The Church of England’s Moral Welfare Council… in 1954 became the first religious or political organisation to call for legalization [of homosexual acts], and the Council’s secretary, the Revd D. Sherwin Bailey restated this view in evidence to the Committee. When in 1960 the House of Commons defeated a motion for legalization, one of the major arguments used by the advocates of reform was the fact that the Anglican, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches all supported a change in the law. During the parliamentary debates of 1965-7, defenders of the status quo fiercely attacked the churches for failing to stand up for these allegedly Christian laws.
– Hugh McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s, p. 43
People just assume that religion has always been against homosexuality. People assume that Christianity always lags behind social change. People assume that Christians never take the lead on important social issues.
Need I remind you that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist Minister, and that many leaders of the civil rights movement were also ministers? That William Wilberforce, leader of the emancipation movement in Britain was Evangelical extrordinaire of his day?
And now I learn that the biggest churches in Britain supported the legalisation of homosexuality against the popular opinion of British parliament in the 1950s – a decade before it even began to be spoken about! Why does this come as a surprise? How is it that people got the idea that religion is somehow inherently backwards?