrites for members. However, the institutionalization of hypocrisy as policy, which I believe is what Cohen objects to, is harder to excuse.