Wednesday, 26 June 2013

American church responses to Supreme Court decisions

Updated

The Supreme Court of the United States today issued two decisions relating to the marriage of same sex couples. The Guardian summarised it this way:

A landmark supreme court ruling struck down a controversial federal law that discriminated against gay couples in the US, delivering a stunning victory on Wednesday to campaigners who fought for years to overturn it.

The court also dismissed a separate appeal against same-sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal.

Together, the two rulings mark the biggest advance in civil liberties for gay people in a generation, and come amid growing political and international recognition that same-sex couples deserve equal legal treatment…

The Federal DOMA opinion is here. The California Proposition 8 opinion is here.

Numerous statements in response were made by bishops of The Episcopal Church and other senior church officials. Here are some links:

Update

Church leaders outside The Episcopal Church expressed contrary views:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 at 7:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA | equality legislation
Comments

The statement issued by the Bishop of Los Angeles can be found here - http://episcopalnews.ladiocese.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3160285

Posted by: dr.primrose on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 1:36am BST

What a joyful day!!! I personally rang the bells at our parish in Denver. I couldn't think of a good number, 17 since DOMA was passed? 44 since the Stonewall Riots? I settled on 22, the number of years I've been with my partner.

Note, we still need to go out-of-state to one of the ones that does marriage. It will be a couple more years before we get it here, we just got Civil Unions. So we have to travel to get our Rights.

I loved reading all the comments. Would have liked more joy from KJS, but the Deans, Pres of the Deputies, and other bishops were terrific! It would be lovely to accept the invitation at Grace Cathedral. I just want to get married in my home parish, however, in my community with my friends. I hope we can do that soon.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 2:13am BST

Wonderful news from America !

Wonderful response from the Presiding Bishop !

TEC truly leads the Anglican Communion in human rights, ethics and godliness.

How thankful we.

Scotish equal marriage bill being published 8 a.m. today I understand !

'all things are returning to perfection'
(I know, i know :) )

Posted by: Laurence on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 7:06am BST

Yes TEC truly leads. The CofE can only look back on a solid record of discrimination and can only therefore issue weak apologies. TEC however did the right thing 1st time around (ok, 2nd or 3rd but they got there) and paid a heavy price at the hands of the CofE and the "Communion". Utterly glorious to watch YouTube video Episcopal bells being ring in celebration. What a wonderful witness.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 8:05am BST

I know that recently on this blog Judith Maltby reminded those of us who are priests in the C-of-E but were raised in TEC (she's one too)that we shouldn't be uppity, that every part of the Anglican Communion has its own strengths and weaknesses and of course she was right, but just to say that today feels like a pretty good day.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 9:31am BST

It you want to see what decent American Christians are up against, read the article (and, worse, the comments) at

http://www.redstate.com/2013/06/27/yes-you-will-be-made-to-care/

Unfortunately, noisy fanatics like the one quoted below are increasingly what non-Christians think they hear when the Church of England speaks. They are wrong, as the CofE is not that hateful. But it is what they think they are hearing. That is a tragedy for everyone.

"Fortunately, I would predict that you will be homeschooling your kids (or putting them in private school) within a year or two. Not only could your kids have a homosexual as a teacher, but they will almost undoubtedly have classmates who have homosexuals as parents. And that's when things really fall apart for folks who Believe.

Homosexuals and "their" kids are moving into traditional suburbs all over the U.S. The homosexuals are taking over PTAs and community groups. They are planning block parties and taking over school boards. And most people in your neighborhood under the age of 35 will let their kids play with the homosexuals' kids. And if you say something about how the homosexuals are sinners, you will be the bad guy. You will be the evil one. For living in accordance with the Bible! It's like the whole world is upside down! And this will be true of friends who you know are Republicans. And it will even be true of some folks who you thought were Christians.

We have to fight back. We have to be true to Christ. But it isn't easy. And we will have to temporarily give up on some things like public education while we take the country back and educate the apathetic majority on this issue of sodomy and sin."

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 9:34am BST

Didn't the RC bishops in the USA call for a National Day of Prayer for the 'right' decision from the Sepreme Court?

