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?