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The Anglican Communion and homosexuality

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Crafting a schism between the Episcopal Church, USA
and the rest of the Anglican Communion: 2006 to now

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Many mainline religions do not handle change easily. Their memberships are divided between those who take a static and a dynamic view of doctrine, morality, and beliefs.

The Episcopal Church and worldwide Anglican Communion successfully survived many crises in past years, including:

bulletThe abolition of slavery,
bulletPermitting the use of contraceptives,
bulletPermitting the ordination of women as priests,
bulletAllowing female priests to be consecrated as bishops.

However, it appears that the conservatives within the Episcopal Church, USA, and most Anglicans outside of North America have been unable to accommodate the latest stressor: the growing acceptance of homosexuals -- particularly those in loving, committed relationships -- to full equality within some of the Western provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In 2003, the Episcopalians confirmed the selection of Bishop Gene Robinson, a gay male in a long-term loving, committed relationship. In 2006, the Episcopal Church, USA committed to a policy of discriminating against gays and lesbians by prohibiting further consecration of gay or lesbian bishops. They revoked the ban in 2009. Most recently, during 2010-MAY, they have consecrated The Rev. Mary Glasspool as an assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.

Organized religions generally have difficulties handling change. The Anglican Communion, which spans the world, seems to have been unable to create a mechanism by which its members and provinces can coexist peacefully even while holding different opinions. In the present case:

  • The American and Canadian provinces tend towards the belief that homophobia -- exclusion of individuals because of their sexual orientation -- is a profound evil, and that homosexuality and bisexuality are simply two of three normal and natural sexual orientations. Although they take a dim view of casual sex, most view sex within a loving committed relationship to be acceptable, for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

  • The other provinces, where most Anglicans live, view same-sex behavior as a profound evil, no matter what the nature of the relationship.

Since religious beliefs are greatly affected by culture, both solitudes find much support for their opposite beliefs in the Bible.

Essays on the schism within the Anglican Communion:

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Copyright © 2007 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-FEB-26
Latest update: 2010-MAY-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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