14 March 2007
The Right Reverend Marc Andrus, Bishop of California
Dear Bishop Andrus,
As a member of your diocese, I am writing to I inform you of my decision to leave the Episcopal Church. This decision is precipitated by the recent actions of our Presiding Bishop in Tanzania , resulting in an ill-named "season of fasting" during this Lent, wherein we have been asked to refrain from blessing gay unions as a gesture of regret and repentance. I have written one letter already on this subject and obviously this one will be my last.
When I made the painful decision to leave the church, to my surprise the main thing I felt immediately and thereafter was relief. I was freed from being caught and dragged along in the tortuous machinations of a collapsing, human-built structure as it wrestles in such ungainly fashion with the radical idea of treating gay people like fully enfranchised human beings. I no longer have to construct justifications for my friends and colleagues who ask how I can bring myself to belong to a religious organization that supports the oppression of gay people.
I have always been proud of the historical association of such a wide spectrum of opinion and liturgical practice in the Anglican communion. Unfortunately that association is being rent asunder, and in the process gay members of the church are being cast into the breach as sacrifices, which may delay the inevitable but will not prevent it. This insult to our integrity will not even purchase something of value - it is merely a delaying tactic. How I wish that my personhood was worth more to my church.
I have waited patiently and listened to all of the well-reasoned arguments why I should be patient, and charitable, and turn the other cheek, and indulge my weaker co-religionists, etc. Ironically, no gay spokesperson in the entire communion that I am aware of has ever suggested that any conservative or evangelical group or individual should be removed, or rejected, or limited to auxiliary membership, no matter how strident or tiresome their calls for our persecution. It is only the conservatives who are permitted to indulge in such un-Anglican harassment of others, and are then rewarded for it.
In particular I refuse to be associated with any actions or pronouncements in support of the bigoted campaigns of Peter Akinola, who has spearheaded a legal bill in Nigeria imposing criminal penalties on homosexuals who dare even to associate with one another. While we as a body are making conciliatory gestures of enforced regret about confirming a gay bishop, gay Anglicans in Nigeria have had to go into hiding in fear of their safety. I do not understand why the Episcopal Church and the entire Anglican Communion is not rising up to speak with one voice against this outrage.
One thing is clear to me: I know of no heterosexual who would for one minute align themselves with a church which refused to recognize and bless heterosexual marriage; or, worse, which decreed a period of fasting from blessing heterosexual relationships in order to display a sufficiency of regret about having had the temerity to act in any way as if heterosexuals deserved equal rights.
Thankfully, none of this in any way affects my relationship with God. I am a child of God and loved by God, and my daily communication with the experience of the Sacred both within and without is untarnished by the tragic limitations of human religious structures. I remain a Benedictine Oblate. I continue to pray the psalms. I sing the hymns of my culture and heritage. But I will not submit to bigotry in the room where I pray, and I certainly will not fund the continuance of such bigotry.
I should add that although I have left the Episcopal Church, I will always remain a friend of Church of the Advent of Christ the King in San Francisco, which is a sanctuary for diverse ages, races, opinions, gender identities, and economic brackets, and whose parish priest has my perpetual respect for his eloquent and loving championship of inclusivity and respect for all.
cc: The Reverend Paul Burrows, Rector, Church of the Advent of
Christ the King, San Francisco , California
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of