Queer Eye for the National/Global Anglican story

steve charleston.jpgBefore we move on to some serious news articles about the conflict in the worldwide Anglican Communion, let us first pay a brief visit to the community announcement columns of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, 421 S. Second St., will begin a two-week discussion series on “Queer Eye for the Church Guy (and Gal)” during its adult forum following the 10 a.m. Eucharist tomorrow. A mediator from Just Solutions will facilitate and record members’ responses to controversies involving church actions concerning homosexuality locally and nationally, to be forwarded to a diocesan task force.

No, this is not a satire taken from the pages of a rebellious cyber-list for traditional Episcopalians. The topic of these sessions is actually very mainstream, these days, in mainline Protestantism. What still zings the reader is the name of the program.

On the serious side, this little newspaper item also contains a reference to a journalistic issue that I have underlined many times here at GetReligion. Note that this progressive parish is planning this educational series to deal with “controversies involving church actions concerning homosexuality locally and nationally.” Note the absence of the word “globally.”

In other words, this item assumes that the conflict over the ordination of gays and same-sex unions is essentially an Episcopal Church story, rather than a global Anglican Communion story. Here at GetReligion, we have tried to praise religion-beat reporters who have worked hard to cover both angles of this complex story. However, many reporters continue to see this as the story of a small number of fundamentalist Episcopalians attempting to split the national church. If seen from the global angle, it is a story about the national Episcopal Church openly splitting off, on issues of sexual morality and the sacraments, from the global Anglican Communion.

In other words, many reporters use the same lens as the “Queer Eye for the Church Guy (and Gal)” program planners.

However, some journalists are trying to be fair to people on both sides. Note this fact paragraph from Time’s “The Tale of Two Churches: Strife over Episcopal policy on gay clergy split one congregation. How many other schisms will follow?” This piece was written by Marguerite Michaels and David Van Biema.

No two breakups are alike, and Beach’s split with St. Alban’s has its singular aspects. (There was no squabble over common assets, for one thing.) But it may also be predictive. In electing the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an actively gay man, as a bishop in 2003, the Episcopal Church U.S.A. placed itself at the excruciating center of American mainline Christianity’s struggles over homosexuality and at odds with much of the international Anglican Communion to which it belongs. In mid-October the communion will publish a task-force report expected to address the effect of Robinson’s election on the American church’s Anglican status; a task-force news release promised “radical changes.” Conservatives hope that at a minimum, the findings will act as a lever to force the establishment of some sort of alternative U.S. hierarchy for traditionalists. If not, they warn, there will be thousands of defections like Beach’s. Thus far, the Anglican Communion Network, a kind of conservative hierarchy in waiting, claims affiliation with more than 500 Episcopal parishes. (An Episcopal spokesman says the number is lower.)

The story is full of solid human details, if a bit thin on some of the legal complexities and unresolved questions. For example, what happens to local church properties if the Archbishop of Canterbury went so far as to actually break Communion with the progressive U.S. church establishment? Who gets the parish keys if Canterbury is in Communion with the U.S. rebel alliance and not the empire based in the denominational headquarters in New York City? (The photo with this piece is from Queer Qlub at Episcopal Divinity School.)

Here is the top of another example of a global-picture story, written by Larry B. Stammer of the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps we have hit the point where the action has moved to the global structures of the church and reporters are simply following the logical flow of the events.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The nation’s Episcopal bishops concluded a five-day meeting here Tuesday, saying they were anxious but hopeful that their church would remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion despite the Americans’ liberal stands on homosexuality.

The meeting here came just three weeks before an international church panel appointed by the archbishop of Canterbury was scheduled to make public recommendations on the future relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. That panel was formed after the Episcopal Church, which is the American arm of Anglicanism, consecrated an openly gay priest last year as bishop of New Hampshire and allowed local bishops the option of permitting same-sex blessings in their dioceses.

Some conservatives around the world reportedly are pushing for a strong rebuke of the American church, possibly forcing it out of active membership into some kind of observer status or even outright expulsion.

The last line of the piece was especially sobering: “Despite an official theme of reconciliation, several conservative bishops boycotted the event.”

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://www.joe-perez.com/weblog.htm Joe Perez

    “Queer Eye for the Church Guy (and Gal)” — Yeah, what a zinger. They should change the title to something more hip. Gal is definitely out. Guy is most definitely now considered a gender neutral term.

  • Craig.

