Anglicans’ LGBTI schism: Archbishop’s realism or bad idea?

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

The 80-million-member Anglican Communion of churches that are descended from the Church of England has been divided for more than a decade into mutually hostile anti-gay and gay-friendly churches.

Now, according to the communion’s spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, it’s time to put an end to the pretense that the rigidly anti-homosexuality Anglican churches of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere can get along in a unified communion with the inclusive Anglican churches in the United States, Canada and elsewhere.

Personally, I don’t know whether I think this is an understandable recognition of reality or a terrible idea. Sure, Archbishop Welby thinks it’s time to end a situation of “spending vast amounts of time trying to keep people in the boat and never actually rowing it anywhere,” as The Guardian reports.

But, as my friend, activist Davis Mac-Iyalla says, “Where is the place of persecuted LGBT African Christians in all this?”

Are they abandoned? They mustn’t be, even if the Anglican Communion accepts a de facto divorce/separation.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

19 Comments

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  1. I am afraid to describe the Church of England as “inclusive” stretches credulity and truth far too far. It has acquired at its own request over the last 15 years a whole raft of opt-outs from equalities and anti-discrimination legislation, as well as making it impossible for same-sex couples to be married on its premises, or to involve any of its clergy. It sacks and refuses to employ or ordain those who are self-affirming lgbt whether in loving relationships or not. In that sense it is no different from the Churches of Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, etc, etc. In fact the CofE is homophobic to its official core.

    • Basically, you’re right. The Church of England doesn’t pressure the government to imprison LGBTI people, as Anglican churches in Uganda and Nigeria do, so it’s different in that way. But it doesn’t deserve to appear in a list of inclusive churches.

      I removed it from that list.

      — Colin Stewart, editor/publisher of this blog

      • Thanks for the editorial axe falling as it did.

        I hold the homophobia of the Church of England partly culpable for the even more extreme forms of homophobia in other parts of the collapsing Anglican Communion. The failure of the CofE to understand homophobia, let alone admit that it is endemic and sanctioned in its own life, has made it much easier for the likes of Ugnada and Nigeria to go on their own merry way with impunity as the AoC has never said their presence in the Communion is incompatible with contemporary understandings of sexuality and faith. Then again he could hardy say that since he and his predecessors have been busy becoming more homophobic – to the relief of the arch bigots.

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