815 Second Avenue, Episcopal Church HQ
In an excellent post, our own Episcopal atheist, IT, throws down the gauntlet and challenges the Episcopal Church as an institution and as a community, to speak out loudly and forcefully against the ferocious hate speech spewing from certain pulpits and going viral online.
... something like this, Pastor Curtis Knapp in Kansas:
It's but a short sharp step from this kind of violent rhetoric to real physical violence (also, it's rhetoric like this that makes me think that it is time to repeal "Godwin's Law"). As the poet Heinrich Heine pointed out, "Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people." A few generations later, his fellow countrymen forcefully demonstrated the truth of his insight. Are we going to wait around for Heine's insight to be proven again?
I think that these folks are so round the bend because they know that they've already lost. The last respectable bigotry will die with them, and they know it. Their own children are not with them on this issue, and in fact have turned against them (so many of these folks, even Fred Phelps, have offspring who publicly turned against them or came out gay themselves). Their destiny is to join the racists in remote compounds and on the social margins. Tomorrow does not belong to them.
That doesn't mean that they can't do a lot of serious damage in the meantime. I think it more likely that they will strike out violently as they become more marginal and desperate. Indeed, it may already be happening. Anti-gay violence spiked last year.
I think IT is right.
It's time for the Episcopal Church to quit dithering and to speak out forcefully against this crap. Like it or not, the Episcopal Church now plays a leadership role on gay equality. The Church ordained open and partnered gay and lesbian bishops. Episcopal bishops, suffragan and diocesan, speak out publicly for marriage equality. Same sex marriages are becoming more common in Episcopal churches. The Episcopal Church has an army of openly gay and lesbian clergy. Most of the gay-sympathetic theology out there was pioneered by Episcopal writers. Episcopal congregations are continuing to prove themselves receptive and supportive of their gay members, and to provide a haven for gays and lesbians expelled from their own churches. What's more, the Episcopal Church finds itself singled out and held up for scorn by large sections of the Anglican Communion for acting on its conscience. The original intent of the Windsor Commission and the Anglican Covenant was to punish the Episcopal Church.
It's time for the Episcopal Church in its General Convention, by its leadership, and by its pew sitters, to speak out unequivocally against this verbal violence, not distance itself from it like the Southern Baptists and the Roman Catholic hierarchy, but oppose it in no uncertain terms, and make public that positive alternative it has created and kept secret for 30 years now.
I fear that much of General Convention's energy this July will be spent on responding to the Anglican Covenant (a dead issue as far as I'm concerned since the C of E voted to reject it in its diocesan conventions), and on administrative reorganization. I'm so afraid that they will miss a golden opportunity to actually do something timely and relevant. It would require Episcopalians to abandon their nice-at-all-costs reticence, and it might even require them to be rude, but it would be a great service.
In an age where public discussion about religion is dominated by fanatics and suicide bombers, polite thoughtful arguments just don't cut it anymore.
The Episcopal Church needs to make common cause (and be seen making common cause) with these people:
... and not these people (no matter how much we may like their hats and dresses):