Southern California already had its hands full with an invasion of giant squid when another squishy invertebrate washed ashore. At the Episcopal Church's annual conference in Anaheim, California, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wrapped his amoral tentacles around a proposal to allow more gay bishops.
Williams kicked off the convention with a deplorable speech urging the American church to, once again, abandon their gay friends and family members. His sole mission was to hold together the worldwide Anglican Communion and appease conservatives, even at the expense of the denomination's decency and dignity.
"I hope and pray there won't be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart," sniveled the feckless Williams.
Williams should understand that a church that uses bigotry as the glue that binds is not worth saving. Furthermore, his obsession with church growth has led to the embrace of sordid tyrants like Nigerian Archbishop, Peter J. Akinola, who is associated with shady activities, if not outright atrocities in Africa.
Fortunately, the American bishops made history and voted 104-30, with 2 abstentions, in favor of the pro-gay measure. The homophobes, of course, offered a heaping helping of hysterics and histrionics. It seems they just can't find spiritual fulfillment without stepping on the dreams and aspirations of other people.
"It is breaking my heart to see the church destroy itself," whined Bishop William Love of Albany, clearly betraying his family name.
Don't you just adore how these divisive souls carelessly wield the wrecking ball yet always accuse other people of division and destruction? Without gay people to kick around, these troglodytes might have nothing better to do than focus on God. What fun would that be?
Now that the Episcopal Church has made a bold decision, one wonders if it can survive. The denomination of two million members decreased six percent between 2003-2007 and the recession has affected its finances.
It seems they are banking on the radical idea that a church can expand by promoting "inclusivity." I hope that they are proven correct, but I have my doubts. It is no secret that the fastest growing churches have branded themselves as bastions of intellectual stagnation and social intolerance. The slogan for such places might read: "America may have changed, but you don't have to."
This version of Christianity thrives because fearful people want security and justice in an insecure and unjust world. Many of these believers view God as an angry vigilante who smites people they personally detest. On good days, the deity is a rabbit's foot who doles out luck and small miracles, such as sunny weather at the beach or a raise at work.
Central to this belief system are velvet rope values, where one's superiority complex is vindicated by an exclusive church membership or inclusion in the Rapture. In this religious scheme, Jesus is the hero who forgives one for holding such mean-spirited and self-centered beliefs.
This cosmic avenger/lucky charm model of Christianity has been wildly successful in creating marketable mega-churches. Yet, it has been even more accomplished in driving people away in droves from all religion, because they view it as intolerant and retrograde.
The Episcopal Church and other progressive denominations have to answer a serious question: Is there a significant market for an enlightened, modern Christianity that focuses on loving, rather than loathing one's neighbors?
Put another way, will the masses still find religion necessary once religion is decoupled from being exclusionary? I think that Europe, once the heartland of Christianity, proves that America may not forever remain a nation of the faithful.
The burden on progressive churches is not to prove that there are millions of Christians who are tolerant and merciful. We already know this to be true. What they must show is that the "inclusiveness" brand can attract a significant number of new followers and transform the entire religion.
The battle in the Episcopal Church is largely over, with moral evolution triumphing over mindless evil. With this newfound clarity, the Episcopal Church has an opportunity to fundamentally shift America away from dreary fundamentalism. It can cast aside the tyrannical and puritanical by offering a new Christianity for the 21st Century.
My advice to the Episcopal Church is to move forward with confidence and the evangelical fervor to match that of its conservative counterparts. If the progressive wing backs off and gets squishy, like Rowan Williams, it is sure to get squished. The future of religion in America now rests in their hands. Let's pray they are up to the challenge.
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