The actions of the Right Reverend Richard Lane in writing to a fellow Anglican to condemn him for his progressive spirituality are just another example of the totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies of that Church’s conservative wing -“ both in Australia and abroad.
Not only was Lane’s initial letter to Justice Michael Kirby rude and insulting, but his response to Kirby’s sincere reply dripped with sarcasm.
Unbelievably, the incident resulted in just one opinion column and a blog from our major newspapers, and I’m yet to read a single statement from a politician condemning Lane’s attacks on the integrity of one of Australia’s highest ranking judicial appointees. The letters pages, however, were more fruitful.
Interestingly, gay Anglicans are not alone in Lane’s sights for spiritual correction -“ he’s also a valued supporter of Jews for Jesus, the evangelical group that targets Jewish communities worldwide for conversion.
Lane’s keeper, Archbishop Peter Jensen, was more diplomatic in mediating the dispute, but both men exhibit an extraordinary refusal to live and let live in matters of spirituality and the influence of their faction has been withering to Australian Anglicanism -“ though the conservatives had a loss this week with the news that Australia will finally get its first female bishop later this year.
Based on opinion polls on views on homosexuality in this country I have no doubts at all that a majority of those who identify as Anglicans support the equality of gay and lesbian Australians and would welcome them as Christians.
The blame for so many of these Anglicans truanting our nation’s churches outside the obligatory Christmas and Easter services and the occasional baptism, marriage or funeral, can be laid squarely at these conservatives’ feet.
But Lane and Jensen’s activities at home pale in comparison to those of their allies abroad.
In Nigeria, conservative Anglicans have been reprimanded by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself after death threats were sent to leaders of Changing Attitude, a liberal Anglican group working to advance gay rights.
One of these was nearly carried out two weeks ago when the group’s Nigerian director, Davis Mac-Iyalla, was ambushed by three people who slashed him with a knife and injected him with an unknown substance before fleeing the scene. Davis is now in hiding but, thankfully, okay.
And in Uganda, gay-sympathetic clergy, including a bishop, have been suspended from work for advocating the mere decriminalisation of homosexuality.