Archbishop Justin Welby's Presidential Address to General Synod

The social context is changing radically. There is a revolution. It may be, it was, that 59% of the population called themselves Christian at the last census, with 25% saying they had no faith. But the YouGov poll a couple of weeks back was the reverse, almost exactly, for those under 25. If we are not shaken by that, we are not listening.

The cultural and political ground is changing. There is a revolution. Anyone who listened, as I did, to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland. Predictable attitudes were no longer there. The opposition to the Bill, which included me and many other bishops, was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance in the House and participation in the debate, and majority, since 1945. There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy, but what I felt then and feel now is that some of what was said by those supporting the bill was uncomfortably close to the bone. Lord Alli said that 97% of gay teenagers in this country report homophobic bullying. In the USA suicide as a result of such bullying is the principle cause of death of gay adolescents. One cannot sit and listen to that sort of reality without being appalled. We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it.

The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

4 comments on “Archbishop Justin Welby's Presidential Address to General Synod

  1. Terry Tee says:

    OK I comment on this with reluctance but I have been pondering the 97% homophobic bullying statistic. Any homophobic bullying is horrible and utterly to be condemned. Still, I reflected on my high school days and I wondered: was there ANYBODY who was not bullied? Perhaps the high school I went to was more of a jungle than most, but I do not think so. Here in the UK I have heard of kids being bullied for well, just about anything. Red hair. Being too tall. Being too fat. Having a weird surname. Anything was grist to the mill and eventually you realised that you had to take a stand of some kind. Most of us can look back on something of the kind, and while we may (decades later even) still shudder at the memory, it was all part of growing up. Gay kids learn (along with everyone else) to say to themselves: I have my dignity and self-worth, and the neandarthals are to more to be pitied than feared.

  2. Charles52 says:

    I tend to agree with Fr. Tee about everyone being bullied. Even the bullies are, at heart, unhappy and insecure people.

    One of my guilty pleasures is the TV show Supernatural, which had an excellent episode flashing back to Sam’s school trouncing of the school bully. In the show’s current time, you learn about the family’s poverty and his mother’s death from cancer and Sam learns how his becoming the bully destroyed the other guy’s life.

  3. driver8 says:

    Archbishop Justin is surely right about “revolution” and one part of that “revolution” is his own repeated inability actually to state the teaching of the church. One hears that he is “not proposing new policy” and notices that he’s not proposing the old one either.

    My prediction – some sort of official liturgical celebration for civil partnerships will be introduced next year. Presumably not a “blessing” but a “thanksgiving” perhaps?

    The official teaching about marriage will be officially upheld – at least the silent space in which it now evidently dwells will remain unoccupied – for perhaps another 10 years. Then the local option will come. You know, whilst I uphold the teaching personally, various views in the church, if after appropriate consultation a local parish wishes yada yada.

    To be truthful the CofE has accommodated itself to every change in civil marriage law since 1857.

  4. MichaelA says:

    driver8, good point.

    I have read through this address several times trying to find any reference to something that is identifiably Christian, and it just isn’t there. The address could have been given by the president of a local bowling club.