Tuesday, April 26, 2016

More Commentary on Tony Spence's Firing and Consequences for U.S. Catholics, Commentary on Norwegian Lutherans' Embrace of Same-Sex Marriage

More commentary on two stories that have been discussed here recently — the firing of Catholic News Service director Tony Spence after he tweeted criticism of the anti-LGBT laws recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi; and the decision of the state church of Norway, its Lutheran church, to recognize same-sex marriage and to celebrate same-sex marriages in churches (the latter story has been discussed by Chris Morley in comments here lately).

For New Ways Ministry, Bob Shine comments on the Tony Spence story: 

More than sixty church workers have lost their jobs in LGBT-related disputes since 2008, but the recent news of Tony Spence's departure from Catholic News Service (CNS) gained wider attention in Catholic media because of his high-profile position. 
Spence was director and editor-in-chief of CNS, which is owned by the USCCB. His forced resignation has chilling implications for church workers and for the bishops' conference. It raises troubling questions for the U.S. church primarily because the USCCB responded so swiftly and completely to accusations leveled against Spence by several small right-wing Catholic groups. The alleged offenses for which Tony Spence was fired are sending tweets about LGBT news stories.  For example, in one tweet he described a story about transgender Catholics sharing their stories as "fascinating." In another, he called anti-LGBT laws in places like Mississippi and North Carolina "stupid."

At his Hepzibah blog, Alan McCornick writes about the Norwegian Lutheran decision: 

For years we have allowed the religious right to claim it speaks for God.  We have confused religion with belief, doctrine with spirituality, morality with silks and satins, groveled around on the floor when this kinder-than-most pope throws some crumbs to the gays and the women under the table.  We have not fought back against slimebags like Ted Cruz working to persuade the dim-witted among us that he will do God’s work like only the candy man can. 
What this small move in a small snow-bound country far away is all about, besides granting dignity to its members who happen to be gay, I mean, is demonstrating to the world that it is possible to be Christian and to live in full confidence and dignity that you are god-worthy, acknowledged and embraced by your religious community.  Not an outcast to be pushed away from the communion rail to make room for corrupt politicians, rapists and murderers who manage to hide their sins while you ask others only to accept your god-given sexuality. 
Conservatives like to stress tradition.  We've always had male-female marriage, they tell you.  Wrong to change.  Black kids next to white kids on the school bench, maybe, if you insist, women in the voting booth, maybe, if you insist.  But gays at the altar rail?  Why do you insist on slapping the face of God? 
The world is a bit less messed-up today than it was yesterday. 
Norwegian Christians?  You're a lovely bunch of people.

As Chris Morley noted in comments here several days ago, and as Peter Montgomery reports in his weekly round-up of international LGBT-and-religion stories at Religion Dispatches last week, the Catholic bishop of Oslo Berndt Eisvig has decided to go to the mat with the Norwegian Lutheran church and the LGBTQ community, with a proposal that Catholics stop solemnizing civil marriages of straight couples to prevent any request from gay couples to have a Catholic wedding — though all ministers of any religious background opposed to marrying gay couples are allowed to refuse to do so under Norwegian law.

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