Two ex-gay ministries have complained that gay groups are being given preferential treatment at the Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly gathering of Anglican bishops.
The Lambeth Marketplace makes room for booths representing dozens of Anglican organizations during the three-week-long gathering, but representatives of Zaccheus and Redeemed Lives say they have been given “low visibility” compared to pro-gay groups such as Integrity, Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
According to VirtueOnline, Zaccheus, a Canadian support group for “same-sex attracted” Anglican Christians, were unexpectedly moved from a prime location to a booth at the rear of the marketplace. They said they were also given permission to distribute ex-gay literature to every Anglican bishop as part of a conference pack, but were later told they could only hand out the booklets through their stall to save paper, due to the University of Kent’s environmental policy.
Zaccheus representative Reverend Don Alcock seemed unfazed, saying that he had received “positive comments even from folks who were firmly for [same-sex] blessings, who are surprised by our gentle approach. We provided them with food for thought.”
It is VirtueOnline’s Hans Zeiger who seems a little more upset at the supposed sidelining. But what does he expect? By its own admission, Zaccheus is “currently a small and fairly informal group.” One might deplore their media presence (and certain conservative Anglican commentators certainly do), but groups such as LGCM, Integrity USA and Changing Attitude are large and prominent.
David Virtue is incensed:
[Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop] Mrs. Jefferts Schori said that the issue of homosexuality “is certainly present [at Lambeth], but I don’t find it is consuming the conversation.” Really. Then perhaps she might explain why there are five booths at the Marketplace dedicated to pushing pansexual behavior while there is only one ex-gay ministry, obscurely located at the back of the hall, offering a way out of the sexual abyss.
Actually, Virtue is mistaken. Redeemed Lives and Living Waters are also represented, which makes three. (As well as the “pansexual” label, note also Virtue’s sneering insistence on denying Schori her title, “Most Reverend.”)
No less a figure than NT (Tom) Wright, the conservative Bishop of Durham, apparently agrees with Schori that Lambeth has not been dominated by liberals and gays:
[Interviewer:] There were some concerns that the liberal agenda would dominate the conference and that Gene Robinson being on the fringes would change the atmosphere of the proceedings.] [Wright:] You know, the funny thing is that everyone said that but I haven’t seen Gene Robinson! I haven’t seen these hoards of activists that we were promised. They may have been around because this is a big campus and I may have just missed them.
But back to Redeemed Lives, who, according to Zeiger, had to pay commercial rates for a booth, twice the charity rate. RL founder Rev Mario Bergner told Zeiger (rather slippily): “The perception would be that [liberal organizations have] been given preferential treatment.”
The article indicates, however, that Redeemed Lives was a late applicant for a stall, and that “all of the charity slots had been taken.”
Readers can make up their own minds about the claims of liberal bias by looking at the full layout for the 2008 Lambeth Marketplace.