Scholars fuel row on Church gay policy

September 16, 2005

Academic theologians are challenging the leadership of the Anglican Church over its "authoritarian" stance on gays.

The Church is in turmoil following the Windsor Report, commissioned by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, which demands a moratorium on gay consecrations and same-sex blessings. Some fear it could lead to the Church excluding gays.

The debate has now been joined by 22 leading academics in a new book Gays and the Future of Anglicanism , which rejects the report as the way forward.

Oxford University theologian Andrew Linzey, the book's co-editor with Richard Kirker, said: "The Anglican Communion is experiencing something close to a coup, in which a small group of very conservative Christians are seeking to impose a hastily agreed line by the primates."

Professor Linzey, director of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said he was surprised by the theological consensus that had emerged.

Philip Kennedy, senior tutor of Mansfield College, Oxford, writes: "Neither God nor Jesus can be convicted of gay-bashing. The same could hardly be said for many of their devotees."

Lisa Isherwood, professor of feminist liberation theologies at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth, said there were only six Bible verses that could be read as opposing homosexuality. But, she added, there was a significant amount of "homoerotic material".

Professor Linzey said: "If the hierarchy had included theologians at the beginning of this process, I do not think they would be experiencing what they are. I think we are articulating the Anglican mainstream."

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