When all members of a community or organization have equal access to power, to benefits and to opportunity there is a quality of mutual recognition. ‘Misrecognition’ occurs when the structures operate in such a way that some members have less access than others. This is usually unintentional and often difficult to see because it is part of the normal life of the organization. Even though it is unnoticed by those with power, it is a significant reality for those unfortunate enough to be affected.
When a community becomes aware that some subgroup is misrecognised it is necessary for a while to lift them up and give them specific recognition because ‘business as usual’ is for everyone to misrecognise them. Any minority is in danger of misrecognition. That’s why affirmative action is necessary: to protect minorities at danger of being unconsciously discriminated against.
If we are to show hospitality to those who are traditionally misrecognized and marginalized in a predominately white heterosexual middle-class church we have to take affirmative action. It is not enough to invite ‘all the baptized’, we have to go down the table, take the misrecognized by hand and bring them into the fellowship in the place of honor.
An example of that principle in action was seen in the House of Bishops on Tuesday. Bishop Daniels specifically invited conservative bishops – who are a minority in that house -- to speak about blessing same gender relationships because, he said, their perspective was important to inform his thinking.
Integrity believes that the attempt to eliminate all the categories of people in Resolution CO61, the House of Bishops has taken the guts out of the canon that was meant to avoid discrimination in the discernment process. Although well intentioned, substituting ‘All the baptized’ provides no hope and no protection for those who have been and continue to be marginalized -- those for whom stepping forward is perilous. The Bishops’ attempt to deal with their own confusion has sadly not only done a disservice to the transgender community but to all those who have had to struggle from the margins to be recognized.
Integrity remains committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments AND recognizes that -- at this point in the life of this church -- it is still necessary to name in their particularity those who in many places continue to stand at the margins.
Caroline Hall for IntegrityUSA