The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. According to a report in the General Convention Blue Book, the Theology Committee has appointed "a diverse and balanced panel of theologians" but the names of these committee members are being withheld.
“If this isn’t the height of absurdity and insult I don’t know what is,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, President of Integrity USA, the LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church. “It sends a horrific message to gay and lesbian people – both inside and outside the church. The very concept of “secret studies” elicits painful memories of secret studies done on other minority groups in the past and is utterly contrary to our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being. There is absolutely nothing dignified about a secret study of a group already being discriminated against. It is suspect, disingenuous and dishonest. ”
Russell added, “If this important work is to have any credibility whatsoever, it is critical that the work be done in a context of honesty and transparency. A "closeted" sub-committee studying same sex unions seems too bizarre a thing to even make it into a Monty Python episode, much less be a course intentionally taken by a church that committed to full and equal claim for its gay and lesbian baptized 33 years ago.
“Integrity calls on the entire House of Bishops to not only ask for the publication of the names of those participating in this study, but to clarify the process itself. We want to know why it will take until 2011 for this committee to come up with a theological response to a reality we have been living out in the Episcopal Church for a generation now.
And we want to know how a church that can pass a resolution in 2006 “reiterating its apology “on behalf of the Episcopal Church to its members who are gay or lesbian, and to lesbians and gay men outside the Church, for years of rejection and maltreatment by the Church,” can then conscience secret committees “studying” our lives and relationships as if we were laboratory animals. What part of maltreatment by the Church doesn’t the House of Bishops get?
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