Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today in religion: a sentence, and an exorcism.

Frank Schaefer is a Methodist minister who was tried for performing the same sex marriage of his son, which goes against the rules.  He was found guilty, and suspended for 30 days....unless he does it again, in which case he will be defrocked.  His supporters overturned the chairs (think temple and moneychangers) and Schaefer was defiant.
During testimony Tuesday, Schaefer said he would “not go back to being a silent supporter” of gay people. ...“I am a minister. I have to minister to those who hurt,” he had said on the witness stand.
Five additional pastors will be tried this year.
“This is an effort to push out people who are in ministry with gay and lesbian people. It’s very sad,” said the Rev. Dean Snyder, the longtime pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Dupont Circle, who came from Washington with 10 congregants. Snyder has performed more than 20 same-sex weddings but has never had a complaint filed against him.
Expect that to change.  Seriously, the man performed a marriage of his SON.  What kind of "family values" is the Methodist Church really promoting here?

Incidentally, the man who brought the complaint against Schaefer (just a scant month before the 6-year statute of limitations ran out) is the son of the former choir director of Schaefer's church.   Apparently, the congregation is very conflicted.
“His preaching was unorthodox. It’s hard to pinpoint anything. The church just felt like it was changing,” said Kitty Mease, 85, who left two years ago after a half-century at Zion. While Schaefer didn’t preach explicitly on homosexuality, she said, general comments about inclusion felt coercive in a traditional community.
Yeah, because inclusion is so against Christian tradition.... seriously, this is all tangled up in an angry congregation and bad church situation. Same sex marriage may just be a lightning rod for other things.

The Methodists are behind other mainline protestant denominations in being very anti-equality.  Part  of the problem is that they are not independent, but an international church.  The growth in the Global South means that very conservative views of homosexuality are in the majority, so the more liberal Americans are chafing at the limits.

Hmmmm, conservative world-wide church.  I've heard that before....

In Illinois today the Governor will sign a marriage equality bill.  At the same time, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield will hold an exorcism.  No I am not making this up.
An exorcism, which often refers to a rite performed on an individual, is applicable in the case of same-sex marriage because the devil can appear “in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church,” the diocese of Springfield said in statement. 
“All politicians now have the moral obligation to work for the repeal of this sinful and objectionable legislation,” Paprocki said. “We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church.”
Bp. Paprocki has not identified how two gay guys marrying in Boystown has any effect whatsover on the  church, let alone "persecution".  Wouldn't it be something if they held an exorcism against the child abuse and coverups in the RC church.  Or against the grinding inequality of our society

But no.  Protesting Teh Gayz trumps it all.

Like the Methodists, American Roman Catholics (who are amongst the biggest supporters of marriage equality, much to the dismay of their bishops) have to decide what it means to belong to a church that actively opposes the civil rights of a minority group.  There is talk in Methodist circles about a schism.  In American Catholicism, there is a steady stream of defectors, so that "ex-Catholic" is now the 2nd- or 3rd-largest denomination in the US.

Small wonder.

From The American Prospect, an article on The Gay Awakening:
With the rift in the pews growing, the big question for religious institutions is whether the issue will lead to denominational splits as it did with slavery, which cleaved the Baptist Church and many other protestant denominations in two. A similar breakup occurred in the early 20th century over the doctrinal issue of Biblical inerrancy—the idea that the Bible contains the perfectly preserved word of God. Jones says that whether churches see similar schisms over same-sex marriage depends on how persistent the divide is. Given how quickly attitudes are changing, he thinks such a largescale schism is unlikely. "When you have big splits, the issue has to sit around for a while," he says. "But the issue is moving too quickly to produce settled coalitions that are facing off." 
The Methodists don't appear poised for a similar schism—at least not yet. But as the number of Methodists who support gay rights creeps upward, it is bound to create friction. For Schaeffer, whose trial is scheduled to conclude tomorrow, the issue is not an abstract one. "Really, this isn't an issue of theology or doctrine," Shaeffer says. "This is about people. It's about the life of my child."


dr.primrose said...

"The conflict hit its zenith this spring, when Schaefer removed the longtime choir director, a member of the more traditional group. Within days, her son secured the 2007 wedding certificate from Massachusetts and sent it to the bishop within a few weeks of the statute of limitations running out."

So the whole Methodist trial is the product of revenge and pay-back. Apparently acceptable Christian behavior.

IT said...

Yes it's hardly reflecting well on them, is it.

And this: Boger s[the son] aid he has “no issue” with people who are gay — though he opposes same-sex marriage.

“I do think homosexuality is unnatural and immoral and sinful. But you still need to treat people with dignity and respect. It’s not an issue,” Boger said.

I would have called it a nadir, rather than a zenith, however.