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Evangelicals being 'forced out' of Church of England for being gay

by Eno Adeogun

Jayne Ozanne, an influential Church of England evangelical who is gay, has promised to raise the issue at the General Synod next month and ask whether churches are breaching the official guidelines of the House of Bishops.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, she had "learnt of dozens of cases recently" and said she expected a #MeToo" moment for the Church to be stirred up.

Ozanne and six other gay churchgoers shared accounts of their treatment to the newspaper.

One of the Christians in her thirties said she was forced to leave her church in London after being threatened with damnation when her priest suspected she was having a lesbian love affair.

"He told me I had to stop this relationship immediately. I could have the thoughts, but not act. I was a Sunday club leader, a women's study group leader. I was booted out within three weeks," the woman who wished to remain anonymous said.

Despite moving to a different evangelical church that is more accepting of gay people, she is still excluded from any leadership role.

"In Britain most people would think this could happen in an extreme Muslim environment," she said. "They don't think fundamentalist Christians would behave like that."

Others shared stories of being allowed to stay in their churches but removed from all positions of responsibility where they served in different departments - including making tea and coffee.

The Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, chairwoman of the Church of England's pastoral advisory group on issues of human sexuality, said: "We are all made in the image of God and there is a place for everyone in God's church. I recognise with gratitude the service and contribution LGBTI+ people bring to the life of our church - in a whole range of roles."

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