The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was inspired to join the clergy by an anti-gay American pastor, The Times has claimed.
The British newspaper says the head of the world’s Anglican Christians took holy orders after hearing California Pastor John McClure speak in London.
McClure is a vocal opponent to gay marriage and abortion. He also believes the Apocalypse has started, that the ‘new Babylon’ is on America’s East Coast and will burn in an hour and that the world will end in the first half of this century.
Welby was a committed Christian but worked in the oil industry until he heard McClure speak in 1987. He subsequently decided God wanted him to join the clergy.
But it is not clear if McClure’s more extreme opinions have had any influence on Welby – although he did use his first public statement after being sworn into office to attack same-sex marriage equality.
The Times quotes McClure as saying: ‘Though we have not met or communicated in the many years since 1987, I do have great admiration for Archbishop Welby and am delighted for the Anglican Church to have him as leader.’
Reverend Sharon Ferguson of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement told Gay Star News it was still early days for Welby’s relationship with LGBT community. She and other pro-gay Christian groups are due to meet him after Easter.
She added: ‘We can all be inspired by people for all sorts of reasons. It may not be anything to do with those views. It might have just been he thought he was totally wacky and there should be someone sane entering the clergy.’