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New research report addresses Church’s response to racism

A red circle, suggesting 'stop', around the word 'racism'. A red line is drawn through it.

New research report addresses Church’s response to racism

Image from the Un-fair Campaign against racism

Episcopal Church Press Release:

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has posted a new research report, The Church’s Contemporary Response to Racism, detailing the response of The Episcopal Church to racism, presented by the Archives of The Episcopal Church.

The report, prepared for the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism, is available here:

“Now we have a researched, documented, vetted, historical narrative that forms the foundation for viewing where the church has stood and how it has progressed or, in many cases, not progressed, in its work on becoming anti-racists,” commented Lelanda Lee of Colorado, Executive Council member and chair of its Advocacy and Networking Committee at the Executive Council meeting. “Now we have the foundation on which we can stand altogether to point our way forward to the work that remains to be done.”

Areas addressed in the report include: Early Recognition of the Effects of Racism, 1954-1978; Naming and Confronting the Church’s Racism, 1979-1989; Initiating Anti-Racism Training, 1990-1999; Anti-Racism as Sustained Cultural Competency, 2000-2014. Additionally, the report contains a complete list of General Convention and Executive Council resolutions approved over the decades.

Key points of the report in the Summary offer an overview of the recognition of racism, response, and training and curriculum offerings. “Racism had to be recognized before it could be addressed,” the Summary states. “These changes in place, Church bodies were equipped to turn to confronting racism as an internal blight. General Convention pushed for greater self-examination and Church-wide awareness training, and Council began to respond with expectations of staff.”


Posted by David Streever


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Harry M. Merryman

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Harry M. Merryman

David – Just happened again. Sorry to be a pain. . .

Paul Woodrum

“How do we discern the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church?” “By their fruits you shall know them.” I think that says it on numerous levels.

Philip Snyder

And the fruit of the entire sexuality debate has been anger, party spirit, strife, enmnity, and dissension. I see precious little of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, or self-control.

Since 2003, TEC has shrunk precipitously in terms of ASA and membership. We have seen four entire dioceses leave (and the ASA numbers don’t reflect the departures of SJC, Quincy, South Carolina, and Ft. Worth). WE have spent north of 40 million dollars in litigation against congregations and dioceses. We have spent more money propping up unsustainable dioceses in SJC, Ft Worth, and South Carolina.

TEC is out of communion with a large chunk of the Anglican Communion.

If that is the fruit of this movement, then how can you say it is from the Holy Spirit.

(this comment has been edited)

Philip Snyder

Br David – I disagree and I challenge you to find any passage of Holy Scripture or in the teachings of the Apostles or the Apostolic Fathers that supports your view.

I know you believe that General Convention has done significant discernment on this issue, but believe that all GC has done is to follow their own desires and call it discernment.

But I am glad to know that unity over the definition of “arsenokoitēs” is more important that racial diversity. I am also glad to know that GC’s resolutions and the resolutions of various dioceses are now Dogma (Doctrine that cannot be questioned or changed) in TEC. Are you that afraid that you might be wrong that you are unwilling to listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters of color?

I believe that you cannot say that you are for racial equality and then claim we should not be building up new congregations in Latino or African American communities because they are more conservative when it comes to sexual ethics and they might overturn your victories on this subject. Don’t you see that you are “othering” those communities just as you claim you were “othered” by the heterosexual community?

Anand Gnanadesikan


I think one needs to be very careful about making claims of bad faith.

There are people on *both* sides of the gay marriage issue who use LGBT folks as props to show how “right-thinking” they are, but have no concern for the genuine spiritual needs of people who are hurting.

What is harder to find is people who are willing to be genuinely tolerant- to reach out to bless *and be blessed* by folks with whom we are uncomfortable. Once you’ve done that a couple of times, you quickly realize that there are folks with whom you may disagree passionately in one area who are still closer to the heart of God than you are in others.

The point of my original post was that unless we are willing to expose ourselves and our children to discomfort (something that is increasingly hard for upper-class Americans), we’re never going to advance on the question of diversity.