Didn't work, did it? Perhaps God doesn't agree with them?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 1:09pm BST

Interesting range of pro and con reactions, but any any reaction on the ruling by the U.s. Supreme Court on civil rights and voting laws?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/25/us-usa-court-voting-idUSBRE95O0TU20130625

Also, what are the churches saying about the death penalty issue in the U.S., now that Texas has carried out its 500th state killing?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-27/texas-executes-500th-inmate-since-death-penalty-reinstated/4784884

Might eb an idea to look at the complete picture with reard to civil/human rights issues and the range of opinion by various denominations. I think, for example, the American r.C. Bishops are on record as being opposed to capital punishment.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 2:58pm BST

Interested Observer wrote "Unfortunately, noisy fanatics like the one quoted below are increasingly what non-Christians think they hear when the Church of England speaks. They are wrong, as the CofE is not that hateful. But it is what they think they are hearing."

Yes. That is exactly what we are hearing. Maybe our clergy and leadership types have a move nuanced view, but the rest of us view CoE through the filter of our culture. We have a whole, vociferous, "God Hates Fags" movement here. Some of them picket funerals, like the funeral of the young Matthew Shepherd, to make sure everyone knew that they thought he got what he deserved. Rowan did much to contribute to that attitude, as he was insisting that TEC do outright harm to me and my brothers and sisters and especially our LGBT clergy. CoE and Rowan Williams = God Hates Fags crowd in USA.

We know it's more nuanced, and that Williams and Welby don't represent the majority of CoE members. But you have to be tuned in to know that. For many hurting people, Williams was just one more nail in their coffin of depression and despair. Yet another message to our gay teens that god hates them.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 4:35pm BST

It's telling and in a way encouraging to see the continuing gulf between the schismatic conservative ACNA and CANA groupings vis a vis the Episcopal Church. Anglicanism is at a crossroads and slowly the whole denomination is moving towards what is actually its true 'traditional' position of openness, reason and compassion. It'll take a time for the entire Communion to catch up, but it will. One can't help thinking of the American Prohibition days in this context.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 7:16pm BST

Rod, a number of clergy have remarked on the gutting of parts of the Voting Rights Act. Here's a link to remarks from our President of the House of Deputies: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/president-house-deputies-us-supreme-court-voting-rights-ruling

And a number are also on record as opposing Capital Punishment. Our official policy is against it. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/06/13/episcopal-leaders-push-to-abolish-death-penalty-across-the-country/

We're hard pressed to work with a denomination, such as the RC's, because the RC's link state execution with abortion and thus what ought to be common ground is obliterated.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 27 June 2013 at 8:54pm BST

@ Cynthia, tks for the links, and with them a widening of the conversational context. I understand the divide with the R.C.'s. One laments the decline of the "Lund Principle" from the more ecumenical days gone by.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 1:29am BST

Cynthia, the problem is that the CofE has made an appalling strategic error. It comes from a naive attitude of thinking the best of people, no matter how difficult it is. That in isolation is a laudable way to behave. But as a basis for strategic planning, good intentions are not enough.

The CofE thinks that you can negotiate with irreconcilables. They think that people who believe homosexuality is the worst sin, and people that think that women are incapable of headship, actually don't believe either of those things and are just negotiating details. It's the old joke about belief in God being optional in the CofE, restaged: the debate rests on the assumption that no-one has core beliefs, and everything is about picking and choosing from a smorgasbord of individual positions.

They just don't get it. Opponents of same-sex marriage couldn't care less about quadruple locks and the anomaly of adultery and the issue of consummation, nor will they accept a little movement on some obscure doctrinal issue in exchange. They just don't like gays, and don't want them in their church or, ideally, in society at all. That's the end of it. You can't negotiate with them, because their essential position will not change.

The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for the ordination of women. Their issue isn't with oversight and resolution A versus B, their issue is with the ordination of women. There is no negotiation that will make things better. No concession will be enough, other than an agreement to not ordain women.

Once you have people who believe that they are being attacked the very existence of rights for others, you cannot negotiate. They will not move. That the CofE refuses to see this, and is unwilling to simply tell those that disagree to leave, is why it cannot ever resolve the issues. There is no compromise that will suffice other than giving them exactly what they want.

No-one seriously suggested that Apartheid should be phased out slowly to avoid upsetting elderly Voortrekkers, nor would they have been happy with that concession. The people that defended Apartheid defended it absolutely, not by discussing precisely which swimming pools should be de-segregated. The irreconcilables in the CofE are those Voortrekkers, and nothing will satisfy them. Sometimes, you have to accept that people are going to be unhappy.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 7:54am BST

As a New Zealand Anglican, I am proud of my Anglican Church's association with TEC! I am also aware of TEC's important initatives on issues of gender and sexuality -despite the all too often destructive comments from those former TEC people who have chosen to move out of their parent Church, in order to follow their own antedeluvian understanding of the human realities.

