Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2008

Council of Churches Ad

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2008

The Santa Clara County Council of Churches is so committed to the Christian principle of justice and compassion that they ran a full page ad in the San Jose Mercury News giving their brothers, sisters, neighbors, and parishioners the following message:

As people of faith,
We believe that all people are made in the image of God.
We believe in loving, faithful and committed relationships.
We affirm everyone’s right to the freedom to marry.
We urge you to..
VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 8.
Don’t eliminate marriage for anyone.

The ad was signed by 23 member churches. There is also an accompanying videowith statements from ministers from Unitarian Universalist, Disciples of Christ, MCC, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Jewish congregations. The Council is also running phone banks for No on 8 out of local churches.

Too often anti-gay activists coopt the name Christian or Religion in the same way they seek to control the word Marriage. It is encouraging to see people of faith willing to stand up for principles that are inclusive and based on love, compassion, and a deep desire to treat their neighbor as they want to be treated and declare to the world that neither faith nor Christianity is any barrier to equality and decency.

PCUSA Continues to Walk a Fine Line

Timothy Kincaid

October 3rd, 2008

A Presbyterian court has found that a pastor accused of violating church law by conducting a marriage between two women was not guilty (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

A church court of Pittsburgh Presbytery ruled 9-0 that the Rev. Janet Edwards did not violate scripture or the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when she conducted what she has always said was the marriage of two women in 2005.

However, their decision appears to be based on creative reasoning and a desire to be two opposite things at once – one dictated by policy, one by an urge towards decency.

Since church and state define marriage as between a man and a woman, she cannot have done what she was accused of, the court ruled yesterday.

“It can’t be an offense to the constitution to attempt to do the impossible,” said the decision, read by the Rev. Stewart Pollock, chairman of the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

Even the prosecution appeared to be going through the motions, calling only one witness.

That no one seems scandalized by the decision and because the process seems more of a formality than a battle, I have hopes that the PCUSA is moving ever closer to full inclusion of their gay and lesbian members into the life of the church.

Presbyterians Allow Ordinations

Timothy Kincaid

June 28th, 2008

According to the LA Times, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has taken a step towards full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the church.

Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) overturned a long-standing ban on the ordination of gays and lesbians Friday, providing yet the latest example of a religious denomination struggling with how, and whether, to incorporate homosexuality into church life.

This change however must be approved by a majority of regions called presbyteries.

The General Assembly voted in favor of the ordination measure 54% to 46%, but its decision must still be approved by a majority of the nation’s 173 regional presbyteries over the next year. Several prominent church leaders predicted it would fail.

Conservatives are predicting that individuals and churches will leave the denomination rather than be part of a body that allows gay ministers. To my way of thinking, gay and lesbian Presbyterians who are willing to fellowship with those who dispise them are far closer to showing the heart and message of Christ than are those who would leave rather than fellowship on an equal status with a gay person.

Presbyterians and Lutherans

This article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of others authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2008

From the Chicago Tribune:

The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination will tackle the question of gay and lesbian clergy at its biennial General Assembly next week (June 20-28) in San Jose, Calif.

From Deutche Welle:

German Lutherans in northern Schleswig will decide on July 12 whether to elect an openly gay bishop. Conservatives have opposed Horst Gorski’s candidacy, saying it would lead to divisions within the church.

These are but two examples of the ongoing battle within Mainline Protestant denominations over the issue of homosexuality. And I think that the end result is predictable.

Those who favor full inclusion and social justice will continue in their efforts to bring gay and lesbians Christians fully into the fold. In the meanwhile, they can continue in fellowship with those whom they believe are not quite there yet.

In time, as younger more gay-accepting people gain influence, these denominations will reach a tipping point in which gay acceptance outnumbers hard-liners. When that happens, these denominations will vote for full inclusion… and discover that fellowship only works in one direction. Those who ardently oppose gay inclusion will not be willing to stay in fellowship with “heretics” and scism will result.

However, I think that this will result in fewer denominations rather than more. It is my belief that this is a time of great religious realignment in America. And that after division liberal mainline denominations will join in a uniting movement towards a common identity. And to a lesser extent, the conservatives will do the same.

My prediction is that within the next 10 years at least one, and probably several, splits will occur in mainline denominations and that at least two will merge.

But, of course, this is all just speculation.

Good News for Gay Presbyterians

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2008

In 2005, Rev. Jane Spahr was brought up on charges for officiating at the celebration of gay unions. In 2006, a regional church court found that she had not acted appropriately.

The AP reports that the highest court of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has overturned the regional court’s decision.

The highest court of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has found that a Northern California minister did not violate denominational law when she officiated at the weddings of two lesbian couples.

The ruling announced Tuesday by the Louisville, Ky.-based court overturns a decision against the Rev. Jane Spahr last year. A regional judicial committee had found Spahr guilty of misconduct and gave her a rebuke — the lightest possible punishment.

The church’s high court found that the ceremonies Spahr performed were not marriages, so she did not violate the church’s constitution.

The panel reiterated the church’s position that Presbyterian ministers can bless same-sex unions as long as the ceremonies don’t too closely mimic traditional weddings.

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