Church of England vicar criticised for 'damaging' comments over gay pride and child abuse

Reverend Peter Sanlon says both gay pride and child abuse were "pushing boundaries" and would be "given an accounting before God's judgement throne"

Katie Forster@katieforster
Friday 02 September 2016 17:07
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Reverend Peter Sanlon is vicar at St Mark's Church in Tunbridge Wells
Reverend Peter Sanlon is vicar at St Mark's Church in Tunbridge Wells

LGBT rights campaigners have condemned comments made on social media by a Church of England vicar which appear to link a church-run gay pride event with child abuse in the religious community.

In response to a Facebook post advertising a ‘pride tea party’ at St Luke's church in Brighton last month, Reverend Peter Sanlon said both gay pride and child abuse were “pushing boundaries” and would be “given an accounting before God’s judgement throne”.

“Given your diocese has one of the worst records on historic child abuse in the Church of England [...] one would think your diocese would have the humility and wisdom to stop pushing sexual boundaries,” he wrote. “Have you not done enough damage to the Church of England?”

Rev Sanlon, vicar at St Mark’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, is at the helm of a new alliance of Church of England parishes threatening a formal split over LGBT issues such as the blessing of same-sex partnerships.

He hosted a meeting last week to discuss the possibility of creating of an alternative Anglican church if the Church of England continues to “water down” traditional teachings on homosexuality and other issues, according to the Telegraph.

Matt Horwood, a spokesperson for the LGBT rights charity Stonewall, told the Independent Rev Sanlon’s comments were damaging to the positive work being done to promote the acceptance of people of all sexualities in religious communities.

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“This kind of vitriol is damaging, and perpetuates the myth that you cannot be of faith while also being part of, or supporting, the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community,” he said.

“Stonewall will continue its work with faith communities to ensure that all LGBT people are accepted without exception in their place of worship and within their own faith communities.”

And in response to Rev Sanlon’s post on Facebook, other users questioned his comparison, with Jackie Twine writing: “It saddens me that you are choosing to draw parallels between LGBT Christians being given a safe opportunity to discuss their faith and their sexuality, and the terrible crime of child abuse.”

“So Peter Sanion did you not go then? I bet it was fabulous,” added Stuart Webster.

In response to the criticism, Rev Sanlon said he was surprised by the allegations. “I have never suggested or believed that homosexuality leads to child abuse or that there is a direct link between the two,” he said.

In July, the Diocese of Chichester, which covers east and west Sussex, announced it would appoint an LGBT liaison officer, reported news site G Scene.

“My view is that LGBT people are part of the Church and I believe their presence enriches every Diocese and everyone has by right a place,” said the Bishop of Chichester, according to the site.

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