The Archbishop of Canterbury called threats against LGBTQ+ people a “sin” and offered to meet comedian Sandy Toksvig for coffee after she criticized the Church of England’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Ustin Welby responded to a TV presenter after she said LGBTQ+ lives were “at risk” following a “terrible mistake” by a religious leader who upheld a 1998 Anglican declaration banning same-sex marriage.
The gay former Great British Bake-Off host posted an open letter on Twitter on Wednesday, calling the issue a “serious issue” and recalling “several credible death threats” she has received over the years from evangelical Christians.
Responding to a letter Thursday, also posted on Twitter, Mr Welby thanked Ms Toksvig for her correspondence and said he would “love to sit down for a cup of coffee to talk to you about this.”
He wrote that the threats she and other LGBTQ+ people “feel in the name of Jesus Christ are sin.”
He said that the Church of England agreed with this view and that it was “strongly opposed to conversion therapy”.
He added: “The Anglican Communion is a complex group of churches. We can talk about it when we meet. There are profound differences in many areas.”
Ms. Toksvig said that Mr. Welby “made a terrible mistake” when he affirmed on Tuesday that the “validity” of Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference “is beyond doubt.”
The resolution states that marriage is “between a man and a woman” and that same-sex relationships are “inconsistent with Scripture.”
Ms. Toksvig wrote: “So you and your other religious pals are here at the Lambeth Conference, and the bottom line seems to be that same-sex sex is a sin. In 1998 it was a sin, and in 2022 you just wanted to make it clear that none of your well-dressed gang got away with it.
“Seriously, with the state the world is in, is that what you wanted to focus on? Did you have other more pressing things to do, like war or poverty?
The host of the TV show QI, who describes herself as a humanist, added: “This is a serious matter. The lives of LGBTQ+ people are at stake here.
“I have had several credible death threats over the years, sometimes requiring the very kind assistance of the Police Hate Crime Unit.
“Each of these threats came from an evangelical Christian. Inevitably they wanted to kill me in the name of God.”
Ms Toksvig also questioned the Church of England’s interpretation of Jesus’ views on homosexuality.
She said: “There are seven passages in the Bible that are often cited as evidence that God hates homosexuals, but anyone who has ever studied the subject knows that the ‘proof’ is only a grossly misinterpreted one. None of this is clear.”
She added, “Jesus doesn’t mention sexuality at all. It obviously didn’t matter to him.”
The Lambeth Conference is a meeting of Anglican bishops convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury every 10 years. It takes place at the University of Kent, Canterbury Cathedral and Lambeth Palace from 26 July to 8 August.
Speaking at a conference on Tuesday, the archbishop said he could not and would not punish churches for same-sex marriages.
He said: “I do not have and do not seek the power to punish or exclude the Church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do it”.