Archbishop of Canterbury claims MPs ‘threatened’ him over Church of England’s same-sex marriage ban

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has claimed some MPs attempted to “force” same-sex marriage on the Church of England.

In his presidential address at the 18th Anglican Consultative Council, which is being held in Ghana this week, Welby said he was “summoned twice to parliament and threatened with parliamentary action to force same-sex marriage“.

The parliamentary pressure came, Welby explained, after the church’s comments in recent weeks about “sexuality and the rules around sexuality”.

Those comments include bishops accepting responsibility for past homophobic abuse towards the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a consideration of using gender-neutral language for God.

The Church of England’s General Synod recently voted to bless same-sex marriages – but it still won’t conduct ceremonies.

Welby said many members of the General Synod “dismissed” his view that its actions had an impact on Anglican people elsewhere in the world.

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“There is no good reason why one group in one part of the world should order the life and culture of another,” he said.

The mention of same-sex marriage and UK parliament trying to “force” it came as Welby spoke about what he called “nones” – people who identify as having no religious faith.

He took aim at how rates of “nones” are “the fastest growing group in religious affiliation”, giving the example of a cast member in an unnamed reality TV show not knowing who Moses was and questioning why he would read the Bible.

The archbishop branded secular nones a “greater danger” than another religion, namely Islam, taking over Europe, and the Church of England’s recent discussions were a “clear” result.

He went on to say that rates of “nones” were higher in “much of the financially richest world”, while the “global south, [which may be] economically poorer, is in many ways richer in culture and community”.

He added: “We are in a true world crisis.”

While saying “obedience to God comes ahead of loyalty to country”, Welby did call for richer parts of the world to help others more.

This was “not popular” when he said it to some members of parliament last Monday night, he went on.

In response to questions from PinkNews about Welby’s comments, a spokesperson for the House of Commons said they “cannot speculate on what the Archbishop of Canterbury meant” in his speech.

Speaking to PinkNews, Christian activist and campaigner for the Church of England to introduce same-sex marriage, Jayne Ozanne, said she was “sickened” by the archbishop’s comments.

“His comments are disingenous, calculated and totally untrue,” she said.

“Instead of showing leadership he is playing parliament off against certain parts of the Anglican Communion at the cost of LGBTQ+ people’s lives. He has forgotten that he is part of parliament – he sits in the House of Lords, leads his own debates and meets parliamentarians to discuss matters close to his heard.

“He was never ‘summoned’.”