Archive for the ‘religious left’ Category

Speaking about same sex unions at a campaign stop in Appalachia today, Obama said:

I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.

Although Obama doesn’t think gay unions deserve the word marriage, I think his rhetoric on behalf of gay equality is very compelling.  It’s not just that fact that he’s using religiously-based, but easily translatable moral imperatives to counter religious homophobia, but that he’s speaking on behalf of gay equality to largely hostile crowds.  Even if Obama doesn’t deliver on his rhetoric, it is very promising that we have a major Presidential contender speaking this compellingly and unabashedly about gay equality.


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South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu harshly criticized homophobia in the Anglican Church. From BBC:

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had failed to demonstrate that God is “welcoming”.

He also repeated accusations that the Church was “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests…

Archbishop Tutu referred to the debate about whether Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, could serve as the bishop of New Hampshire.

He said the Anglican Church had seemed “extraordinarily homophobic” in its handling of the issue, and that he had felt “saddened” and “ashamed” of his church at the time.

Asked if he still felt ashamed, he said: “If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes.

“If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

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From IHT:

Norway’s state Lutheran church on Friday lifted an outright ban on allowing those living in homosexual partnerships to serve in the clergy, but will leave it up to each bishop to make individual decisions on whether to employ them.

The compromise decision reflected the realization that the church may have to live with a deep split over the issue…

The decision means that six of Norway’s 11 bishops are likely to open the pulpit to gay clergy in partnerships. In a vote earlier in the year, those six bishops voted in favor of easing the ban.

The church already allows gays to serve in the clergy as long as they are not living in a homosexual partnership.

A promising step. Gay equality will never fully be achieved without movements like this from within the religious establishment. Organized religion has always been one of, if not the biggest obstacle to the societal recognition that gay individuals deserve the basic respect and dignity afforded to straight individuals.  Since religion has relatively large influence in governments throughout the world (in varying degrees), I believe the biggest push for gay equality will come from within the church.

In the US, Christianity was a driving factor behind both the abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. Now we’re beginning to reach an important juncture in the current movement for gay equality. Among all of the other societal questions being raised with regard to homosexuality,  Christians will have to reconcile with an inherent tension within the faith: Jesus’ call for love and charity on top of scriptural condemnation of homosexual activity.  I find it promising that more churches such as the Lutheran Church of Norway, and many episcopalian dioceses in the Northeast US, are beginning to reconcile the two in a way that supports the equal recognition and treatment of gay individuals.

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This month, Cato Unbound (a project of the Cato Institute) is running a discussion on religion and politics.  It’s worth checking out

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From Moral Man and Immoral Society:

Sentimentality is the peculiar vice of liberal Protestantism. By adjusting its faith to the spirit of modern culture it imbibed the evolutionary optimism and the romantic overestimates of human virtue, which characterized the though of the Enlightenment and of the Romantic Movement…

In spite of the disillusionment of the World War, the average liberal Protestant Christian is still convinced that the kingdom of God is gradually approaching, that the League of Nations is its partial fulfillment and the Kellogg Pact its covenant, that the wealthy will be persuaded by the church to dedicate their power and privilege to the common good and that they are doing so in increasing numbers, that the conversion of individuals is the only safe method of solving the social problem, and that such ethical weaknesses as religion still betrays are due to its theological obscurantism which will be sloughed off by the progress of the enlightenment.

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In follow up to the WSJ piece I linked to earlier today on the Christian Left, here’s a bit on the Muslim Left from Ali Eteraz, who has written a series of pieces on Islamic Reform in the Guardian. He writes:

I recommend creating a viable and well organised Muslim left. It would be an intra-religious movement as opposed to a universalist one (though obviously it doesn’t shun allies). It would be a cousin of the international left, but in a Muslim garb. Just as the Muslim right found Islamic means to justify the destructive ideas from the enlightenment (Fascism, Marxism, totalitarianism, evangelical religion), the Muslim left should find Islamic means to justify the positive ones (anti-foundationalism, pragmatism, autonomy, tolerance) …

Muslim leftism is the only thing that will assure that Islam’s individualist revolution doesn’t take an even darker turn than it already has. Some in the Muslim right like to insist that they are moderate and ready for pluralism. That might be a bit of wishful thinking. Without a potent Muslim left, the right will not have an adequate check, nor any incentive to make accommodations. This is because political systems that rest on religious supremacism rarely make compromises. We know this from America. We know it from the third world as well. After more than two decades the Iranian right has failed to move significantly towards the centre. If unchallenged, better should not be expected from the Egyptian, Pakistani, or Gulf nations equivalents.

I find Eteraz’s call for a liberal version of Islam to counter the standard right is better founded than those who use liberal religion in American politics. This is because in the countries he mentions, Islam is actually the official state religion, whereas America is (at least according to the Constitution) a secular nation.

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It seems the conservative Bishops in Africa, Asia and South America are up in arms again over the the 177 to 97 vote by the Ottawa diocese on a resolution asking Bishop John Chapman to allow clergy within the Ottawa diocese to “bless duly solemnize and registered civil marriages between same-sex couples.” Reuters reports:

If Chapman, an advocate of such blessings, approves the request, it will be a red flag to the conservative branches of the church in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and could hasten a split in the global Anglican church.

Chapman told a news conference it could take anywhere between a day to 10 years to make his decision and that he would consult Canada’s bishops later this month.

A group of conservative Canadian Anglicans, the Anglican Network in Canada, said they were deeply saddened by the vote of the Ottawa synod.

“Unfortunately, the synod has chosen to reject the pleas of the global Anglican Communion and ‘walk apart’ from the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide,” the network said in a statement.

This comes just weeks after the Episcopal Church in the US issued a statement saying it would use restraint with regard to blessing gay unions or consecrating gay clergy–all a result of pressure from the conservative Bishops in Africa, Asia and South America.

The conservative Anglicans’ call for unity in the church (rather than decrying any potential moral or scriptual fouls) is a wise rhetorical move. The extreme rhetoric of certain African Bishops tends to be rather off-putting–even for individuals who may ultimately believe in the message behind the tirades.

The extreme liberal and conservative wings of the Anglican Church are at seemingly irreconcilable odds over the issue of homosexuality (as are they in the Jewish Tradition). It also seems that each side has a deep conviction in the morality of their beliefs–they each just have different measures of morality. The conservatives adhere strictly to the Scripture on the matter whereas the liberals try to adhere to the broader moral messages of the Bible, attributing the few negative passages on homosexuality to the social circumstances at the time (namely, mankind found himself in tribal society when the Bible written, which we’ve moved far beyond).

The test will be to see how far either side really wants to push the issue. The vote by the Ottawa diocese seems to indicate that it, and perhaps other liberal dioceses, will continue to push for what it believes is right, even at the expense of schism from their more conservative brothers of faith in the Global South. I wonder how hard the conservatives intend to press this issue. The statement on the matter by Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Nigeria is enlightening in revealing the though process behind the conservative view, yet it does not indicate any sort of action that should be taken.

Either way, it is still somewhat phenomenal to me how the issues over the treatment of  gay people can cause such divides in both the political and religious realms

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