matters of faith

Archbishop Williams Wants a Compromise Over Gays + the Church. What If He Can’t Do It?

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, finds himself in a worse spot than he did back in 2008, when he attempted to keep the Anglican Church of England together by coming out against gay sex. Now he’s followed it up with a statement about how the Church should be “tolerant” about the gays (and women priests). None of this is helping keep together the fractious and opposing sides.

Addressing the General Synod in London this week, Williams says it’s harmful for conservative and liberal factions of the Church to war with each other; in the end, gays end up demonized, and nobody ends up happy. Rather, Williams wants everyone to hold hands and get along, which as anyone familiar with religion knows, is virtually impossible inside any faith institution.

Moreover, while it’s a great message, it’s already falling short, some say — and not helping things is Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Church of Uganda, releasing a well-timed statement endorsing Anglican homophobia, particularly his support of the Kill The Gays bill.

To be sure, Williams has denounced Orombi’s remarks. But to many gays and lesbians inside the Church, he hasn’t gone far enough.

Williams, who described such legislation as infamous and repugnant, insisted in his address to the Church of England’s General Synod, meeting in London: “Our job is not to secure purity but to find ways of deciding such contested issues that do not simply write off the others in the debate as negligible, morally or spiritually unserious or without moral claims.”

But the archbishop stoutly defended the recent opposition of bishops in the Lords to the government’s equality legislation, seeking to define how far the church could discriminate, particularly against gay people, in making secular appointments.

“Very few Christians were contesting the civil liberties of gay and lesbian people in general; nor should they have been. What they were contesting was a relatively small but extremely significant point of detail … whether government had the right to tell religious bodies which of the tasks for which they might employ people required and which did not require some level of compliance with the public teaching of the church about behaviour.”

He’s in a difficult spot. He’s also in a position of power to remind the Church’s followers, and its leaders, that Jesus is about openness and love, not castigating an entire class of people. But Williams also has another, perhaps paramount goal: Making sure the Church doesn’t crumble over this debate, with parishes splintering off over gays and female clergy. And it’s this very compromise that he’s willing to entertain that may be his undoing. Or the Church’s.

EARLIER: Will the Anglicans Go For This ‘Give the Gays Their Pension Benefits’ Thing?

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  • Andrew

    Sometimes as a leader you have to step up and lead. Archbishop Rowan is trying to appease all sides and that cannot work. Archbishop let your faith and the Christian message guide you – cease discrimination against your GLT flock

  • GayGOP

    The good Archbishop seems to be following in the steps of Prime Minister Chamberlain. Somebody should remind Archbishop Williams about the fate of said Prime Minister.

  • AndrewW

    You can’t actually change religion, you can only separate the flock into two groups: the conservatives and the liberals. Because conservatives believe the Bible is the direct “word of God” they interpret it literally. Liberals believe the Bible (among other things) is inspired. It’s not a rule book, but rather guidance.

    Liberal Christians support equality.

    The Anglican Church will continue to split based on that simple reality. Lutherans are doing the same. Other denominations will follow.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    What harm would it be, to take this issue and hold it up for complete analysis? Everyone should have a say, but motives and reasonings pull the picture out of focus, resulting in misinformation. Some of the motives are political. Let’s examine every square inch of this subject, in a very public way. How else are we to learn? Winning hearts is of more value. Something’s amiss in the library. Let’s dust off everything and read. The convicted are owed this much.

  • Bill Perdue

    The only good sect is a dead sect. If Williams can’t work out a compromise between the liberal bigots and the conservative bigots then it’ll be another nail in the coffin of yet another sect. That’s all to the good.

    ‘Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.’.

    attributed to Denis Diderot, French man of letters and philosopher, 1713-1784


    Our Andrew in No. 1 is a rightwing sect hugger. How awful for him.

  • schlukitz

    No. 2 · GayGOP

    Ah yes.

    Peace in our time

    Amelia Earhart will make an appearance before that happens.


    I’m not really into being tolerated.

    I’m jes sayin’.

  • schlukitz



    Being tolerated is akin to being put up with.

    Neither position really makes one feel welcome…or loved.

  • Steve

    All of Gods children must be fully welcome to participate in every ministry of the Church. Anything less than that is hateful to God. The fact that God made some people gay, does not make them any less His children.

    As long as we are not welcome, we should not set foot in their church. Every gay and lesbian person should refuse to set foot in any of the churches that does not fully welcome gay people. Let them try to function without musicians, artists, dressers, decorators, or priests.

    They might be able to have service on Sunday morning, but it won’t be a good show, and won’t attract nearly as much of an audience. Knowing that most people go for the show and the social, rather than for serious religious purposes, I expect it will have a financial impact as well.

    In the mean time, there are other churches that DO welcome gay and lesbian people. One of them is MCC, there is a church-finder in the web site at

  • christopher di spirito

    Who cares?

