The Archbishop of Canterbury has said MPs threatened him with parliamentary action during their attempts to “force” same-sex marriage into the Church of England.
The Church of England’s legislative assembly, the General Synod, passed a motion to allow the blessing of same-sex couples in civil partnerships earlier this month.
There are concerns the results of the vote could draw up divisions between the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said that he was summoned twice to Parliament over the issue, insisting that he refused to be “dictated to”, “blackmailed” or “bribed”.
Most Rev Justin Welby said that he was summoned twice to Parliament John Walton
He was speaking at his presidential address to the 18th plenary of the ACC and said “rules about sexuality in the Church of England” have been tabled for discussion as a “result” of growing atheism in the UK.
Addressing the threats, Welby said: “The result is clear.
“In the last few weeks, as part of our discussions about sexuality and the rules around sexuality in the Church of England,
“I talked of our interdependence with all Christians, not just Anglicans, particularly those in the global south with other faith majorities.
“As a result I was summoned twice to Parliament, and threatened with parliamentary action to force same-sex marriage on us, called in England equal marriage.
“When I speak of the impact that actions by the Church of England will have on those abroad in the Anglican communion.
“Those concerns are dismissed by many, not all, but by many in the General Synod.”
He continued: “Obedience to God comes ahead of loyalty to country.
Welby insisted: "Obedience to God comes ahead of loyalty to country." James Manning
“That was not popular when I said it, last Monday night, to some Members of Parliament.”
Welby said that in the Church of England, archbishops do not chair the General Synod or organise its debates.
“In the UK and in many parts of Europe the majority of people now belong to no faith at all,” he said.
“They are not Christians, they are not Muslims, they are not pagans, they are not Jews, they are not Hindus. They do not belong.”