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Updated: Appointment of anti-gay bishop at top Scots university sparks calls for funding boycott

Christopher Brocklebank June 28, 2010
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Dr Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, who has spoke out against the appointment of gay clergy and same-sex unions, has been appointed to a top academic post at the School of Divinity at St Andrews University, Scotland’s most distinguished and ancient academic institution.

But the openly gay Right Reverend Kevin Holdsworth, a senior Episcopal clergyman at St Mary’s in Glasgow and a graduate of St Andrews, has ceased giving financial support to his alma mater and has urged others to follow his example.

He said he felt “ashamed” of the university, writing on his weblog, “It is hard to think of a more divisive figure to appoint. I don’t think it is to the credit of a modern university to appoint staff with such ghastly anti-gay views.”

On the University of St Andrews Alumni Network Facebook page, there has been support for Reverend Holdsworth, with one member stating, “[Bishop Wright] has argued that justice never means ‘treating everybody the same way, but treating people appropriately’. Yes, it’s time to redirect the funding.”

Bishop Wright famously defended his opposition to gay clergy when he said that, “Justice has never meant the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire.”

A spokeswoman for the Bishop said he was away on retreat and thus was not available for comment.

The worldwide Anglican Communion, to which the Scottish Episcopal Church belongs, has been bitterly divided over the issue of homosexuality in recent years, unlike the Scottish Episcopal Church which has said it never “regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained ministry.”

A university spokesman said: “St Andrews is among the most open, inclusive, diverse and tolerant communities of staff and students anywhere in the world. We are enormously proud of our record as a progressive employer and are utterly committed providing a work and study environment free from discrimination.

“Tom Wright is regarded as one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars. The charges made by Rt Rev Holdsworth are unsubstantiated and unfair and as a matter of simple fact, Bishop Wright is fully supportive of and committed to our policies on preventing discrimination.

“Like every committed believer, whether they are Presbyterian, Roman Catholic or Muslim, Tom Wright, as an Anglican, will inevitably be associated with the official views identified with his religious affiliation.

“If we were to exclude all such people, then universities would become highly exclusive – when they ought to be the one place where differing views can be freely held, expressed and challenged.

“We are greatly looking forward to welcoming Tom to our community in September.”

Related topics: Bishop of Durham, Fife, religious homophobia, Scotland, Scotland, St Andrews University

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