I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Religion in America

Caryle Murphy and Alan Cooperman write in the Washington Post that Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility. The title is correct but the article seems to paint this as some kind of new revival, it's not, they have always been there. The change is in the media. The unholy alliance between the corporatists of the Republican Party and the Mullahs of the religious right is coming to an end. As a result it is now politically OK to recognize the existence of the liberal Christians.

The latest issue for the mullahs is gay marriage and that issue is going no where as Frank Rich points out in his column today.
Though President Bush endorsed the federal marriage amendment then, there's a reason he hasn't pushed it since. Not Gonna Happen, however many times it is dragged onto the Senate floor. The number of Americans who "strongly oppose" same-sex marriage keeps dropping - from 42 percent two years ago to 28 percent today, according to the Pew Research Center - and there will never be the votes to "write discrimination into the Constitution," as Mary Cheney puts it.

The real Republican establishment - including Laura Bush, who has repeatedly refused to disown the many gay families at this year's White House Easter Egg Roll รข€” senses the drift of the culture. "Will & Grace" may have retired to reruns last week, but it's been supplanted by a gay "Sopranos" tough guy who out-brokebacks Jack and Ennis.
I have a new quote in the header above; "No prejudice is ever debated that isn't already dying". This is from an interview with Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, formerly the bishop of Newark, N.J, in the Oregonian.
Bishop says gay rights secure
The next volley about gay rights in the Episcopal Church may come next month, but one retired bishop says the battle has already been won.

The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, formerly the bishop of Newark, N.J., and a spokesman for progressive Christians, visits Oregon next week for two free public lectures. The author of more than a dozen books, including "The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love," he is an outspoken critic of conservative Christians.

Spong's visit comes less than a month before delegates of the U.S. Episcopal Church will gather to discuss their response to the Windsor Report. Issued by the Lambeth Commission on Communion in 2004, the report criticized the U.S. church for the selection of an openly gay bishop the year before. Ten Episcopalians representing the Western Oregon diocese and Bishop Johncy Itty will attend the 75th General Convention on June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio.

Earlier this month Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Francisco voted not to ordain an openly gay bishop, but the issue will be on the table again at the convention. The American church will focus on its strained relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion. For his part, Spong said in an interview that a church divided over the issue is better than a unified church that fosters discrimination. His answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What makes you think the gay-rights war is done?

No prejudice is ever debated that isn't already dying. The reason we debate a prejudice is because it isn't holding anymore. We saw black people as being less than human. But we began to see them as human beings. It took a while to work that out. We used to define women as dependent, weak, emotionally hysterical, incapable of bearing responsibilities. Women began to challenge that in the 20th century. The same thing is happening with gay people.

And now the church has an openly gay bishop, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

He is the first honest gay bishop. We've had gay bishops and priests for years.

Do you honestly see this acceptance of gay bishops as an inevitable development in the life of the church?

Yes. I grew up as a racist in a segregated world (in Charlotte, N.C.). Over time, my mother changed -- but not a lot. I changed more because I had more opportunities. I grew up looking forward to having a wife who was a servant, and then I looked in the eyes of my daughters and I didn't want them to be part of that.

It used to be that gay people were (considered) mentally sick or morally depraved, that they needed to be cured or converted. If you couldn't cure them or convert them, it was OK to repress them, even to kill them. And then came Matthew Shepherd, who was killed seven years ago. We still have hate crimes, but we condemn them; we didn't condemn them back in the 1930s in the South. All those people went to church, and they didn't condemn the Klan and they weren't convicted for lynching.

These are examples of the "change of consciousness" that you talk about?

It has to do with the fact that human life is always rolling. We elect a president every four years and, in those four years, people die and we have new voters. There can be a complete turnover in four years. That goes on with prejudices, too.

And it doesn't worry you that this issue could break the American Episcopal Church apart from the larger Anglican Communion?

I've lived too long. We were told when we ordained blacks that it would split the church; when women were ordained, it would split the church; when women became bishops, it would split the church. The issue is what is right and what is wrong. I have never known a church to be helped by what is wrong. Unity is a virtue in the church, but not the supreme one. Truth is higher.
The Religious left has always been there. The only change is that it is now OK for the media to talk about it.

Frank Rich's commentary is behind the wall at the NYT but you can find the entire thing above and it's worth a read.

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