Thursday, May 04, 2006

EPISCOPAL DEAN ASKED TO APOLOGIZE FOR ‘TERRORIST BOMB’ COMMENT

The HRC (Human Rights Campaign) weighs in on the "rhetoric run amuck" issue:

WASHINGTON — In an Associated Press story out of California, the Rev. Paul Zahl, dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., was quoted as equating the election of an openly gay bishop in California to “a terrorist bomb, which is timed to destroy a peace process.” These incendiary comments come in the middle of an open and honest discussion happening in the Episcopal Church about the election of a second openly gay bishop this weekend at the church’s worldwide convention.

“Reverend Zahl should apologize for spouting such harmful rhetoric in the middle of an open and honest conversation happening in the life of the church,” said Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program Director Harry Knox. “To liken the election of an openly gay bishop to a ‘terrorist bomb’ is one of the most outrageous comments made by a radical conservative fringe in the church that has certainly made some outrageous comments in the last few years.”

In 2003, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson was elected as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop by New Hampshire Episcopalians. Since that time, the Episcopal Church worldwide has been engaged in a conversation about the role of openly gay clergy members. This weekend, California Episcopalians are set to elect a new bishop to head the Diocese of California. Three of the seven candidates being considered in this weekend’s election are openly gay.

“Paul Zahl's comments comparing the election of a gay bishop to a ‘terrorist bomb’ is hate speech that has no place in any faith-based discourse,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, director of Integrity, the national gay and lesbian Episcopal caucus. “Such language does nothing to advance our public discourse, does everything to further polarize and alienate and is antithetical to the love God calls us all to offer each other. I call for Dean Zahl to apologize for this incendiary rhetoric that attacks not only gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people but the very fabric of our historic faith in the Jesus who called us be peacemakers and to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

The Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program is a major organizer of religious leaders, theologians and experts committed to equal rights for all Americans.

36 comments:

Frankie M. said...

I know this much. If San Francisco does elect a gay or lesbian bishop this weekend. Louie Crew and Susan Russell better get READY. If you think that Gene has been stressed out...THINK AGAIN...You will have 70 MILLION people barking at you. IS IT WORTH IT!!!!!!!!

Jeff Martinhauk said...

How many people were barking at Pontious Pilate to crucify Jesus? Does that mean that it was ok?

jg6544 said...

Frankie M. You're dumb as a box of rocks.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I still just get really sad at how scared one must be to equate just about anything other than a terrorist bomb to a terrorist bomb.

Is Donald Rumsfeld in charge of this movement against us?

And to those who were in on the IRD post, please don't start telling me to put on a tin-foil hat to keep them from reading my mind again...

Thanks to Louise who encouraged me not to give up on blogging!

Jon said...

While Dean Zahl's comments are more inflamitory than is really helpful, they are not entirely inapt. The election of a gay or lesbian person as bishop of California would be seen by many people in the Communion as California (and potentially TEC as a whole) saying "we have no need of you" to the rest of the Communion, and that isn't really an appropriate statement for Christians to make. On the other hand the only thing as foolish as ignoring the rest of the Communion would be to let them control what we do since they don't live here and don't have to deal with our circumstances directly.

Jon

rmf said...

There is no excuse for that Dean's langage. It is wrong. There is no defense.

He is the Dean of an Episcopal School of Ministry so it makes me wonder what other things he might encourage, or say. Likening the election of peaceful, God fearing men and women who serve Christ and who have served Him for much of their lives with love, openness and tolerance, is messed up. Wrong.

tony said...

Dean Zahl's language is strong, but so are the actions of putting three noncelibate gay persons up for election to be the next bishop of the Diocese of California. It is a flagrant slap at the Windsor Process and it speaks volumes about the sectarian desires of some in ecusa.

jg6544 said...

Tony, do you understand celibacy as some kind of punishment for being gay?

hg said...

jg6544:

Given the wide variety of what men and women "feel naturally" when it comes to emotional/erotic life, celibate chastity is not a punishment, nor is heterosexual monogamy a privilege - but both are the only choices God wills for men and women to make according to the DISCIPLINE of living in the way of Jesus Christ as the canonical Gospels record he taught those who would follow him.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

So then is relationship the reward of following and trusting in God. Our sex life is, quite frankly, none of your concern, as yours is none of mine.

jg6544 said...

