Controversial bishop takes aim at church

Controversial bishop takes aim at church

It’s not every day a former Anglican bishop describes the attitude of the traditional church towards homosexuals as uninformed, ignorant and anti-Christian.

But then John Shelby Spong is no ordinary bishop. The author of 17 books has long been an outspoken advocate for an inclusive church.

Spong, who is on his way to Sydney to rescue the church from irrelevancy with his new book Jesus for the Non-Religious, told Sydney Star Observer that the prejudices towards homosexuals from parts of the church were based on the belief that people choose their sexual orientation.

There is no reputable scientist or medical person who thinks that today, he said.

I didn’t choose to be white, I didn’t choose to be male, I didn’t choose to be right-handed and I didn’t choose to be heterosexual. I just woke up when I was 12 years old and suddenly girls didn’t seem so obnoxious -¦ there was no choice in the matter.

Spong pointed to the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, 56-year-old Gene Robinson, who, along with African American Bishop of North Carolina, Michael Curry, had given him great hope for the future of the Anglican Church.

He is certainly not the only gay bishop in the Episcopal Church at this moment, and he is certainly not the only gay bishop in history, Spong said. He is just the first honest gay bishop.

Growing up in the southern parts of the United States, Spong said he was taught that segregation was the will of God, men were superior to women and it was okay to hate other religions.

And of course, the Bible was quoted to prove it, he said. I was taught that homosexuals were all mentally sick or mentally depraved and I spent most of my Christian life breaking out of those prejudices without ever breaking out of Christianity.

Spong was the Episcopal Bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000. He lectures at universities and churches around the world and also works as a journalist.

In his new book, Jesus for the Non-Religious, Spong sought to define God in a contemporary setting, asking the question, Who is Jesus Christ?

We can no longer talk about God as a supernatural being who lives above the sky, he said.

But that doesn’t mean there is no God, it means that description of God is not very adequate.

I believe I experience God as the power of love. It makes your life full. If you are in love with your husband or your boyfriend or your partner, you are a more alive person because you are in that loving relationship.

Jesus for the Non-Religious is published by Harper Collins and is available now for $32.99.

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