Progressive Christians are finding their voice on a national stage and offering a radical welcome to all. Will their voices finally be heard in Washington and in the wider culture?
Item 1 :Just this week, Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, went on Oprah Winfrey's show and announced "being gay is a gift from God". As documented by Susan Russell's blog, Rev Bacon then on successive occasions defended and extended his comment, explaining that "I meant exactly what I said". He went on to say that his mail was running 30:1 in favor of his inclusiveness and affirmation. "Ironically," he lamented, "some of the most meanspirited email I received was from Christians".
Item 2: Apparently in response to the outrage over Rick Warren giving the invocation at the Inauguration, the Obama transition team invited Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to give an invocation for another inaugural event. Robinson is an out gay man who recently celebrated a civil union with his partner. On an interview on Rachel Maddow's show , Bishop Robinson reminded the audience that "Jesus had the biggest tent of all," scolding those who choose to exclude.
Item 3: In a series of screenings around the country, the award-winning film For the Bible Tells me so challenges the Christian Right's attack on homosexuality by showing the lives of faithful GLBT people and their families.
Item 4: The California Council of Churches filed an amicus curiae brief against Prop 8. This group represents over 4000 congregations of different mainstream traditions as well as ecumenical allies from other faiths.
Item 5: Finally, today, the estimable Mary Frances Berry of the Commission on Civil Rights takes on the subject:
To help resolve the issue of gay rights, President-elect Obama should abolish the now moribund Commission on Civil Rights and replace it with a new commission that would address the rights of many groups, including gays.....We know that the anti-gay rights people are on the losing side of demographics. They are fighting savagely as a result. But perhaps with other changes, they are losing the battle to define Christianity by their exclusionary rules. And perhaps with the progressive Christians increasingly and vocally on our side, we can win this battle and offer the positive side of change, with peace.
There is no need to analogize the battle for the rights of gay and lesbian people to the struggle of African Americans to overcome slavery, Jim Crow and continued discrimination. But as Coretta Scott King said to me as she tried to imagine what position the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would take on “don’t ask, don’t tell”: “What’s the yardstick by which we should decide that gay rights are less important than other human rights we care about?”
Cross posted at StreetProphets, at Daily Kos and TPM Cafe