"but both are the only choices God wills for men and women "

Well, that's not true, for starters, unless you think Paul is God, but assuming for the sake of argument it is, why do you suppose God willed that some of us would only be allowed to choose behavior that is, for us, unnatural at best and disgusting at worst?

rmf said...

to build on jg's question:

two consenting adults of the same gender love each other and make a lifelong partnership promising to love, cherish, protect, share, etc. (if they are in massachusetts, they get married; in vermont, they enter a civil union.)

how is their salvation at issue?

tony said...

rmf: check the Scriptures, that is where you will find your answer. God is concerned about the physical expression of your sexuality. It's in the Scriptures.

rmf said...

tony,

God is concerned with many things, I suppose. Part of why the two commit to each other is in order to solemnify their love and commitment to each other before God.

Two consenting adults of the same gender love each other and make a lifelong partnership promising to love, cherish, protect, share, etc.

How is our couple's salvation at issue?

Jake said...

Let me see if I've got this right...

Based on Tony's interetation of a handful of bible verses, being GLBT is a sin...

Since this thread is about the statement from the dean of Trinity, are we to assume that based on this particular interpetation, it is acceptable behavior to refer to some of the candidates for Bishop in CA as a "terrorist bomb"?

One might expect such twisted logic from Jerry Falwell of Pat Robertson...but from the dean of an Anglican seminary?

Regardless of how you interpret the handful of clobber verses, it would seem that everyone would be able to agree that we need to condemn such hate speech.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I agree with Jake.

Let's just even say for the sake of argument that existing as a gay person was a sin.

What elevates that particular sin to the status of "terrorist bomb"?

I do suppose, Tony, that you agree that we are all sinners? And that even as sinners we are not always capable of acknowledging all of our sins? That means that any candidate is going to have some problem because s/he is human. So what then makes this particular sin the sin that is akin to a terrorist bomb?

I could see if they were axe-murderers, child molesters, slave-traders, hate-mongers, terrorists who were actually planting a bomb, or any number of other sins that we probably agree on. But this one, even if I agree with you for arguments sake, I just don't see why it is so important that it could be classified as a "terrorist bomb"? I mean, really? A TERRORIST BOMB?

Sober said...

I think Paul Zahl's use of metaphor is, while very strong, also extremely apt. A terrorist bomb is used to destroy, and kill....and what makes it a "terrorist" bomb, is that it is being lobbed by a person who WANTS to inspire fear (or terror) and does not mind the damage that is caused. It is not overstatement to say that by electing a person to leadership in ECUSA who calls what is sin "not sin", it is killing the church. ECUSA will not exist in 10 years if this trend continues. Period.
The funniest thing to me about liberals is that they are constantly preaching love, inclusivity, peace, etc. EXCEPT WHEN I DON'T AGREE WITH THEM. Then it's no-holds-barred hatred, vitriol, name-calling, etc. The only issues going on in the ECUSA have to do with scriptural authority vs. personal autonomy NOT sexuality (so well-illustrated by rmf's comments).
Is the Bible true?, or just the parts I like? or just the parts I agree with? or is it just a guide for life with lots of mistakes, and different interpretations, and things that are matters of opinion?

Eve said...

Frankie, IMO I think comments like yours just inspire GBLTs and galvanize them to continue their ill-conceived campaign to take over the church.
I really don't think VGR was "stressed" (if you're referring to his need for rehab). I just think that being elevated to a more public position made it harder for him to hide that particular sin. I am thankful he is dealing with it....and wish he would only give the same attention to his other besetting sin. As we ALL must do, to be in true communion with our Creator.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Sober, I'm not sure how you think that we aren't inclusive. Speaking for myself, I believe that there is room for everyone in the church.

These blog posts might get heated and people might lose their temper (if you want to see REALLY vitriolic posts go look at the conservative T19 blog and see what they are saying about us, or even worse, Virtue Online). I think that just about everyone on here believes that you have just as much right to stay in the church as any one of us do, though.

Can you say that about us, without exception?

jg6544 said...

"God is concerned about the physical expression of your sexuality."

In some contexts, yes, just as God is concerned about the physical expression of your sexuality in some contexts. But point to me where God expresses concern about my sexuality per se or about my expressing it no matter what the context.

rmf said...

sober,

you mention the issue of scriptural authority. all agree that scripture is the ultimate standard of the faith. on this there is no disagreement.

perhaps you would care to tell us what you mean precisely about scripture when you pose various questions at the bottom of your post? do you have a particular statement in mind that you are trying to clarify or make?

perhaps you could address my question: two consenting adults of the same gender love each other and make a lifelong partnership promising to love, cherish, protect, be faithful, share, etc. (if they are in massachusetts, they get married; in vermont, they enter a civil union.)

how is their salvation at issue?

