Beliefnet
The religious battle over the issue of homosexuality has taken a bizarre turn in the Anglican Communion.

Two of the United States most regressive retired bishops, Alex Dixon, formerly of Tennessee, and Fitzsimmons Allison, formerly of South Carolina, have now joined with some of the Anglican Communions most homophobic archbishops from Singapore and Africa to consecrate two American right-wingers to be bishops "to the dissidents in the United States".

These new bishops were chosen by no representative body. Their ordination was a power grab by an antiquated minority.

Let me say this carefully, but clearly. Anyone who elevates their prejudices to the position where they are defended as the will of God is evil.

Anybody who justifies their denigration of another person's being based upon a quotation from an ancient sacred text called the Word of God is simply out of touch with contemporary scholarship.

This action flows directly out of the strange, almost pathological, action taken at the Lambeth conference in 1998. At this once-a-decade gathering of the world's Anglican bishops, a resolution was passed rather decisively condemning homosexuality as contrary to God's clear word in scripture and suggesting that any homosexual activity must be condemned by all Christians.

The winning majority at the Conference was made up of conservative Americans (who were a defeated minority on this issue at home) and the evangelical wing of this Church in England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, together with the majority of Third World Anglican bishops.

The winning resolution revealed an attitude toward Holy Scripture that reflected total ignorance of the last 100 years of critical biblical scholarship. It also revealed an absolute void in knowledge of contemporary medical and scientific data in regard to the origins and nature of homosexual orientation.

Let me say this carefully, but clearly. Anyone who elevates their prejudices to the position where they are defended as the will of God is evil.

Anybody who justifies their denigration of another person's being based upon a quotation from an ancient sacred text called the Word of God is simply out of touch with contemporary scholarship.

Anybody who will not open themselves to the new knowledge readily available in medical and scientific circles because it calls into question their uninformed attitudes is profoundly ignorant.

There is no dialogue that is possible in those circumstances, and any attempt to engage in some form of dialogue is doomed to failure. In the process of seeking to do so, truth is not well served, integrity is compromised and one's deepest convictions are violated.

At the same time, the people who are representative of the issue being discussed--in this instance, the gay and lesbian Christians of the world-- are victimized once more by a weak and spineless leadership.

The Lambeth Conference was a bitter session. The hostility reached the point where one African Bishop sought to lay his hands on the head of the leader of the Lesbian Gay Christian Movement in order to expel the demon of his homosexuality and thus "to cure him".

The liberals who seemed to be unable to embrace the depth of the hostility that was present and who do not do well in tactics of confrontation were in total disarray.

The evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, performed in a manner that secured forever his reputation as one overmatched in his position. This Margaret Thatcher appointee has yet to impress anyone other than his evangelical constituents.

The consolation of this bit of ecclesiastical folly was that Lambeth is only an advisory gathering of bishops, with no authority whatsoever over the various national provinces of the Anglican Communion. Provincial decision-making occurs in Anglican circles only when the laity and the priesthood are equally present. Bishops speak to the Church, but only bishops, priests and laity in representative assemblies can speak for such bodies as the American Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada or the Church of England.

But the right wing of Anglicanism, having won this victory at Lambeth, decided to push their advantage by threatening to expel from the Communion any national church that did not adhere to the Lambeth resolution. Provinces such as Scotland and the United States are significantly out of step with these negative and prejudiced guidelines. So is much of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

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