Changing Attitude’s Smear Campaign

A letter to the leaders of GAFCON has been published by Changing Attitude and picked up by Simon Sarmiento (he of the Society of Archbishop Justus that controls the anglican.org domain) at Thinking Anglicans which attempts to smear GAFCON with homophobic violence. On closer inspection however the letter seems to be the same kind of nebulius wording that the recent Inclusive Church motion did.

So what’s the problem with the letter? Well have a read and see.

Dear friends in Christ,

You may know that there were several instances of actual physical violence and threats of violence and death enacted against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders of Changing Attitude in Nigeria over the Easter Weekend 2008. The leader of a Changing Attitude group was violently beaten. Subsequently, death threats have been issued against the Directors of Changing Attitude in Nigeria and England.

Actually, I think most of the leaders of GAFCON were aware of this and I’m sure that they would condemn both the violence AND the threat of violence.

I’m sure it would also interest Changing Attitude to know that those of us on the conservative side of the issue also get some particularly nasty email and post. But that aside, let’s move on.

The discourse taking place in the Anglican Communion about the presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches must be conducted in the context of Christian love and mutual respect. If it is not, then people will continue to perpetrate abuse and violence against LGBT people.

Well yes, but is there a clear connection between conservative theology and social comment AND the actual carrying out of homophobic attacks? In fact, is CA accusing Akinola or GAFCON of inciting violence against homosexuals? Yes or no? If yes, why don’t they come out and say it. If no, what is the point of this opening section?

Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.

Do they now? Perhaps they would care to substantiate this claim with a touch more evidence than "they believe". Some people believe the earth is flat or that Jews should be exterminated. Do we treat that as an accurate statement simply because they believe it to be so?

Changing Attitude understands that the Anglican Communion is engaged in an extended period of debate about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches. We are committed to engage in this debate and in the Listening Process which is integral to it and authorised by the Councils of the church.

Yes interestingly when a huge majority of the whole church agrees with the conservative position on human sexuality, a portion (amazingly this tends to be liberals) want to stop listening to them.

Conservative Anglicans will want to argue against the position which Changing Attitude represents. They will continue to question the pattern of life and identity adopted by some lesbian and gay Christians. We recognise the integrity of those who hold this position at the same time as we disagree with it. We are not resistant to engaging in the debate with those who hold radically different views.

So what’s your problem? If you want to talk about engaging in debate, why are you practically accusing conservatives of incitement to hatred and violence, but not actually coming out and saying it?

We recognise that it is extremely difficult to conduct this debate in language that does not polarise opinions or inflame tensions. Tension will grow more intense in this period immediately prior to the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON event.

Indeed, but the proven direct link to homophobc violence is….?

Nope, still waiting for the answer.

The language we use has direct consequences on the lives of LGBT Christians. Language affects us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We ask that all of us within the Anglican Communion be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people. We ask that all of us actively discourage any form of threatening behaviour so that we may all engage in respectful listening and conform the pattern of our lives to the pattern of love embodied by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Right, so let’s start by banishing the use of the following words and expressions:

  • homophobic
  • bigotted
  • right-wing
  • prejudiced
  • ignorant
  • small-minded

and all the other similar language that comes out day after day from the same organisation that issued this letter and others like it, language that is intended to demean and belittle the conservative argument by force of emotion rather than argument.

None of us wishes to encourage or condone violence and none of us wishes to be responsible, indirectly, for murder or violence perpetrated on another person, whatever their sexual identity.

And neither do conservatives, but that’s what you’ve just accused of us.

So tell us Colin Coward – are GAFCON responsible, directly or indirectly, for the violence alleged in Nigeria? If yes, then say so and we’ll address it. If not, then why this letter, unless the real aim was to once again insinuate but not actually provide any evidence that the conservative position always leads to violence.

Do you think we’ll get an answer?

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