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I think sober's gone.

And I don't get this line of thought that keeps coming up here that says that inclusionists are only inclusionary except for when we are excluding those whom we disagree with?

I just don't see or read anywhere where somebody is saying to them to get out, or to leave, or to go away, or that they are sinners. Wrong, maybe, but not to leave.

How is it that we are not being inclusive of them?

Jon said...

It might be that they object to being forever told that they are totally wrong on this or that issue. They quite possibly feel like liberals are telling them it isn't ok to believe what they think is mandated in scripture, and that it certainly isn't ok to say what they believe is mandated by scripture.

rmf, I think there are two assumptions conservatives make that basically explain why they believe the circumstances you describe impact that couple's salvation. First, they assume, as Paul more or less does, that same sex sex is inherently sinful. Second, they assume that the couple you describe is having sex from time to time. In so far as the couple is unrepentantly sinning (and that is largly straight from the assumptions) they are rejecting God's grace, and with it salvation. This is because genuinely being an unrepentant sinner, especially when you know the action or non-action is a sin, really is a sort of rejection of God. If either of the assumptions is false the whole argument breaks down, but proving either of the assumptions false can be very difficult, especially if they really are having sex.

I think I've said something like this before, but where I see the conservative argument failing is in its explanation of what to think about those many cases in which a gay or lesbian person isn't called to celibacy and, due to his/her orientation, is unable to really enter the partnership of heterosexual marriage.

Jon

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I don't think it is exclusionary to say "I disagree with you," which is all that I have seen.

I'm sad for them if they take that as, "Be quiet and go away."

I do disagree, but that is much different than being exclusionary. I remain inclusionary, even inclusionary of those who I believe are wrong. I believe people have the right to be wrong. Let them go and preach it; I believe the power of the Holy Spirit is strong enough to win them out eventually, and it is in that power that I trust. Not the power of reading the Bible more literally, or trying to figure out why the "leaders of the church have turned to a pagan form of Christianity," or any other kind of propaganda as they seem wont to do.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I don't think it is exclusionary to say "I disagree with you," which is all that I have seen.

I'm sad for them if they take that as, "Be quiet and go away."

I do disagree, but that is much different than being exclusionary. I remain inclusionary, even inclusionary of those who I believe are wrong. I believe people have the right to be wrong. Let them go and preach it; I believe the power of the Holy Spirit is strong enough to win them out eventually, and it is in that power that I trust. Not the power of reading the Bible more literally, or trying to figure out why the "leaders of the church have turned to a pagan form of Christianity," or any other kind of propaganda as they seem wont to do.

rmf said...

jon,

yes, i know, it is a sin because st. paul says it is a sin. but why apart from this categorization, is it a sin?

rmf said...

p.s.

another useful question would be the precise term paul uses and the meaning of it to arrive at placing this in the category of sin.

rmf said...

please excuse my quick typing. my earlier comment should read,

"yes, i know, your point is that conservatives say it is a sin because st. paul says it is a sin. but why apart from this categorization, is it a sin?

Jon said...

Yeah, it is kinda sad, Jeff. I think the claim might be less common if the only times liberals and conservatives interacted was through blogs like this. The problem can get worse in direct contacts because thoughts influence actions. For example if a gay couple starts coming to a conservative church they could fairly easily find themselves driven from the church as notoriously evil livers simply because they are partnered. Probably the only way for them to stay is for them to keep their partnership hidden and not say anything about it in church. Liberal churches do something similar. The major difference is that when a conservative person comes into a liberal church there won't be any immediate push to make them go away. Depending on how outspoken the conservative person is, however, they could find themselves told rather forcefully to "not spout that bullshit here." This leaves the conservative with options very similar to the gay couple, shut up and disappear figuratively, or disappear from the church literally.

I don't think you're the type of person who'd drive off conservatives or try to silence them, but there are certainly liberals who would and could do so fairly rudely.

rmf, for conservatives it is enough that it is in scripture. Incidentally, respecting scripture enough to really let it speak is important to me, too. It is clear from the context that Paul assumes some sort of same sex sexual activity to be sinful. The terms come in the middle of lists which include other things we know are sinful. I don't recall the precise greek words, but IIRC the scholarly consensus on what they mean only goes so far as agreeing that they are about sexual behavior rather than orientation, and that it is between two males. Some scholars believe that the activity was something like call-boys and their male patrons, others think that it was sexual activity as part of some sort of religious event, and still other scholars think it refers to all male same sex sexual activity. I may be wrong about the scholarship since it has been a while since I last looked at any of it, but I don't think I'm too far off the mark in what I say. Anyway, since it appears in scripture we as Christians really should be careful to not simply dismiss it.