Philip Snyder

Harry – you may not see how conservative clergy are treated by the progressive diocese as helpful, but that treatment is real and is the reason many conservative clergy have left TEC and many dioceses have left. I disagree with their decisions to leave, but they have left because of the abuse they received and the changes that TEC made. Personally, I have been called (to my face) a hate filled homophobic bigot who has no idea what Christianity teaches. I have been told I am a vile person and someone called my bishop to complain that I supported Chick-Fil-A. Worse has happened in different internet forums. NB – that has not happened on this forum, but it has on others.

It doesn’t take much of that hatred and vitriol presented to you before you decide that this isn’t the place for you and you go somewhere where you are respected and loved.

I thought that the blessing of same sex unions was supposed to be a secondary or even tertiary matter – one that is “adiaphora,” but too many of TEC’s leadership (and some on this board) are treating it as an essential of the Faith. As an example of that look at the comments that say we shouldn’t plant new churches if those congregations are not going to support blessing same sex unions or they are not going to support sexually active gay clergy.

Harry M. Merryman


This is NOT an answer to any question I asked. My comment was an attempt to get more facts from Anand about a particular situation in which the actions of some were characterized as “disdain[ful].” I take it you are trying to make some point, but whatever that point is, I do not experience your comment as helpful or enlightening.

Philip Snyder

Harry – you got a comment through the spam filter!

To answer your question remember how many clergy and bishops were deposed outside of the canonical means and nothing was done. Remember how much was spent on litigation regarding buildings and dioceses (north of 40 million by 815, not counting the amounts spent by specific dioceses). Look at the name calling (homophobic bigots) that many conservative clergy have to put up with. Finally, talk with conservative clergy serving in some of the more progressive dioceses about how they are treated and shunned at diocesan events.

Harry M. Merryman


I can’t comment on this situation, as I do not know the details of the alliance that was being proposed. However, absent these details, I will challenge you to defend your characterization of the actions of the leadership of UCC and TEC. To say that they acted with “disdain for those who disagreed with them” implies that there were not substantive reasons and significant principles informing their actions. In essence, you seem to be implying that the “leadership” of these denominations were acting in bad faith. Respectfully, I understand this is your judgment, but without more facts, I can neither condemn nor condone what was done.

Anand Gnanadesikan


The issue here is that there are immigrant congregations, who have approached the Episcopal Church about potentially allying themselves in mission. I was a part of such a congregation. A Church of South India, it ended aligning itself with the PCUSA in preference to TEC and the UCC (all of which are denominational partners of the original Church of South India).

This happened because the PCUSA (despite it’s denominationally liberal stance) was able to assure conservative members of the congregation that they would be treated with respectful disagreement as brothers and sisters in Christ by the denomination as a whole as long as the leadership would not deny pastoral care to LGBT folks. Which the Episcopal Church and UCC leadership (given their disdain for those who disagreed with them) were not able to do.


Harry M. Merryman

(Second try at this post) I am having a hard time understanding how TEC is excluding anyone. The dioceses mentioned in Philip’s post (below) *left* TEC. They weren’t *excluded.* The same is true with “. . . a large chunk of the Anglican Communion.” It is not TEC that is saying to conservative Anglican provinces, “we won’t be in communion with you.” Quite the contrary. Indeed, within TEC there is a wide diversity of belief and practice at the diocesan and parish level when it comes to the blessing of same sex unions, as an example.

The fact is that TEC has arrived at discernments opening up opportunities for sanctification for gay and lesbian folks with which some are uncomfortable. This discomfort has led many to leave TEC, saying that TEC is not being guided by the Spirit but is endorsing beliefs and practices that are sinful. One can certainly understand how those who hold passionately to this view of TEC’s discernments might look for a new home. Perhaps it would be “bad faith” if they didn’t. At the same time, having had these discernments, would it not be equally bad faith for TEC not to publish and be guided by them?

Philip Snyder

I am comfortable with people who differ from me. I don’t believe that those who propose blessing what the Church has always called “sin” are operating in bad faith – as they see it.

What I don’t like, though, is how they say they are the tolerant and inclusive ones, but exclude people who differ from them theologically. They fail to see their contradiction by saying “I am more inclusive than you, so I can’t include you in my group.”

Bro David


Your challenge makes little sense to me. What is it that you understand me to believe needs to be supported by scripture?

We will have to agree to disagree with regard to GC and it’s discernment of welcoming all the baptized in TEC.

