Christian writer’s pilgrimage to ‘repent’ of homophobia

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A Christian writer plans to go on a three-week pilgrimage to “repent” of his past homophobia.

Symon Hill, the associate director of the pro-gay Ekklesia thinktank, says he will walk from Birmingham to London and speak at churches along the way to encourage Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality.

Mr Hill, who is “not exclusively heterosexual”, admits he once campaigned against gay ministers and Christian acceptance of LGBT people.

He told “I was fine with homosexuality and bisexuality before I became a Christian in my late teens. But after my conversion, I thought that opposition to same-sex relationships was ‘part of the deal’, even though my own sexual feelings had not been exclusively heterosexual (and still aren’t).

“This was partly out of a desire to fit in at the church I had joined. That church was very good in many ways, and had a very positive effect on me in other areas of my life, but I think they were severely mistaken about sexuality.

“Having adopted that view, I then campaigned against the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships and spoke out strongly against Christian acceptance of homosexuality.

“As you’ll realise, I have become convinced that I was wrong.”

Mr Hill, who has written extensively in support of gay rights, will walk around 150-200 miles after setting off in early June 2011. He plans to arrive in London on the day before the Pride march on July 2nd.

He intends to stop off at a number of places he used to live, including Coventry, Daventry and Oxford and is hoping for offers of accommodation and invitations from churches to speak.

Mr Hill added: “I have struggled for years with issues of sexuality – through prayer, reflection, personal experience and reading the Bible. These struggles have led me to the conclusion that it is not homosexuality, but homophobia, that is sinful and contrary to the message of Christ.

“Many churches continue to reject loving same-sex relationships and to oppose equality. Others have failed to speak out due to a misplaced desire for unity. Given the hurt and abuse involved, minor changes are not enough. As Christians, we are called to take a stand against injustice.”

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell praised his pilgrimage, saying: “Symon Hill is bearing witness and setting an inspiring example of Christian repentance for 2,000 years of church homophobia. I hope Pope Benedict and Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu will join him.”

The walk has been endorsed by Ekklesia, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Courage UK and Inclusive Church.