    I’ve been “out” since I was 18 years of age and have managed to lead a relatively happy and successful life, had several careers and a long-term relationship, all without the support of the dominant heterosexist culture and their obsession with the Baby Jesus.

    Whether or not the Vatican, or the Southern Baptists, or the Anglicans approve of my sexual orientation is irrelevant to me and my life.

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    Williams has already and repeatedly failed to be a leader. When one appeases the forces of bigotry and religious xenophobia, you are left with a Church principled on bigotry and religious xenophobia.

    If Williams truly wants to attempt to realize the goals he has recently espoused over his prior attempts, he should offer his resignation to the Queen and allow a disciplined follower of Christ’s actions to lead the Church that supposedly is founded on the principles of the love by Christ.

    The conservative monsters pulling the Anglican Church apart are akin to Dante’s Grand Inquisitor; they would readily crucify Christ again in the name of the Church over the deeds of Christ.

  • terrwill

    All of a sudden the urge to “unmerge” with the Mother church by the Gay haters seemed to simmer down a bit once it was ruled that the congregations have every right to succed and form new entities from the church. However the all the real property and financial assets would remain………………..

    Shows just how strong their convictions are………..

  • Brian NYC

    @Steve: Welcoming sin’t enough. Religion made homosexuality wrong. They have to change that doctrine and stop teaching it.

    MCC still believes homosexuality is wrong. They have never changed their Christian doctrine. Why would you go to a Church that still makes you wrong?

  • schlukitz

    No. 13 · Brian NYC

    You asked the question Why would you go to a Church that still makes you wrong?

    The answer to that, in all probability, would be Only if you are a self-hating gay who feels the need to wear a hair shirt and flagelate yourself with a whip on a regular basis.

    Oh wait…that’s bdsm 101, isn’t it? (not that there is anything wrong with it, mind you)

    Maybe they should meet at their local gay leather bar. These people may find that they have more in common with the leather community than they realized. ;P (no insult or derision to the leather community intended)

  • Brian NYC

    Jesus in leather? Works for me. Bring the 12 dudes, too.

  • Steve

    @Brian NYC wrote: “MCC still believes homosexuality is wrong. They have never changed their Christian doctrine. Why would you go to a Church that still makes you wrong?”

    No, MCC doesn’t teach any such thing. Various MCC preachers have published a number of papers and books on this subject. The bibliography is online at at:

  • Brian NYC

    @Steve: Yeah “a few MCC preachers,” but not MCC – not officially.

    Ask them if homosexuality is still a sin – you won’t get an answer. They are very welcoming, but they have never officially changed the traditional Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong.

    There is a big difference in welcoming or changing the Christian belief that has harmed LGBT persons for hundreds of years.

    Until a denomination (officially) changes its beliefs – they’re all the same. It is the belief that harms us, not acceptance or tolerance. We’re not lepers.

  • Steve

    @Brian NYC:
    Nonsense. Your statements are just wrong.

    The so-called “traditional” teaching that homosexuality is wrong is just that — a tradition adopted by the Catholic church, more than a thousand years after Christ. It has nothing to do with Christianity. It has much more to do with power and wealth. A number of Christian churches do not subscribe to that teaching.

    MCC, as a denomination, teaches according to the articles I cited previously. Several of those were authored by the senior leaders of MCC, including the founder.

  • Former MCC believer

    @Steve: That’s nonsense. I left because they wouldn’t renounce that traditional teaching. Writing an article doesn’t do that. Seven years ago there was a movement to make it official, but it failed. They refused to make a formal statement. So, I left. Others did, too.

    Hypocrisy is unacceptable – even if MCC has rainbow flags everywhere. MCC still believes homosexuality is a sin. They welcome the sinner, but that doesn’t erase the harm.

    I won’t go back until they formally say they do not believe homosexuality is a sin. It would be easy for them to do, but they continue to refuse.

    That’s the truth about MCC.

  • Scott NY'er

    @Steve: Haha, MCC “teaches according to the articles written by ministers,” uhmmmmm, not according to the Bible?

    You crazy.

  • schlukitz

    No. 19 · Former MCC believer

    Thank you for sharing your comments that are “straight from the horse’s mouth” as folks used to say.

    A brief Google on the official position of the MCC caused me to stumble upon this interesting tidbit entitled Is Homosexuality a Sin? by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James.

    What is interesting to note, is how Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James completely sidesteps the position of her Church in answer to the question posed. This is so typical (and disingenuous) of religious folks.

    And then, there is this piece of bible-babble from Rev. Geoff D. Leonard-Robinson of the Metropolitan Community Church Key West—June 13, 2004, which is just another, in a long series of tiring discussions and debates over whether homosexuality is or isn’t a sin, which leaves the believer/reader with the task of arriving at his own decision with respect to integrating his sexual life with his spiritual life.

    Why can’t the MCC just state, flat-out, that homosexuality is not wrong and therefore not a sin to be debated in every fucking mass and bible-study class they hold and be done with it?