There can be little doubt that the enlightened stance of TEC has encouraged the US Government to bring justice to the LGBT community in North America. Deo gratias!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 9:37am BST

Thank you, Interested Observer. That is an interesting viewpoint and it is kinder to think of CoE through the lens of naiveté.

However, you are spot on about apartheid. And in the US MLK said that you can't legislate a man to love me, but you can legislate to get him to stop killing me. Something like that. And that is what happened. And we were left with a minority that would like to kill, but it's not as acceptable as the days of lynch mobs.

The hate is that intense, that real, and that intractable. -phobias, are irrational, whether it is homophobia or the racial or gender equivalents.

There are a lot of people who's hearts can be changed. I find it unlikely, however, that the anti-gay and anti-women activists will change, they are too invested in their hate and have dressed it up elaborately with their "theology."

The day CoE makes the moral decisions and moves on will be a happy day. They will regain respect and stature, and people might actually listen to them when they address the plight of the poor. Right now, if you read the Guardian comments, people believe that the CoE worships a "sky fairy" who gives them a set of immoral rules to foist on people.

I pray that we can all come together to be a force for justice and decency for everyone, working together on behalf of people who can't work for themselves.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 4:21pm BST

'The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for the ordination of women. Their issue isn't with oversight and resolution A versus B, their issue is with the ordination of women. There is no negotiation that will make things better. No concession will be enough, other than an agreement to not ordain women.'

I think you're wrong, Interested Observer. Of course they think the ordination of women is wrong but they accept that it has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. They also accept - most of them - that women bishops will happen. They seek 'protection' for their position. I support them. The absolutist claim you make - which I believe to be profoundly wrong - can be tested. And the way to test it is to give them what they want (what, if you like, they say they want) and see what happens. I personally (because I know some of 'them' and communicate with others) am absolutely convinced that they will accept it. The lack of empathy/sympathy/compassion on this blog is deeply wrong.

Bye.

Posted by: John on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 6:57pm BST

"They seek 'protection' for their position."

Is that the "position" of a PERSON? Because that, I believe, is doable: just put a time limit on, and "the way of all flesh" will take its course!

But is that a "position", as in an army, dug in? The position of a parish, a diocese---multiple dioceses? Or a seminary? No. No bishop-who-is-female-excluded "positions" in perpetuity. That's a non-starter.

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 11:48pm BST

John, they were given what they said they wanted at the last synod. It was voted down, by the laity.

It's an open question as to whether that was people who thought the protections insufficient or the protections excessive, but my money's on insufficient: the house of laity was probably more opposed to women bishops than the church at large, and the suggestion that people in favour should vote no because the protections were too extensive didn't seem to get far.

Given the measure containing the protections was voted down, what would you suggest next if the intent is to appease the opponents? What additional protections would they like? The answer is, no protections are sufficient: any additional concession will be met with a demand for more.

In reality, of course, the CofE seems likely to take my advice (invoice in the post). The protections that were offered last year will be a high water, indeed a spring tide, in accommodation; there will be no more, and almost certainly fewer, the next time the measure is voted on. If opponents voted no in the hope of securing more concessions (or putting the measure into the long grass), as seems likely, then they will probably live to regret it. The measure will pass, probably with fewer concessions. They bluffed, but were called.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 12:09am BST

John, do you have a proposal that isn't hurtful to girls and women? Or in your view, girls and women are just supposed to suck it up and accept the inferiority message?

I have compassion for the brokenness of not being able to accept others. I don't have sympathy for the idea that this brokenness should drive the polity.

I can't find reconciliation at the polity level, only the parish pastoral level. That would mean they would have male clergy, but they don't get to disrespect women bishops.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 1:47am BST

I'm afraid I feel a distinct lack of empathy/sympathy/compassion when I read the Forward in Faith website.

Posted by: Helen on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 7:53am BST

"I'm afraid I feel a distinct lack of empathy/sympathy/compassion when I read the Forward in Faith website."

Exactly, that website, and their articles all scream "we're entitled to keep our bigotries!!!! We're absolutely entitled to not be questioned or challenged."

