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Church leaders in Liverpool release ‘groundbreaking’ condemnation of homophobia

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  1. Well done – another step in the right direction – now put pressure onto the other churches to follow suit

  2. Cllr Steve radford 23 Nov 2009, 1:01pm

    I have been lobbying for this sort statement from Church Leaders for some time

    The fact it has been endorsed by 7 Merseyside Christian Leaders right across the different traditions is great news.
    The significance of both the Stand by Bishop James of the Anglicans and Archbishop Kelly of the Roman Catholic Church is that their two churches’ lead role in the Faith Schools half the cities young people attend

    Cllr Steve Radford – Leader of The Liberal Party Group

  3. It’s brilliant news but I’m afraid I may have to rain on the parade, and I hate myself for being a party pooper right now. The law is about to change to make sex education compulsory in UK schools, and it will also make it compulsory for faith schools to teach students about homosexuality. However, faith schools have been given an “exemption” whereby they can still teach about homosexuality according to their religious beliefs. It’s OK Church leaders giving their support right now, but it’s very possible that faith schools will still be teaching that it’s wrong to be gay according to their faith, and they will be one hundred percent backed by the law. They are a law unto themselves, they really are. There is still a very long way to go and change must happen within the Church itself.

  4. Simon Murphy 23 Nov 2009, 1:24pm

    Half the schools in Liverpool are faith schools?

    What a worrying figure.

    I am opposed to religious schools receiving ANY state funding while they have opt-outs from equality legislation.

  5. Yes, certainly a move in the right direction at the level of one city by the local clergy. Now its about time to tell the Arch Homophobe of Rome to put a sock in it and stop telling people how evil we gay people are as more of a threat to the planet than global warming!!

  6. Vincent Poffley 23 Nov 2009, 2:27pm

    Funny, isn’t it, how this is considered news? Were it any other coalition of public institutions then the issue of a joint statement condemning homophobic violence would be thought nothing more than sensibly humane. But because they’re religious groups, suddenly they deserve special plaudits for finally getting with the moral zeitgeist that the rest of us have been used to for decades? It is a damning indictment of the city of Liverpool that religious groups have ANY power there, let alone a lot of it. These groups have no special moral insight over and above any other arbitrarily self-appointed hobby groups, and it is high time everyone realised this. Even one faith school is one nauseating sectarian anachronism too far, and the sooner they are outlawed in the UK the better.

  7. the.kitty.channel 23 Nov 2009, 3:21pm

    Two cheers. Well, only one cheer actually. Because of what John said at 13.15pm. And because I’m not holding my breath to see if the same church leaders will endorse the European Commission’s directive removing the “religious exemption” in respect of employment of gay people by religious bodies (as reported in PinkNews on 22 November at 16.37pm).

  8. I have no religious faith but I do believe those that find comfort and strength in believing in a God have every right to – it a fundamental human right without fear or hindrence, just as it should be for a gay man or woman.

    I know some zealots within some churches, particularly the roman catholic church and evangelical protestant sects, advocate a very UNChristian prejudice against our communities BUT Two wrongs do not make a Right and the vehment anti-religious fervour exhibited by some commentators on this site is distasteful.

    There are many committed heterosexual christians who love and respect their fellow gay brothers and sisters and we do our community a great diservice when we denigrate faiths whole-sale. Just like any group of people be they christian, gay or gay AND christian, there are good and fair minded people and small-minded nasty people. By all means let us criticise those who are stupid and hateful, but let us not generalise by targeting whole faiths, or else we sink to the same depths of ignorance as the minority of homophobes within our society and its faith groups.

  9. It’s a step in the right direction that they have condemned homophobic violence, but until they drop their views that gay relationships are somehow inferior to straight ones, they are still issuing their followers with a licence to be homophobic, even if not violently homophobic.

  10. Father Andrew Gentry FCSF 23 Nov 2009, 3:53pm

    Well I guess better late than never. It is difficult for me however to understand how some of these groups can on the one hand calls us “morally disordered” which is insulting enough and on the other hand claim dismay at violence directed against us, a violence more othen than not comes from a religious teaching that teaches that we are unacceptable lepers in the body ecclesiastical! I do not want to pour more rain on anyone’s joy at this announcement but why in the Name of God should we congratulate them for doing what they are supposed to do in the first place.

