Intolerance from the Archbishop of Canterbury


According to the London newspaper the Telegraph, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and thus the heads of the Anglican Communion, has now come out against homosexuality as being acceptable within his church. This appears to be a 180-degree turn from a position that he used to espouse. What the implications of this are for the Episcopal church in the US is not clear to me. I am not an Episcopalian, and as an outsider the intricacies of that church's politics are not always clear to me. Last summer he seemed to be waffling on this issue at a time of division when a clear moral voice for justice and inclusion was called for, and thus he had already shown himself to have failed the test of moral leadership just by not taking a stand. But now he has gone from straddling the fence to actively taking the side of exclusion and intolerance, and that is a disturbing development. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out among Episcopalians.

It is sad to say that few Christian denominations seem willing to take a positive stand for social justice on this issue. Among the mainline Protestant churches in the US, the UCC is one of the few--perhaps the only one--that has taken a progressive stand on homosexuality. However, the issue is not quite as simple as that, since the UCC is a congregational church, and the views of individual congregations may not always match up with the official stance of the denomination as a whole. Similarly, the congregations and pastors of some other denominations, such as the Presbyterians and Methodists, in some cases may take a progressive stand on this issue, despite the intolerant position espoused in official church doctrines.

Nevertheless, I think that how a denomination officially comes down on an issue of social justice does matter. I am glad to see the UCC continue to be at the forefront of this issue. I am sorry to see that the leader of the Anglican communion appears to have, when push came to shove, backed out of his moral responsibility for social justice.