Alex Blaze

Why I wouldn't expect the Catholic Church to become more gay-friendly

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 24, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Catholic church, Christian beliefs, protestant, religion

Church-outing might be happening with the right motives and might change minds of people who don't work for the Church, but don't expect it to change Church policy on gay clergy any time soon. This is a direct and obvious calculus, and it seems like homophobia's still profitable in the market for labor:

OVER 4,000 Anglican priests all over the world, including married ones, are expected to join the Catholic Church, Bishop Matthias Ssekamanya announced on Friday. [...]

Under the Vatican's initiative, Anglicans, turned off by their own church's embrace of gay clerics, women priests and blessing of same-sex unions, can join new parishes, called 'personal ordinariates', that are headed by former Anglican prelates.

"There is no change in the Church's discipline of clerical celibacy," Bishop Ssekamanya re-affirmed. He praised celibacy as "a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity".

That's 4000 since the Catholic Church first made the offer about a month ago for Anglicans to cross over, keep their wives, and maintain their faith. Not too bad.

Organized religion is primarily an authoritarian structure, and people willing to submit while young to an authoritarian structure need to be kept in line through intimidation and fear. There really isn't much motivation for a church to become more liberal - sure, there are many fine examples of liberal churches, but once people start thinking on their own, they wonder why they waste their Sunday mornings each week being lectured and tithe 10% of the income they could be directly giving to charity.

There's a reason mainline churches struggle in a postmodern world while conservative churches have been gaining members. Mainline churches have been in decline for several decades, and these folks went out and polled people to find out why (specifically among Presbyterians). The biggest reason, according to the authors, was that people who dropped out didn't buy the idea that salvation only came through Jesus. They were liberal, thought that God wouldn't send good people to hell, and, well, they pretty much didn't have a reason to keep on wasting their Sunday mornings.

That's probably why the Vatican has been going on witch hunts lately trying to stop women religious from becoming too free.

Christianity's general trend right now, demographically, politically, and theologically, is to the right. There are pockets of resistance and churches doing wonderful things, but mass religion for a mass culture requires people to be given a good reason why they're special and for people to generally be kept from thinking too much.


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I've said it before: Most churches aren't interested in the genuine experiences of people, they're only interested in being right (fundamentalist/dogmatic)) and in self-propagation- and if that includes reaching out to anachronistic Latinists, disgruntled Anglicans and squelching ecumenical dialog and the heart of compassion (which is what most women religious have been for the Catholic Church) in order to make a point about authority and dogmatic principle, well...it's not new, it's just more blatant and much less skillfully done than in the past.

And that means the stakes are higher.
To them.
In their little world.
Which doesn't count in mine.

The article you base your assertion that "conservative churches have been gaining members," is 1) 16 years old (1993) and 2) it does not suggest your conclusion. It would be helpful to consider the "source" of each of the three theories - the one you chose "conservative churches growing," was offered by "conservatives."

In fact, the opposite is happening. Look at some fresh data from Gallup, ARIS and the Pew Foundation.

Religion has seen significant declines in the last 30 years. Young people are creating that reality. Progressive and Liberal churches that have strayed from "literal interpretation" of the Bible and have embraced "spirituality" are growing.

As young people grow up and enter the "real" world, they begin to make decisions about faith. The only discernible difference is how "sticky" the initial indoctrination was. In that last few decades many parents, who were by their own definition "less religious" allowed their children to seek their own answers. More conservative families - Baptists, Fundamentalists don't allow that freedom. They "grow up" conservative Christian. While many eventually reduce their religious "intensity," it just takes longer to open their minds.

The most recent data strongly suggests that conservative Christians make up about 1/3 of all that claim to be "religious." They are dying faster than they are indoctrinating. At least in America.

Regarding the Catholics trying to attract Episcopalians disgruntled with newly approved "gay clergy?" It's just marketing. Businesses do it all the time.

Finally, "mainline denominations" have simply split into two easily defined groups: Conservative or Progressive. The Progressives are our friends.

Amanda in the South Bay | November 24, 2009 3:28 PM

Well, honestly most conservative Anglican clergy have already left for Rome (or Orthodoxy or one of the Continuing Anglican Churches) over the past 30 or so years. Most of the conservative opposition to homosexuality comes from more low church, evangelical quarters who, if you asked them, probably have a pretty low view of the Church of Rome and what it stands for (like saints, prayers to the saints, bishops, relics, the BVM, etc). There will be of course Anglican converts to Rome, but honestly this move by Rome is decades late to really have a measureable impact.

All the major abrahamic and asiatic cults are cesspools of anti-scientific superstition and backwardness. Most are infested by bigots. They are humankind’s greatest tragedy. Andrews’s theory that the key to GLBT liberation is cuddling up to our 'real' friends in the cults is beyond bizarre. At best they can be counted as reluctant and unwilling supporters.

In Germany some of the ‘progressive’ cultists pretended to be our friends and snuggled up to Magnus Hirschfield’s World League for Sexual Reform – until 1933 that is. When the Nazis came to power all but a heroic and tiny number of ‘progressive’ clerics betrayed us. The majority kowtowed to Nazism and grew fat on the looting of Europe while ignoring the mass murders of trade unionists, Jews, Soviet citizens and soldiers, Poles, gay men, disabled folks, the Roma, wounded German soldiers, and the citizens and soldiers of dozens of nations. Those ‘progressives’ turned out to be despicable cowards and are rightly held in contempt by tens of millions.

Our real friends are feminists and leftist activists in the antiwar, GI antiwar, African American, trade union, immigrant, Latina - Latino and other minority communities. Especially those who share the twin strategies of independent mass action and independent political action.