  11. Simon Murphy 23 Nov 2009, 4:02pm

    No 8: Thomas: you say: “There are many committed heterosexual christians who love and respect their fellow gay brothers and sisters and we do our community a great diservice when we denigrate faiths whole-sale. ”

    Faith schools demand and expect state funding but at the same time they expect and demand opt-outs from equality legislation.

    They can’t have both.

    Any religion or faith schools acceptance of state money while being exempted from equality legislation is no different than the BNP receiving state funding for their ‘whites only policy’.

    Religion is a choice. Homosexuality is not a choice. If religions demand and expect exemptions from equality laws then they need to deal with the consequences.

  12. An excellent move by these churchs. Sadly though for some on here they will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t! A great lead, it SHOULD be well recieved. Anything that helps condemn and stop these shameful acts of violent, from children of all people, should be applauded!

  13. Father Andrew Gentry FCSF:- We seem to make ourselves victims with regards to churches way too much! These churchs should be applauded for there stance!

  14. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Nov 2009, 4:35pm

    The RCC has to revise and update its evil, crystalized sexual theology and remove homosexuality from the catechism as being intrinsically evil.

    Anything less than that is simply posturing in view of the upcoming papal visit to the UK, and using homophobia, which has its roots in the Abrahamic religions, to get chummy with Protestant denominations is a strategy meant to replenish the Vatican coffers which have been emptied of countless billions of dollars because of the sex abuse scandals of paedophile catholic clergy.

    Rain on your parade?

    Nothing short of Jupiter’s lighting would suit me until I hear it from a RCC bishop of the female sex.

    The time for baby steps was aborted when the RCC betrayed the Oecumenical Council of Vatican II by taking a giant step back to the 8th century (papal authoritarianism).

    Furthermore, unless B16 intends to throw condoms by the thousands to the to the gullible crowds lining the streets waiting to get a glimpse of his wholliness himself, the man has no business in the UK, not to mention the presence of RCC representatives in Liverpool.

    Period.

  15. Some good news at last. However, any member of staff or student from a faith school using offensive language or violence should be fined. We have to be very strict on this issue if we want positive progress.

  16. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Nov 2009, 4:42pm

    Harvey (13):

    Unless you are ready to claim that the study of History is completely useless, you sorely need a course in Gay History 101.

  17. Well aware of the history but we have more freedoms now than we did even 50 years ago. We choose to believe in religion, God. We choose to react to what a church says. Most on here claim they want nothing to do with religion yet choose to make themselves a victim from it. In effect they say they don’t belong to a religion but let religion affect them. Though we were stronger than that.

  18. Another point Jean-Paul maybe we’re living in the past too much too! By no means forget but come on things have changed.

  19. Simon Murphy 23 Nov 2009, 4:51pm

    This statement from the 6 churches condemning homophobia is no more groundbreaking than the BNP saying that it will accept non-white members.

    The BNP will continue with its racist policies and the churches will continue with their homophobic and sexist policies.

    It’s a sad reflection on how divisive, cruel and inhuman most churches are that a statement condemning homophobic violence on the churchs’ parts is viewed as ‘groundbreaking’. It is not ‘groundbreaking’ – it is merely decent, common-sense behaviour that one would expect from an organisation which professes to be all about ‘god’ and ‘love’ etc.

    Does Pope Ratzinger still condemn decriminalisation of homosexuality for example?

  20. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Nov 2009, 5:23pm

    Harvey (17,18):

    50 years ago?!!

    From the point of view of the RCC, Gay History 101 begins in the book of leviticus, and that’s a wee bit longer than 50 years ago.

    I would be interested to known the names of the Gay Historians you have studied. Did you know, for example, that Harvard University now has a Chair in Gay Studies?

    Again, as a gay man, which you implied being in your post 13 by using the pronoun “we”, you try standing in line to receive holy communion with your husband by your side, and then we’ll talk about how things have changed in the RCC.

    “Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it.”; and “Vigilance is the price we must pay for our freedom”.

