Thursday, May 12, 2011

Minnesota Presbytery Votes to Abolish Discrimination in Church, Minnesota Catholic Leaders Work to Enshrine Discrimination in State Constitution

Outstanding commentary today by Terry Weldon at his Queering the Church blog about what the Presbyterian vote to ordain openly gay partnered clergy portends for churches in general.  Terry enumerates four significant implications:

1. The power of the anti-gay clobber texts will be undermined.

2. The Presbyterian decision (and the ELCA one before it) now put pressure on the Methodists and various evangelical churches finally to become truly affirming and inclusive--to move their nice rhetoric into the realm of reality by making it conform to actions.

3. There will be increased pressure for churches to solemnize same-sex unions.

4. And there will be increased pressure for marriage equality in civil law and practice.

Terry is right on the mark with these conclusions, I think, and this commentary is a very valuable summary of what the growing acceptance of the full humanity and full human rights of gay and lesbian persons means for the churches.  And that's why those within the Catholic church determined to continue using Catholicism as a mean machine to beat up on gays--people like Maggie Gallagher, for instance, whose National Organization for Marriage is in hyper-drive now producing ads full of vicious lies to combat gay civil marriage in New York--have no choice except to ratchet up the meanness.

They have no choice except to argue that the primary claim to fame of the Catholic church in the 21st century should be, precisely, that it is a mean machine.  That it alone stands for the ineradicable truth that gay and lesbian persons are second-class, inferior human beings, disordered persons who should be forced into the shadows because their disorder taints normal people like Maggie and taints the body politic.

And so, it's entirely predictable that Bully Bill Donohue responded to the Presbyterian decision yesterday with a statement at his Catholic League site gloating about how Catholic Republican orthodoxy has won the culture wars and liberal Christianity, whether of the Catholic or Protestant stripe, has lost.  Heteronormativity and male entitlement work, by golly, and those who want the unadulterated brand of orthodoxy, and not that wishy-washy second-rate product peddled by the Presbyterians, know where to get it.  We Catholics have cleaned the liberals' clock on numbers, Mr. Donohue gleefully announces: numbers talk and numbers win!

And as Bully Bill crows about the victory of his Catholic Republican brand of heterosexist male entitlement, the Catholic Republican church in Minnesota revs up its mean machine to help put an amendment on the state's ballot in the 2012 elections, which will inscribe prejudice into the state constitution.  Yesterday, the Republican-dominated state senate voted to put the anti-gay marriage amendment up for public vote in 2012.

And, as Andy Birkey reports at the Minnesota Independent site, as Minnesota Republicans move forward with their plans to use gay people, gay lives, and gay families to bring out conservative voters in 2012, the institutional Catholic church in Minnesota is battling right alongside the Republicans to enshrine discrimination in the state constitution (h/t to Dennis Coday at NCR).  Birkey reports on a Catholic pastor, Fr. John Echert of Holy Trinity/St. Augustine parish in St. Paul, who has announced a "parish campaign" to support the proposed constitutional amendment--and who has been challenged, at least initially, by a local Catholic who happens to be a Republican state representative, John Kriesel.

Though Kriesel and Echert appear now to have come to some understanding about these issues, Echert does not welcome Kriesel's warning to him that overt use of parish resources to pursue overt political goals may cross lines separating church and state.  When Kriesel wrote to tell Echert this, the pastor responded that Kriesel

better plan to take on the Archdiocese of St Paul, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the bishops of Minnesota and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, for that matter, for our united opposition to abortion and support for the protection of traditional marriage.

The Catholic church as mean machine: it's on full display in everything Bully Bill Donohue writes, it's on full display in the pro-discriminatory stance the American Catholic bishops have taken regarding gay and lesbian human rights, and it's on fully display in many Minnesota Catholic parishes right now, as a major Christian denomination in the U.S. actively promotes discrimination as a Christian value.   While a Presbyterian presbytery in the same state casts the deciding vote to abolish similar discrimination in the Presbyterian Book of Order.

It would be hard to find a clearer picture of the divided mind of the American churches about these issues right now.  And it remains to be seen who is going to clean whose clock when this historic struggle for justice and against discrimination is over and done with--to use Bully Bill's crude language about winners and losers and how we discern one from the other.

(And for powerful testimony about the debate in Minnesota, right from the spot, see Michael Bayly's account of what happened at the state capitol yesterday: Michael was there.)

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