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Repercussions for Church of England after Primates vote?

Repercussions for Church of England after Primates vote?

Noted theater director, Bill Bankes-Jones, has started a petition to remove Church of England Bishops from the House of Lords, citing UK anti-discrimination laws as cause for ouster from the government.

The petition, started this weekend, has over 1,000 signatories, but will need 10,000 for a government response, and 100,000 to be debated in Parliament.

Jonathan Merritt, writing for the Atlantic, criticized the Primates vote as an example of selective outrage, pointing to the very real human rights violations against LGBTQ people in the home countries of many of the Primates.

Merritt says the vote to suspend the Episcopal Church was only mildly surprising, and ultimately hypocritical, noting that many of the Primates are from African nations where they have either supported or kept silent on state-sanctioned abuses of LGBTQ people.

From the essay:

Africa is a continent that is regressive, even oppressive, in its treatment of LGBT persons. In approximately 70 African countries, gays and lesbians can be imprisoned for years or even receive life sentences. In Nigeria, it is illegal for LGBT people to hold meetings or form clubs. In countries like Somalia, they can be executed by the state under Sharia law. In Mauritania, men convicted of homosexual acts can be stoned to death. In Angola, cross-dressing will earn you jail time. And famously, Uganda offers life sentences for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” whatever that means. An earlier version of their anti-gay bill allowed for the death penalty.

Anglicans maintain strong presences in many of these countries, and Christian religious leaders, including Anglicans, have supported the oppressive treatment of gays and lesbians there. Uganda’s anti-gay law, for example, was backed by its Anglican Church. Such laws are wildly out of step with any ethical code bearing the label “Christian.”

Archbishop Philip Richardson, of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, has written an essay on the Primates’ meeting, which he describes as intense and much larger than the split on LGBTQ issues.

Placing the debate in the context of discussions on Syrian civil war violence, human trafficking, climate change, and other evils, he describes the media as seeking a simplistic and limited narrative of winners and losers out of a broader, deeper meeting.

Do you blame the media for the focus it has taken, or the members of the Communion for the way they held the meeting and represented the issues? Do you think that there is a real chance that an increasingly secular United Kingdom will remove the Church of England from the House of Lords?


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Anne Bay

Africa is still trying to deal with being colonized by Great Britain. On a BBC TV news show, it was well presented that Africa is still reeling from being oppressed by colonizers and a lot of what their governments set up as the law of the land is in response to trying to get shed of being in the shadow of colonization. So, that means that the discriminatory laws regarding LGBT comes under this umbrella. It’s not just because they think being LGBT is a sin and deserves to be criminalized-it’s also because of trying to develop their identification as separate from their “oppressors”-deep stuff. Unfortunately, there are populations that suffer as a result: women and women’s rights, the LGBT community, rigid rules for the role of women in the Anglican church, and even mis-use of church income by the church. The American church has been autonomous since the revolution and there is no way we could walk in step with the African primates as presented by their conservative beliefs. Silly to even try.

Jeremy Bates

Who is “they”?

If you mean the primates, you are flat wrong. The primates certainly do not make the rules for The Episcopal Church, and The Episcopal Church is free to ignore what the primates purport to “require.”

You really need to read up on the history of The Episcopal Church. We have been self-governing for more than 200 years.

Jeremy Bates

As of around 1300 on Tuesday, UK time, more than 3,000 people had signed the petition.

Jeremy Bates

As of 1930 London time, the petition has well over 9,700 signatures. At the rate the number is growing, the petition will exceed 10,000 signatures either tonight or tomorrow.

This is important because, as the parliamentary website says, “At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition.” Of course, after government reponds, the petition could become a political issue–which would raise its salience further.

It takes 100,000 signatures for the petition to be considered for debate in Parliament.

Petitions remain open for signature for 6 months. This petition has received nearly 10,000 signatures in one week. Perhaps it will reach the number required, for it to be considered for debate.

Jeremy Bates

Now (2pm Friday) the petition has more than 8,000 signatures, with 437 signatures in the last hour. This makes it the top-ranked petition to Parliament.

Jeremy Bates

And it’s now (Thursday evening) over 6,000 signatures.

Jeremy Bates

As of noon UK time on Wednesday Jan. 20, the petition has received more than 5,000 signatures.

John sandeman

David, David S draws quite a long bow in my view but please feel free to disagree.

David Allen

That’s twice.

John Sandeman

From Merrit’s Article:
“This year, African Anglicans celebrated the appointment of a Nigerian Bishop to the prestigious role of secretary general, despite his history of support for the criminalization of homosexuality.”

Rather than being a supporter of the criminalisation of homosexuality, Josiah Idowu Fearon has been criticised by the Church of Nigeri for not backing their stance.

In fact, he lost the title of “archbishop” because he has not held to the party line in his church, despite being an evangelical.

David Allen

Is armed robbery also not illegal, because that was the crux of David S’s argument and you completely ignored it!

John Sandeman

In the areas of Nigeria where the Christian influence is strongest, fornication and adultery are not illegal, so I think your argument is a little tenuous. More seriously I would have thought that the more progressive parts of the Anglican Communion should make common cause with moderate evangelicals in places like Nigeria who are prepared to go on the record opposing the criminalisation of homosexuality. I am surprised that this does not happen.

John Chilton

Actually, he has played both sides of the fence. Our most complete report on his changing positions is here — read it all, including the addendum towards the end.

John Sandeman

John, thank you for your comment. ISTM that in this case the Episcopal Cafe commentary conflates an “anti gay” opinion with support for criminalisation. While you might find Idowu Fearon’s position unsatisfactory or wrong headed, the evidence laid out in the David Ould interview does not indicate support for criminalisation, as far as I can tell. On this issue I think we can take the Bishop at his word.

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