Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, promised LGBT activists that he would “take action” against clergy and lay members of the church’s General Synod who condemn homosexual activity.
The leader of Christian Concern, a group representing a General Synod member whom Welby has threatened to remove, condemned the remarks as “giving a green light for a witch hunt of any Church of England clergy who believe in the traditional view that marriage is between one man and one woman for life.”
Welby responded to an LGBT activist who mischaracterized a quote from an African Anglican bishop, pledging to launch a “disciplinary process” against clergy and lay leaders who utter similar words.
“Here’s a promise: you send me details of a church that is saying something like that and I will ensure that there is a disciplinary process against the clergy who said that,” the archbishop promised. “We’ll root ‘em out! We’ll root them out. Send me the details with that bit of paper and their names at the bottom of it, and I will take action.”
He promised to take action against members of the General Synod, as well as members of the clergy. (An elected body, the General Synod considers and approves legislation affecting the Church of England when it comes to worship and the annual budget.)
Welby was responding to Peter Tatchell, who protested at Lambeth Palace on Jan. 23, holding a sign reading “Church ban on LGBT marriage is homophobic discrimination. SHAME!” Tatchell and other protesters faulted Welby for refusing to personally bless same-sex couples. The Church of England does not endorse same-sex marriage, but it recently approved prayers of blessing for same-sex couples, a move that faced harsh criticism from other corners of the global Anglican Communion.
“I care equally for people round the world and not just for people in this country,” Welby said. Tatchell confronted him, asking, “Do you?” and challenging him to respond to the archbishop of Uganda, Stephen Kaziimba.
“Did you hear what the archbishop of Uganda said at Christmas?” Tatchell said. “He said it would be better for parents to drown their children than let them be gay.”
Yet Kaziimba made no such comment. In his Christmas message (full video here and at the bottom of this article), the archbishop condemned people “who are recruiting children into homosexuality,” quoting the words of Jesus in Luke 17:2.
“I want to alert all students, parents, and teachers that there are bad people trying to attract children into homosexuality by promising them money and sponsorship,” Kaziimba said. “I urge the government to set up a simple system whereby children can report these people to the relevant authorities who can investigate and take appropriate action.”
“To those who are recruiting children into homosexuality, I want to sound a very strong warning to you. These are not my words, but the words of Jesus: ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones…to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea,’” he added.
Welby did not contest Tatchell’s description of Kaziimba’s remarks, but rather said that he had publicly rebuked Kaziimba on exactly that quote. (Welby has condemned Kaziimba’s refusal to attend the Lambeth Conference last July, but there appears to be no record of him responding to the Christmas message.)
Welby did not respond to The Daily Signal‘s request for comment about what kind of comments would lead him to launch such a “disciplinary process” to “root” such people “out” of the Church of England. He did not respond to questions about his alleged condemnation of Kaziimba’s remarks.
Yet recent events may shine light on what Welby’s promise means. On Feb. 2, a week and a half after Welby’s promise on Jan. 23, the archbishop sent a letter to Sam Margrave, a member of the General Synod, demanding that Margrave apologize for Twitter comments and suggesting that Welby might expel him from the synod if he did not. Margrave had made comments opposing the sexualization of children and speaking out against what he described as queer theory.
The bishop of Coventry, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Cocksworth, had previously reported Margrave to the police over his tweets. The police department confirmed to The Daily Signal that it had launched an investigation into an “online hate crime” but later closed the probe without charging Margrave.
Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, which is representing Margrave, condemned Welby’s comments.
“This is a highly inappropriate and sinister comment from the archbishop of Canterbury. He is giving a green light for a witch hunt of any Church of England clergy who believe in the traditional view that marriage is between one man and one woman for life,” Williams told The Daily Signal.
“He is capitulating to the relentless pressure of the LGBTQI activism of Jayne Ozanne and Peter Tatchell whilst paying little attention to the beliefs of the Anglican Communion across the world,” she added. “The archbishop of Canterbury has spoken this week at General Synod of the need for unity within the church on the issue of human sexuality. There can be no unity without an understanding of truth. The archbishop appears to have given up on this.”
“Instead of standing up for fellow Christians and for biblical truth, he has now created a climate of fear by pandering to activists who will not stop until any opposition to their agenda is silenced or criminalised,” Williams added. She argued that Margrave’s case already demonstrates “how conservative orthodox Christian beliefs on marriage and human sexuality are being ‘rooted out’ of the Church of England.”
Williams also condemned Welby’s unwillingness to set the record straight on Kaziimba’s comments.
“He would have known what Archbishop Stephen Kazimba really said, and that this was a malicious misrepresentation of an Anglican archbishop,” she explained. “But instead of standing up for a fellow Christian and for truth, he pandered to activists pursuing a witch hunt of faithful Christians.”
Here’s the video of Welby’s comments:
Here’s the video of Kaziimba’s speech.
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