Monday, June 25, 2007

Unimpressed with the Anglican Church of Canada

Yesterday, the 2007 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada decided not to bless same-sex unions.

The motion "needed a triple majority of bishops, clergy and laity to pass. The laity voted 79 to 59 in favour and clergy voted 63 to 53, but bishops voted 21 to 19 against." In other words, two clergymembers sunk the whole progressive battleship, despite a clear majority in favour of blessing the unions.

Why would they do this? Well:

The bishops' action will spare the Canadian church from censure by leaders of other branches of the global Anglican Communion, almost all of whom are vehemently opposed to blessing same-sex unions and permitting priests to be in open homosexual relationships.

But it will anger many Canadian Anglicans, particularly in large urban centres, and isolate the U.S. Episcopal Church, which alone in the worldwide Anglican Communion has approved a liturgy for same-sex blessings and appointed an openly gay bishop.

I have to say, as a nominal Anglican, this looks like cowardice to me. As far as Christian sects go, I felt the Anglicans did a masterful job of changing with the times, rejecting the old where it had lost its purpose but without the sorts of reactionary purges (ideologically speaking) most of the mainline protestant churches came out of. And in 2002, the Diocese of New Westminster proved it by approving same-sex blessings. More specifically, parishes were allowed to choose whether or not to perform such blessings. Now that has been kiboshed (does this mean the unions already blessed are unblessed?)

The only silver lining is that the synod did not close the door on a future reconsideration of the issue, ruling beforehand that "the blessing was 'not in conflict with' core doctrine a vote of 21 to 19 in the House of Bishops, and 152 to 97 by clergy and lay members, who voted together." (Diocese of New Westminster)

The timing of the decision was, in my opinion, particularly poor, as the Globe points out:

The Anglican's vote coincided with Gay Pride Day in Toronto - where prominent Anglicans Bill Graham, the former foreign and defence minister, and Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario, attended a service at Toronto's gay Metropolitan Community Church.

One downtown Toronto Anglican parish, Holy Trinity, passed a resolution prior to general synod stating it would approve the blessing of same-sex unions regardless of what synod decided.

A lot of Anglican churches in Toronto are inclusive, so I doubt this decision will be quietly accepted. As an aside, I'm amused the Globe described the MCC as "gay" when queer-allied is more apropos.

A quick (and slightly tongue in cheek) breakdown of other religions' views:

  • Haredi Orthodox Judaism: "homosexuality is a sin" = no same-sex marriage, ever
  • Modern Orthodox Judaism: "we thought homosexuality was a sin, but if it's genetic/inherent, we'll reconsider" = no same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future
  • Conservative Judaism: American and allied rabbis: "homosexuality hasn't been a sin since 2006" = acceptance of partnerships and ordination of homosexuals, but no performance of marriage rites; other rabbis "uhm, no, still a sin" = no same-sex marriage, ever
  • Reform Judaism: "we've been cool with it since the 1980s" = same-sex marriage since 2000, although up to the congregation to decide
  • Reconstructionist Judaism: "we're more reform than reform" = as above, but congregations are strongly encouraged
  • Adventist: "you can join, but we won't ordain, bless, or marry you" = no same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future
  • Baptist: ranges from "evil!" to "we support your right to a civil marriage" = fence-sitting (not always a bad thing)
  • Lutheran/Reformed: "okay by us" = differs from country to country, but many allow same-sex marriages or blessings
  • Presbyterian (U.S.): "blessings are okay, but they are not marriages" = more fence-sitting (not always a bad thing)
  • United Church (Can.): "okay by us" = local option, if your parish is okay by it you can have full marriage
  • Quakers: "seriously? we love's kind of our thing" = probably
  • Mormons/LDS:
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity: "love the sinner, hate the sin" = no same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future
  • Methodist: "you can join, and we'll ordain you, but no blessings or marriage" = wait for it
  • Metropolitan Community Churches: "it's in our mandate" = hells yes
  • Roman Catholic: "we miss the last Pope...he really sold the whole 'love the sinner, hate the sin' thing" = as if--they're a long way off from ever approving same-sex unions
  • Islam (apparently the one thing all the sects are united on?): "evil!" = could they be worse than the RCs?
  • Hinduism: "theoretically we're okay with just about anything...theoretically" = no same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future
  • Buddhism: "dude, there's like 20 kinds of Buddhism" = your mileage may vary
  • Sikhism: "we have no scriptural authority for this, but we're pretty sure it's bad" = no same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future
  • Confucianism: "you have to get married and have kids, but what you do for fun is your own business" = probably no same-sex marriage, but I can see at least three ways around this
  • Taoism: "we're pretty married to the yin/yang thing" = officially no same-sex marriage, but as above, open to interpretation

The thing that always gets me is the sects that allow openly LGBT members and even ordains them, but is not ready to marry them. Thereby forcing them to live in sin, even if you don't think they're sinning...awesome. Well played.

The General Synod was liveblogged: no, really!

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