Thursday, July 18, 2013

Worth Quoting: fallout from the UK

The Houses of Parliament this week approved, and the Queen assented to, Marriage Equality.  Starting next year, gay couples in England and Wales can be married.  (Scotland and N. Ireland have substantially independence on the matter;  N.Ireland said "no", and Scotland is now considering but seems likely to agree).

The CoE Bishops who sit in the House of Lords ("the Lords Spiritual") have played their role;  Abp Welby voted for a "wrecking amendment" that would have scuppered the whole thing, as did several others.  Some bishops abstained from that vote.  After the vote went overwhelmingly for Equality, the Church of England dropped its official opposition to the new law. Of course that it oppose it to begin with was ridiculous.  Although the CoE is a state Church, it has ensured  that it not only NEED not, but it CANnot provide gay couples with marriage.  This careful protection of itself from gay cooties, along with its agonized twisting and turning over women bishops, has basically ensured its irrelevance. 

The response to the passage of the bill is as expected;  there is much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes from the opponents, including the Roman Catholic Bishops, which has been described over at Thinking Anglicans.

One of the commenters of that post, who goes under the name "Interested Observer", posted the following, which I think is spot on.  S/he writes,
"right wing conservatives do not speak for the majority of Christians"
Unfortunately, the media narrative is that they do, just as bearded fascists speak for the majority of Muslims. Stephen Green and Anjem Choudrey are two sides of the same coin: media-savvy, simplistic, authoritarian and always available to the Newsnight researchers who have them on speed-dial. 
The problem with the likes of Choudrey and Green is that, for the naive, they set up a vision of "true" religion. That is then reflected in the likes of Richard Dawkins, who takes that fundamentalist discourse, and packages it up with "People of faith think like this, and if they don't, they aren't really members of their claimed faith". ...
Taken together, that is a powerful pressure on young, naive, new believers to choose broad-brush, un-nuanced and generally conservative positions (and churches) over more nuanced alternatives. It is quite clear, see also Alpha Course, that new arrivals into Christianity are often given the impression that homophobia, young-earth creationism and the rest are "real" Christianity, while the positions of the CofE and even the Catholic Church are weak and compromised. 
This is not helped by liberal CofE bishops whose pronouncements, cf. Rowan Williams, are incomprehensible and sound like weaselling to anyone not prepared to subject them to extensive exegesis (ie, almost everyone). The media has the choice: Green condemning homosexuals and threatening everyone with hellfire, or Rowan Williams saying something more suited for a supervision with a final year theology student. I suspect that young people coming to (or rejecting) Christianity, not having been raised in the CofE/ Methodism/etc could genuinely not know that there are alternatives to Christian Voice. 
We see the same thing here, where marriage equality is viewed as "anti-Christian" although given the number of churches marching joyfully in the recent San Diego Pride parade, it is clear that it takes a willful blindness to think so.

"Interested Observer" concludes,
Those of us who are not involved in churches, but see them as vital to our civil society, can only lament this, and hope that you get your act assembled before it's too late. Stop pandering to the reactionaries. Get out there, and tell people your good news.
Let's hope that wiser heads in the CoE hear this call!

Interestingly I was chatting with one of our blog friends over on FB, lamenting how far ahead the UK is in civil equality than we are.  But she pointed out that TEC is much farther ahead than the CoE, and envies that.  I think that you have been doing a better job of telling people your good news, especially after the last General Convention.  Seeing bishops step out and providing voices for social justice is a good thing. Identifying yourselves and reaching out is too.   Do it some more!


JCF said...

And for my trouble, I get called "Enabler". Oy vey.

IT said...

I dove in to support you, even though I know better than to engage that crowd.

JCF said...

I saw that "EyeTee", thanks. To quote Angel (in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), often there "it's like talking to a wall---only you get more from a wall." }-/ ANYTHING connected to the "r" word (religion) provokes an *irrational* fury, that can sometimes be frightening (all the times I, as a religious person, am threatened w/ prosecution or forced mental illness treatment. Hello, Stalin! :-X)

[I should note, this is just a few days I left a post at "The Catholic Herald" (the UK's Popoid paper). I'm still getting angry "you are not a Christian" reactions from that one, too. Again I say, Oy vey.]