Much of the brouhaha surrounding the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has centered on her attitudes about homosexuality. The extremist on the right find her unacceptable partially because she has not made it her mission to deny rights to gay people. Gay groups have taken a wait-and-see approach and certainly do not consider her an ally in the fight for equality.
Much has been made of her attendance at an evangelical church in Dallas (or actually a splinter group of that church that is less modern in worship style). However, today I learned that Miers attends St. John’s Episcopal Church while in Washington, D.C.
While reports have noted that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is a member of an evangelical, pro-life church in Texas, some conservatives are upset that she has chosen to attend a pro-homosexual Episcopal church while living in the nation’s capital. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council says he is disturbed by the fact that Miss Miers attends St. John’s Episcopal Church. “It’s very much a part of the sort of mainstream Washington Diocese Episcopal Church,” he says. St. John’s is known as a support of homosexual rights. “The diocese, of course, approves of same-sex marriages,” Schenck continues. “The bishop of the diocese, Bishop John Chane, not only voted for but participated in the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop.” Schenck says the extent of homosexual advocacy at St. John’s is well known, and attendees must have a comfort level with that fact. Schenck says it is unlikely that not had “some kind of negative, deleterious effect on Miss Miers’ spiritual life.” Meanwhile, the White House continues to promote the fact that Miers attends a pro-life church in Texas.
Knowing that Agape Press is almost never an accurate news source, I looked at St. John’s website. Contained in their newsletter for October an article about their upcoming parish dinner:
We are honored to have as our principal speaker the Reverend Dr. Peter Gomes, Chaplain at Harvard, well known to our congregation for his forceful and captivating sermons. And continuing a happy tradition, members of our choir will perform lively musical entertainment.
If there is any question about St. John’s take on sexuality, Dr. Gomes is an out gay man who is an active participant in the quest for civil equality. The musical selections are from Cole Porter.
While this gives me some comfort in relation to Harriet Miers, it must also be mentioned that the President attends St. John’s, as well, so this may not be an indicator of her own views. The President’s record on issues relating to our community is mixed. While he has made many gay appointments (such as the ambassador to Romania) he has also actively campaigned to deny marriage equality (though far less hostilely than the far right wished).
Incidentally, Gomes has written a book, The Good Book, which I highly recommend. It completely changed the way that I viewed the Bible.
He taught me that there are those who would be horrified if I picked up a Bible and threw it across the room. Yet it’s just paper and ink. These people are worshiping a book and not what’s in it. Similarly there are those that worship the words, but have no use for the truth contained within them. These people are guilty of idolatry, they worship an object rather than God.
This way of viewing Scripture as a way to reach God rather than an object of worship, in and of itself, was instrumental in my reconciliation of my person with my Creator. I stopped worrying about the minutia of the religion of the book and started caring about a relationship with the Author.