Comedian Sandi Toksvig has written a scathing open letter to the Church of England leader Justin Welby, after he backed a resolution that “homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture”.
Archbishop of Canterbury Welby (pictured above right) is the head of the Church of England. Over two weeks, the Anglican Communion held its once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, bringing together 650 bishops from worldwide to pass resolutions and discuss current issues.
At the conference, Welby copped criticism for affirming a 1998 resolution rejecting same-sex marriage and “homosexual practices” as “incompatible with scripture”.
Welby said churches who recognise same-sex marriages would not be punished, but declared the resolution valid and “not in doubt”.
Comedian and TV personality Toksvig – known to Aussies for her appearances on UK panel show QI – entered a civil partnership with her wife in 2007.
Toksvig condemned Welby’s declaration as “a horrible mistake” in a scathing open letter on Twitter.
“Dear Justin, I know we’ve never met and I should probably call you ‘Your Grace’ or ‘Your Eminence’ or something, but I wish we were friends,” she writes.
“If we were, I’d call you and say, ‘Justin, Justin, what are you doing?’
“We’d have had a chat and maybe I could persuade you that you have made a horrible mistake. It’s what friends do for each other.”
“You and your other religion pals got together at the Lambeth Conference and the main takeaway seems to be that gay sex is a sin.
“It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that.
“Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on? You didn’t have other more pressing matters like, I don’t know, war or poverty?”
Sandi Toksvig says she’s received ‘threats from evangelical Christians’
Toksvig said 2021 statistics show young LGBTQ+ people in the UK were twice as likely to have suicidal ideations and three times more likely to self-harm.
“Do you know why? For many it’s because they don’t feel loved and love, Justin, is supposed to be at the core of what you do. It’s like top of the job description,” she said.
Sandi Toksvig, who came out in 1994, said she’d death threats over the years over her sexuality.
“Each and every one of those threats has come from an evangelical Christian,” she said.
“Inevitably, they have wanted to kill me on God’s behalf because although he may be omnipotent apparently he’s also very busy.
“Why just raising this matter is probably a bad idea for my health. I’ll cope, but what about my brothers and sisters who won’t?”
FAO The Archbishop of Canterbury pic.twitter.com/UYyVWUsdyB
— Sandi Toksvig (@sanditoksvig) August 3, 2022
‘Extremely fallible interpretation’
Sandi Toksvig said that Welby is a “smart guy”, and as a result she expected him to understand that the Bible was always up to “extremely fallible interpretation”.
“Oh Justin, how can you be so stuck? Are you saying that the Bible teaches us that none of us can ever learn from experience?” she wrote.
“That we can never grow and gain a deeper understanding of human behaviour than we had 2,000 years ago when you could still feel a crowd with two loaves and a handful of fish?
“Jesus doesn’t mentions sexuality at all. It clearly wasn’t a big deal for him. The only time I think he had anything like a conference was when he gathered 5,000 people for the Sermon on the Mount.
“That was when he talked about good trees bearing good fruit and bad trees bearing bad fruit.
“That’s the sort of message that would be great from you. Really simple. Just be a good person. That’s it.”
In the letter, Toksvig explained she and her wife were coincidentally attending a Ukrainian aid concert at a Church of England church.
“After the concert I shall leave the church and never set foot in an Anglican building again,” she said.
“I’ll come back when you decide to welcome all of ‘God’s children’ on equal footing.
“Call me, Justin. Let’s have coffee. Let me talk you round. You never know, I might even forgive you.”
Church of England leader Archbishop Welby responds
In a letter replying to Sandi Toksvig, Church of England leader Justin Welby said homophobic threats were a “sin”.
The Archbishop said he would happily take up Toksvig’s offer of coffee to discuss further.
“The hatred and threats that you – and so many other LGBTQI+ people – have experienced in the name of Jesus Christ are a sin,” he said.
“I have absolutely no doubt about that and want you to be in no doubt of my position.
“The Church of England agrees with this view and vigorously opposes conversion therapy.”
Thank you for your letter. I would love to sit down over a coffee to talk with you about it. pic.twitter.com/kX39hKwmkZ
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) August 4, 2022
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.