Those strategies are central to victory as the unfolding mass radicalization is spurred on by economic collapse, mass unemployment and homelessness, unending and unwinnable wars and ongoing attacks on the GLBT communities, the Bill of Rights, the environment, minorities, reproductive rights and immigrant and imported workers by the Obama administration.

Before we can begin to fight we have to build an activists movement oriented towards mass action instead of lobbying or cuddling with cults that has a democratic internal life that excludes high paid self appointed leaders and where decisions are made democratically based on politics, not deals. Building such a movement is the most important question we face.

Defining Cult from Merriam’s online:
1 : formal religious veneration : worship
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents

Defining Religion from Ambrose Bierce’s Devils Dictionary : A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to ignorance the nature of the unknowable.

Bill Perdue continues to promote his panacea of an atheist nation to create LGBT Equality, accomplished by marching around with clever signs and angry demands.

What is very odd is that most people who believe in religion use "faith," acknowledging that they cannot provide "evidence" or "proof" for their beliefs. That's honesty. Bill Perdue knows he is right about the lack of any God(s). That suggests he has wandered even further from reality than the "religious" people he attacks.

Instead of trying to demean religious people, by calling them names (Bigots, cults, etc.), I believe conversations - leading to understanding - would be much more helpful.

What Bill Perdue can't seem to understand is that equality means we ALL have rights. He is the only person commenting here that insists we adopt his beliefs. Playing the part of the angry old man is a lot easier than seeking real, sustainable understanding, leading to our equality.

While he shouldn't be muzzled (nobody should) I will simply continue laughing at his buffoonery.
It hurts our efforts, but heck, it's very funny.


Amy McDonald | November 25, 2009 4:52 PM

First I think outing Catholic Priests is kinda like cutting off your nose to spite yourself unless they're Pedophiles.As for church numbers there not anywheres as high as those on the right would like everyone to believe they are.A simple test is to look at the amount of churches in a community and their seating numbers then compare it to the overall population of the town or city.Even being generous and allowing for full capacity I would be amazed if that number was greater than 10 percent.They have loud voices and appeal to those who have left the church as a way to say see I haven't abandoned God just the church.The way to beat them is to get those who left the church to see we're not there for a lot of the same reason's.

The article you base your assertion that "conservative churches have been gaining members,"

No, I based that assertion on several studies, including Finke and Stark's data, among others. That study was linked to for the explanation, not the data as to the basic question, because they didn't even address the question of which churches are in decline.

is 1) 16 years old (1993)

Acknowledged.

and 2) it does not suggest your conclusion. It would be helpful to consider the "source" of each of the three theories - the one you chose "conservative churches growing," was offered by "conservatives."

So, wait.... does it suggest the conclusion or are the people who suggest the conclusion conservative?

At this point, I don't really know what you mean by "conclusion." My "conclusion" was that liberal churches do a worse job attracting and keeping members than conservative denominations (and not "conservative mainline," but evangelical).

In fact, the opposite is happening. Look at some fresh data from Gallup, ARIS and the Pew Foundation.
Religion has seen significant declines in the last 30 years.

Absolutely.

Young people are creating that reality. Progressive and Liberal churches that have strayed from "literal interpretation" of the Bible and have embraced "spirituality" are growing.

I don't see how you're reaching that conclusion. Here's what ARIS said:

The percentage of Christians in America, which declined in the 1990s from 86.2 percent to 76.7 percent, has now edged down to 76 percent. Ninety percent of the decline comes from the non-Catholic segment of the Christian population, largely from the mainline denominations, including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and the United Church of Christ. These groups, whose proportion of the American population shrank from 18.7 percent in 1990 to 17.2 percent in 2001, all experienced sharp numerical declines this decade and now constitute just 12.9 percent.

Most of the growth in the Christian population occurred among those who would identify only as “Christian,” “Evangelical/Born Again,” or “non-denominational Christian.”

Pew shows that evangelicals are the biggest group of Christians in the US, but doesn't show trending. I don't know what Gallup data you're referring to.

As young people grow up and enter the "real" world, they begin to make decisions about faith. The only discernible difference is how "sticky" the initial indoctrination was. In that last few decades many parents, who were by their own definition "less religious" allowed their children to seek their own answers. More conservative families - Baptists, Fundamentalists don't allow that freedom. They "grow up" conservative Christian. While many eventually reduce their religious "intensity," it just takes longer to open their minds.

Or they die before they come around.

Anyway, at the population level, that's my entire point: evangelical churches don't lose members as quickly and are better at attracting new ones than mainline churches.

The most recent data strongly suggests that conservative Christians make up about 1/3 of all that claim to be "religious." They are dying faster than they are indoctrinating. At least in America.

a) 1/3 doesn't mean "dying." It's just a number. b) 1/3 is a plurality.

But, yeah, secularism is growing in the US.

Regarding the Catholics trying to attract Episcopalians disgruntled with newly approved "gay clergy?" It's just marketing. Businesses do it all the time.

Don't really get what you're saying here: are you saying that the Church is lying about those 4000 people switching churches or are you saying that it's "marketing" in that they're trying to attract new people? If it's the former, then yeah, that's possible, and if it's the latter, that kinda proves my point that being politically conservative is a better marketing campaign in the context of religion.

Finally, "mainline denominations" have simply split into two easily defined groups: Conservative or Progressive. The Progressives are our friends.

Are Catholics "our friends"? Because that's the only explanation I can see as to why you'd bring that up.

Then again, they're not a "mainline denomination" anyway.