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Comment: Why the LGBT community should pay attention to the Church

Jack Holroyde May 5, 2015

Jack Holroyde writes about evolving attitudes in the Church of England and why the LGBT community should take notice.

In the most uninteresting news story of the year so far, the Church of England has just begun a series of ‘shared conversations’, bringing together both sides of what it considers to be the ‘debate’ on homosexuality, equal marriage and LGBT clergy.

But why should the LGBT community care what happens behind the closed doors of such an un-supportive organisation?

Perhaps the first thing we must understand is that these discussion are not trying to reconcile the differing viewpoints within the church. Modernists are of the opinion that all can find a place within the walls of the church for worship. Extremists shout that anyone that disagrees with them disagrees with God.

There’s no reasoning with these people. This is not an attempt to introduce reason. Mores the pity: wasn’t it Jesus who said we should ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’?

Lets get real. This is a pre-divorce hearing.

Everyone with an ounce of sense can see that the situation where two opposing factions refuse to move from their positions is not sustainable.

The church is going to schism. The liberals and conservatives will go their separate ways, with a little wrangling over property rights.

Finally, we might have a state religion that accepts it’s citizens. But this isn’t the point. I’m sure most LGBT people feel that we should not have a state religion.

What is important is what happens on the other side as the conservatives sail off into the sunset: bell book and candle in hand, ready to victimise, bully and torture any person who doesn’t meet their expectations of behaviour.

It’s not the church itself we need to be concerned for, it’s the fact that by washing our collective hands clean of bigotry, we remove any influence we might have and any hope we have of changing their views. Polarising opinions help nobody.

I would like to believe that their message will fall on deaf ears, that the citizens of this country would not broker their hateful words and leave their pews empty. Anti-discrimination laws would protect our community. Others might turn to the reformed, newly liberal church for much needed pastoral care.

But there’s much more to this than the UK.

We’ve seen a frightening surge in hate speech, discriminatory laws and abuse coming out of sub-Saharan Africa of late. Just last Sunday, the deputy prime minister of Kenya declared that the government there would fight efforts to decriminalise homosexuality. We’ve seen leaders of countries scapegoating LGBT people and calling for their deaths.

Soon, with the split in the church, one of the last bilateral diplomatic channels we have with the region will close.

The other, the commonwealth, isn’t expected to last much longer.

This isn’t an argument that the church should stay together, far from it. But it’s a sobering point that while at home, some might celebrate the split when it comes (most won’t even notice), but those overseas who are trying to create communities more tolerant will suddenly be completely cut off from our help and influence.

I would not be surprised to see an increase in LGBT migration to the UK as a result of the split – and we as a community have to make sure our nation is ready to receive them. We must push for an end to the disgusting treatment that LGBT refugees are subjected to to ‘prove’ their sexuality. We must challenge our country to put aside it’s xenophobic, intolerant stance toward inward migration and ensure it steps up help the most vulnerable as they need us most.

Our community must be prepared and ready, with open arms, to show them what ‘loving one’s neighbour’ really means.

Jack Holroyde is the founder of ‘Gay Brotherhood’, a movement aimed at bringing the community together under a banner of shared responsibility. It can be found here.

As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.

More: Christianity, Church, Church of England

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