The former Archbishop of Canterbury has said a person of the Christian faith can be considered a “homophobic, misogynistic reactionary” by others in society today.
Rowan Williams said people of the Christian faith can at times face “petty harassment” but argued it was “a bit dramatic to call it persecution” as there had never been any guarantees made that voicing the values of the Gospel “was going to be popular”.
During an interview with The Tab Cambridge, Dr Williams said it can be “culturally a bit difficult” for some people to announce their faith, “partly because people will then say ‘Oh, you’re some sort of homophobic, misogynistic reactionary are you?’ which isn’t very encouraging.”
He added: “I think there’s a temptation to over exaggerate how difficult it can be – but the other side of me says, well, if it’s difficult, it’s difficult.”
When asked to discuss issues surrounding homosexuality and gay marriage, he said: “I think the church has to put its hands up and say our attitude towards gay people has at times been appallingly violent.
“We have to face the fact that we’ve deeply failed a lot of gay and lesbian people, not only historically but more recently as well.
“I think that there is a very strong, again theological, case for thinking again about our attitudes towards homosexuality: but I’m a bit hesitant about whether marriage is the right category to talk about same sex relation, and I think there is a debate we haven’t quite had about that.”
Dr Williams courted controversy during his time as the Archbishop of Canterbury because of his stance over the role gay priests and bishops should take in the Church. He stepped down from his role as Archbishop to became the Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University in January.
In August, he also said Christians in the US and America who believe they face discrimination because of their beliefs should “grow up” during an interview with The Daily Telegraph, arguing that the word persecuted should be used very “chastely”.
Reflecting back on his time as Archbishop, he said: "I think that’s what most people will remember about the last ten years: ‘Oh, he was that bloke who was so bogged down in issues about sexuality’."