A church in Auckland, New Zealand, has sponsored a new billboard to highlight the lack of acceptance for LGBT people in New Zealand's Anglican churches. The billboard reads: "Gay-dar: As Used by the Anglican Church to Assess Potential Priests." Finer print directs readers to sign a petition to stop discrimination in the Anglican church in New Zealand.
Although the Anglican church is evolving throughout the world - some churches allow same-sex unions, others permit gay men to be ordained as priests - many of the churches in New Zealand continue to discriminate. They stand in stark contrast to St. Matthew's in the City, the progressive Anglican church that's challenging its peers to push its tradition toward greater acceptance.
St. Matthew's in the City has a petition on their website. It reads:
Although the debate has never been about ordaining deacons and priests in same sex relationships many bishops have voluntarily barred gays and lesbians. Currently most New Zealand bishops feel constrained not to select or ordain any gay and lesbian candidates unless they are committed to permanent celibacy. Where bishops have acted in this discriminatory manner they have done so without the mandate of New Zealand's General Synod.
The Anglican custom is that bishops, guided by some general principles[i], have the responsibility to discern who is called by God to ordination within their diocese. To put a constraint on this custom by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation needs to be subjected to public debate.
It is highly appropriate that gays and lesbians are in positions of ordained leadership and there are a number of ministry units who are suffering as a result of such discrimination both in terms of pastoral care and mission.
The primary reason our Archbishop Moxon has given for this discrimination is so not to offend the rest of the Anglican Communion. However it is an offence to the Gospel. It is an offence to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand, be they Anglican or not. It is an offence to our commitment to human rights. It is an offence to sovereignty and independence. NZ gay and lesbian Christians who are called to leadership are being denied the dignity of equals by countries that still criminalize their gay and lesbian neighbours. It is hypocritical for the Church to proclaim a message of love then limit that love to heterosexual relationships.
You can sign the petition here, even if you're not a New Zealander.