Pro-LGBT+ reverend blasts ‘structurally homophobic’ church in explosive resignation
A Church of Ireland minister has quit his post after claiming the church is “structurally, culturally and socially homophobic”.
Reverend Andrew Rawding, the rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry and Ballyclog in County Tyrone, told his congregations that he would be resigning on Sunday (4 July).
“There are some kind and compassionate individuals, but corporately, at best there is indifference, at worst there is hypocrisy,” Rawding said.
He claimed there was an “aggressive and proactive opposition to full inclusion and equality for LGBT+ people, with some people still weaponising Bible verses and using the language of condemnation and rejection”.
Rawding has been an active ally and advocate for the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland. He is the deputy chairman of Mid Ulster Pride and is known for fighting back against “homophobic” teachings within the Anglican church.
At Pride events, he’s often seen holding a sign reading: “We are sorry for how the church has mistreated LGBTQI+ people.”
Rawding told the BBC he was “originally motivated” to take his pro-LGBT+ stance because of homophobic behaviours he encountered during his work with the three parishes in Northern Ireland.
“Sadly” there are still “grandparents and relatives” who “will not accept LGBT children within their own families”, he said.
“I have made a public stance in the past as a Church of Ireland rector to send a message to the LGBT+ community that it’s OK to be LGBT+ and to be a Christian and to show my full support for same-sex marriages within the Church of Ireland,” Rawding explained.
“Currently the stance is homophobic and discriminatory.”
The Church of Ireland previously established a select committee on sexuality to foster the “listening, dialogue and learning process” on sexuality “in the context of Christian belief”.
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But Rawding claimed the “listening process” carried out by the Church amounted to a “tick-box exercise”.
He said no one in a “position of authority within the Church of Ireland” had contacted him to ask how the church could progress towards better LGBT+ inclusivity.
Instead, he described how he was met with “blank looks and silence” or “comments like ‘I’m not homophobic because I know gay people'” and “even, ‘You need to be careful because people will think you’re gay'”.
He told the BBC that he now plans to start a degree in social work after leaving the church.
The Church of Ireland told PinkNews that has no comment.