New National Cathedral Dean speaks on religion, politics

Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press interviewed the Rev. Gary Hall, former rector of Christ Church, Cranbrook, who is now dean of Washington National Cathedral. Here is some of their conversation:

On the role of religion in presidential politics: "I get nervous when certain religious groups want to make religious faith a sort of litmus test. The religious affiliation of any candidate is unimportant to me. And whether or not God is mentioned in (either) party platform is unimportant to me. What's important to me are the social values that are being advocated in that platform."

On non-Christian faiths: "I do believe there is truth in every tradition. I'm not about trying to convert someone to Christianity. I don't feel I'm supposed to convert Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or Native Americans to Christianity so that they can be saved. That's not an issue for me. ...

"I have much more in common with progressive Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists than I do with certain people in my own tradition, with fundamentalist Christians. The part of Christianity I stand with is the part in which we can live with ambiguity and with pluralism. ...

On gay marriage: (Hall edited and contributed to a 2009 book used by Episcopalians: "Christian Holiness and Human Sexuality," which supports gay marriage.) "I don't understand the argument when people say: 'Gay marriage threatens your marriage.' I want to say to them: 'No, Britney Spears being married for a day and a half threatens your marriage. Or these reality TV shows. The gay and lesbian people I know take marriage as seriously as straight couples. ...

"I think straight people have a lot to learn from gay and lesbian families, about what real mutuality and real sharing is. (With gay couples), things are much more mutual and shared and equal. And I think that's a powerful witness that straight people like me can learn from."

Comments (2)

This is the first time I have ever commented even though I read EC daily. In my view this is a very wonderful and complete definition of what Christianity is and should be. In my home state people who believe as Dr. Hall tend to be the minority which grieves me greatly. I am a senior and worry constantly about the world my grandchildren will raise their children in. So I just had to say how encouranging it is to read this and many of your other articles. Thank you.

All good stuff but I wish I heard more from church leaders about how we grow our church back; why folks should join us. I wonder if we can be who we are without any implied criticism of others. I hope so. The dwindling numbers reflect a hesitancy, perhaps a fear, to clearly articulate what that is.

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