Gay Spirit Diary

Anglican Covenant Defeated; Time for Something New

This is what killed the Anglican Covenant: Elton John and David Furnish got married in 2005 and the world didn't come to an end, even for English church ladies and closeted curates.

Several of my Episcopalian friends are celebrating today the defeat in England of a proposed Anglican Covenant, a power arrangement that would have punished Episkies and Canadian Anglicans for not beating up Gay, Lesbian, Trans and Bi people.

To me today’s vote is an anti-climax, so I wonder what all the shouting was about. The Anglican Covenant was dead on arrival, and I said so two days after it was introduced.

I take my friends seriously; they’re some of the leading progressives in the Church, people like Louie Crew, Leonardo Ricardo, Grandmère Mimi, Tobias Haller and others. Mimi has obsessed about this for months, hanging on every vote, diocese by diocese, reporting the numbers as if Romney and Santorum were slugging it out in the Ohio primary for future world domination.

Mimi’s happy now and I’m happy for her. Let the good times roll and all that.

Can we all get back to real life now?

FWiW, I told you so. (H/t JimB, whose handy little acronym I rather like.)

Did anyone think that English people would go for legalized ecclesiastical homophobia, seven years after Elton John married David Furnish in the royal village of Windsor?

How little respect these Americans have shown for basic English decency. For heaven’s sake, even the Tory government’s now proposing that Gay weddings be performed in churches, if the couple want.

To paraphrase Jesus, the bigots are always with you, but they’re not a majority anymore, they haven’t been for years, and it’s time we stopped acting as if they are. England isn’t America, where Rick Santorum can still hope to be president. English fundamentalists are loud, but not numerous; not in the Church of England and not in other churches either.

U.S. Episcopalians have been unduly worried – ridiculously alarmed, in fact – about this foolish Anglican Covenant. It would have created first class and second class status among member Churches, with pro-Gay North Americans stuck in the back of the bus. But the bus didn’t have a transmission, so it never could go anywhere.

I struggle to understand my friends’ paranoia, though now it’s moot. I hope it’s the last gasp of Episcopalian Anglophilia.

The Episcopal Church is not now and never has been the Church of England, even though our roots go back there. Really, all this was decided when Washington defeated Cornwallis in 1781.

We do not swear allegiance to the English crown. No English bishop has jurisdiction in the USA, including that bearded old man in Canterbury.

My friends know all this, but still they’ve run around like Chicken Little.

Let them celebrate today, the right outcome has been achieved. But honestly, people, why did you think English Anglicans would turn their backs on us? How ever much they tease us, they’re deeply affected by the “special relationship” – and they’ll never cut themselves off from Canada.

So okay, the CofE spent a million pounds and half a dozen years debating this corpse of a Covenant – Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, staked his entire episcopacy on it – and now it’s over. Done. Dead as a doornail. If the Church of England doesn’t want this Covenant, there isn’t going to be one.

Williams resigned a couple of weeks ago, knowing this thing was going down. The vote wasn’t a direct referendum on him, but it might as well have been, and so he lost. Bye bye, Rowan, enjoy that new job at Cambridge you’ve got lined up. Feel free to convert to Rome if that’s what you want. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Mind you, I’m glad that Episcopalians care about the Anglican Communion; we’ve made that loud and clear. I’m proud of my friends for taking that stand.

But as long as Rowan was head of the Communion, and doing his best to steer it towards homophobia instead of inclusion, the U.S. Church was better off without the Communion.

That’s what gets people so terrified. “Independence? How could we? Unthinkable!”

Pardon me, I thought of it. But as sometimes happens, I turn out to be more radical – and more conservative – than even my best comrades-in-arms.

They cannot conceive of continuing relationships outside the stifling confines of the Communion. I can. To me, relationships would continue better than ever between the U.S. Church and our friends in other continents.

I don’t think those relationships depend on a seal of approval from Lambeth Palace. But my friends evidently do.

They bitch and complain, some of them, about how much money we pour into the Communion, but they never decide to quit paying.

In 2008 the American Church spent over a million dollars to send bishops from all 110 dioceses to a two-week tea party called the Lambeth Conference – all but one, that is; the Bishop of New Hampshire wasn’t allowed to attend because he’s Gay. Rowan didn’t invite him.

But rather than tell Rowan to go fuck himself, all the other Americans packed up their finery and went a-teaing.

They said “the relationships are too important for us to stay home.”

I was ashamed. But there wasn’t any big outcry over their decision, so the die was cast.

Plenty of Americans complained about Gene Robinson’s exclusion, but nobody told the rest of the bishops to stay home.

Every year since, every U.S. diocese continues to appropriate laypeople’s money to pay for the next Lambeth Conference.

Some church bloggers pointed out, “This is an abusive, dysfunctional relationship,” but we keep going back like battered women.