Perhaps enlarge your page to see my photo better, I am a person of color! 100% Mexican, brown like café con leche, originally from the former TEC dioceses of Mexico that became the Anglican Church of Mexico with autonomy in 1995. Now living in the US Pacific Northwest. I believe that TEC should always strive for racial inclusion. I believe that TEC should also make clear with the first plant of the seed when planting churches in racially diverse or racial minority neighborhoods that TEC welcomes all of the baptized. There are other churches with the conservative ethos you espouse that can plant churches that wish to discriminate.

Philip Snyder

IF the Hebrew words that say man do not lie with a man as with a woman don’t mean what the scholars and translators say they mean, then please enlighten me as to what they actually mean. Please cite accepted translations that show their meaning.

Jesus was discussing divorce and marriage because the pharisees where trying to trap him, but he still grounded marriage in creation – God created woman for man and man for woman. Nowhere does Jesus every say that God created man for man or woman for woman.

So, please, show me one – just one – statement from Jesus, Paul, the Torah, the Prophets, or the Apostolic Fathers, that condones sex between two men or sex between two women. All I am asking for is one.

We will not always disagree on this subject. I am willing to change my mind and endorse blessing same sex unions. All I need is a solid argument based in Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.

Bro David

Philip, you are correct, those individual Hebrew words are there, but the words don’t add up to saying that a man should not lie with a man as he lies with a woman and the words aren’t directed to all men in general.

What Jesus said, in response to a question from Pharisees trying to trap him in his answer, specifically was about a man divorcing his wife. Jesus didn’t address anything else. You can attempt to squish this passage around to being some universal generalized definition of marriage, but it isn’t there.

We will always disagree on this topic. I believe that TEC should do everything in it’s power not to assist in the development of more Episcopalians who believe as you do, no matter how minority they may be.

Philip Snyder

Bro David

Looking at the Hebrew in Lev 20:13 ( you see man “isha” (man) “shakab” (lie sexually) “zakar” (males, masculine) “mishkab” (lying down (for sexual contact)), “‘ishshah” (woman, wife, female)

So, you can easily see how every single English translation would make that say something similar to “if a man lies with another man as he lies with a woman …” In the Vulgate, you find “qui dormierit cum masculo coitu femineo uterque operati sunt nefas morte moriantur sit sanguis eorum super eos” Coitu is the same root as coitus – sexual intercourse.

In Matthew 19, Jesus says that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. (19:5, but read 1-9, then) Look at the Greek

It seems very clear, both from the English Translation, the Vulgate, the Hebrew, and the Greek that Lev 20:13 is speaking of two men having sex together and Matt 19:1-9 is talking about marriage – and Jesus clearly puts marriage into creation where God creates human beings “male and female” and the two become one flesh.

Thus I believe you are completely wrong when you say that there is no place in scripture that says men shall not lie with men as they do with women.

Unless, of course, you want to say that 2000 years of Christian teaching and about 3000 years of Jewish interpretation are wrong and you are right.

Ann Fontaine

Of course gay men would say – they do not lie with a man as with a woman (quote credit – Louie Crew) The Bible is full of do’s and don;t’s — that we no longer follow or have changed. Clearest one is divorce. Jesus words even.

Bro David

Philip, nowhere in the entire scriptures is there a verse that says in the original language that a man should not lie with a man as he lies with a woman. There is a blatant English mistranslation of a passage in the Hebrew scriptures that says that.

Nowhere in the Christian scriptures is there a passage in the original language where Jesus is said to have laid down the definition of marriage as you have stated here. That is but your poor overreaching paraphrase of the current English translations where Jesus is responding to Pharisees regarding a question they brought to him about divorce.

There isn’t anything in the remainder of your post that merits a response.

Philip Snyder

Bro David – I too agree that the Church should welcome all people. Where we disagree is how we discern sinful behavior. I believe that sinful behavior is laid out in Holy Scripture and the Teaching of the Church. I believe that when God said that a man should not lie with a man as he lies with a woman that God means homosexual sex is forbidden. I believe that when Jesus says marriage is between one man and one woman that Jesus meant exactly that. I believe that when Paul says that men who lie with women are sinning (I Cor 6) that Paul means exactly that. I believe that when the Book of Common Prayer says that marriage is the union of husband and wife that marriage is the union of husband and wife – and has always been so within the history of the Church.