Jon

rmf said...

jon said,

"for conservatives it is enough that it is in scripture."

what precisely do you mean by this?

Jon said...

I mean that you can find word's like "sodomites" in various places in English translations of the Bible. I Corinthians 6:9 and 10 in the NRSV is an example. A conservative is likely to take one look at this passage and say "See! See! I told you the Bible says it [a same sex sexual relationship] is a sin." My memory is a bit hazy, but I think the greek word translated as "sodomite" is something like arsenokoitai(sp?). This is the same word I was talking about in my last post as lacking a scholarly consensus on its meaning beyond male same sex sexual activity.

Jon

rmf said...

ok.

let's open up the bible anywhere and lay our finger down on some words and then close it up again. i guess this the interpretive method you are offering?

ok, here goes...
oh look. my finger came to rest on this word grouping:

"If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. They shall say to the elders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid."

let's say a parent does exactly this. at the police station the parent shows the detective and then the judge the relevant bible passage. i suppose he is let go with a kindly "good work! you are a fine christian and bible reader!" from the judge?

let me flip some more pages, here goes...

oh look where my finger has come to rest now, someone named paul is writing to someone named philemon, letting him know that he is returning his (escaped) slave onesimus to him. paul urges philemon to treat onesimus as "more than slave, a beloved brother".

a man five towns over kept another man as his slave. the slave escaped and went to the police and the police arrested his master. at the station the man who kept him enslaved, told the sergeant and then the judge that he wasn't just a slave, he considered the man a slave and a brother.

i suppose the enslaver is let go and his captive returned to him with a kindly "good work! you are a fine christian and bible reader!" from the judge?

Jon said...

Actually, I'm not proposing the method you describe, but you have just given a prime example of why many conservatives and maybe even some moderates view liberals as faithless people who don't respect scripture. Each passage needs to be taken seriously on its own, but each passage also needs to be seen in relation to the chapter and book it is found in. It is also essential to keep in mind the over all thrust of scripture itself.

This doesn't mean we get to ignore a passage if we don't like what it says. It does mean we can (and should) look at it very carefully to better understand how it fits in its context. Both the passages you cite, when seen in the broader context, are not nearly as problematic as you assume. The frist is a law seeking to defend authority and the stability of society. The second is Paul respecting the laws of his "nation" while seeking to mitigate some of those aspects that aren't consistant with the Christian life.

Looking at the broader context for the passage I pointed to isn't nearly as helpful for the liberal POV. This is because it is an assumption used as part of a very different argument. On the bright side assumptions can be more easily changed than a clear teaching. On the down side, the most effective way to question and then change an assumption is to find some set of circumstances that it should explain, but doesn't. The other options rely on the existance of a broad cultural consensus against the assumption.

To put it bluntly, scripture barely ever mentions same sex sexual activity, but the few times scripture does mention it, it is assumed to be a bad thing. A conservative sees this and can easily see how upholding that assumption is respectful to scripture while liberals are stuck trying to find some way to mitigate effect without tossing the whole of scripture out the window. Unless of course you do feel like tossing out the whole thing, Jesus included.

Jon

rmf said...

jon,

i'm not sure how you've arrived at some of your statements, i'm having trouble following some of the reasoning.

Jon said...

Which part do you not follow? The "how we talk about what the bible means" stuff is pretty basic, and the rest of it flows from there.

Jon

rmf said...

I do not follow the part where you state that the Bible states certain things and that "this is enough."

Enough for what?

You have two clear examples of consequences flowing from Biblical injunctions. Is it justified to act on these consequences since, by your reasoning, "it is enough" that they are in the Bible? Why or why not? You sidestep this by stating, "well these appear because" such and such. Why do you appeal to why something may or not be in Scripture if it "is enough" that it is there?

Obviously, I also reject your assertions that anything I posted contravenes, dismisses, or rejects Scripture or Christ, since this is more of a sidestep than a direct response to my posts.

I also reject your assertion that you adequately describe or use "conservative." You seem to be using it to mean "proper" or "correct."