Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dear Archbishop Justin,

I've not troubled you before, and have little hope that this letter will make any impact or difference, but after the goings-on at the Primates' Meeting in Canterbury this week. I feel compelled to write about something you might not have had the opportunity to ponder in your thinking about gay people and our relationships.

Overall, the hierarchies of the various nominally Anglican churches would seem to have regarded the proceedings as a success. The Americans aren't particularly crestfallen at being marginalised for refusing to treat LGBTI Christians as second-class members, the Africans are feeling encouraged in their view that we are not Christian at all. The "Anglican Communion" still exists. And you have issued a fulsome apology for the way we have been treated over the years, and continue to be, and will be in the future.

And we're not very grateful. The reason for this is that we understand a lot more about truth and lies than the hierarchy of our church does. Growing up gay, and eventually coming to terms with it, in a world which because of attitudes like those espoused by the Primates' Meeting last week, is fundamentally hostile, is a costly business. Many of us go through phases of lying to others, family and friends as well as strangers, and even to ourselves, about who we really are. And then the pretence ends, and we take the leap of faith that "the truth shall make you free", and it does. And telling the truth hurts. It can break up friendships, and wreck family love. It is a scary business, and we cannot know its outcome. But telling the truth does make us free. And once the truth has set us free, we are free for the love that casts out fear too.

This is why the finding of clever forms of words which manage to conceal, or avoid, the truth leave us cold. We've taken the chance, we've been brave, we've risked our lives and happiness, for the sake of the truth, and for love.

And we do not find you doing so.

Don't tell us you love us, when your actions show you don't. Don't apologise for past offences against us when you do nothing to stop their being repeated now and in the future.

If you want to impress us, then telling the truth in word and deed will achieve it. Even if it's not what we want to hear. But we're sick of being lied to, and lied about. We understand lies, and we see right through them.

Yours sincerely,

(The Revd) Richard Haggis
formerly a Church of England, but still an Anglican, priest


  1. Some good may come of it, even if it's only the realisation that the "Anglian Communion" is NOT A CHURCH but an association of like-minded Churches whose existence depends on the Church of Rome (because that's what they're supposed to be against, not each other). Let us concentrate on our beloved Church of England and see if we can draw nearer to our fellow-Christians in America.

  2. Wow! That's telling 'im - the truth!

  3. Very well-stated and succinct. This deserves a wide audience.

  4. Very well-stated and succinct. This deserves a wide audience.

  5. Great piece, reflection and perspective; one of the many false notes from the Primates' gathering was Justin's 'personal' apology to those gathered in protest. It sounded false, timeserving and a betrayal - betrayal of all the decisions he oversaw at the gathering, and ultimately the betrayal of the Church of England of which he is head. Worldwide Communion is fine but perhaps this gathering has made clearer than ever that Canterbury cannot hold both roles without a betrayal; as Canterbury he leads a church which should reflect the Western mostly liberal agenda, but any chair of the Communion needs to be freely independent of the bullies of the Southern Cone and the honestly ex[pressed liberalism of TEC

  6. I hope I have something important to say someday. I'm going to call you to help me say it. Bravo!

  7. For 99% of the world, jusstin Welby is as irrelevant as Jimmy Carter.