The Anglican Church is looking for a new leader to replace anti-gay Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (right), who is retiring. A lot of more progressive people of faith were hoping that someone more gay-friendly might come on board, but it seems that is probably not the case.
The Guardian reports that Glynn Harrison, professor of psychiatry at Bristol University, will serve on the selection committee for Williams. The problem? Harrison believes that gay people can “change” back to being straight. According to the Guardian:
Harrison has written recent articles saying that gay relationships “fall short of God’s purpose in creation.” He argues that using that therapy and pastoral ministry may be remedies for those clergy drawn to a gay relationship but who feel it is unchristian, saying “there is evidence that some people with unwanted same sex attractions can achieve significant change”…
In 2011 Harrison co-authored an article entitled Unwanted same-sex attraction: Issues of pastoral and counselling support, published by the Christian Medical Fellowship. It asserts: “People with unwanted SSA [same sex attraction] who seek to live in conformity with their beliefs should be free to receive appropriate and responsible practical care and counsel. Most may choose counselling and pastoral support to maintain, within a Christian framework, the disciplines of chastity. Others may wish to explore the possibility of achieving some degree of change in the strength or direction of unwanted sexual interests.”
Harrison declined to comment on his views, but approved a statement on his behalf by the Church of England, stating that he “does not believe in the concept of ‘gay cure’ or ‘gay conversion’ and has never been involved in offering any formal counselling or ‘therapy’ in this area himself.”
He should at least try not to play down his conversion views, because it’s clear that he thinks gay people should work to just be celibate or try to become straight.
The American branch of the Anglican Communion, which has 50 million adherents worldwide, is much more progressive on gay rights: the so-called Episcopalians have notably voted to allow the consecrations of gay bishops such as Gene Robinson, who may be replaced with another gay bishop when he retires.