The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, August 11, 2008

Anglicans, Gays and the Big Picture

Two articles in Saturday’s Birmingham News, in their Religion section, looked at the issues surrounding the recent Lambeth Conference for Anglicans. My links are from other papers, because I couldn’t find the stories on the Birmingham News site.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams used century’s old Anglican diplomacy to weather the recent Lambeth Conference which ended with Williams suggesting that more time is needed to consider the issues that threaten to divide the denomination. The issues, of course, are whether to allow gay clergy and blessing of same sex relationships.

Lambeth ended without the issues being resolved, just as expected.

But the Archbishop is OK with gays, according to some letters recently disclosed that he wrote in 2000 and 2001. The letters were written to Deborah Pitt, an evangelical Christian who asked for his opinion.

I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it has about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.” he is quoted as writing.

The Story

Another article looked at Black Episcopal bishops questioning conservative ties to African Anglicans.

The differing opinions on acceptance of sexual minorities has led conservative Episcopalians in the United States to form ties with African Anglicans, at the expense of black Americans here in their own country, according to a prominent black bishop from Maryland, Bishop Eugene Sutton.
Sutton likes to point out “the historical anomaly of dioceses that have nothing to do with the black community going all the way back to Africa to make these relationships.” And he says that the use of scripture to oppose homosexuality is reminiscent of Biblically based arguments supporting slavery and racism.

I don’t know how many black bishops there are in the Episcopal Church, but eight attended Lambeth, and all eight favor gay rights in the church.

That is in contrast with the perception of black clergy in general. Most gay advocacy groups as well as the mainstream media seem to promote the idea that blacks are more opposed to gay rights than whites; therefore all blacks are opposed to gay rights. (Completely discounting the fact that there are black gays and lesbians. Really. Even here in Bessemer.)

Not so fast, according to Jasmyne Cannick , who points out that prominent black clergy are supportive in a post following the California marriage ruling and reprinted in part as a blowback in the L. A. Times.

“Nationally, the list of prominent Black clergy supporting the right of lesbians and gays to marry has grown exponentially over past several years to include among others: Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. William Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Church, Rev. Peter Gomes, Harvard University Chaplain, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, his wife Rev. Marcia Dyson, and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.

“Yes, that’s right, the pastor whose comments were inaccurately portrayed by the media as being unpatriotic and then used by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s opponents to distract voters, is and has been a supporter for equal rights of lesbian and gay couples. That somehow was missed in all of the criticism being hurled at Wright.”


Cannick also points out that the perception is that “gays are white and blacks are homophobic,” and that the perception is wrong.

It is sometimes joked that every prominent person in Bessemer is a minister, most of whom are black. The mayor, at least one council person, the mayor’s assistant, the police chief, neighbors, friends; all either are actual ministers or act like they are at times. But not one has taken a public stand on issues of sexuality that I am aware of. Some of my African American neighbors and friends are supportive, but who knows about the rest of the crowd?

Well, we do know at least two white Bessemer clergy members that are supportive of gay rights, and at least one city council member. How about the rest of you?

Meanwhile, read some of Bishop Gene Robinson's posts about the conference at his blog, Canterbury Tales from the Fringe. Thanks for this link to Chris at Blethers.

3 comments:

Chris said...

Interesting post, Joe. We need to push away at people's perceptions - a hard row to hoe!

Joe Openshaw said...

Thanks Chris.

Yes and those perceptions are just the tip of the iceberg regarding both gays and people of color. Both groups suffer from sterotyping.

And I am so glad that you, the English teacher, did not read this before my spell checking, proof reading friend contacted me and I made corrections.

Chris said...

Joe, I'm a polite English teacher!