NORTH CAROLINA: Diocesan bishops sign joint statement against 'Amendment One'

Posted Apr 24, 2012

[Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina] The three diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina on April 19  issued a letter to Episcopal clergy across the state outlining their opposition  to Amendment One.

Amendment One, also known as the “marriage amendment,” is a  proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in North Carolina on May 8. The measure would define marriage as between one man and one woman, and as the only legal domestic partnership recognized by the state.

Bishop Michael B. Curry, Diocese of North Carolina,  Bishop Clifton Daniel, III, Diocese of East Carolina, and Bishop G. Porter Taylor, Diocese of Western North Carolina, co-authored the joint letter to provide context for their stance against the amendment and to encourage clergy to study what they see as likely impacts should the amendment pass.

“We oppose Amendment One because the love of God and the way of love that has been revealed in Jesus of Nazareth compels us to do so. We oppose Amendment One because every time we baptize someone in the Episcopal Church, the entire congregation vows to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’ We oppose Amendment One because it is unjust and it does not respect the dignity of every human being in the state of North Carolina. If passed, it will harm not only law-abiding gay and lesbian citizens but other men, women and innocent children in our state,” reads one excerpt from the letter.

Find the letter and other related Amendment 1 resources from the Diocese of North Carolina online here.

Nationally, the Episcopal Church is on record in support of measures that extend equal benefits and protections to gay and lesbian couples and against any state or constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex civil marriage or civil unions. The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina echoed that stance during its 196th Diocesan Convention in January.

Comments (37)

  1. RB Clay says:

    I seem to recall at baptism also vowing to “continue in the apostles’ teaching, resisting evil, and whenever falling into sin, repenting and returning to the Lord.”

  2. Chuck Till says:

    I seem to recall at confirmation promising to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”

  3. Joseph F Foster says:

    I was baptized in 1952 and did not do that “Covenant” in the 1982 Prayer Book. I was confirmed in 1963 under the 1929 PB and the phrase Mr. Till quotes wasn’t in the vows I took. As to the Bishops’ claim that “the entire congregation” vows…..&c.”. No, some of us remain silent or say “No” when asked to repeat the new baptismal vows. But since a good many of us conservatives are leaving, the time will probly come when everybodty left does say those things.

    1. Barbara Thomas says:

      So you are saying that as a “conservative Christian,” you do NOT respect the dignity of every human being?

      1. Joseph F Foster says:

        No I did not say that. Read what I wrote. I don’t make any promises under the new baptismal vows. If you’re too young to remember the baptismal and confirmation vows under the 1929 PB, fish one out and compare it to the new set. Quite a bit of change. The Bishops assume the “entire congregation vows…” but their assumption is sometimes unwarranted.

        1. The Rev. Mary S. Janda says:

          Dear Mr. Foster,
          I also was baptized and confirmed under the 1928 BCP, but if you are still in the church today, you have been involved with the 1979 Baptismal Covenant. If you remain silent or say no to the teachings of Jesus–and yes, those vows do reflect our Lord’s teachings, I wonder why you are so opposed to these Covenantal vows. What is your understanding of Christianity?

          1. Joseph F Foster says:

            No, I have not “been involved” with the New “Covenant”. I don’t “renew my vows” during a congregational baptism because I never took those vows.

            I object to the major change in the Baptism (and Confirmation) service which made it far less focused on belief and more on “response.” It was part of the general secularist accommodationism of the 1960s and 70s.

            My’Understanding” of Xianity — not enough space here but some abbreviated points:

            It is confessional — belief is not subordinate to and may be superordinate to practice, or “response”.

            It is not accommodationist — It does not wed the “spirit of the age” since it does not wish to be shortly left a widow.

            It does not subordinate the Holy Trinity to the Wholly Trendy.

            It does not confuse ‘love’ with ‘placation’. It loves the sinner but also calls us to repent and sin no more.

            It does not seek to make us Children of a Looser God.

            It is not politicized.