I still say it’s better for domestic mission – that is, serving Americans, delivering the Gospel to Americans and attracting Americans to our churches – if we don’t haul around England’s baggage, much less the African baggage all this is related to.

African Anglicans are Gay-hating in the extreme. They’re the ones Rowan Williams kept giving blowjobs to.

He understood his job as keeping the Communion together at all costs. He assumed correctly that the North Americans would stay regardless, so he bent over and took African dick doggy-style.

You won’t read it anywhere else but here.

Today Rowan has lost his Church. All that butt-fucking did him no good. A majority of English diocesan synods voted him down. Mimi has now declared victory. (She’s even posted a Cajun Jig video – and claimed she doesn’t feel triumphant, which is either a lie or a joke. It’s a cool video, see it here.)

I don’t expect to sway anyone’s opinion with this post. Episcopalians are going to continue to suck off the English Church for the foreseeable future. I don’t mind, if that’s what they want to do. I don’t blame the English for hustling American dollars.

But I will assert again and again that our mission starts here, in our own country, with our own people, who need to know that there is one catholic and apostolic Church where Lesbigay and Trans people and our friends are more than welcome – half the time we’re running the place.

This fact gets lost in the din of American fundamentalism.

Episcopalians have a lifegiving message but we don’t broadcast it. We hide it under a bushel. We hope people will come to us – though in fact most Americans today have never heard of us.

We’re the most important church in U.S. history, but those days are gone. Now nobody’s ever heard of us, and if they have they get us confused with someone else.

We used to be rich and powerful. Now we’re not. All the rich and powerful people left us, because we decided that Black folk should be full members, and women can be priests, and Gay people can be good, and Lesbians are smart, and Transgenders are at the very least interesting, and sometimes gifted, and always oppressed, which Jesus doesn’t want us to do to people! So hello, have a seat, nice to see you.

That’s The Episcopal Church today. It’s a great place for Lesbians and Gay men, and for young adults who have friends who are Gay; who want to raise their kids as part of a diverse community.

Growth-wise we are ideally positioned for this very moment in time. But as long as we’re still caught up in all the doings in the Diocese of Bradford – as long as we care about Lambeth tea parties – we’ll miss our chance to heal and reconcile LGBT Americans.

That’s the real tragedy of this, not what Mimi gets obsessed about; God bless her, she did it because she cares.

She can’t hear right now that what happens on these shores, not in England, is what matters. Apparently no one in the Episcopal Church can hear that, not even Louie Crew. He values those overseas relationships too much to hear it.

He said a few years ago, “It will be even worse for LGBTs in Nigeria and the rest of Africa if we walk away from the Anglican Communion. We must maintain our relationships, if only for them.”

But we’ve done so little for them, and we’re so far away, that I don’t buy it anymore. The kill-the-Gays bill is back on the table in Uganda, and taking tea at Lambeth Palace hasn’t changed a thing.

My calling, though I don’t do it well, is to American Gay people. The more we rise, the better off African LGBTs will be. They depend on us, not for direct aid but for role-modeling, for courage, for an example. Their liberation must be indigenous, though outsiders can help.

My concern is for Tyler Clementi and Matt Shepherd, and all those kids who’ve killed themselves in the Hennepin County, Minnesota School District.

It may seem old hat by now, but my concern is for people with AIDS.

What I think ought to happen is something positive; let’s organize a Queer Episkie Roadshow to every major city in the country, starring Louie Crew, Mary Glasspool, Gene Robinson, Barbara Harris, Susan Russell, Sandye Wilson, Mimi and Leonardo, dancing bishops, musicians and artists, young and old, Straight and Gay, multi-lingual and full of passion. Make it fun – make it real. We know how to put on a show! Gather a crowd in whatever church will let us in, and then just preach Jesus Christ for 2012.

Yes, have a special outreach to LGBTs, but that won’t change the message; it’s still what it always was, Jesus loves you.

If we focused on that, instead of the internal workings of Anglican Land, we could change this country, change our Church and change lives.

This is the last generation of American LGBTs we can still reach on a mass scale, where some at least were raised in Christian churches before they walked out in disgust. If we wait much longer, the entire Lesbian/Gay community will be atheist or pagan. No one will remember the old hymns anymore.

Unfortunately my friends find it easier to worry about Lambeth. I think we’ll be judged for it, though I hope we are spared.

“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” (Matthew 25:42-43)

That passage is a warning to people inside the righteous group, not outside of it. Progressive Episcopalians think we’re “in” when we may be out.

But a Good News Roadshow could light a fire in this Church. I bet Grandmère Mimi would be a smash hit.++

Taiko Project Drummers at the 2010 consecration of Mary D. Glasspool and Diane Jardine Bruce as Suffragan Bishops of Los Angeles. (Elizabeth Kaeton)