I often complain about the value of what I refer to as "good Christians" failing to confront and challenge conservative Christofascists who market hate and bigotry rather than the Gospel message of Christ. In Rhode Island the Christofascists and leadership of the Catholic Church have been attacking pro-marriage equality legislators and spreading their all too typical anti-gay lies. Thus, it is significant that Episcopal Bishop Nicholas Knisely (pictured at right) has urged clergy to support marriage equality in anticipation of a legislative committee vote next week. It is critically important that the hate mongers of the Christian Taliban not be allowed to pose as the only face of Christianity in the debate. Gay Star News looks at Bishop Knisely's effort to stand up for equality under the CIVIL marriage laws. Here are highlights:
Rhode Island Episcopal bishop, the Rev, Nicholas Knisely, has written to clergy in his diocese to urge them to support same-sex marriage in the US’ smallest state.
‘As the Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island, I support the bill before the General Assembly that would allow same-sex couples to marry in our state, not in spite of my Christian faith, but because of it,’ read a statement by Bishop Knisely that was sent to all active Episcopal clergy in Rhode Island on Friday.
‘Episcopalians are not unanimous in our views, but in the Episcopal Church we find our unity in common prayer, not in common opinion. . . . . . the majority of Christians in the Episcopal Church have come to believe that it is possible, and even common, for two people of the same-sex to live covenanted, faithful lives together in service to God, just as people in traditional marriages do. We have also learned that it is possible to protect the consciences of those who disagree within our church and still live together in community.
‘Part of what informs my opinion is that before I became a priest and then a bishop, I was a scientist. So I know the importance of trusting evidence that we see with our own eyes. ... Jesus tells us that we must test each tree by looking at the goodness of its fruit … Across our congregations and communities, I can see the goodness of gay and lesbian couples and their families.
‘I am eager to see our state legislature join many others across the country in passing legislation to ensure civil marriage equality. I believe it is time for the State of Rhode Island to extend marriage equality to all of its citizens.
Bishop Knisely’s statement comes just days before the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee votes on House Bill 5015 which would provide for equal marriage rights for all couples in the state.
Rhode Island state governor Lincoln Davenport Chafee, a former Republican turned independent, has said he will sign the bill into law if it is passed by lawmakers.
Rhode Island and Illinois are in a neck-and-neck race to see which becomes the tenth and eleventh US states to legalize same-sex marriage.
Kudos to Bishop Knisely and the Episcopal Church. Personally, I believe that if Christianity does not evolve in the direction of the Episcopal Church and the ELCA among others, its constant association with unvarnished hate and bigotry will ultimately make it a dead religion.