A billboard calling attention to homophobia and anti-gay bigotry in the Anglican Church has been vandalized, says a gay-friendly church in Auckland, NZ.
St. Matthews-in-the-City had put up a large billboard with a cross pointing to varying levels of gayness – it’s effectively a giant Gay-Dar meter with a religious cross as the marker.
The meter shows “Straight” on one side and “Gay” on the other, with the caption: “As used by the Anglican Church to Asses Potential Priests.” The billboard is intended to spark debate about the discrimination of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Church.
It seems that some in the local community found it offensive enough to deliberately rip off the cross from the meter, leaving the entire spectrum of gayness open for interpretation.
Priest Associate Reverend Clay Nelson says that they have no clear evidence of vandalism, but that there has been a long history of defacement of their often-controversial billboards and signs. “So my thinking it’s probably someone making their statement that they didn’t like it. It could have been a drunk, but that seems unlikely to me.”
The church has been in the process of soliciting feedback on allowing LGBT priests, and released a section of comments from a petition to end discrimination against gays and lesbians in the church:
[The comments] include a statement from a man named as Andrew: ” I’ve been a life long Christian who has always felt ostracised from my faith community cause of the fact I won’t suppress or lie about my homosexuality, I’m proud to be a gay Christian who worships in the Anglican tradition and I pray that one day Christ will allow his church to recognise me, not as a vile sinner but as the way God made me.”
Beth Mackay adds: “I am not a church goer but I salute St Matthews for making the stand they have made on this issue. I love the progressiveness of St Matthews.”
Reverend Nelson says that they have been getting quite a few positive responses, which is unique for a country that normally does not talk about such issues seriously.
It’s not part of our national character to make a lot of public statements, we tend to say ‘well that was interesting. But in this case there are a lot of people making very passionate and strong statements, saying it’s time for the church to change. And I’m delighted. Maybe we’ve reached a point of maturity in our culture where we’re willing to let go of these old fears and prejudices.
Another reverend at the church, Reverend Cardy, had some very wise words for those who think that anti-gay discrimination does not affect them.
“I think it does harm to our spirituality and we need to face up to that. The gay community has shown great resilience and strength after living through years of this discrimination, they know what this discrimination does to them, but I don’t think the rest of us know what it does to us.”