Conflicts over the appointment of US gay bishop V. Gene Robinson continue, with a surprising letter of support from rabbis, bishops and Muslim imams, an angry response from the leader of the African Anglican church and pro-gay affirmation by the leader of the US Anglicans.
The joint letter of support written by Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders was sent to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury last week praising his support of gay parishioners and clergy, The Guardian reported. Dr Williams defended gay clergy and same-sex relationships after the appointment of openly gay Rev. Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in August, despite earlier discouraging gay Canon Jeffrey Jones from accepting appointment as Bishop.
The open letter is believed to be the first time Islamic leaders have spoken out against homophobia, according to The Guardian.
One of the organisers of the letter Muhammad Yusuf, chairman of University Imams, told The Guardian that all forms of fundamentalism, whether fundamentalist Islamist or fundamentalist evangelical, are abhorrent to the values of Britain’s multi-faith and multicultural society.
The letter attacked conservative evangelical pressure groups for opposing human rights legislation that protects against homophobic discrimination. We re-dedicate our efforts to fighting fundamentalism, aggressive proselytism and homophobia, and to defending the values of tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for differences, which we all cherish, the letter concludes.
Less supportive views emerged from Africa this week, with Archbishop Peter Akinola responding angrily to criticism that he is intolerant, the Guardian reported. Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane told The Guardian last week African congregations should learn to live as a diverse community, obliquely criticising the views of Archibishop Akinola who has referred to gay people as lower than beasts.
Archbishop Akinola was elected head of the council of African Anglican Bishops last Thursday and said on the issue if those who are deviating still refuse to repent only God can tell what will happen, but Africa shall not change its mind.
Archbishop Akinola is one of 28 Anglican primates set to attend a special meeting called by Dr Williams to discuss the issue and prevent a split within the Anglican Church.
Also present at the meeting will be the leader of the Episcopal (US Anglican) Church, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, who told Associated Press this week he voted for gay bishop Robinson because it reflected the wishes of his diocese.
Griswold reiterated his support for Robinson, adding that homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible and that the confirmation of the bishop of New Hampshire is acknowledging what is already a reality in the life of the church and the larger society of which we are a part.
The Church primates meeting will take place at Lambeth Palace on 15 and 16 October.