Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jack Spong is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore

I thought it was a satire, but I was wrong. Bishop Spong is back:
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone.

I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility.

I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.

I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired.

I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people.

I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."

I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me.

I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves.

I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.

I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population.

I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it.

I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it.

I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer.

From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection.

I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth."

I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration.

I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.
Bishop John Shelby Spong is the retired Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Newark.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I, I, I, I, I!!!

'Nuff said...

Rolin said...

Someone give the man a lollipop.

Br_er Rabbit

Phil said...

He keeps talking about the "church" this and the "church" that. What does that have to do with him?

James Manley said...

Does this mean the Listening Process is over? YAY!

Anonymous said...

Lakeland Two says...

Anon #1 read our minds! Everyone else - very good.

We really don't care what Spong thinks or will or will not do. He is irrelevant. Self-centered, but irrelevant none the less.

Anonymous said...

OK, but if what the homosexuals do is truly normal, natural, benign, and even virtuous then maybe the guy will be willing to explain why so many of them are dead.

Didn't think so.

Ed McNeill said...

Wow. What a bigot he is!

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree with this:
"Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged."

And this:
"I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it."

These statements pretty much sum up why I am now in the ACNA.

Miss Sippi said...

Do you think we ought to tell him that Jerry Falwell is dead? What a heel-kicking, hair-pulling hissy fit! Good grief!

Anonymous said...

Not one of you challenged this statement: "OK, but if what the homosexuals do is truly normal, natural, benign, and even virtuous then maybe the guy will be willing to explain why so many of them are dead."

And you wonder why people think you are homophobic? What happened to loving the sinner?

Anonymous said...

"I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of ....people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote."

I hope his comments apply to the ordination "process of formation" in the Diocese of Virginia. The violence perpetrated upon hundreds of postulants, candidates, deacons and newly ordained priests over the past 25 years in the name of "formation" is a travesty. No wonder there is such resentment in Virginia. Thank you Peggy Hombs for retiring as soon as possible.

l'eveque clandestine said...

What a gaseous idiot. I'm gay myself, and don't need friends like this.

Anam Cara said...

Reading the list of people whose opinion he considers wild, false, and uninformed made me think of this:

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/64164232.html

Funny, I didn't see Spong listed along with the authors that will be burned on All Hallow's Eve. Now why would those two agree on something? There's the mystery and wonder of it all.

Matthew said...

"I'm John Shelby Spong and I'm a hypocritical bigot."

Anonymous said...

Lakeland Two says...

To Anon at 4:12 a.m.'s questions.

Homomphobic? No. But have noticed over the years that it is far easier in advancing the new agenda to throw that accusation out and hope it sticks and diminish those who don't agree with it. Have also wondered why those pushing this agenda feel so engaged why they didn't start their own church. Also wonder why, if it is so blessed by God and the Holy Spirit, it is not growing leaps and bounds instead of TEC shrinking. And...that TEC is shrinking while the population of the US continues to grow. If that percentage were ever factored in, the decline would be steeper.

But on to the last question. We see Spong as being totally deceived. We can love him as being created by God, but not approve his words and actions. God loves all, yet Jesus did drive the money changers out of the temple. He didn't approve of their behavior and we don't approve of Jack's. Worse yet, what Jack subscribes to is contrary to what the church is all about. So what was Jack doing in leadership? Worse yet, who put him there? And allowed him to stay there? Jesus wasn't happy about the money changers and the Pharisees. And warned us about them.

We can love Jack and those like him, but what he is doing is not of God. Be so warned, Anon.

Rick said...

Seems he's off his meds again.

W.A. Whitestone said...

Anonymous, it is not love to suppress the truth and pretend that homosexual living is just fine. It is not.

Clinical health, police and science tatistics show this is an unhealthy, unstable, unhappy and harmful, dangerous lifestyle that leads to disease and early death. It would not be love to approve of and affirm homosex - either the feelings or the acts.

Homosexual feelings are engendered by a complex group of beliefs about self, others and the world. The feelings are symptoms, conditioned emotional responses due to buried pain and anger, negative emotions, fear, rejection, shame, inferiority, worthlessness, etc.
These feelings and behaviors are sin/pain-engendered and sin/pain-driven and sin-pain producing.
These feelings and behaviors are created by relational dynamics, identity and attachment disruptions.
They lead to disease, harm and early death.

The natural unregenerate fallen state IS a disorientation, a case of mistaken identity.

All our sinful desires and abnormal conditions (depression, addiction, compulsion, obsession, phobia) are disorientation.

