UK Anglican leader says gays must change behavior
Troy Espera | August 31, 2006
LONDON — The leader of the Anglican Church recently said gays and lesbians must change their behavior if they are to be welcomed into the Church, sparking even more debate in the already polarized worldwide religious organization. The Christian Post reports that in an interview last week, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams denied that it was time for the Church to accept gay and lesbian relationships.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
"We don't say 'Come in and we ask no questions'. I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviors, ideas, emotions, ” said Williams, reports The Post. "Ethics is not a matter of a set of abstract rules, it is a matter of living the mind of Christ. That applies to sexual ethics."
The declaration by the archbishop—rebutting the idea that homosexuals should be included in the church unconditionally—marks a significant development in the church's crisis over gays and lesbians. The UK’s Daily Telegraph reports that according to liberal campaigners, it confirmed their fears that the archbishop has become increasingly conservative – and sparked accusations that he has performed an "astonishing" U-turn over the homosexual issue.”
"That was when I was a professor, to stimulate debate," he told The Post. "It did not generate much support and a lot of criticism – quite fairly on a number of points."
While liberals who had previously hailed William’s appointment said they are dismayed that he appears to have turned his back on an agenda that he previously championed, the archbishop's comments received strong support from traditionalists.
Rev. Rod Thomas, a spokesman the evangelical network Reform, said in a media statement: "There is no doubt that he is distancing himself from the views that he has previously expressed. He's right to want to see people converted. The fact that he's saying this is a hugely welcome development."
However, Rev. Giles Goddard, the chairman of the liberal Inclusive Church, told The Post the archbishop's comments revealed an "astonishing" change in his position.
"The implication is that there is no justification in scripture for the welcome of lesbian and gay people. It appears that he has moved into the conservative camp," he added.
Chris Bryant, an openly gay member of parliament with the Labor Party, said that many people would feel betrayed by the archbishop's comments.
"The Church of England wouldn't survive without gay clergy in inner cities,” he stated, reports The Daily Telegraph. "People will feel this is a huge betrayal. Rowan has refashioned the Church of England into a narrow-minded, conservative sect." – Issued by Gay Link Content
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