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In a speech made at the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, to over 650 bishops, the leader of the global Anglican Church said: “For many churches, to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.”
He said the 1998 declaration, which is the church’s official stance on sexuality and is known as Lambeth 1.10, was “not in doubt”.
While adding that “a large majority” of conservative Anglicans agree questioning biblical teaching is “unthinkable”, Welby said he would not seek to challenge churches that conduct same-sex marriages.
In a letter published on Twitter on Wednesday evening (3 August), broadcaster and author Toksvig wrote: “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?”
Toksvig, who has been married to her wife Debbie for 16 years, wrote about the death threats she has faced herself for being gay and pointed out that a higher rate of young LGBT+ people contemplate suicide than their non-LGBT+ peers. “Do you know why?” she asked. “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… The lives of LGBT+ people are at stake here.”
She later added: “Jesus doesn’t mention sexuality at all. It clearly wasn’t a big deal for him.”
Toksvig wrote that, this weekend, she will be hosting a concert at her local church to raise money for Ukrainian refugees, but she vowed that afterwards would “never set foot” inside an Anglican building again.
“Call me, Justin. Let’s have coffee,” she ended her letter. “Let me talk you round. You never know, I might even forgive you.”
FAO The Archbishop of Canterbury pic.twitter.com/UYyVWUsdyB
— Sandi Toksvig (@sanditoksvig) August 3, 2022
In response, the Archbishop tweeted a letter back to Toksvig, telling her “I would love to sit down over a coffee to talk with you about it”.
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) August 4, 2022
Many campaigners for LGBT+ equality have also criticised Welby’s words.
Jayne Ozanne, a gay evangelical who advocates for inclusion LGBT+ people of faith, said: “I feel deeply angry that yet again priority has been given to saving a man-made institution over protecting LGBT+ people’s lives.
“Let us be clear that Lambeth 1.10 encourages ‘conversion therapy’. It is a stick with which many will continue to be beaten and suffer around the world.”
Reverend Richard Peers, an openly gay priest, said: “It would be very good if bishops at Lambeth Conference 2022 would acknowledge the pain caused to LGBT+ people by the discussions ‘about us’.
“There seems to be a real failure of empathy and kindness.”
Around 90 bishops, including eight archbishops, have since signed a statement saying they believe “LGBT+ people are a precious part of God’s creation”.
But Anglican bishops who say they represent 75 per cent of Anglicans across the globe are also pushing for all registered bishops at the Lambeth Conference to “reaffirm” Lambeth 1.10 as the “official teaching of the Anglican Communion on marriage and sexuality”.