Sunday, July 17, 2011

The importance of the clergy in the fight for equality

From the New York Times:  (my emphases)
The conventional — and erroneous — perception of the gay-marriage issue is that it pits secular forces against religious ones. From New York to California, wherever and whenever the battle has flared, news coverage has focused almost entirely on the religious groups who uniformly denounce it: Mormons, Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians and many Hispanic Pentecostals and African-American Protestants.

Yet the passage of same-sex marriage in New York last month, just two years after its defeat here, attests to the concerted, sustained efforts by liberal Christian and Jewish clergy to advocate for it in the language of faith, to counter the language of morality voiced by foes. In so doing, they provided a kind of political and theological cover to the moderate and conservative state senators who cast the vital swing votes for a 33-to-29 margin.


“If religious support is fractured, and supporters of the legislation can point to clergy who are on their side,” [history professor Julian E. Zelizer] wrote in an e-mail, “then it’s easier to counteract the claim of religious conservatives who say there is only one answer to this question. As in previous examples, politicians draw on clergy to give themselves moral authority when taking on these kinds of social and cultural issues. We know more about how the right has done it, but liberals can do the same.”

Yesterday, in San Diego's gay pride parade, St Paul's Cathedral marched: clergy and parishioners, gay and straight, young and old, to raucous cheers from the crowd, and the occasional spectator running over to grab the hand of one of the clergy to thank them, or asking where the church is.

As the Dean's sermon today concluded, quoting the words of theologian Walter Brueggemann: "Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said that the arc of history is bent toward justice. And the parallel statement that I want to make is that the arc of the Gospel is bent toward inclusiveness."

Let those with ears, hear!

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