Sunday, April 14, 2013

The times they are a changin':
Religious institutions and their queers

As the Supreme Court deliberates gay marriage, there's a lot going on among the faithful and leaders are beginning to adjust.

Item: Long Island Roman Catholic Nicholas Coppola was one of those devoted parishioners upon whom churches depend: a lay eucharistic minister, catechist, altar server. That is, he filled all those roles until he married his husband. He'd never made any secret of being gay, but now his diocesan bishop made his pastor fire him from his parish work. For many years, that would have been that … but not these days. He rapidly discovered:

"The best part about telling my story is that it has reminded me that I'm not alone," Coppola told the press Thursday. "I have been given so many words and signs of support and love by my fellow parishioners at St. Anthony's Parish. … "There is a tremendous disconnect between the hierarchy and the people in the pews" on the issue of the inclusion of gays and lesbians, he said.

…Coppola remains deeply committed to maintaining his own place in his parish. Given the love he has been shown by his parishioners and pastor, he believes leaving would only exacerbate the pain already being felt by the community.

"St. Anthony's was, is, and will continue to be a welcoming parish," he said.

National Catholic Reporter

More on Coppola's story in his own words here.

Item: The headline says it all: Mormon Church Abandons Its Crusade Against Gay Marriage. After having provided the resources and foot soldiers to the 2008 campaign that passed Prop. 8 in California outlawing same sex marriage, the Mormon Church has recoiled from the backlash that followed.

Although the LDS's prophet hasn't described a holy revelation directing a revision in church doctrine on same-sex marriage or gay rights in general, the church has shown a rare capacity for introspection and humane cultural change unusual for a large conservative religious organization.

"It seems like the [Mormon] hierarchy has pulled the plug and is no longer taking the lead in the fight to stop same-sex marriage," says Fred Karger, the LGBT activist who first exposed the church's major role in the passage of Prop. 8. "The Mormon Church has lost so many members and suffered such a black eye because of all its anti-gay activities that they really had no choice. …"

The whole article is worth reading; it is interesting to observe such relatively supple behavior in so hierarchical an institution.

Item: Reverend Jim Wallis of Sojourners has made a career of being Mr. Liberal Evangelical, always ready with a quote for the media. But he and his institution have long been out of step with more inclusionary mainline Protestants when it came to recognizing the full humanity of gay and lesbian people. Now, less so … Sarah Posner has the story at Religion Dispatches.

Item: Retired Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has been a insistent voice for peace, justice and reconciliation for years -- and there's seldom been much indication that anyone of any importance in his institution (except possibly God?) paid any heed to his pleadings.

Recently the current archbishop of Detroit told Roman Catholics that people who differed from the denomination by supporting gay marriage should stay away from holy communion. Bishop Gumbleton doesn't agree and we tells a TV reporter why (the ad is only 15 seconds):
Fox 2 News Headlines
H/t the National Catholic Reporter, the Reverend Susan Russell, and The Lead for these stories.

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