I don’t know of too many Episcopal Churches that do not welcome all people. However, we should not approve for leadership those who are not living as the Church teaches and do not teach what the Church teaches. I also believe that General Convention is capable of error on almost any (and every) subject.

So, if we expand to communities that are more traditional in terms of sexual morality, then well and good! We need the voices of those who are oppressed and downtrodden. If those voices conflict with the zeitgeist of TEC, I don’t see where the problem is. What is the problem with bringing in people who disagree with the leaders of TEC?

From a practical standpoint, isn’t it better to have them within TEC so that the enlightened can educate them regarding the correct version of the Gospel than it is to leave them to the tender mercies of Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Pentecostals?

Anand Gnanadesikan

I am struck by the tendency of these resolutions to focus on attitudes rather than on actions. I would like to see an examination of

1. Lack of African American representation at Sewanee- 85% white, 4% African-American at the Unversity of the South…. really.

2. Role of Episcopal Day Schools in promoting and perpetuating segregation, even (perhaps *especially*) in liberal dioceses like my own in Maryland.

3. Degree to which the ECUSA is willing to invest in new congregations in minority communities, even if such congregations may have more conservative positions.

Is the ECUSA really interested in fighting racism… or in patting itself on the back for making nice statements?

Bro David

Anand, as I point out to Philip in a comment below, I am a person of color. I would never espouse “If we have a choice between ministering to gay folks or brown folks, we’ll choose gay folks, because a culture that supports sexual minorities is superior to a culture that does not.”

But I believe that TEC has no need to duplicate the work of churches that are planting conservative churches in racial minority neighborhoods just for the sake of racial diversity and equality in TEC. If TEC plants churches in those areas, it should be known from the start that they will support the ministry of all the baptized.

Philip Snyder

I know of several church plants – all within the last 10 years – whose clergy do not support the blessings of same sex unions. I would not say they are “anti-LGBT” but they support the traditional Christian view of sexuality – that sex is to be confined to the union of one man and one wife known as “marriage.” They do not preach that gay people are to be shunned (I don’t know anyone who preaches that in TEC). They do not preach that gay sex is the worst sin (again I don’t know anyone who preaches that in TEC).

The areas they are planting are growing suburbs/exurbs of metropolitan areas and are majority caucasian, but with significant Oriental, Indian, and Hispanic populations.

Bro David

David, I have been responding to Anand’s #3 in his first post, which I read as promoting new works or church plants in certain areas to bring about racial diversity, regardless as to whether these plants will be anti-GLBT.

Is TEC planting new churches in white communities which are anti-GLBT?

JC Fisher

“3. Degree to which the ECUSA [sic, i.e., TEC] is willing to invest in new congregations in minority communities, even if such congregations may have more conservative positions.”

Do you mean “…congregations in minority communities, even if such congregations wish to discriminate against [deem as “unrepentant sinners”, and deny sacraments as such] other minority communities”?

Let’s call a spade “a spade” here—if this is what you mean, Anand.

Philip Snyder

David – let me try one more time. I brought up the issues of automobile theft and racism not being specifically condemned in Holy Scripture to demonstrate the absurdity (and I believe it is absurd) of the “Holy Scripture does not condemn homosexual sex in committed, mutually monogamous relationships” argument. Almost ANY sin can be condoned if you get that specific about it. Holy Scripture tells us not to worship idols. However, it does not tell us not to worship idols of Zeus or Aphrodite. If GC were to authorize a ceremony for the setting up of an idol of Zeus or Aphrodite, would that pass muster? If not, why not?

I am also interested in WHY you believe General Convention to be divinely inspired in this specific issue. Is GC also divinely inspired in all other issues? Why or why not? You say you accept its decision. If GC is divinely inspired, then was it divinely inspired when it did not allow for the ordination of women or for women to be deputies to General Convention? How about when it did not allow for the blessings of same sex unions? What changed to make those decisions NOT divinely inspired and the others divinely inspired?

