LGBT+ Christians should feel ‘no shame’ about quitting Church of England for ‘their own safety’
LGBT+ Christians who need to leave the Church of England for their own “safety and wellbeing” should “feel no shame”, a former LGBT+ advisor to the government has said.
Writing in her Via Media blog, the prominent gay evangelical Jayne Ozanne drew damning comparisons with domestic abuse as she condemned the Church of England’s “constant undermining” of LGBT+ people.
As a member of General Synod, the church’s legislative body, she voiced her growing unease with the “astounding” lack of progress to create safe environments in which queer Christians can flourish.
“It feels like we are tragically in a situation akin to domestic abuse, where one side is constantly being assaulted and yet those with the power to do something about it are advising both parties to ‘just love each other’ and get over it,” she said.
“No, the abuse needs to stop first. There can be no peace without justice, and no reconciliation until those who have the power to wound are dealt with appropriately.”
Ozanne cast doubt on leaders’ willingness to change in the wake of Living in Love and Faith, a set of religious resources which acknowledged major safeguarding issues for LGBT+ people in the Church of England.
Calls for peace on both sides of the “debate” show a complete lack of understanding of the abuse being metered out and the obvious power differentials at play, she said.
Continuing comparisons with domestic abuse, she noted that victims in these cases are encouraged to escape, and recommended the same for any LGBT+ Christians who are finding the journey to acceptance “just too hard and too painful”.
“There is no shame in going somewhere where you will be loved, honoured and cared for properly. Where your wounds will be dressed, your heart healed and where you will be honoured with dignity and your love celebrated,” she said.
“So, if you’re wondering what to do, I would suggest that you must put your own wellbeing and safety first.
“If you are finding things too painful, please do leave and find a refuge – even if it is for a short while, in order to find rest and recuperate. Easter Saturdays are an inevitable part of the Easter story.”
The damning blog post is titled “Why don’t you just leave?!”, a question repeatedly asked of Ozanne by her non-religious LGBT+ friends and allies after the repeated “mistakes, misappointments, misguided decisions and misunderstandings” in relation to sexuality and gender.
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She said this question came into sharper focus after her recent resignation from the government’s LGBT Advisory Board. Two more advisors followed her, echoing her claims that Conservatives are creating a “hostile environment” for queer people.
Ozanne suggested she would be tempted to leave the Church of England for the same reasons, “but of course, that is precisely what the ‘conservative fundamentalists’ want.”
“However, there is another reason – if I’m honest with myself – why I stay,” she continued. “And that is because this is my home.
“It is where my friends and family are, it is where I have have roots and memories. It is my familiar place that I love. I do not want to leave for a foreign land, I want to stay where I belong – I just want to be safe in doing so.”
A Church of England spokesperson told the Telegraph: “We are committed to the motion which General Synod agreed in 2017 which states that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence.
“It calls on the Church to be sensitive to, and listen to, contemporary expressions of gender identity and calls on the government to ban the practice of conversion therapy.”