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It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service writes:

First Things, a conservative religious publication, has launched a movement encouraging pastors to refuse to perform marriages as representatives of the state. A signing statement called “The Marriage Pledge” has been posted to their website where ministers can affix their names electronically. It was drafted by Ephraim Radner, an ordained Anglican and professor of historical theology at Toronto School of Theology’s Wycliffe College, and Christopher Seitz, an ordained Episcopalian priest and senior research professor at Wycliffe.

He notes that this idea has been proposed more than five years ago, by Bishop Gene Robinson, the man whose 2003 consecration drove Radner and Seitz into fits of ineffective and often comical activism from which one had hoped they had retired.

Long time Cafe readers will remember that Radner and Seitz were two of the three (sometimes four) members of the Anglican Communion Institute, an organization notable primarily for a) working against same-sex marriage within the Anglican Communion; b) working to punish the Episcopal Church for moving toward the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians, and c) doing so in ways that were notable for their comical skullduggery.

Followers of the Anglican sexuality struggles will remember when Radner and Seitz fell out with a third member of the ACI, the Rev. Don Armstrong, after he got into some significant legal trouble regarding the way he handled money. The duo disassociated themselves from Armstrong, only to discover that he had the keys to their website. So the “institute” that was sometimes described as “three guys with a website” was now, for a time, without a website.

In April 2009, Radner, Seitz and several Episcopal bishops were discussing their plans to undermine Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, snatch a parish in the Diocese of Colorado and put it under a more conservative prelate and publish a statement on the polity of The Episcopal Church on a group email and one of the participants in the conversation mistyped an email address and sent it to a marriage equality activist, after which it became public, leading to significant negative reaction.

More recently, Radner served on the group that drafted the proposed Anglican Covenant while serving as a board member of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, which is dedicated to undermining churches in the United States that take polically progressive stances on issues of same-sex marriage. This conflict of interest helped undermine support for the document which has not, as many of its proponents had hoped, become a whip with which to lash churches that bless same-sex relatinships.

That Radner and Seitz have embraced an idea put forth by Robinson and many others on the Christian left (without crediting them for it of course) is a clear indication that the end times are just around the corner.


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“Idaho, Houston, and other places where local anti-discrimination laws are being used against clergy who don’t want to perform gay marriages.”

Utter nonsense, from the fever dreams of “We’re Victims!!11!!” paranoia. [I want to note that former President Jimmy Carter has apparently fallen into the “Just Don’t Let the State Make Churches Marry Gays” delusion too—but he’s 90 years old, so y’know (90 year old synapses)]

There’s already pushback from the right to this “Marriage Pledge” plan, so get the popcorn: the in-fighting will be hilariously entertaining! ;-p

JC Fisher

Chris H.

I suspect it’s a response to issues in Idaho, Houston, and other places where local anti-discrimination laws are being used against clergy who don’t want to perform gay marriages. Since the cities etc. are moving against clergy (mostly non-demominational, but that could change) there’s no guarantee that denominational rules will protect them, especially in a denomination which allows gay marriage (if the church allows it, every priest should do it). The only way to avoid it is to stop being a servant of the state.

Chris Harwood


Two things … the first is that questions about this issue are most definitely being included in the Report from the Task Force on the Study of Marriage — coming soon to a Blue Book near you.

The second would be this question which I posed in my own blog this development:

In point of fact for Episcopalians, our canons already give clergy the leeway to decline to preside at any marriage for any reason whatsoever — Marriage Pledge or no Marriage Pledge. Canon 18, Section 4 (and I quote):

It shall be within the discretion of any Member of the Clergy of this Church to decline to solemnize any marriage.

Period. Seems pretty clear to me!

So what’s to be gained by throwing out the bride with the bathwater in this dramatic temper tantrum — rather than simply using their existing canonical ability to “just say no” to any marriage they consider “un-biblical?” Are the gay cooties of marriage between same-sex couples really going to sneak over and contaminate their otherwise pure marriages? Or is this just yet-another on the long list of efforts to posture and polarize instead of pastor and evangelize?


Susan Russell

All Saints Church, Pasadena

Pete Haynsworth

A notary for the contract part of marriage, good enough in opera (e.g. Barber of Seville, Don Pasquale, Elixir of Love) is good enough for me.

How about bringing it up at next summer’s General Convention?

June Butler

Bishop Gene and I agreed from the beginning, and now it appears that I’m in agreement with Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz, so, yes, the end times are near.

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