|Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury|
“We have to be very clear about homophobia”, said the freshly enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury to the BBC last week. This quite obviously being the case, the first point on which one ought to be 'clear' is the following: the Church of England is institutionally homophobic.
This kind of statement is controversial only to those wishing to downplay the Church's direct opposition to the rights and the dignity of homosexuals. To the growing numbers of ex-believers and non-believers it is perfectly self-evident; indeed to many believers, who see no conflict between Jesus and marriage equality, it is equally self-evident. But it is not apparently so to the head of the Anglican community. And this, though I commend his eagerness to meet with Peter Tatchell as a genuine advance in this department, is a point on which Justin Welby needs some forthright clarification.
After all, if there is one activity at which the Church of England excels it is euphemism; its spokespersons are known to use language in a frustratingly vague manner, frequently leaving audiences with no clear impression of what they were trying to communicate. The Church has first and foremost a duty to respect the rights of individuals but it is therefore imperative that it respects language and its usage. The word 'homophobic' comes loaded with very negative connotations but it is a word with which the Church will forever be justifiably saddled if it continues to oppose advances like equal marriage, as it so strenuously does either directly or through politicians speaking on its behalf...¨ there is more
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