            It notes that Jesus loved his disciples. It also notes that he did not marry them; nor did they marry each other.

    2. Bruce Green says:

      Do you not renew your baptismal vows several times each year?

      1. Joseph F Foster says:

        No. Baptism is indelible. It need not be renewed several times a year. And, anyway, the vows I took at age 8 — none of that “sponsor” or “Godparents” nonsense– in 1951 were NOT those of the current Book of Common Prayer. So even if I renewed my vows, they wouldn’t be the ones of the so-called baptismal “covenant”.

        1. Jason Brinn says:

          Brother, let me say that I agree with you. This world has made its way into the church today and few “followers” seem to know and accept the Bible anymore. You sir stand on the word and the truth and I want you to know that you are not alone and are appreciated!

  4. Robert Hansel says:

    It’s the same old business every time— a few courageous Christians (like the Bishops in this article) stand up for justice and the truth, while and so-called believers, those vast “unwashed pagans of the pews” resist and deny until society finally moves on. Gender equality, equal pay, apartheid, sexuality, Civil Rights and any of the other dozens of “issues” confronting everyday life are seen as threats to God and religion. But, in the end, regular people just stop listening to the hypocrites and haters who are merely social churchgoers.

    1. M. Bowles says:

      Easy now, and “respect the dignity of every human being.” We pray for forebearance among the people of our church and its leaders every Sunday. While I support the view of the three bishops, sometimes older churchgoers whose experience is different from that of mine find change difficult.

    2. Joseph F Foster says:

      What is “the truth”?

      1. Mollie Douglas Turner+ says:

        Pilate’s question…with Jesus in front of him. Hmmm.

    3. Bruce Bogin says:

      I should like to add this: discrimination aimed at a group of people based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., is bigotry, no more, no less. Bigotry based upon an interpretation of a book one considers holy and to have been give by God, is none the less bigotry. One cannot justify bigotry by wrapping it in Scripture. If your interpretation of Scripture causes you to discriminate against a group of people because of the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation (which they get at birth), then your interpretation of Scripture is just plain wrong. I suggest that those who do not wish to revise their views about prejudice and wish to cling to bigoted views by wrapping them in Scripture, perhaps would be happier seeking a church which practices bigotry. There are plenty around. No, I do not and I will not have respect and accord dignity for views which I believe are bigoted. Someone may sincerely believe that the Jews killed Christ and are meant to suffer for it to this day. That’s fine. It’s called anti-Semitism and cannot be justified by Scripture.

      1. Ellen Warren says:

        Bruce Bogin’s reply is well-thought-out, in my opinion, and holds much truth. There is plenty of bigotry in various denominations, and some religions claim to know exactly who God is and neatly put God in a well-defined box. Some of those people then proceed to judge everyone else. They often make God a vindictive and punishing God, rather than a loving God whose grace is all around us. I believe that God is bigger and more loving than any mortal can comprehend.

  5. NIck Theuner says:

    OY VEY!!!!! Most of you on here probably work for your Diocesan COMs and still don’t get it!!!!

    1. Joseph F Foster says:

      a) What’s a Diocesan “COM”? And I don’t work for a Diocesan anything.

      b) Don’t get what?

  6. Tim Manolescu says:

    It must be wonderful to have figured “life” out, who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys”. If the “good guys” would be so kind to share their unique insights with the “bad guys” we would all be better off. Or, perhaps, the “bad guys” would finally know what makes the “good guys” tick. And then perhaps we would find the “good guys” to be as flawed as everyone else. I have a better plan: let’s all take care of our own faults and not try to fix the perceived faults of others.

  7. Harry Coverston says:

    “Dignity is earned – not conferred.” I find this a troubling notion. The image of G-d appears on every face, even those in which it is hiding behind the distressing disguise of poverty, crime, addiction or social disapprobation. The image of G-d is divinely created, everything else is constructed. We always have the option of agreeing with the views, words and behaviors of others, almost always depending on how close they come to our own. But human dignity flows from our divine creation, a creation that the Creator G-d assessed as “very good.” When we fail to honor G-d’s creation, we spit in the very face of the Creator.

