Considering my last post, here is the link to the swan-song article written by Stephen Bates, the UK Guardian’s Religion reporter. Read the whole thing – he sums up the personal toll that all this â€œplaying religionâ€ we see in Anglicanism and American-Evangelicalism causes.
Hear is an excerpt:
This weekâ€™s meeting between Rowan Williams and the American bishops will be my swan-song as a religious affairs correspondent, after eight years covering the subject for The Guardianâ€¦ There is also no doubting, personally, that writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians. For the good of my soul, I need to do something else.
I had no notion in 2000 that it would come to this: I had thought then that we were all pretty ecumenical these days. I was soon disabused of that. I had scarcely ever met a gay person, certainly not knowingly a gay Christian, and had not given homosexuality and the Church the most cursory thought, much less held an opinion on the matter. But watching and reporting the way gays were referred to, casually, smugly, hypocritically; the way men such as Jeffrey John (and indeed Rowan Williams when he was appointed archbishop) were treated and often lied about, offended my doubtless inadequate sense of justice and humanity.
Why would any gay person wish to be a Christian? These are people condemned for who they are, not what they do, despite all the sanctimonious bleating to the contrary, men and women despised for wanting the sort of intimacy that heterosexual people take for granted and that the Church is only too happy to bless. Instead, in 2007, the Church of England and other denominations jump up and down to secure exclusive rights to continue discriminating against a minority of people it does not like. What a spectacle the Church has made of itself! What hope of proselytising in a country which has accepted civil partnerships entirely without rancour or bigotry?
Of course, we know far too many self-professed Christians who will loudly claim that England and any other country or state that provides for equal treatment under the law (ETUL) for gay people are giving into Satan’s plan to destroy the family and the Church, since by allowing for ETUL for gay people means that they are denying the very essence of God’s truth and inviting God’s just retribution (judgment and destruction).
It is imperative, according to these people (and remember, I was one of them for the first half of my adult life, although the issue was less politicized back then), it is imperative that any notion of the naturalness or the rightness or the legitimacy of or any positive representation of homosexuals must be stamped out. For too many of those opposed to ETUL for gay people, if they had their way, homosexuality would simply be outlawed, period, and those caught in such a state would be punished. After all, the Levitical Code demands death for homosexuals, and, well, we Christians are a little more forgiving under Grace, so we won’t kill them (despite the clear direction to do so by God’s very Word). We will love them by doing all we can to contain them for their own good, and even if against their will we demand that they concede to their own healing to become their true God-created heterosexual selves. This kind of thinking is does not come from my imagination, but from experiences Iâ€™ve had personally.
Stephen writes about the response of his Evangelical wife (“who is a devoted evangelical and not merely a perfunctory one”) concerning this group of Christians:
The trouble with these people, my wife always says, is that they donâ€™t read their Bibles, for they know nothing of charity. I think sheâ€™s right and I am in mortal danger of losing mine. Itâ€™s time to move on.
They donâ€™t read their Bibles â€“ a perfect response! Well, we certainly know this is true for far too many Christians due to the much publicized studies on biblical and religion illiteracy released a few over the last couple of years and as antidotal evidence shows.
While I didn’t always agree with everything Stephen Bates has to say, I respected his opinion. I wish for him the finding of a Christian community where he can again learn to be with God despite the idiocies of God’s self-professed children. I hope that his faith will be restored.