The whole issue is one of discernment. How do we KNOW that we have discerned the will of God? The catechism says that we know the truths of the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with Holy Scripture. Since you put a lot of credence in the Catechism, what in Holy Scripture leads you to believe that the blessing of same sex unions is a truth taught by the Holy Spirit? If it is one, is it an essential doctrine of the Christian faith or is it adiaphora? Is it true for all time or is it true just now? Is it a mistake that the Jesus and the Apostles made and TEC corrected or was it something that God had to wait to disclose? Is it culturally based or it is a universal truth? If it is culturally based, then can it be undone if the culture shifts yet again? If it is true for all time, then why didn’t God put it forth or why didn’t the Apostles teach that it was true? These are questions that no one has been able to answer for me. Before we change our theology of marriage, I believe that we need to have these questions answered.

Philip Snyder

David – if you are going to get that specific about Scripture not condemning specific acts (such as mutually monogamous LGBT relationships) then when will you support blessing the KKK because scripture does not specifically condemn racism (find a word in the OT that translates as “racsim”). I believe that the Bible does condemn racism because it condemns hate and Paul states very clearly that there is no Jew nor Greek in Galatians.

Again and again, you cannot show any moral reasoning or scriptural reasoning other than “I like it this way” to support GC’s endorsement of sinful behavior (as defined by the Church over the last two thousand years). Unless, of course, you believe that TEC is the only true Church and that all the others who profess the name of Christ are not real Christians. But that is rather exclusionary too, isn’t it?

The argument that God does not condemn THIS specific sin (such as stealing from left handed people) therefore we are free to bless it is rather specious. God condemns sex outside of Marriage and the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has said that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. You believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in General Convention now, but you seem to deny that it was at work previously when it said that it would not move forward on blessing same sex unions until the rest of the Anglican Communion was ready to do so. You also seem to believe that the Holy Spirit was NOT at work at the Lambeth Conference – a wider meeting of the whole Anglican Communion’s bishops.

So, exactly how do YOU discern the work of the Holy Spirit? Or do you determine the work and words of the Holy Spirit based on what works best for you and your friends?

Philip Snyder

David – you don’t seem to understand what I am saying. I did not say that Article VII is what allows us to ignore ceremonial laws. I cited Article VII to show that Anglicanism does, indeed, make a distinction between Ceremonial Law and Moral Law. You indicated that there is no basis in Holy Scripture nor in Anglicanism that allows for the distinction between ceremonial and moral law. I just provided the easiest one to cite that shows Anglicans have made a distinction between ceremonial and moral laws – and that distinction comes out of the writings of the New Testament – from where Jesus said that it is not what goes into a person that defiles him, but what comes out of the person. Likewise, the laws concerning circumcision and food laws and the other ceremonial law were made optional in Acts 15.

However, neither you nor anyone has ever laid out a scriptural basis for blessing same sex unions or for considering OT and NT restrictions against homosexual sex to be cermonial rather than moral. All you have offered is “God didn’t forbid…the people of OT forbid …” When I asked how you determine which of the moral laws in the OT are from God (and, thus are to be obeyed) and which are from the people of God (and, thus can be changed to suit a particular need/desire), you were again silent.

If the restrictions against homosexual sex are rooted in culture, then the Islamist Radicals who are throwing homosexuals off of buildings are not doing anything wrong, rather they are following the dictates of their moral law – rooted in their culture.

So, please give me a biblicaly based argument for blessing same sex unions that does not also allow us to change other moral laws when we find them inconvenient.

Philip Snyder

David – you said: “There is no scriptural basis nor a basis in the Anglican catechism for ignoring ‘ceremonial’ but not ‘moral’ laws.”
Article VII of the Articles of Religion says “[N]o Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.” It also states that we are freed from the “…Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites….”
So, there IS a basis in Anglicanism that makes a distinction between moral laws and ceremonial laws. Of course you don’t accept the 39 Articles as normative either so I doubt that would impress you.

So, how do we make a distinction between the Commandments that come from God (and, presumably are to be obeyed) and those that the People of God put in place (which you seem to believe have no choice)? Why is it that gay sex is something that the people of God in the OT forbid while idolatry is something that God forbids? Please explain your interpretative technique that brings you to this conclusion. When it comes to moral laws, there are three possibilities.
1. The moral laws in the OT and NT are given by God and should be obeyed.
2. The moral laws in the OT and NT are given by people and can be changed.
3. Some moral laws are given by God and some are given by people.