    I have nothing against you personally, Harvey, but you are way out of your league, lad.

  21. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Nov 2009, 5:39pm

    Oh and Harvey, em-cee,

    The RCC has to revise and update its evil, crystalized sexual theology and remove homosexuality from the catechism as being intrinsically evil.

    Anything less than that is simply posturing in view of the upcoming papal visit to the UK, and using homophobia, which has its roots in the Abrahamic religions, to get chummy with Protestant denominations is a strategy meant to replenish the Vatican coffers which have been emptied of countless billions of dollars because of the sex abuse scandals of paedophile catholic clergy.

    Rain on your parade?

    Nothing short of Jupiter’s lighting would suit me until I hear it from a RCC bishop of the female sex.

    The time for baby steps was aborted when the RCC betrayed the Oecumenical Council of Vatican II by taking a giant step back to the 8th century (papal authoritarianism).

    Furthermore, unless B16 intends to throw condoms by the thousands to the gullible crowds lining the streets waiting to get a glimpse of his wholliness himself, the man has no business in the UK, not to mention the presence of RCC representatives in Liverpool, although I can easily understand how ex-gay fundamentalists would support such a move.

  22. Cor blimey no – yes Jean-Paul I know that but I’m talking about the gay right since 50 years ago.

    I agree and disagree with all faiths not just one.

    I come from Jewish blood so well aware of the past history of gays and Jews and have person knowledge of it’s effects, so your attempt at belittle with the ‘out of your league’ rubbish doesn’t wash.

    As gay people it is the young who take for granted what scholars have suffered from. I don’t intend on forgetting what has happened in the past but I ain’t gonna let it make me the victim you clearly want to crave.

    You learn from the past and build for the future.

    I have nothing against you personally, Jean-Paul but I probably am well aware of the past, I just choose not to live in it.

    I can move on and try to make it better for me and all those around me. Lets hope you can say the same.

  23. Now ya just repeatitive Jean-Paul – ie Nothing new to say then lol

  24. Liverpool is the most homophobic city in the country and the police and council don’t give a sh*t.

  25. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 6:16pm

    Harvey,
    You seem set on domineering all Pink threads as though your comments alone were the only valid ones. Well every comment, good, bad or indifferent is valid and incedently, Jean-Paul and myself has been on these threads much longer than the name Harvey!

  26. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Nov 2009, 6:56pm

    Harvey:

    You said:

    “I agree and disagree with all faiths not just one.”

    Sounds to me like you have such an open-mind, your brains fell out. Please don’t take that the wrong way.

    What are the names of the Gay Historians you studied?

    Sorry, there I go being “repeatitive” again.

    Moreover, being so well-rounded, lad, you should not be afraid to give us your opinion on a comment made on post 19 by Simon Murphy:

    “It’s a sad reflection on how divisive, cruel and inhuman most churches are that a statement condemning homophobic violence on the churchs’ parts is viewed as ‘groundbreaking’. It is not ‘groundbreaking’ – it is merely decent, common-sense behaviour that one would expect from an organisation which professes to be all about ‘god’ and ‘love’ etc.”

    My point being that because history is ignored (the churches are counting on that), decent, commom-sense behavior will not prevail in the end.

    Just for the record though, I do fly a rainbow flag, and I do love Judy Garland. Have you learned the words of that song by heart?

    “la, la, lalalalala….bluebirds fly….”

    steve (24):

    I never thought of that!!

  27. Father Andrew Gentry FCSF 23 Nov 2009, 7:06pm

    Harvey I long ago stopped being a “victim” of the “church”. Whether you belong, relate, oppose, or accept religious institutions the socio-political reality is that they do in fact have influence and effect and thus responsibility to the world in which they function. The Taliban is an example and there are many talibans in a variety forms that impact in a most negative and sadly often violent way the lives of people. They should and must be held to account. For me personally I think religion as a political force should disappear from the planet. I am a person of faith not religion. Yes we can debate the meaning of that until the chickens come home to roost but that is where I stand in the muck of it all.

