By Keir Liddle
When people in the UK think of the Anglican Church they think of the Church of England (CoE) of quaint little villages and church fêtes, of raising money to repair a leaky roof and of docile and gentle elderly Vicars, with white hair and little glasses and ever so prim and prissy ways. Some might even hold the more modern stereotype of an Anglican vicar as an inevitably guitar playing younger and “hipper” trope still out of touch and charmingly clueless in their use of out of date slang.
It is difficult to equate these stereotypes of well meaning tea drinkers with bigotry and hate.
But that is perhaps because it is very, very easy to forget that the Anglican church is much more than the Church of England (the Mother Church) and it part of a larger World wide communion that has branches in at least 42 countries across the globe. Many of which have far more hard-line views on homosexuality and equal marriage.
The following have all expressed that they feel the ordination of homosexuals and homosexual marriage is wrong: Province of South East Asia, Province of the Southern Cone, Province of the West Indies, Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Anglican Church of Tanzania and Church of the Province of Uganda.
Some of these have cut full ties with the Mother Church whilst others are in a state of impaired communion with the CoE over this issue. In 2008 the “impaired communion” was announced between provinces, primarily from the Global South (African and Asian churches) representing about 80 million Anglicans, and the Mother Church. This has been part of a process of Anglican Realignment whereby a schism between those Anglican churches that support homosexuality and those who do not is taking place.
The issue of homosexuality has been one of the most divisive issues that the Anglican churches worldwide communion has faced.
Bishops from two Anglican provinces opposed to more liberal attitudes to homosexuality , the Province of Rwanda and the Province of South East Asia, consecrated missionary bishops for the United States in January 2000 and formally established the Anglican Mission in America (now called the Anglican Mission in the Americas). A similar jurisdiction was created by the Reformed Episcopal Church, with former members and congregations of the Episcopal Church in the USA, and was officially launched in 2010. Four dioceses which withdrew from the Episcopal Church account for the majority of the nearly 700 congregations affiliated with this church, the Anglican Church in North America.
These two bodies—AMiA and ACNA—reject the creation of rites for same-sex unions as well as the ordination of openly homosexual persons.
Given the schisms, realignment and controversies worldwide over homosexuality in the worldwide communion it is perhaps easier to equate the image of the mild mannered tea drinking Vicar with anti-homosexual bigotry.
One wonders which the CoE will value more; involvement in the British state or preventing further rifts worldwide.