Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Anglican split will not make civil rights issue disappear

The Anglican Communion has been behaving badly, and now it's headed for what looks to be an inevitable divorce. Says David Steinmetz for the Orlando Sentinel:
Although the argument in Anglicanism centers on matters of principle, the atmosphere in which it has been conducted has been toxic from the start. Liberals and conservatives have all too often been eager to believe the worst about each other. They have frequently parodied and mocked each other's deeply held convictions, shown scant respect for consciences that differ from their own, and even attempted to impose unacceptable solutions from the top down on unwilling parishioners.
As an outsider, I have no skin in the game, but as an American citizen, watching the actions of my compatriots, I do. This is because a split in the communion would not absolve American Anglicans, soon to be associated solely with far more conservative diocese in Africa, South America, and elsewhere, of their moral obligation to support and uphold civil rights in whichever diocese they find themselves.

The stance taken by many conservative Americans on homosexuality puts them in a peculiar position. They believe that the behavior is sinful. But, by leaving ECUSA, are they unknowingly legitimizing discrimination -- even violence -- against Africans who practice that "sin"?

African Anglican bishops are against even the whiff of homosexuality among their ranks, as the Lake Malawi drama eloquently shows. But Archbishop Akinola's endorsement of the anti-speech, gay-marriage legislation goes further by banning non-Anglican religious organizations from celebrating gay marriage -- even if those ceremonies are performed outside the context of civil law.

Conservative American Anglicans: Isn't that a bridge too far?

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