  8. Jim Wolfe says:

    I belong to one of the conservative parishes that split from TEC. In my opinion this comes under the separation of church and state. Whatever your views might be on same-sex marriage, (if you’re reading this) they are probably based on some interpretation of the Bible. While I believe that congregations and individuals need to make up their own minds on this matter, the State has no right to impose a religious belief on everyone else. Thus, unless there has been some proven concrete societal harm in same-sex marriages (which I don’t believe is the case), Amendment 1 should fail. Not because it might be justified by some interpretation of the Bible, but because it simply isn’t the place of the State to impose religious dogma.

    1. Harry Coverston says:

      The distinction of legal rights and liturgical rites is something we talked about in seminary 20 years ago. Many then believed the church should get out of the marriage business (and it IS a business!). Having observed this distinction in practice in a number of countries I have visited, I have come to believe that the legal contract of marriage ought to be a matter of the state’s domain. Historically that has been the case at least since the Romans.

      Liturgical rites, on the other hand, are the realm of the church. Blessing of anything is up to the body which bestows its blessings. Of course, that does raise questions as to why a body might be willing to bless a nuclear submarine whose primary purpose is to destroy and lay waste to the creation while it simultaneously refuses to bless loving relationships. Even so, while that is a question of conscience between the believers and their G-d, legal rights are a matter of public interest that transcends that body of believers.

      Discriminating against any identifiable group of citizens carries with it the burden of demonstrating a compelling state interest. The sheer force of traditional understandings alone does not meet that burden, particularly in a time where those understandings are far from unanimously held. That includes those within the religious bodies who would legitimate their understandings with the imprimatur of G-d. As Anne Lammot says, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

  9. David Anderson says:

    If Jim Wolfe were to be correct, then states really would have no basis for saying that marriage is between 2 people only. Many cultures practice marriage as one man several women, and only a few one woman several men, so Mr. Wolfe’s rationale would open the door, in fairness, to many options beside traditional monogamy. If the state is going to be involved in marriage at all, from a legal and tax standpoint, then they can create relationship categories, define them, and give them whatever rights that the voters and the courts will allow.

  10. michael Neal says:

    So goes TEC, what a shame……………………use to be a vibrant church when I was younger……….but when you stop preaching the “truth” well, need I say more……………..

  11. Gretchen Pickeral says:

    So – in the midst of all this fear and worry and lousy economic outlook – I find myself wondering about the very shape of “households” in the foreseeable future.

    What about two or three single parents who want to live in the same household and file joint taxes and purchase household insurance? What about seniors who get along great and who want to create a “household” with similar privileges? What about siblings who are widowed or divorce who create a “household” during their last years of life and expect to have medical oversight of one another and joint tax responsibility and auto-insurance, medical insurance.

    I’m wondering if we define “household” or civil unions so narrowly we will be closing off options for folks at at time when logic would dictate new ways of creating households!

    Just sayin’ – G

  12. david johnson says:

    God calls us to think , speak and act through the lens of Jesus christ’s teaching in the world. Can we agree that the first commandment is to love..bigotry is not love, exclusion is not love, a strict adherence to SCRIPTURE alone ( scripture -that by the way: was written at another time, in another language, and in another cultural context), can t provide us with direction. As Episcopalians we are called to also REASON ( thinking ! remember a time before FOX news !!), and to look at TRADITION ( traditions adapt and change, right?)- with discerning minds and hearts! Let’s have prayerful conversation and dialogue and not leave the Church.
    Just prayin’….

