Anglicans Reject Gay
Rights Crusade - Adopt Tough
Line On Gays
By Paul Majendie
CANTERBURY, England (Reuters) - Anglican bishops have spurned a crusade for gay rights by liberal clerics and adopted a tough line on homosexuality. After an emotion-charged debate, the 750 bishops from around the world voted by a majority of 7-1 on Wednesday to uphold an Anglican ban on the ordination of gay priests and the blessing of same sex marriages.
African bishops, leading the traditionalist campaign against western liberals, then put their conservative stamp on the resolution when their fellow clerics agreed homosexuality was against biblical law. The resolution swiftly won the backing of Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the spiritual leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, who underlined his opposition to ``sexual activity outside marriage.''
Gay rights proved to be the most divisive issue at the once-in-a-decade Lambeth conference which in 1988 had faced major schisms over the ordination of women priests. Western Liberals lobbied for the ordination of practising homosexuals as priests and the blessing of same sex couples. African and Asian bishops called said such a stance would be ``evangelical suicide'' in their deeply conservative flocks. At one point during the proceedings, a Nigerian bishop tried to ``exorcise'' a gay rights campaigner of his homosexuality with a symbolic laying on of hands. Bishop of Johannesburg Duncan Buchanan, whose conservative resolution was so resoundingly adopted, told the conference: ``We are not asking anyone in this room to endorse homosexual practice.''
African and Asian bishops were still not satisfied. They pushed through an amendment to state that homosexuality was ``incompatible'' with the Bible. ``In the Sudan we know nothing of what you call homosexuality. We only know the gospel,'' said Sudanese bishop Michael Lugor. Bishop Alexander Malik of Pakistan said: ``If we speak against the homosexuals it is certainly not gay-bashing. For us it is a matter of conscience, faith, doctrine and dogma.'' Gay rights activists were pleased that it had become such a burning issue and forecast that homosexual equality would eventually become a reality.
New Jersey Bishop Jack Spong, a leading gay rights activists at the conference, told BBC Television: ``There will be out-of-the-closet gay bishops at the Lambeth conference in 2008. ``This will not be a major issue of division before us because the world moves in a way that information finally gets down to the grass roots and then people have to change their prejudices and their fears.'' ^REUTERS@