  28. I’ve never read anything so ridiculous, Harvey. Make ourselves victims indeed.
    As for the statement from these church leaders, it means nothing when a bill for equality is being processed through parliament which will allow the self same victimisation, through exemptions, that these groups purport to condemn. I’ve yet to hear of any “ground breaking” statements condemning that and I doubt I ever will.

  29. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 7:16pm

    Father Andrew,
    I am also a person of unshakable faith but religious bodies rather spoil things for me as religion seems to have destroyed many lives over many years. I’m not afraid of being a Gay Christian. My Church Minister blest me and my Partner’s Civil Partnership. When I asked my URC Minister why he chose the URC, he said because it was the best of the worst.

  30. What was “Ground breaking” . . . exactly .

  31. A shame that people forget that until about the late 1800s the church in the UK was the main provider of healthcare, charity and education.

    Whenever religion gets debated in here it is without exception the nutty fringes that get held up as the summation of the christian faith. It is like saying that because Blair was in the Liebour party he represented the views of all socialists rather than being the war mongering murderer he should be sent to the hague for.

  32. andrew flynn 23 Nov 2009, 11:54pm

    I’ll believe it when I see it! Sorry, but actions speak louder than words to me
    And why should the church get special praise for noting that the persecution of gays is wrong anyway. Society figured that out all on its own years ago and we done it without claiming to have ‘divine insight’
    Its not easy to forget that every single right we’ve fought for has been in the teeth of religious opposition so I’m slightly sceptical about this sudden u-turn
    Give it a few years and the churches will be claiming that they started the gay rights movement and that our equality is all thanks to them
    Maybe an apology would have been a better place to start

  33. The ones who are doing the attacking are teenagers, who may be from poor families and abusive parents. Do I think this announcement will help? No. What needs to be done is end this propagation of juvenile delinquency. Gay men and women should not be afraid of leaving their houses. My suggestion is to buy pepper spray and learn self-defense. Kids will not respond to reason.

  34. The very fact that the churches have got together to condemn this violence is ‘Groundbreaking’ weither we like it or not. The point about being ‘merely decent, common sense’ is correct, that why it is groundbreaking. Sounds like a lot of you would rather tell the church to get stuffed than help at all in maybe proventing even just 1 other violent act. These churchs try to help and announced that they condemn yet some of these comments might as well have been for a church that said let these violent acts continue. They can’t win. At least, dispite everything you may believe at least they have spoken out. I would expect more of the same but yes I wait with baited breathe but credit where it’s due.

    Jean-Paul, erm Judy Garland? really? Please! Like I say kinda living in the present and for the future. So I ain’t a Judy fan – doesn’t mean I don’t see that she was and maybe still is an icon but to use her in this arguement – bit desperate.

  35. Brian:-

    I have no doubt Jean-Paul and yourself have been on these ‘threads’ a lot longer than I, considering I only started responding to these a little while ago. Nothing to do with trying to ‘dominateer’, maybe you just feel threatened by new blood as you been around for so long ;o) I have always enjoyed a good debate and always good to find others (like yourselves) who enjoy it just as much. Too many simply just can’t! More need to, nice to see all that do on here.

  36. Pete & Michael 24 Nov 2009, 10:21am

    A good book to read to those interested in religion is ‘Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality’ by John Boswell whom was Assistant Professor of History at Yale University, writing of Gay People in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century. His argument was that intolerance of homosexuality was not an essential feature of christianity itself, but only became a dominant attitude after nearly 1200 hundred years of church history.

  37. Jean-Paul Bentham 24 Nov 2009, 11:59am

    vulpux_rex (31):

    You said:

    “A shame that people forget that until about the late 1800s the church in the UK was the main provider of healthcare, charity and education.

    Whenever religion gets debated in here it is without exception the nutty fringes that get held up as the summation of the christian faith.”

    Where to begin?

    Of course, I understand post (1) in the sense that the headline of this story appeared at first sight to be such good news…until I noticed that the word ‘groundbreaking’ was in quotation marks.

    On second thought, it occured to me that only if this headline signfied

    1)that the churches had updated their sexual theology in order to accept and teach according to contemporary scientific evidence,

    2)that homosexuality is one of the many sexual orientations of humanity, and

    3)that it can be immoral in the event someone may be hurt or killed by it,

    that this headline could be interpretated as good news for the LGBT community worldwide.