    This my dears,

    Is another example of the church being over the top, down the street, and around the corner.

    Your message?

    M-M & F-F sexual relations — at any age — are as normal as bluebirds in the sky.

    Further, you subject us all to the logic that “all are equal & complete” in the eyes of GOD — therefore ANY VARIATION on this theme is also complete! !!

    i.e.: One Girl with One Baby is complete. AND, four boys with ONE baby is also complete!

    Despite the evidence that Homosexualists perpetrate sex crimes at a 10x rate vs. the heterosexual population, you PERSIST IN CLAIMING PARITY!!! HA!!!!

    Even if we TOTALY DISREGARD SCRIPTURE we find that the promotion of same sex relations is diliterious to the well-being of society.

    Craig.

    “Yes Virginia, there are conservatives in California.”

  • http://www.anotherthink.com Charlie

    I like the fact that the good people of Christ Church Episcopal will spend 2 weeks in discussion, then will forward their comments to a “diocesan task force” for consideration. Meanwhile, the “Queer Qlub” at the Episcopal Divinity School is holding coming out keggers for new students. The horses have wandered to the next county and the faithful are still discussing the pros and cons of closing the barn door. Democracy at work.

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html Jason Pitzl-Waters

    “in Communion with the U.S. rebel alliance and not the empire based in the denominational headquarters in New York City?”

    Well, we now know where Terry Mattingly stands on the issue. The conservatives who don’t want gays to be accepted as clergy are the “rebel alliance” fighting against the evil progressive “empire”. Don’t try to wiggle out of this one, you know as well as any kid growing up with “Starwars” that those are value-laden statements.

    Also, in a related issue (one brought up in these comments), even if Jesus had personally spoke out in length about the issue of homosexuality (which he didn’t) I truly doubt he would make the hateful “slippery slope” arguments I see many conservatives making. Furthermore, I find it funny how socially conservative Christians love to draw on things that the Old Testament or Paul say about gays, but then feel free to ignore the Bible (and the words of Jesus) when it comes to things like war, and global justice.

    In the end it makes this non-Christian think that Christians are far more concerned with who wants to have sex with who than the far more pressing issues going on in the world today. Isn’t there a verse in the Bible about taking the plank out of your own eye? Hey in fact that could be a great title for a series of talks…

    “Taking the plank out of your own eye for the straight guy”

  • Marion R.

    “A mediator will . . . record members’ responses to controversies . . . concerning homosexuality . . ., to be forwarded to a diocesan task force.”

    Am I the only one who was deeply disturbed by this??

    It’s Orwellian!!

    Ladies and gentlemen, the issue is not “controversies concerning homosexuality”. The issue is: How have we gotten to the point where there are controversies conserning homosexuality?

    We gotten here via “mediators”, “facilitators”, and “responses forwarded to diocesan taskforces”.

  • http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com Jeff the Baptist

    “… even if Jesus had personally spoke out in length about the issue of homosexuality (which he didn’t) I truly doubt he would make the hateful “slippery slope” arguments I see many conservatives making. Furthermore, I find it funny how socially conservative Christians love to draw on things that the Old Testament or Paul say about gays, but then feel free to ignore the Bible (and the words of Jesus) when it comes to things like war, and global justice. ”

    Jesus spoke on sexual morality several times. His view of what constitutes sexual morality was basically Mosaic or STRONGER. He point was always repent and stop sinning. There is no reason to believe his views on homosexuality would be significantly different from his views on adultery.

    Speaking of logical fallacies, your making the Complex Question. War and global justice are about as unrelated as you can get from human sexuality. Jesus spoke on personal holiness and interpersonal relations. He deliberately ducked politics and global issues like war and government.

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html Jason Pitzl-Waters

    “Jesus spoke on sexual morality several times.”

    You ignore my point, which is that Jesus wouldn’t have made the wrong-headed “slippery slope” arguement modern conservatives make. I highly doubt Jesus would equate homosexuality with child-rape or beastiality.

    “He deliberately ducked politics and global issues like war and government”

    Right, those sermons were for a “interpersonal” relations only, he never meant to influence global issues.

  • Joan O.

    Jesus would equate homosexuality with child-rape or beastiality because he would say that whatever is against God’s law is simply against God’s law. And both homosexuality (noted in the OT) and child rape (“whoever doest this to the little children should have a millstone hung aroun his neck and should be tossed into the waters”) and beastiality (marriage has been for man and woman since the Creation) are against God’s law. It is that simple,


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