From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Editorial writers praise pan Episcopal Churchs decisions

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Tue, 12 Aug 2003 12:02:31 -0400

August 10, 2003

Editorial writers praise, pan Episcopal Church's decisions

by Jan Nunley
[ENS] "Looking at the vast collection of coverage this church has been
getting," Dean George Werner told the Episcopal Church's House of
Deputies in remarks on the last day of General Convention, "this Sunday
may be one of the greatest if not the best missionary Sundays in the
history of the church." 

Judging from Sunday editorials, stories, and online sermons, Werner
wasn't far off. If you put the words "Episcopal" and "gay" into the
powerful Google News search engine on the Sunday after the convention
adjourned, you could easily come up with more than 5,000 "hits" in a
quarter of a second, in online editions of newspapers ranging from the
New York Times to the Taipei Times.

And the reactions ranged just as widely.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, hometown newspaper of General Convention's
host city, featured half a dozen op-ed pieces both lauding and lamenting
what the visitors had done.

"Indeed, the Church has been shaken this week. It was shaken when the
Church acted to change its views of slavery, and it was shaken when the
church acted to change its views on the role of women," wrote Bishop
James Jelinek. "I trust that a living God will once again stand to tell
us we are beloved, and how much He longs for us to be one. The response
is up to us."

".The Episcopal Church, to its credit, has courageously faced up to a
question that carries considerable risk to its temporal well-being,"
said the lead editorial, entitled "Episcopalians: An enriched debate on
homosexuality." "Our point is not to comment on the propriety of a
religious body's beliefs, but to express admiration for the American
church's robust discussion on a topic so concurrent with secular

Retired Episcopal priest Anthony Morley commented that "Episcopalians
can take credit for keeping the focus on how people should live and love
together, rather than just on sex alone. But they and everyone else need
to remember that whatever the special news today, religion is about the
whole of life still."

"Episcopalians' inability to defend core doctrine suggests that mainline
American churches are losing their theological moorings, and
increasingly falling prey to the prevailing winds of secular culture,"
countered Katherine Kersten, senior fellow at the Center of the American
Experiment in Minneapolis, in "Gospel of inclusion shortchanges
scripture." "The gospel of inclusion preaches a reconstructed,
therapeutic Jesus, who accepts us exactly as we are. Traditional
Christianity, however, holds that Jesus calls us to repentance of sins,
and to transformation through a new life lived in accordance with God's

Even an editorial on Minnesota politics cited the controversy as an
example of how "spin has replaced fact." "Fox News' Bill O'Reilly did a
segment last week on New Hampshire's new gay Episcopal bishop and the
pornographic Web site 'that he founded.' It was a flat-out lie, but no
one seemed to care," said the unsigned editorial.

Potshots and praises

Further afield, some editorial writers took potshots while others lofted

In the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Mark Steyn, describing himself as
"an adopted New Hampshirite," referred to Robinson as "the most
celebrated symbol of Granite State manhood.the Great Gay Face."

"If Bishop Robinson feels God working invisibly in him during gay sex,
good luck to him. In older times, he and his partner would have set up
their own church founded on the principle thereof," Steyn wrote. "But
back then the Episcopal Church still understood itself to be part of the
Kingdom of God, not a federation of self-esteeming cantons where a
sacrament is whatever turns you on."

".Now, the undisciplined want their own leaders who not only say they
understand human frailty, but who have embraced it and use a lack of
personal restraint as a platform for leadership in the church," wrote
Yolanda Henderson in the Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, Tennessee. "But
as leaders of the flock, your path comes with expectations that cannot
give way to political correctness. Perhaps a man's greatest work is done
when he remains in the congregation -- encouraging others in their
trials and taking time to restrain his own."

"The angry reaction to the Episcopal Church's recent brave decision to
appoint an openly gay man as a bishop shows again how often religion
follows when it should lead," Presbyterian Bill Tammeus wrote in the
Kansas City Star. "Religion, while honoring its valid traditions, should
help people live fuller lives of love and service. That's what the
Episcopal Church has done by making Gene Robinson a bishop. That
decision reflects what is best and most healthy about religion, whether
or not most of the religious world recognizes it."

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald lampooned the
charge of "inappropriate touching" leveled against Robinson by a Vermont
man. "Let's agree on one thing right from the top: The arm is not an
erogenous zone," Pitts said, adding that he hoped the accuser "had the
good taste to be embarrassed by his own silliness."

"Once the furor dies down, the confirmation of the Reverend Robinson
could attract more people to the church, gay and straight, because it
will be seen as open and inclusive," commented an unsigned editorial in
the Baltimore Sun. "Looking beyond the purely religious impact of the
decision, Bishop-elect Robinson suggested Tuesday that his confirmation
is part of a seismic cultural shift in which the country 'is moving into
a kind of mature adulthood with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian
folks . . .' That mature adulthood is long overdue."

Invoking the late Mike Royko's alter ego, Chicagoan Slats Grobnik,
editorial writer Mike Kelley of the Memphis Commercial Appeal painted
the Episcopal Church as a broad tent - "like baseball. Who would ever
think there'd be room enough here in the city of Chicago for such
different groups as White Sox fans and people who like the Cubs?"

"'So who are the White Sox people and which one of these Episcopal
groups represents the Cubs?' I asked.

"'Oh,' Slats said. 'Time will sort that one out.'"

--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News Service.

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home