Christian directory snubs gays for mammon
By Jordan Tchilingirian
The UKís most well known Christian directory has snubbed gay Christians.
The ëUK Christian Handbookí, which is produced every two years and hits doorsteps this month, has refused to include advertising for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM).
It cited commercial concerns rather than ideological or theological convictions.
The UK Christian Handbook is Britain's best known and most comprehensive directory of Christian organisations and services, produced every two years. The latest edition will arrive on doorsteps in the next few weeks; however an advert from the largest Gay Christian association in the UK will be left out of its pages.
LGCM were approached by the UK Christian Handbookís marketing agents earlier this year offering them valuable advertising space which the gay Christians were keen to take up. However the offer was then suddenly withdrawn.
In a letter to LGCM, Heather Wraight, the Handbookís editor wrote; ìI am sure you are aware that the Handbook is used by a very wide range of people in this country, some of whom would disagree strongly with the aims and objectives of your organisation. We have taken advice about the effect that accepting your advert could have on the image and acceptability of the Handbook, to the customers who are most likely to buy it.î
LGCM describes its aims as encouraging ìfellowship, friendship, and support among individual lesbian and gay Christians through prayer, study and action, wherever possible in local groups, and especially to support those lesbian and gay Christians subjected to discrimination.î It also works to help the whole Church re-examine its understanding of human sexuality, and to work for a positive acceptance of lesbian and gay relationships.
The group was barred from advertising in the Handbook, according to the letter, on the grounds that it could "damage relationships with a significant number of customers". A source confirmed to Ekklesia that the decision was made for ëcommercial reasons.í
Rev Richard Kirker, Chief executive of LGCM, told Ekklesia; ìEven though the issue of sexuality was not cited, the Handbookís actions are nevertheless homophobic. The Christian Handbook have treated us differently because of our views on homosexuality, and are perpetuating discrimination through their silence.î
Rev Kirker was also dismayed by the wider implications of the UK Christian Handbookís decision suggesting that it had a responsibility to stand above the issues that often cause damaging splits in the church.
Ekklesia contacted the UK Christian Handbook to give them a chance to respond, but no one was available for comment.
The actions of the UK Christian Handbook highlight further a growing controversy over who can legitimately use the word ìChristian.î
As reported last week by Ekklesia, conservative Christians at Exeter university were prevented from calling themselves ëThe Exeter University Christian Unioní having instead to describe themselves as ëThe Evangelical Christian Unioní. The name change was a subject of a referendum at the university and followed allegations surrounding the narrowness of its views, and its equal opportunities policy.