If #1 is true, then we should follow all the moral laws given by God.
If #2 is true, then there are no moral “laws” only moral suggestions that can be changed to suit our own needs/desires
If #3 is true, then how do you determine which is from God and which is from the People of God?

All through Christian History, sex has been restricted to marriage and all sex outside of marriage has been considered sinful. All through Christian history, marriage has been defined as the union of one man and one woman and anything else has been considered sinful. Divorce is as (if not more) sinful as gay sex or gay unions.

All through the history of the Church, when the Church changes its teaching (such as at the Apostolic Council in Acts 15), it has done so based on Holy Scripture. The arguments for the Trinity (pro and con) were based in Holy Scripture. The arguments on the hypostatic union of Jesus were based in Holy Scripture. The arguments about which laws are moral and civil are based in Holy Scripture (particularly the teachings of Jesus and of the Apostles). The arguments for/against the use of icons were based in Holy Scripture. Even the arguments for/against the ordination of women (eventually) were based in Holy Scripture.

This is the ONE issue where the arguments to change the teaching of the Church are NOT based in Holy Scripture. Why is that?

Harry M. Merryman

This is a comment in response to an earlier post by Philip Snyder (about 5 comments above): Philip, Your comparison of “gastronomical attraction” to sexual attraction is spurious. Food preferences are acquired; they are not an element of one’s being. An increasing body of evidence suggests that sexual attraction is more like handedness, i.e., an inborn preference that is naturally expressed and flowers in the course of development.

It was once thought among some that left handedness was a sign of the devil. Left-handed children were forced to use their right hands and were and punished and shamed if they were found using their left. This is a better analogy for what has happened to gay and lesbian folks. There is a natural expression of sexual attraction, just as there is a natural expression of handedness. To prevent or condemn the natural expression of an individual’s same-sex attraction is to say that there is something flawed about that person’s being.

Philip Snyder

David – I got it! Every proscription in Holy Scripture that I don’t like, I can now justify by saying ” God did not literally forbid (insert sin here) the people of the (Old/New) Covenant did.”

What a freeing and liberating view! “God did not literal forbid idol worship, the people of the Old Covenant did!” God did not literally forbid murder, the people of the Old Covenant did! God did not literally forbid envy/greed/sloth/lust/gluttony/anger/pride – the people of the Old/New Covenant did!

I took a vow that I believed the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to BE (not contain, but BE) the Word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation. That means that when the People of the Old/New Covenant set forth moral laws, those laws come directly from God, not from their fevered imaginations.

As an Anglican, I also divide the OT laws into ceremonial (such as wearing two fabrics, eating shellfish/pork, etc.) and Moral and that we are freed from the ceremonial laws, but not the moral ones.

Philip Snyder

David, if we take the teachings of Holy Scripture seriously, we are ALL “unable to act on his being.” Our beings are all fallen and sinful. As a heterosexual male, my being desires to mate with as many women as possible. But I am unable to act on that being. As a human being, I desire to acquire as much wealth as possible, but I am unable to act (without sinning) on that being because greed is a sin. This is not about “privilege” or about discrimination. It is about God’s Word – incarnate and written. It is about people leading the people of God acting in conformance with God’s Word and the teaching of the Church.

In the Anglican Communion (as a whole) and in the Church Catholic, homosexual sex is a sinful action. I know you don’t believe it is sinful, but I would hope that you realize you are not in the majority of Christians around the world and in history. I did not request that he make a vow of celibacy, he volunteered it (or our Bishop asked him to make it).

We are not to act on our being. We are supposed to have our hearts and our beings changed by God through His grace. We are supposed to submit our whole self to God’s will and not to claim special privilege.

Now to the “logic” that homosexual men don’t lie with men the way that homosexual men lie with women… The verse does not say that a homosexual man shall not lie with a man as he lies with a women. The verse says that no man shall lie with a man the way that men lie with women. Using the words for “intercourse” it means that male on male intercourse is forbidden. If you read it otherwise, it is nonsensical. Of course, if you want to read it the nonsensical way, you can also justify almost every other sin. Murder? Well Holy Scripture doesn’t say to not murder red headed people. Theft? Holy Scripture does not say to not steal from left handed people or to not steal automobiles. Lying – Holy Scripture does not say that lying to protect yourself from embarrassment is sinful. Greed? The Holy Scripture complained about greed because money was precious metals such as gold and silver. That was wrong because these were used to adorn idols. But now that money is simply numbers in a computer and wealth is a measure of society’s value of a person, amassing wealth is a moral good because it simply shows how society values that person.

