An out gay MP and former vicar Chris Bryant has quit the Anglican Church over a punishment doled out to a US Church over its acceptance of gays.
The Anglican Communion caused shock waves among LGBT Christians as it overwhelmingly voted to sanction a liberal US Church which supports same-sex marriage.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has since apologised for the “hurt and pain” caused to LGBT people by the Church.
Mr Bryant, who was ordained in 1986, and worked in the Church, tweeted earlier today to say he would quit the Church.
He tweeted: “I’ve finally given up on Anglican Church today after its love-empty decision on sexuality. One day it will seem wrong as supporting slavery.”
The Shadow leader of the House of Commons later spoke to Iain Dale on LBC, to explain his decision.
He said the Church was risking going down a road which would “over decades” could become “something profoundly evil in society.”
Comparing the rejection of gay people to the rejection of the abolition of slavery, Mr Bryant said he thought the Church would look back and regret its decision.
The MP for the Rhondda, also questioned why the Church of England, sided with anti-gay churches in Africa, rather than a pro-gay Church in the US.
He said: “For a star its the Church of England – the head of the Church of England is the Queen, who has signed off legislation in this country which allows gay and lesbian couples to declare their love for one another and marry.
“So it seems bizarre to me that the Church of England would side with the rampant, ridged homophobes in the Churches in Africa, and not with the liberal Anglicans in the United States of America who have quite rightly, quite sensibly, welcomed lesbian, gay and bisexual people into the Church – Jesus didn’t make these kind of distinctions did he – the whole message of the New Testament was that he went out to people that everybody else thought were outcasts.”
He spoke of being ordained in 1986 and working for the Church for almost six years, he said he previously boycotted the Church over its refusal to allow women to be ordained.
“But now I’m not going to take communion again in the Church of England until the Church changes its mind,” he went on.
Asked by Mr Dale whether he thought it was a “painful” decision to make, Mr Bryant said: “It angers me – it’s more anger than anything that I feel because when I was ordained, it was at time when it was ‘don’t ask don’t tell’. I don’t suppose there was an inner city Church that didn’t have a gay vicar at the time.
“But Bishops regularly pumped out sermons in which they went on about how evil homosexuality was, even though they knew, personally and directly that they were harming the hearts of the people that they themselves had ordained.
“It’s the massive lie – that’s what really winds me up – if the Church embraces a lie over decades, in the end it becomes not an arbiter of truth, not a signpost to goodness, but something profoundly evil in society.”
Mr Dale asked whether Mr Bryant thought that the Archbishop of Canterbury had done what he needed to do to keep the Anglican Communion together, Mr Bryant commented: “And the spiritual lives of lesbians and gay people can go hang? That’s the decision that’s made and its the decision that is always made.”
Comparing the rejection of gay rights to the rejection of the abolition of slavery, Mr Bryant said: “When people first wanted to get rid of slavery in this country, the Church of England voted to keep it. Even when the slave trade had been abolished, the Bishop of Exeter still had 230 slaves, 40 years later.
“Bishops in the House of Lords voted against the Reform Act in the 1830s, and now we all think that was the Church that had just gone wrong. and I am absolutely certain that in 150 years, I hope it’s sooner, maybe it’ll be in 50 or 60 years time – people will will go ‘what on earth was the Church thinking?’
“One other thing – you refer to the fact that forever marriage has been between a man and a woman – that’s not true actually. There’s a great series of documentaries which were done by Diarmaid MacCulloch who is professor at Oxford about sex and the church, and actually he makes the point that it was only in the 13th century that the Church started to say that marriage was part of what they did. Up until then it was a contract between two people and look, you only performed the marriage on the steps of the Church.
“What the Church has done is it has bastardised its understanding of sexuality and religion over the centuries and today we are further away than the true gospel – love yourself, love your neighbour – than ever.
Listen to the interview below: