Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pushback

First, here is an expensively produced spot telling us that fags are good only for burning:






And on this clip that's been making the internet rounds a Catholic hierarch dickhead sings Onward Christian Soldiers, and for men only:




One of the things I've always complained about Roman Catholics is their reluctance to challenge their hierarchs, even when they are such an embarrassment to their faith.

Perhaps my complaints have been heard.

Six churches in the Seattle Diocese are refusing to cooperate with their bishop in his drive to gather signatures on a petition to put Washington State's new marriage equality law up for a vote.
It's not much, but it's a start, and a brave one. What's more, these priests who pulled out of the petition drive appear to have the full support of their parishoners.

About 250 priests in Austria signed a "Call to Disobedience" that so rankled the Vatican that the Pope went to the trouble of publicly condemning the effort during Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter's. The priests are part of an Austrian and German dissident Catholic movement called Die Pfarrer-Initiative. They may be few, but they are clearly enough to get under the skin of the Grand Inquisitor. Remember, the Reformation began with one man burning an excommunication letter from the Pope.

I noted in an earlier post that the murder of Daniel Zamudio galvanized Chileans to turn out to support, and to successfully pass, legal measures to guarantee civil rights for gays and lesbians in housing and employment, and to include violence against gays and lesbians in hate crimes laws. These are federal guarantees, something that the USA does not yet have. These measures were first introduced into the Chilean legislature in 2005 and faced determined, organized, and well financed opposition from the Catholic hierarchy and evangelical organizations. It is shameful that it took the brutal murder of a young gay man to move people on this issue, but at least they did move, and Daniel Zamudio did not die in vain.

And what about everyone else who isn't Roman Catholic?

As I've noted on this blog, the very presence of Jay Bakker belies the idea of "monolithic unity" among evangelicals on the gay issue, as well as a lot of other issues. And he is not alone. There is Evangelicals Concerned. But, for the most part, the evangelical community remains a desert for gays and lesbians.

The internal struggles of the old "mainline" churches over their gay and lesbian members have gone largely unnoticed. These struggles have been going on within these churches for decades beginning in the early 1970s (in some places like San Francisco, since the early 1960s long before Stonewall). In the vanguard are the Quakers and the United Church of Christ (ironically the historic descendents of the Massachusetts Puritans who persecuted the Quakers). Both of these churches have fully integrated their gay and lesbian members into the full life of their churches at all levels including leadership and marriage. After them is the Episcopal Church which consecrated as bishop an openly gay man in a non-celibate relationship in 2003, and an open lesbian in 2010. Episcopal bishops from James Pike to Paul Moore to John Shelby Spong publicly championed the cause of gay civil rights outside the church and gay acceptance inside the church. It looks to me like the Methodists in the USA are bringing up the rear.

In Britain, there is an ongoing internal struggle within the Anglican Churches over gay acceptance with an organization specifically advocating for gay Anglican Christians called Changing Attitude. Not all of the change is coming from the ground up. Recently, the Anglican Archbishop of Wales called for a dramatic reconsideration of the way churches treat homosexuality, and more importantly, the way they've treated gays and lesbians. He suggests that it is time for the Church of Wales to seriously consider gay marriage.
Here is Archbishop Barry Morgan's full address to the governing body of the Church of Wales. This is a choice passage from his address among many:
But can celibacy be imposed? Shouldn't it be freely undertaken as a personal vocation by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike? As Rowan Williams once put it, "anyone who knows the complexities of the true celibate vocation, would be the last to have any sympathy with the extraordinary idea that sexual orientation is an automatic pointer to a celibate life: almost as if celibacy before God is less costly, even less risky to the homosexual than the heterosexual." And is not separating mind and body or feelings or orientation from practice a kind of dualism which the church has condemned in the past since human beings are a unified whole and cannot be compartmentalised in such a way. If that is true of humanity in general, why should we expect people of a homosexual disposition to be singled out in this way?


There are active gay movements in other religions, including Islam.


These efforts are small and vulnerable, but they are a start. I am always mindful of the epigram from Ovid:

Gutta cavat lapidem non bis, sed saepe cadendo (A drop hollows out a stone not by falling twice, but many times)

Our persistence will finally break this rock hung round our necks, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. Who better than us to draw the fangs from our deadliest enemies in the pulpits?

Let us remember that other spiritual movement in ancient times which began not with success, but with failure and defeat, with the execution of its Founder, and the scattering of His followers.


EXTRA:

There are a host of small independent gay affirming evangelical churches in Brooklyn and the Bronx that primarily serve gays, lesbians, and transgenders of color. I remember reading an article on a couple of these churches in the NY Times (I think). I'm not able to find it. I doubt it was in the Voice, but I can't think where else I could have seen it.

MORE EXTRA:

Even in Oklahoma City, no gay paradise, there is a religious effort to protest the visit of one of the bloodiest of all our enemies, Scott Lively.

Kudos to that eminently fair minded atheist Joe Jervis for keeping up with all of these things and publishing them on his blog, JoeMyGod.

3 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Nice rundown, Counterlight. Thanks. We'll get there if we keep plugging away.

smithj1@unisa.ac.za said...

Dear Counterlight

I came across your blog a while back and think it is excellent. I found your "Passion" series very moving, particularly "Jesus prays alone".

I've been on the fringes of religion now for many years; the problem with religion is that it attracts what might be called "the essentially conservative personality". I don't necessarily mean "politically conservative" - I mean the sort of person who tends to look back on some sort of "golden past". This is what you are up against.

When I first got involved with the Anglican Church, the big issue (it seems laughable now!) was the working mother. The dominant feeling at the time was that a Christian mother should definitely not go out to work and I well remember many heated discussions on this issue.

I recently had cause to visit a blog written by an Eastern Orthodox man who I happen to know defines himself as a socialist politically. And yet he (and his blog followers) are convinced that - and I quote - the contraceptive pill is an example of "depraved modernism". For all his political correctness, he seems to have not the slightest inkling of the huge improvement in women's quality of lives brought about by ths form of medical technology. You see what I mean about "the golden past"?

Not that this is any consolation to gay Christians, or to Christian women who have been evil enough to terminate a pregnancy but, well, there it is.

Jane Smith (Pretoria, South Africa)

Counterlight said...

Indeed Jane, I've had some similar experiences of that kind of disconnect as well, though right wing Christianity is much more thoroughly incorporated into right wing politics in this country.