Don’t you see how those arguments mirror the arguments for blessing same sex unions? If you get specific enough, almost everything is permissible and I do not believe that God intended us to live in a world where we justify our actions because His word is not specific enough. I believe that lying is wrong because God says it is. Adultery is wrong because God declares it. Greed is wrong because it destroys our relationship with God and with our fellows in society.

Harry M. Merryman

Philip – Your comparison of “gastronomical attraction” to sexual attraction is spurious. Food preferences are acquired; they are not an element of one’s being. An increasing body of evidence suggests that sexual attraction is more like handedness, i.e., an inborn preference that is naturally expressed and flowers in the course of development.

It was once thought among some that left handedness was a sign of the devil, and left-handed children were forced to use their right hands and were and punished and shamed if they were found using their left. This is a better analogy for what has happened to gay and lesbian folks. There is a natural expression of sexual attraction, just as there is a natural expression of handedness. To deny or condemn the natural expression of same-sex attraction is to say that there is something flawed about a person’s being.

Philip Snyder

Harry – I strongly agree with you that we need to make a very clear distinction between discrimination based on being vs behaving. I don’t know a single orthodox Anglican/Episcopalian clergy person who doesn’t agree with that distinction.

The orthodox/conservative position is that there is nothing sinful about being sexually attracted to people of the same sex. That is something that simply is. Just as I am gastronomically attracted to chocolate or steak or a good 12 yr single malt scotch. Sexual attraction is a being issue.

The problem comes to when we start behaving. I don’t care if a deacon or priest or bishop is attracted to someone of the same sex. I do, however, care if that person is having sex outside of its morally relegated place – marriage and I care that people are redefining marriage to be any two (why 2?) people instead of how the Church has always defined it – the union of one man and one woman.

I believe that it is the TEC progressives who have conflated being with behaving. They hold that if you are attracted to a person of the same sex, you have every right to act on that attraction (behave) – so long as you do so “lovingly” and with “mutual affection.” The progressives are the ones who confuse being with behaving.

I am on the Commission on Ministry in my diocese and I voted to recommend that a gay man be moved foward in the process because he agreed that he would remain celibate. That is making a distinction between being and behaving.

Harry M. Merryman


Yes. When it comes to discrimination, we have to make a distinction between being and behaving. There is discrimination based on being, which includes qualities of personhood (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin). Then there is discrimination based on behaving. It is not inconsistent to argue against discrimination based on being while supporting discrimination against behaving. The conservative/traditional/orthodox position confounds these concepts, arguing that the Church should support those who would discriminate based on being as if these behaviors (discrimination) and the beliefs from which they spring are, themselves, qualities of being. TEC has, I believe, discerned the error in (if not the perversity of) this position.

Anand Gnanadesikan

Harry Merryman,

Our conservative/traditional/orthodox brothers and sisters will say this is a form of discrimination, and that is true. But any church is called to discriminate, by its best lights, between truth and error. TEC should do this lovingly, but unapologetically.

I have no problem with this statement. But then to quote David…

JC has, historically, taken a perspective which is well-documented in academic studies, that open discrimination against marginalized people no matter the rationale is exclusionary.

It seems to me that you can have one but not the other (you’ve just offered a rationale…).


Harry M. Merryman

In reading all this, it seems to me that the Church should not be supporting discrimination in any form. Belonging to a minority community does not entitle one to discriminate or exclude others. While the debate has been about whether we ought to support African/Indian congregations who discriminate against LGBT folk, I think the issue becomes clear if we reverse the proposition. Would we support a LGBT congregation that discriminated against racial minorities? I presume the answer would be “no.”

If we truly believe that the church should discourage discrimination of all kinds, then it shouldn’t matter who is doing the discriminating. If the Church does not support investing in congregations in racial minority communities that discriminate against LGBT folk, it should not be about their race; it should be about their views and practices, which are not consistent with what we have discerned to be the direction God is leading us.

Our conservative/traditional/orthodox brothers and sisters will say this is a form of discrimination, and that is true. But any church is called to discriminate, by its best lights, between truth and error. TEC should do this lovingly, but unapologetically.

Philip Snyder

How do we know that God is guiding General Convention? How do we discern the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

At what point can we say that an issue is decided for all time? Can we, say, issue a statement that TEC believes Jesus to be a wonderful human teacher that was only more in touch with his inner divinity than the rest of us and was not the incarnation of the 2nd Person of the Trinity? If so, why? If not, why not?

The issue of discernment and sexuality is a tricky one because human sexuality is so personal and is a very strong force in all our lives. I believe that when we have a very strong inner voice, that inner voice can very easily be mistaken for the voice of the Holy Spirit. That is why discernment is important – and the more important it is, the more we need time to listen to others who may disagree.

My problem with “General Convention said…” is that General Convention is largely a political body, staffed by people interested in church politics and that political activism has taken the place of prayerful discernment.

Again, how do you KNOW that God wants us to eschew planting churches among minorities who hold traditional views regarding sexual morality because ” it would be sinful to waste funds raising up new church plants which would oppose that ethos” (the ethos that God blesses same sex unions)? Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations – not just with those who agree with us politically or theologically

Anand Gnanadesikan

Bro David,

That’s the ethos of the national church as represented in General Convention and it would be sinful to waste funds raising up new church plants which would oppose that ethos.

In other words “If we have a choice between ministering to gay folks or brown folks, we’ll choose gay folks, because a culture that supports sexual minorities is superior to a culture that does not.”

I’m not going to argue that this is necessarily the wrong decision. I honestly don’t know. But then let’s not pretend that “all cultures are equal” when we in rank the sins of one culture above those of another.


Anand Gnanadesikan


I appreciate your response. Part of what I’d say is this.

There are those of us who are part of the Episcopal church because we actually agree with the 39 articles and the Nicene Creed as a way of formulating doctrine. To me, *that* is the evidence that God is guiding the Anglican Communion.

If you accept that God is guiding the General Convention because it is a rightly organized polity then you ought also to accept that God is guiding the General Convention of the Church of Nigeria, or the Church of Rwanda. Either argument by authority works for all or for none. To do otherwise would seem to validate the charges of colonialism raised by such bodies.

For myself, I prefer to judge political bodies (general convention included) by their actual results in the lives of individuals, rather than their statements.


Bro David

Philip, the scriptures do not teach the sinfulness of gay sex, no matter how many times that you write that claim here in threads on the Lead.

Passages that you may have in mind in current English translations of the Bible have been emphasized and understood in a number of different forms and in the various cultures represented in the 2000 year history of the Church. Today, with better scholarship, those passages are understood not to refer to modern same gender relationships.

That’s the ethos of the national church as represented in General Convention and it would be sinful to waste funds raising up new church plants which would oppose that ethos.

Philip Snyder

So, do I understand that you want to exclude people from the Church who accept what the Church and Holy Scripture have always taught regarding the sinfulness of homosexual sex?

If that is the case, then please don’t call yourself tolerant, inclusive, or multi-cultural and don’t call anyone else intolerant.

Anand Gnanadesikan

To be honest JC there’s a range here, and a genuine tension. Some congregations are indeed going to oppose homosexual practice as inconsistent with Christian tradition. For others the issue is more premarital sex and divorce. In some cases this means a level of discrimination (denial of sacraments) that the ECUSA would not and should not support. In others, the concern centers less around who attends the church and more on who would be hired as a pastor.

My point though, is that if the ECUSA is willing to plant churches in conservative white suburban communities (which it is), but opposed to partnering with African/Indian diaspora churches which may have basically identical views on sexuality then that’s a problem.

Saying “We don’t want brown folks in our church because they may be anti-gay.” may actually be the course that the church wants to take… but let’s not then congratulate ourselves about how “multicultural” we are.

John Miller

I am interested to hear about people’s experience of anti-racism training “on the ground.” The Episcopal church has address this issue with vigor at the level of general convention, but I wonder how well that has trickled down to the local level. I have had both very good and very bad experiences with mandated anti-racism training, and others have told me privately that they quietly refuse to participate in the training after having negative experiences.

What have others experienced in mandated training, was it helpful? What would make them better (or more consistently good)?

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