    Having said that, am I to understand that your comment implies that homophobia, a nutty fringe of religion, did not exist prior to the late 1800’s in the UK?

    In 1690, for example, England’s “Society for the Reformation of Manners”, a movement in reaction to the Restoration just as the Restoration had been a movement against Puritanism, saw Anglicans working with Puritans in voluntary associations throughout the country, recruiting informers and distributing blank warrants for arrests.

    The society reported in 1738 that 101,683 sodomites had been persecuted in the last 44 years, an impressive number by any standard.

    Behind this effort for moral improvement lay a paranoia based on superstition. An earthquake had recently devastated Jamaica and tremors were felt in London: could this be a sign of divine wrath?

    Accordingly, John Disney’s “Second Essay upon the Execution of the Laws against Immorality” (1710) argued that the convictions for “the horrid Sin of Sodomy” were especially desirable “because this Sin draws down the Judgements of God upon the Nation where ’tis suffered in a very particular Manner.”

    As a last example for this brief commentary, in 1726, a squadron of police constables converged upon the molly house kept by Mother Clapp in Field Lane, Holborn, where 40 homosexual men – “notorious Sodomites in the language of the day – were rounded up and hauled off to Newgate prison to await trial. Three were hanged at Tyburn, and it was proposed that anyone convicted of sodomy should be castrated in open court and “the Hangman sears up his Scrotum with a hot Iron.”

    Perhaps you’re right, and that these are the “nutty fringes” of religion, but these historical events, for which the LGBT community can hold the churches responsible because of a misinterpretaion of holy scripture and of natural phenomena, are the very ones that led to the trial, persecution and eventual demise of one of Ireland’s and England’s most celebrated authors even today, Oscar Fingal O’Flaherty Wills Wilde (1854-1900).

    Finally, the myth of a golden era of christianity appears to exist in your mind, sir. Moreover, if the churches themselves prefer living in the past, then Gays can very easily follow them to any century, and hold them equally responsible for countless and horrendous murders of LGBT persons.

    Given the hierarchy’s access to the works of ancient Greek philosophers who were quite knowledgeable and accepting of homosexuality, I doubt that a plea of innocence by ignorance could stand up.

    As ‘groundbreaking’ as this lip-service event may seem, the fact remains that churches insist in living in the past, and refuse the evidence that proves that LGBT persons of all kinds are not only as ‘normal’ as heterosexuals, but we are also often more intelligent, caring and productive, e.g. Alan Turing et al.

    Alors, qu’en dis-tu, M. Renard Royal?

  38. This is progress, but inevitably equivocal. They generally deplore violence against us while condemning our relationships. A mixed message to say the least.

  39. Jean-Paul Bentham 24 Nov 2009, 12:55pm

    Pete & Michael (36):

    Thank you for mentioning our dear John Boswell (1947-1994), winnner of the 1981 American Book Awards for History, and who, according to “Who’s Who in Contemporary Gay & Lesbian History” by Aldrich & Wotherspoon, 2001, was himself tragically struck down by Aids.

    Boswell’s other scholarly work, “Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe”,1994, is equally famous and was 12 years in the making.

    I agree that:

    “His argument was that intolerance of homosexuality was not an essential feature of christianity itself, but only became a dominant attitude after nearly 1200 hundred years of church history.”

    Moreover, both of Boswell’s books are highly researched, and he did have access to the Vatican Archives. It was there in fact that he found original copies of medieval monastic liturgies for same-sex unions.

    These liturgies were also made available during what we call “The Dark Ages” to members of the Aristocracies of the Holy Roman Empire.

    However, without necessarily denying the existence of such liturgies and tolerance for homosexuality within the RCC prior to the 14th century, a Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Nebraska by the name of Louis Crompton published his Bonnie and Vern L. Bullock Award Winning book entitled “Homosexuality and Civilization” in 2003, and it was a finalist in the Gay/Lesbian category.

    I am somewhat familiar with these three works, and I am impressed, and quite remarkably so, that Crompton has found ample evidence pointing to the existence of homophobia in every century of Christianity.