  13. JackMMcKelvey says:

    Good for you!! Go for it and God bless. Jack

  14. Doug Desper says:

    What’s interesting to me that at the time that some, and I mean “some”, loud leaders in our Church attack God’s first institution (marriage for those who need to be reminded) that our Church’s own revered institutions are dramatically crumbling, at an ever-increasing rate: cathedrals closed or closing (count ’em up), dioceses faltering and becoming insolvent, parishes closing, the College of Preachers at the National Cathedral shuttered, seminaries stumbling along and barely surviving, the National Cathedral unable to pay its bills (now wanting to charge $10/head to get in and look). What else has to hit us over the head? Must we go back to the near-dead pulse of the post-Revolutionary days before somebody says that we have been myopically distracted on many, many wrong matters? We’re arriving at those days right now with bishops who accomodate the culture rather than seek to transform it with the Christian faith and life.

  15. Stephany Borders says:

    I believe that a marriage should be defined as a man and a woman. I am not against a civil union for gays and lesbians. This is an honored tradition that I have held to for my life time. Why should I have to give up what is important. Why can’t the gays and lesbians accept a civil union? This goes for the church doctrine as well. I hold the traditional values to me important and why should I have to give them up. The gays and lesbians knew what the doctrines were and accepted them when they accepted this faith. Perhaps there should be a “Reformed” or “New Life Style” chapter of the Episcopal Church for those that object to what we hold dear?

  16. Chuck Sharp says:

    There are two issues, civil and religious. Civil marriage affords legal rights, religious marriage blesses the union. It is wrong for the State to dip their finger in religious matters, or matters that affect anyone’s religious beliefs. All people who love and commit themselves “death do us part” should be afforded civil marriage regardless if they are gay or straight. I am an Episcopalian and applaud that we have lay and ordained members that believe in equal legal rights for all under both civil law and religious blessings of marriage between two loving individuals regardless of their sexual orientation. The labels liberal and conservative are used to divide us as a Christian body and do not serve to promote the Gospel of Christ.

  17. Bruce Marshall says:

    The preceding comments offer a lot of thoughtful reasons to support the position set out by the three bishops of North Carolina. Their letter addresses Amendment 1, an issue that must be voted on next week. What also needs to be understood, however, is that this move by the North Carolina legislature is part and parcel of an explicit strategy devised by the national Republican Party to divide the electorate, to antagonize voters, to wage war against women’s rights, workers’ rights, the interests of poor people, the interests of students, the health and welfare of the elderly, all in the hope of gaining political power by tapping the prejudices of as large a segment of the population as possible. Republican-dominated legislatures in states from Wisconsin and Ohio to Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Florida are attempting to enact similar laws that discriminate against parts of the public. We are witnessing one of the most brazen attempts to destroy civic unity to which our country has been subjected since the era of the John Birch society and the assault on Civil Rights. Let’s be grateful to the three bishops who have had the wisdom and the courage to speak out against Amendment 1 as an instance of that strategy.

  18. Doug Desper says:

    I love how revisionists want to redefine marriage and then when people wake up to the pressure they are the ones who get accused of “destroying civic unity”. I believe that the unity of society or the Church is being fractured by those who seek to redefine the Church according to the secularized vision of marriage held by alternative lifestyle pressure groups.

  19. brent tilson says:

    A little something from Romans; judge ye not lest ye be judged.

    1. Doug Desper says:

      Actually, Brent, your quote is from Jesus as recorded in Matthew 7.

      After the admonition of Jesus to not judge hastily is this: “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”. We are not to judge in order to mete out a sentence as was the fashion of the instant justice with punishments pronounced out in public in Jesus’ day. Judges sat at gates awaiting claims and arraignments which could take place immediately on the word of a couple of witnesses (remember the woman found in adultery? She was judged on the spot and was to be stoned immediately.) Those instant judgments with harsh sentences were what Jesus criticized, but he conversely later noted that we should indeed help others to take the “speck” out which will help them see more clearly. One is instant condemnation – the other is good because it is accountability.

      It is also clear that Jesus wants us to inspect the claims of others and to test them, which requires discernment and critique of others instead of placid accommodating affirmation. In the same Matthew 7 as “judge not lest ye be judged is”… 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits”.

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