Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Educational Resource from Faith in America: Wolf Blitzer Hosts Dialogue about Churches and Gays

There is nothing wrong with being wrong. But there is something wrong with being wrong and continuing it: for those interested in the interface between religion and gay rights, the video at the head of the posting is a valuable new resource from Faith in America. It's a dialogue that journalist Wolf Blitzer moderated recently at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina.

I like Mitchell Gold's statement that there's nothing wrong in being wrong, but there definitely is something wrong with being wrong and continuing in one's wrong judgments and wrong behavior. This puts me in mind of what Pope Francis says in his recent interview about how he himself has moved from a religion-based rigidity--from authoritarianism--in his early life as a priest, to a stance that is more able and willing to listen to and learn from others. 

The pope freely admits that he was wrong in some of the decisions he made in the past as a Jesuit superior and as an archbishop. He begins his interview defining himself as a sinner.

How vastly improved the dialogue between U.S. faith communities and the gay community might be, if more members of the former started from the premise that they might well be wrong about what God thinks about homosexuality, and that they might might well be capable of sin, and if they stopped seeking to define the latter as, in their very nature and ipso facto, the direst and most exemplary of sinners.

And a p.s. relating to the North Carolina context of this discussion: last Friday, the two Catholic bishops of North Carolina, Peter Jugis of Charlotte and Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, announced that they are withdrawing from the North Carolina Council of Churches. Their reason? The Council of Churches supports marriage equality and won't spout Catholic anti-abortion rhetoric. 

My prediction: a generation or so down the road, historians of American Christianity will look at the morally blinkered position taken by bishops like Jugis and Burbidge re: the issue of same-sex marriage as an astonishing abandonment of the principles of the Christian gospels, and they will ask how Catholic religious leaders in the U.S. managed to convince themselves in the early 21st century that they were serving gospel values by attacking gay people and their human rights. They'll also note the bald political partisanship of bishops claiming to stand on high moral principles as they bashed gay folks, when their primary goal was to send conservative Catholic voters to the polls in swing states to pull the GOP lever in critically important elections.

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