An Anglican rector has blasted the decision of his church’s Sydney diocese to donate $1m to the postal survey “no” campaign in a passionate open letter.
Archbishop Glenn Davies (pictured) announced the donation on Monday, telling the church that “removing gender from the marriage construct” would have “irreparable consequences” for society.
“I believe that a change in the definition of marriage is unwarranted, not just because it is in opposition to the teaching of scripture… but because I believe marriage, traditionally understood as a union of one man and one woman is a positive good for our society, where marriage and the procreation of children are bound together as the foundational fabric of our society, notwithstanding the sad reality that not all married couples are able to conceive,” he said.
But Rev Andrew Sempell, rector of Sydney’s St James, wrote in a letter posted online on Tuesday that the donation was an example of “questionable governance and poor missional priorities.”
“This behaviour is more akin to a church of an earlier era that sought to control political processes in concert with government,” he said.
Sempell said the move would further alienate young people from the church, especially in light of its “failure in dealing with child abuse, domestic violence, and its treatment of divorcees, LGBTI people and others with whom it disagrees.”
“In this respect, the church is seen more to be a political player rather than a place of welcome, faith, hope and reconciliation for those who are in need,” he said.
“Where are the priorities for the mission of the church – the support of the poor, the homeless and refugees or the provision of meaningful worship, helpful teaching and pastoral care?
“I would argue that this is a time when we should be humbly persuading people rather than judging or condemning them.”
He added the decision was not made by the synod of the diocese “but rather the more exclusive and secretive standing committee” with no wider consultation or transparency.
Writing for Fairfax Media, the Anglican Dean of Brisbane’s St James Cathedral, Dr Peter Catt, expressed his deep disappointment with the donation.
“So many needs go begging and Sydney has money for this travesty,” he said.
“While announcing that it had given $1 million to the No Campaign, [the diocese] also announced it was only dedicating a few thousand dollars to dealing with domestic violence in its ranks.
“Throughout the campaign associated with the unnecessary postal vote… LGBTQI+ people have been objectified, latent homophobia has been emboldened, lies have been peddled and many, many people have been hurt.”
He said surveys had shown a majority of Anglicans support marriage equality and pledged to redouble his efforts to encourage and support the “Yes” campaign.