Archbishop of Canterbury: Church's attitude to same-sex marriage considered 'wicked' by the young

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, stated yesterday that he thought the Church of England's view on same-sex marriage and homosexuality as out-of-step with the views of society but defended his vote against the same-sex marriage bill earlier this year. Welby also said Christians needed to "repent" for their homophobic treatment of gay and lesbian people.

Speaking at an event organised by the Evangelical Alliance, Welby said the Church was "deeply and profoundly divided" over the question of same-sex marriage, and noted younger people found the Church's view on the topic to be "wicked":

"We have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 not only think that what we're saying is incomprehensible but also think that we're plain wrong and wicked and equate it to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice."

Despite this, he said he did not regret voting against the same-sex marriage bill, but he wishes to keep an open mind and listen to those in the Church who have a different opinion from him.

Canterbury Cathedral.
Image: Hans Musil.

Welby also stated he thinks the Church needed to stress the things they are for rather than against: "One of [the] things that I think is most noticeable where we make a bad impression in society at the moment is because we are seen as against things, and you talk to people and they say I don't want to hear about a faith that is homophobic". Welby stated the Church needed to make "an alliance with the poor".

Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, responded to Welby's comments: "It is a tiny bit rich to say he has great sympathy for gay people when in the 10 years since the introduction of civil partnerships the Church has doggedly refused to bless people's long term partnerships even though they are happy to have services for pets and even canals."

Benjamin Cohen, publisher of the PinkNews website, welcomed the Archbishop's acknowledgment that most younger people support same-sex marriage and explained the nature of people's reaction to the Church's views: "They do see that attacking gay people for the gender of the person that they love is as evil and incomprehensible as attacking someone for being born black or disabled. People don't chose to be gay just like they don't chose their race."