    Why all of this bible-study and debate over it? It’s the same shit I heard at MCC in Tampa, Florida 16 years ago when a friend dragged me there for a Sunday morning mass.

    Some things just never change, it appears.

  • Lukas P.

    I once asked a MCC Minister how he reconciled the teachings of the bible and his/my sexual orientation. Most people who know me would say I’m a almost always nice, kind, respectful person, but when his comeback was a jocular “Well, friend, the bible says nobody’s perfect,” I turned beet red and asked back: “Are you saying that our homosexuality is an imperfection?” and he babbled something truly unintelligible and wandered off…never to face me again.

    Hard to believe he couldn’t answer what I believe to be a fair, rational, and *common* question.

  • schlukitz

    No. 20 · B

    No. 15 · Brian NYC wrote, “Jesus in leather? Works for me. Bring the 12 dudes, too.”

    That’s so 2007 – http://jimbyrd.files.wordpress…..supper.jpg

    Needless to say, this poster got a few people very mad.

    Which prompts me to say, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.” *sarcasm front on*

    So it got a few people very mad? Well, “Tough titty”, as my brother’s Victorian-like baby-sitter used to say. “If they can’t take the heat, then they should get the fuck out of the kitchen.”

    A few of those people have gotten us very mad too.

    “Tit for tat”, as the old expression also goes.

  • schlukitz

    No. 23 · Lukas P.

    a fair, rational, and *common* question.

    And that, dear Lukas, is the most powerful weapon we have to fight these weak-kneed, bible-sycophants with.

    Kudos to you, Sir. Well done, my friend.

  • Former MCC believer

    @schlukitz: Thank-you for posting the FACTS about MCC. They have never rejected the idea that we are wrong.

    I’m not an atheist, but I see most of religion as a con-job. Gay people should understand that MCC is conning them. They should have the courage to reject the traditional Christian teaching/belief that we are wrong. We are not wrong – discrimination and bigotry are wrong.

    Acceptance isn’t enough. MCC needs to right the wrong that has ruined our lives. The LGBT Community shouldn’t support their con-job.

  • schlukitz

    Well stated, Former MCC Believer. Kudos to you for having the guts to stand up and speak out.

    While I am an atheist, I have no problem with anyone else having a belief in a higher power, so long as that belief does not interfere with the running of my life and my pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

    Obviously, you are a man who has used his powers of observation and deduction to see through an organization that is, as you have also correctly observed, a con-job

    I fully concur with you that MCC and all of the other religious institutions that have helped to ruin LGBT peoples lives, need to right that wrong.

    At 73 years of age, and at risk of sounding like a pessimist, however, I fear that I will not live long enough to see that day arrive, sad to say.

  • Bill Perdue

    No. 27 · schlukitz Hang in there bud.

    Robert just sent me this;

    Of all the advanced countries only the US is in any real danger of succumbing to theocracy and even that’s a slight danger. The days when cults were able to steal and kill at will are over. Now they’re just a sick joke.

    Here’s why. (from JMG and the Gist)

    Guam catholic cult a Archbishop Anthony Apuron, commenting on Guam’s proposed Bill 185, which would allow gays to enter domestic paretnerships.

    “The culture of homosexuality is a culture of self-absorption because it does not value self-sacrifice. It is a glaring example of what John Paul II has called the culture of death. Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice.

    “Terrorism as a way to oppose the degeneration of the culture is to be rejected completely since such violence is itself another form of degeneracy. One, however, does not have to agree with the gruesome ways that the fundamentalists use to curb the forces that undermine their culture to admit that the Islamic fundamentalist charge that Western Civilization in general and the U.S.A, in particular is the ‘Great Satan’ is not without an element of truth. It makes no sense for the U. S. Government to send our boys to fight Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, while at the same time it embraces the social policies embodied in Bill 185 (as President Obama has done). Such policies only furnish further arguments for the fundamentalists in their efforts to gain more recruits for the war against the ‘Great Satan.””

  • schlukitz

    Thanks for the kind words of reassurance, Bill.

    You’re always there to support me when my spirits are sagging. It means a lot to me and I do appreciate that.

    Thanks also for sharing the URL that Robert sent you. You guys are both a couple of good eggs.

  • Robert, NYC

    Bill…..Guam’s archbigot’s statement is beyond frightening. An evil cult beyond description.

    Schlukitz, don’t let them get you down. We will win, no matter how long it takes, time and history are on our side. The more bigots like Williams and his brother in the roman cult open their mouths, the faster their cults’ demise. Both are rotting on the vine, slowly but surely from within and there’s no stopping it. The fact of the matter is, they know it, hence the desperation in their words and actions or lack thereof. Take comfort in that. Their days are truly numbered, not soon enough, but they are, rest assured.

  • schlukitz

    No. 30 · Robert, NYC

    You are, of course, right. And, that is something to indeed take comfort in. It’s just that the shit sometimes get so deep, that the depth-finder goes off the dial. lol

    Thanks for the pep-talk. I needed it, good buddy. ;P

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