Sunday, August 02, 2015

#StandWithPP -- Standing with Planned Parenthood

All Saints Church in Pasadena stood with Planned Parenthood today: 150 signatures affirming the Interfaith Clergy Advocacy Board statement heading to @SenatorBoxer @SenFeinstein

Read the CAB Statement here.

Read the Washington Post editorial:
Stop the Vendetta Against Planned Parenthood

Cecile Richards debunks the bogus "video sting" targeting Planned Parenthood here.

From the CAB Statement: "We are troubled by the decades-long campaign of harassment against Planned Parenthood and those they serve. Our faith demands care for those marginalized by poverty and other oppressions. Faith leaders have supported Planned Parenthood for nearly 100 years because of our shared goals: every person — regardless of income, race, or religion — deserves access to safe, affordable, high-quality health care."

On Monday, August 3rd the War on Women will continue with yet-another effort on Capitol Hill to defund Planned Parenthood -- based on a carefully orchestrated, long term campaign including bogus, heavily edited videos making false claims against Planned Parenthood -- one of the most important providers of health care for millions of women on the margins.

All Saints Church has been a “prayerfully pro-choice church” since 1989. Standing in support of Planned Parenthood in 2015 is completely in alignment with a prayerfully considered position that dates back over 25 years.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Nobody's theology trumps our democracy. That is a core truth enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution and the genius of our founding fathers who understood the need to provide both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. This is an incredibly important data point to have at the ready the next time someone confuses equal protection for LGBT Americans with an attack on religion.

 It. Is. Not. The First Amendment of our Constitution -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" -- means that the freedom of members of Any Church USA to believe whatever they choose to about anything whatsoever is absolutely protected.  That freedom, however, does not extend to the freedom to take away the constitutionally protected rights of other Americans because of what they believe.

 Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion. Simple to explain. Hard to understand. Or at least it seems to be hard to understand to some folks who are working overtime to try to paint themselves as victims of discrimination because their theology is being disagreed with.

 A recent case in point was a YouTube video making the rounds called "Not Alone." Produced by "CatholicVote" it offered the heartfelt stories of a series of folks who share their pain at being oppressed and marginalized because they believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. They feel so alone -- and we should feel so sad for them.

News Flash: There is a critical difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. Nobody likes to be disagreed with -- that is absolutely true. But -- here's the thing -- confusing your imagined right to be agreed with with the actual right of LGBT Americans be equally protected by the Constitution -- that is absolutely bogus.

And making that point inspired a video response to the "Not Alone" folks: #TruthTrending -- posted above and the brainchild of Prop8 plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo and a project I was honored to be part of.

Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion. Simple to explain. And important to remember the next time someone confuses equal protection with an attack on religion. Remember that the First Amendment goes both ways -- and-then let's get busy making liberty and justice for all really mean "all."

Because at the end of the day, that is the #TruthTrending that will set us all free!

[Also posted on the Huffington Post]

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TEC Response to Global Backlash Against LGBT People

The HuffPost piece is entitled:

The Global Backlash To America's Gay Rights Triumph: American evangelicals are taking their fight overseas.

You'll want to read it here.

It is nothing less than "Exhibit A" of why Resolution A051 -- Support LGBT African Advocacy -- adopted at ‪#‎gc78‬ is one to bookmark and keep on your radar. That resolutions read (in part:)
"Resolved, That the Office of Global Partnerships, Justice, and Advocacy Ministries; , the Office of the Presiding Bishop;, and other relevant church-wide offices be directed to work in partnership with African Anglicans who publicly oppose laws that criminalize homosexuality and incite violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people."
Read the rest of the resolution here.

There is much work to do and we -- as The Episcopal Church -- have committed to be part of it.

QOTD from William Sloane Coffin

"It is not Scripture that creates hostility to homosexuality, but rather hostility to homosexuals that prompts some Christians to recite a few sentences from Paul and retain passages from an otherwise discarded Old Testament law code. In abolishing slavery and in ordaining women we’ve gone beyond that biblical literalism. It’s time we did the same with gays and lesbians.

The problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but rather how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ. It can’t be done."

"A Passion for the Possible" by William Sloane Coffin, 1993

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Freedom of Religion Is and Isn't

So here's a response to yet-another story about a Kentucky County Clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

The First Amendment protects your right as an American to the free exercise of your religion. It does not protect your right to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against other Americans.

As a priest and pastor, I am protected from being forced to marry anybody. Period. Roman Catholic priests cannot be forced to marry divorced couples. Orthodox Rabbis cannot be forced to marry interfaith couples. NOBODY can be compelled -- against their religion -- to marry anybody. Period.

That protection does NOT extend to carrying out your duties as an agent of the state as a county clerk to issue marriage licenses, drivers licenses or fishing licenses.

What if I'm a Muslim and my understanding of my religion is that women shouldn't drive. Can I refuse to issue drivers' licenses to women? Or if I'm a Hindu and a vegetarian -- can I refuse to issue fishing licenses because killing/eating fish is against my religion?

One More Time:
It's Freedom OF Religion -- as in believe whatever you choose or choose not to believe.
It is not Freedom TO IMPOSE Religion -- as in confuse your theology with our democracy.
Honest to Ethel, people -- Get a grip!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Breaking News from Western Louisiana

Yes, I'm still "recovering" from General Convention. No, I have not had time to either read or write everything about it I [a] want to and [b] plan to -- having launched directly back into everything I was going to worry about AFTER Salt Lake City in the arguably swirling vortex that is All Saints Church, Pasadena.

HOWEVER ... this update from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana just came across my FB feed and I had to take a time-out to post it here. So here you go -- The Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana on Marriage Equality. (And no -- I honestly did not think I'd live long enough to see this. ‪#‎Seriously‬)
"The canon we passed contains the provision that no clergy person can be coerced to preside at a same-sex marriage. At the same time, the new canon requires that each bishop make some provision for access to these liturgies for couples seeking them.

The congregations that already have permission to make use of the previous trial liturgies have permission to use the newly authorized ones. So, as a diocese we are in compliance with canon law, and no additional congregations are required to make use of these liturgies.

We do not all agree. Living together amid our differences is our vocation. We are one in our belief in the risen Christ and in the Triune God. On these two doctrines we do not and cannot waver. However, there are matters—weighty matters—on which we can disagree while retaining our unity."
Read it all here.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bastille Day -- then and now!

Bastille Day. Fifteen years ago today I had dinner in a Denver restaurant with Michael Hopkins and John Clinton Bradley on the last day of 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church. We were toasting an incremental victory in the recognition by the church that same-sex unions existed. And then Michael raised his glass and to me and said "here's to the next President of Integrity" -- and I thought it was the altitude speaking because nothing was further from my mind or further off my radar. And my, my, my what a 15 years it has been!

Check out this excerpt from the 2000 L.A. Times article to see how far we've come ...
The resolution makes clear the church expects couples--whether gay or straight--to be faithful to each other. "We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect," the resolution states, adding that "we denounce promiscuity, exploitation and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members."

Because of the resolution, "the church is on official record saying that it recognizes same-sex couples are in the church. It has never said that before," said the Rev. J. Edwin Bacon Jr., rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, where priests have long officiated at gay and lesbian unions. The resolution will lead to an escalation of same-sex blessings "as never before," he predicted.

"It's not the whole enchilada, but there's enough guacamole here that I can go for it," added the Rev. Susan Russell, associate rector at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in San Pedro and a member of Integrity, an Episcopalian gay rights group. "This is a huge step forward."
... and give thanks with me for Michael and John ... and Louie and Kim and Elizabeth and Fred and Bruce and Ed and ALL those who helped pave the way from there to here. Vive la liberté -- Vive L'Amour!