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Sandi Toksvig, who lives in Herne Bay, criticises Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby over LGBT+ issues at the Lambeth Conference

Sandi Toksvig has vowed never to set foot inside a church until it changes its position on homosexuality in a strongly-worded open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The broadcaster, who lives in Herne Bay with her wife of 16 years, spoke out about the church's views on LGBT+ inclusion amid a contentious Lambeth Conference.

Sandi Toksvig. Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Sandi Toksvig. Photo: Steve Ullathorne

The 64-year-old posted the message to the Most Reverend Justin Welby on Twitter, lamenting that the main take away of the conference - which brings bishops from around the world together in Canterbury - “seems to be that gay sex is a sin”.

But the Archbishop has since replied to her, saying he would "love to sit down over a coffee to talk with you about it".

Mrs Toksvig said: "It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that.

"Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on?"

The two-week conference, which started last week, gathers together bishops from across the Anglican Communion for discussion of church and world affairs.

Documents published by the Lambeth Conference to inform the clergy ahead of their debate reaffirmed a 1998 conference resolution that stated: "Human sexuality is intended by God to find its rightful and full expression between a man and a woman."

This was followed on Tuesday by remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which confirmed this is a view shared by most of the church's provinces.

"Many Provinces – and I say again, I think we need to acknowledge it’s the majority – continue to affirm that same-gender marriage is not permissible," said the Archbishop.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

In her Twitter post, which has now been shared by almost 10,000 people, Mrs Toksvig criticised the Archbishop for being too rigid.

"Oh Justin, how can you be so stuck?" she asked.

"Are you saying that the Bible teaches us that none of us can ever learn from experience? That we can never grow and gain a deeper understanding of human behaviour than we had 2,000 years ago when you could still feed a crowd with two loaves and a handful of fish?"

Mrs Toksvig revealed she is hosting a charity concert for Ukrainian refugees at her local CofE church this Saturday, but said she will "not feel welcome knowing the long shadow my sin casts".

"I'll never set foot in an Anglican building again. I'll come back when you decide to welcome all of 'God's children' on equal footing..."

She continued: "Despite my lack of religion I have often found solace in churches. We all need calm spaces to gather our thoughts but I am done.

"After the concert I shall leave the church and never set foot in an Anglican building again. I'll come back when you decide to welcome all of 'God's children' on equal footing."

She ended her letter by inviting the Archbishop to call her and arrange to meet for coffee so she could "talk him round", adding: "You never know, I might even forgive you".

Justin Welby has since responded to the letter, saying he would love to sit down for a coffee with her.

In a letter shared on his Twitter profile, he said: "The hatred and threats that you - and so many other LGBTQI+ people - have experienced in the name of Jesus Christ are a sin.

"I have absolutely no doubt about that and want you to be in no doubt of my position. The Church of England agrees with this view and vigorously opposes conversion therapy.

"The Anglican Communion is a complicated global group of churches. We can talk about this when we meet. There are deep differences in many areas. This week we have been honest about the differences and nevertheless accept each other.

"There is much more to say about Christianity being based and founded and lived in love, and we can talk about that in more depth later."

The Lambeth Conference, hosted by the University of Kent, has been further marred with controversy as more than 100 people marched in protest over a lack of LGBTQ+ inclusivity at the event.

While the spouses of heterosexual clergy were invited to attend the conference, homosexual spouses were excluded.

The Bishop of Argyll & The Isles, Dr Keith Riglin, condemned the policy as a “plain injustice”, speaking at the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) in Edinburgh in June.

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