There is no sexemption or special perceived identity clause. We are all in the same boat - all of us are disoriented by sin and iniquity. We are all required to repent and be born-again and begin the process of renovation and sanctification of our souls called 'crucifying the flesh with its sinful desires' (Galatians 5:24) and 'laying aside the weight of sins that beset us' (Hebrews 12:1-4)

Nobody is excluded, all are included. No one is given a special category or pass and there is no excuse.

Romans 1:18-32; I Corinthians 6:9-20 are completely inclusive and aligned with the moral code (the Two and the Ten Commandments) that pervade and saturate all of Scripture. We cannot break God's laws, they are written in stone, as unchangeable as God's nature, as gravity and the physical laws governing creation, we only break ourselves in the attempt. They are based on God's character, Holy Truth, Love and Life. If followed, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they will produce His nature in us.

False teachers and priests like Spong who despise, pollute, distort and supress the Truth of the Gospel, who nuance and cast doubt, push the envelope, who cut corners and mislead and corrupt God's people are facing an unpleasant surprise, according to Malachi 2:3.

Anonymous said...

it's a joke. From Anglican Curmudgeon who at the beginning says "[(Unfortunately Necessary) Warning: the following is a parody. No one's private correspondence was purloined in order to write this post, and no email confidences were breached.]"

Sibyl said...

The Curmudgeon's parody of Shori's *alleged* response to Spong *is* a joke. Spong's 'Manifesto' is also a kind of joke written by a joker.

Rolin said...

Sibyl, are you suggesting that the Bishop would make a worthy adversary for the Dark Knight?

BabyBlue said...

Bishop Spong's manifesto is now up on here: http://secure.agoramedia.com/spong/34674.asp

It's also been picked up by the London Times: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2009/10/gays-and-flatearthers-jack-spong-attacks-pope-archbishop-of-canterbury-et-al.html

bb

prometheus33 said...

this is the reaction you would expect from one whose "reason" and rhetoric have falied on all fronts and whose "church" is fading into an abyssmal era of irrelavancy, impotency and apostacy. if the matter is settled and your side won, why so much bitterness and intolerance, spong?

Anonymous said...

The further TEC descends into the abyss into which it has hurled its ownself, the more frequently we'll hear this type of narcissistic, caterwauling nonsense.

Observer said...

Spong writes as if people should care what he thinks.....someone tell him that his ideas are way out of fashion and those that have bought them, like TEC, have incredible decline to show - maybe Spong et al are not that clever after all...certainly their made up religion is not that relevant to the AC

Andy said...

Wow, I hope the good Bishop purchased some carbon offsets prior to unleashing that fusillade.

But all snark aside, is this what being "given over to a reprobate mind" looks like?

BJ said...

Contrast his manifesto with this community oriented one

in all things, at all times, in all situations, as our highest priority in our lives, we will not permit anything to distract or deter us from seeking first the Kingdom of God.

http://bit.ly/1nuWMe

Or a godly woman's manifesto,richly supported by scripture


http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=107857058001

Anonymous said...

Here is the kind of rant Bp Spong rightly does not want to listen to any more:

"Clinical health, police and science tatistics show this is an unhealthy, unstable, unhappy and harmful, dangerous lifestyle that leads to disease and early death. It would not be love to approve of and affirm homosex - either the feelings or the acts.

"Homosexual feelings are engendered by a complex group of beliefs about self, others and the world. The feelings are symptoms, conditioned emotional responses due to buried pain and anger, negative emotions, fear, rejection, shame, inferiority, worthlessness, etc.

"These feelings and behaviors are sin/pain-engendered and sin/pain-driven and sin-pain producing.

"These feelings and behaviors are created by relational dynamics, identity and attachment disruptions.

"They lead to disease, harm and early death.

"The natural unregenerate fallen state IS a disorientation, a case of mistaken identity."

More and more this is being shown up as scum of the same order as racist and antisemitic rhetoric. Spong is giving a timely warning to those who are incurring guilt and embarrassment by continuing to use such langauge past its sell-by date.

Anonymous said...

see also http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/lambeth98/lambeth82.html

Fatestorm said...

Lunacy, as you all have duly noted.

I'd just like to point out the outrageous racism and imperialism in calling "third-world religious leaders" basically idiots whose minds and souls are still too ravaged by colonial oppression to realize left from right.

Despite his foux-bewailing of 'the price of colonial oppression', Spong reveals himself to be the true imperialist by continuing to perpetuate a liberal, smug, self-satisfied paternalism. He sure as hell knows how to run the world, the church, and their nations better than those 'stupid natives', eh?

Denise said...

Amen, Spong!

Anonymous said...

Homosexual acts, not people are forbidden in scripture. If these acts were for our ultimite good, why aren't they celebrated in the Bible?

George Eager said...

Thanks for putting this up!