Thursday, December 20, 2007

KJS For President?

Teresa Morrison writes on [an award-winning GLBT news site] about why she wants Katharine Jefferts Schori for president. See the whole article at


. . .Traditionalists also prefer their priests male (of the U.S. Episcopal Church’s 110 dioceses, San Joaquin is one of three that bars women from ordination, the other two being the aforementioned fledgling breakaway dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy), so it must have really rankled their sense of gendered righteousness when Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected in June 2006 as presiding bishop of the national body, making her the first woman to so lead the church. Complicating matters further, Bishop Jefferts Schori supports ordaining partnered gays and lesbians. And if there are just a few things up with which Anglican traditionalists will not put, gay-consecrating upstart lady priests certainly make the short list.

See, even when we’re talking about how it’s not all about the gays, there we are, mucking about in the margins. But it is difficult to miss the fact that we gays seem to put a bit of a crinkle in Bishop Schofield’s clerical collar. His diocese markedly stopped tithing to the national church after the consecration of Bishop Robinson. Meanwhile, his cathedral runs a ministry for those struggling with what Schofield calls “sexual brokenness,” a term, he says, that very much includes homosexuality. In his address to the clergy before the secession vote, he attributed a recent marked drop in Episcopalian service attendance to the “sexual innovations of the church.”

Bishop Schofield went on to tell the assembled clergy and lay members, “As bishops we have been able to provide a buffer for our people from the innovations that abound in dioceses all around us. A quick trip north, south, east, or west is all that it takes to wonder if we’re in the same church with those folks.”

I don’t need to move from the chair I’m sitting in to wonder whether Bishop Schofield and I are on the same planet, especially when he says, in deference to those who would vote against his ecclesiastical revolution, that he “know[s] what it feels like to be a minority.”

Admittedly, as a non-Christian lesbian, I can never fully appreciate the pain felt by a straight white Christian man in the United States. Given the discrimination Bishop Schofield must confront every day, it’s fortunate that he’s protected by a federal hate-crimes law so that he can’t be attacked for his religious beliefs or his white race -- not like I can be attacked for my “sexual brokenness,” as our Congress just freshly affirmed.

I firmly believe that within a generation the antigay hate speech Bishop Schofield so freely espouses will receive as little tolerance as we do today, and I look forward to a time when men like him will wish they had quietly harbored hatred rather than staking their reputations on it. Meanwhile, Bishop Jefferts Schori and other proponents of inclusion will be credited with having furthered the integrity of their faith institutions as dynamic, relevant forces in the 21st century.

Non-Episcopalian gays and lesbians might not think we have a dog in this fight, but we all have a vested interest in the outcome. We find ourselves in a very rare position here, one so unfamiliar to LGBT people we can scarcely grasp its significance: In the determination of the U.S. Episcopal Church to take a stand for our equality and inclusion, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, while the folks fighting for us risk their political and financial footing in the Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian body in the world, which is far more sympathetic toward your Bishops Schofield than to the progressive platform embraced by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the majority of her church’s 2.5 million members.

We never asked Episcopalians to take up our fight. Rather, it seems, their spiritual path has led them to believe that we aren’t any less deserving of ministry or recognition or even consecration simply because we happen to be unpopular sexual minorities. I wish that weren’t an extraordinary concept in 2007, but it is. And Bishop Jefferts Schori has hardly blinked in a year of denominational strife that has seen her character and her commitment to her religious office questioned, challenged, dismissed, and maligned.

In this age of gay bashing from all sides, it isn’t often we encounter a religious leader—or any leader—willing to bulldog for our rights, especially when faced with such a potentially high cost to herself and the institution she represents. What I wouldn’t give for such genuine representation in our elected officials.

When I consider the trail of broken promises left by those we helped to elect, Bishop Jefferts Schori's position becomes that much more remarkable. Reacting to the secession vote in San Joaquin, she not only refused to retreat from her position, she reiterated it: “We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership.”

I keep meaning to bake that woman a cake.

In my fruitless search for a presidential candidate who not only believes in my essential equality but is willing to say it out loud and stand by his or her position when the inevitable attacks come down, I wonder if any money I may have set aside to donate to that elusive candidate’s campaign might not be better spent tithing to the Episcopal Church. At least there I know my support will go toward furthering my rights, not sending them to the back of the bus—or throwing them under it.

This article made my day, and reminded my why I'm proud to be an Episcopalian.
Which would you rather be -- known for those whose inclusion in the life and worship of the church you fight, or known because of those whose very existence in the church you oppose?
At the heart of the arguments of the Schofields, the Ikers and the Duncans is the idea that some humans are less worthy than others -- specifically women and all gay men and transgendered and bisexual people -- and can therefore be barred from full participation in the life and worship of the church by those who are worthy, namely straight white men. God enters into this discussion only as a weapon with which to bash the less worthy.
And that's why they will ultimately fail.

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