The traditionalists deny that their position creates enormous harm. Women leaders in Africa absolutely state that religion is part of the problem that subjugates women, leaving them vulnerable to deprivation and violence, such as rape. In the first world, we also have domestic violence, rape, and economic hardship that is solidly based on the unequal position of women. We have learned that inequity under the law and in governance always leaves the less equal parties exposed, and you will find depression, addictions, and whatnot, in addition to the other issues.

You will not find that the "traditionalists' have any sympathy for this condition, let alone accept partial responsibility that the church has fueled. No, regardless of what happens to others, they are entitled not only to their belief, but to thrust it on all others.

This does not remind me of Jesus.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 2:46pm BST

Helen,

I agree the FiF website is pretty terrible. I think that like many websites it isn't properly updated.

All: I was making a narrow point here - not arguing the whole caboodle.

Cynthia,

The way you express yourself is very tendentious: it seems you think that opposition to WO is immediately and per se 'hurtful', 'keeping women inferior', 'disrespect': it isn't; there are category confusions here. (I don't deny it often is the things you say, but we're talking logic here.)

Of course, I get bored arguing the way I do, because personally I am 100% in favour of WO and women bishops and I think/know they are absolutely right. But space that they can live with must be found for opponents. As for the pragmatic argument that they've had their best offer (Bishop Pete), I'm not sure. In some contexts (like the gay marriage one), I think the church has to give way (because gay marriage is a civil/secular thing). In this one, I think there may be too much fear. In any case, I think it should be tested. As for happens at Synod, who knows? I certainly hope there are liberals there like myself who are very uncomfortable with the way things have been handled since the last Synod.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 4:39pm BST

Point of privilege for my, um, "position": I'm in California, and the SHEER JOY that erupted yesterday, when marriages of same-sex couples resumed, is GLORIOUS!!! [These were courthouse marriages, but I expect marriages in TEC parishes to soon occur---decently and in good order, of course. Not to mention fabulous! ;-)]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at 6:39pm BST

I really appreciate what you are saying, John, I really do. And I know that my writing is passionate, to say the least. I'm in TEC and we've had WO and WB my entire adult lifetime, so I find these arguments against women absolutely off the wall irrational.

It just seems to me that what you are advocating for is for women and girls to accept the inferiority/unequal position for the sake of peace in the family. That is an enormous burden to put on girls and women. Enormous. It is terribly unhealthy.

We Americans do tend to filter these issues through our experience of Civil Rights and the theology of MLK, as well as his courage, and that of many others. The lesson that the unequal group is terribly vulnerable does seem to hold true cross culturally. The amount of depression and addiction amongst those being held down is harsh, as is, of course, economic deprivation and exposure to violence. The church contributes to the message that exposes women and children to that.

Jesus told us that we can tell real prophets from false ones by the fruits of their labor. What are the fruits of liberation? What are the fruits of oppression? What is the actual hurt caused by liberation/oppression?

I have advocated for a pastoral, parish, response. However, an inferiority message from the larger church is awful, and is made more awful by the established position of CoE.

I sympathize that CoE is very different from TEC in that half of us, or more, are converts. We chose it (me from the Greek Orthodox tradition). CoE members tend to be born into CoE and more is at stake emotionally. I get that.

But there's a lot of justice work to be done in this world. Guess where it starts? Cultures that have more gender equality are more prosperous. How can CoE be on the moral side of the fight against poverty when the condition of women and girls is integral to the solution?

I occasionally do some volunteer work in Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. I am a Witness to the boost families get when the women are empowered. Also to the boost they get when our female Presiding Bishop visits or our former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. I am a Witness, I have to speak and write.

I don't see a place for the bigotry in the Promised Land. I certainly don't see it feeding the hungry in Haiti. And that is quite sobering.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 30 June 2013 at 2:15am BST

John and Cynthia
I think this discussion has more than run its course, and we should move on to other topics now. Thank you.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 June 2013 at 7:05am BST

One of the most tiring points, John, is your double-standard of allowing all the "tendentious" speech and attitudes the con-evos want and then engage is sanctimonious censure with those you *purport* to side with. I find *that* deeply wrong.

I mean, seriously - Cynthia is a woman, and you sit there preaching to her about self-control and "gracious allowance." Apparently your graciousness and compassion run in only one direction.

With friends like these . . .

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 6:44am BST

Thanks Mark, that is exactly the point. I'm sick of the inferiority message, and I'm sick of the damage it causes in our respective cultures, and certainly more broadly.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:40pm BST
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