My respect for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams an excellent leader is a matter of record but I do feel that he is fighting a losing battle in trying to keep the two separate wings of the church together. Sadly, perhaps, I have come to believe that the conservative wing and the liberal wing of the church are increasingly becoming irreconcilable.
I declare an interest here: I am a Christian; I have been an Anglican, a United Reformer, and am now very happily settled at a local Methodist Church in my part of South West Leicestershire.
I have a further declaration of interest: I am firmly on the liberal wing of the Christian Church and rally against what I believe to be the worst extremes of the conservative elements.
In a recent speech to the General Synod, the governing body of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams called for unity. He said: “So what are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation?” He then questioned whether there needs to be a situation where there are “different levels of relationship between those claiming the name of Anglican,” saying it may be an “unavoidable aspect of limiting the damage we are already doing to ourselves.”
Of course, in a perfect world, we would do all we can to keep the Communion together. But, and this is tough for me to write, I no longer feel comfortable being part of the same wider faith community as people who have problems with women becoming Bishops and with homosexuals being allowed to play their full part in the life of the Church, including taking on ordination.
I believe my faith is about love and acceptance for all or it is about nothing. I have recently denounced, in a newspaper column, the Pope’s recent comments attacking Britain’s equality legislation. I’m proud that, for all its many other failings, this Labour Government has driven through, in the face of much vocal opposition, a raft of human rights and equality legislation. This includes scrapping the vile Section 28 which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools and was seen, by some, as giving permission to acts of homophobia. It also includes the introduction of civil partnerships which, rightly, gave homosexual couples the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples.
A new survey on social attitudes, shows that only 36% of respondents think homosexuality is ‘always or mostly wrong’ compared to 62% in 1983. That goes to show just how out of kilter with the rest of society certain elements of the Church are and, frankly, how back in the Stone Age their views appear. Carried out by the National Centre for Social Research the survey shows the increase in liberal attitudes over the past twenty or so years.
The excellent gay rights organisation, Stonewall, found out, in research carried out in 2007 that homophobic bullying is almost endemic in Britain’s schools. Almost two thirds of young lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced direct bullying, and, tellingly, that 75% of young gay people attending faith schools having experienced homophobic bullying. How are we ever going to begin to combat this at school age if we have a situation where elements of the Christian Church are condemning our proud equality and gay rights agenda?
I’m afraid I’ve come to the conclusion, sad as it may be that the Anglican Communion may indeed need to split. This split may be for its own good and for the good of the Christian faith at its best; compassionate, loving and for everyone.
The above article has been written by and the personal view of Mathew Hulbert, BA (Hons) in Broadcast Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and local radio presenter with Castle Mead Radio, Hinckley's very own hospital radio station and Hill Top Radio, Earl Shilton and writer.
Follow Mathew on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mathewhulbert
Do of course feel free to add your own comments below with respect to your own views and observations on this subject.