    In that case, Boswell’s discoveries would have applied to monks, clerics, members of the hierarchy and the aristocracies, but not to the common of mortals who were persecuted in the most barbarous ways imaginable when they were simply “accused” of sodomy, in which case there property was turned over to the ecclesiastical authorities. That is not to say that aristocrats were not skating on thin ice, especially if their estates were of great value.

    Also, I understand that Boswell’s works are highly valued by Gay Catholics, and that Crompton’s work is far more universal because it includes Early and Classical Greece as well as Imperial China (500 BCE-1849).

    Finally these three books give its real meaning to the word “groundbreaking”, if only because we have some evidence that “somewhere Over the Rainbow” is not a complete myth.

  40. “A shame that people forget that until about the late 1800s the church in the UK was the main provider of healthcare, charity and education.”

    You could also say “A shame that people forget that until about the 1700s the church in the UK was the main persecutor of people as witches”

    Your statement is what in science is called an ‘appeal to tradition’ – an irrelevant appeal to tradition is a fallacy in reasoning in which one argues that a practice or a belief is justifiable simply because it has a long and established history.

    History is not an excuse for current misdeeds.

  41. the.kitty.channel 24 Nov 2009, 1:39pm

    “Crompton has found ample evidence pointing to the existence of homophobia in every century of Christianity” (24th November at 12.55).

    Yes, this is confirmed by Warren Johansson and William A. Percy in Chapter 7 (“Homosexuality”) of “Handbook of Mediaeval Sexuality”, eds. Vern L. Bullough, James A. Brundage, (Garland, NY/London, 1996).

    Among a number of other interesting comments, they state that a movement against sodomites was begun by St. Peter Damian (c. 1051) and by Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII, 1073-85); and that “Canon law, previously rather unarticulated and scattered, developed rapidly and homophobically after 1000″ (p. 168).

    Homophobia also intensifed under the Inquisition – sodomy was linked with heresy (the Bogomils and the Cathars), and sodomites were handed over to the secular authorities for torture and execution.

  42. Jean-Paul Bentham 24 Nov 2009, 2:40pm

    kitty.channel:

    …while their property and money went to the Church. Bravo!!

    And you too, Will!!

  43. Jean-Paul Bentham 24 Nov 2009, 2:55pm

    kitty.channel:

    I have just checked it out, and Crompton does use one of the works of William Armstrong Percy III as a reference. Percy’s work is entitled “Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece”. Urbanna: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

    Sounds like 1996 was a good year for W.W. Percy!

  44. Father Andrew Gentry FCSF 24 Nov 2009, 5:06pm

    Brian, you are spot on. Relgion has been one of the favourite tools of tyrants though Hitler and Stalin along with a few “relatives” in Asia almost outdid religion in the “how bloody inhumane and evil can we be” category! I like you am a person of faith not because of the institution of the church but in spite of it!

  45. Just to note that the British Quakers are the only ones to have, as a whole, through a process of consensus, decided to a) record all civil partnerships held in their Meetings in the same way as marriages (though the law forbids it), and b) press for marriage to be extended to same-sex couples. They formally recognised, through a process of consensus, the equality of same-sex relationships in 1963.

    As I understand it, many local Churches Together groups include Quakers as observers, though Quakers are resolutely non-creedal and the Churches Together organisation is explicitly trinitarian. As observers, the Quakers have a seat at the table and can raise and encourage discussion of issues, but don’t have an official role in any decisions made. I find myself wondering if they’ve been involved in brokering this agreement.

  46. Jean-Paul Bentham 24 Nov 2009, 6:31pm

    Harvey:

    Here’s a very contemporary Canadian Rufus Wainwright singing Judy’s song at the Palladium:

  47. Bishop Ioan 25 Nov 2009, 1:14pm

    I’ll be impressed when these Churches quit preaching their homophobic doctrines and accept GLBTQ fully in their churches, including access to ALL the sacraments/ceremonies available to heterosexual church members. THAT, in my book will be REAL progress. The talk is nice, but actions speak louder than words.

  48. Miriam, the tranz Schmiriam 6 Dec 2009, 1:03am

    And it only took them 2,000 years.

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