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Joseph Backholm,
Exectutive [sic] Director of FPI

Happy Sunday, day of the Lord, people of the Episcopal Church, did you know you believe in nothing? This was news to me.

Not my words. The words of Joseph Backholm, Exectutive [sic] Director of the Family Policy Institute.

In a posting at the Family Policy Institute website, Joseph Backholm refers to the Episcopal Church as:

"the First Universalist Church of We Believe in Nothing."
The website describes FPI as "Washingtons [again, sic] voice for families." Also as the "state associate" for Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Alliance Defense Fund. All three affiliates happen to be on Southern Poverty Law Center's list of anti-gay hate groups. Nice company Backholm keeps, huh?

Apparently, in Backholm's world view, one must believe in locking gay people out of the marriage, faith, family, the law and life, or one believes in nothing.


PhotobucketWhat apparently got Backholm's dander up was the Rev. Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication and Inclusion of All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA seizing a high-profile teaching moment. Seems Rev. Russell posted a piece at the Huffington Post, entited, "A Thank-You Note to Kim Kardashian."

The Reverand uses the media maelstrom surrounding Kardashian's 72-day marriage to frame a tongue-in-cheek essay on the absurdity of the current state of marital law. Miss Kardashian, by virtue of her heterosexual lifestyle choice currently enjoys unlimited access to the "sacred union" that is marriage, and she can also abandon that covenant on a whim. By contrast, LGBT Americans, some of whom have sustained decades of mutual love and support and inter-dependency find themselves denied simple legal protections of their families. Rev. Russell says:

As we continue to work for family values that value all families and a protect-marriage movement that protects all marriages, we will have your example to add to Britney Spears' 55-hour marriage, Larry King's eight marriages and Newt Gingrich's three (just to name a few) as proof positive that marriage needs protection, all right -- but not from gay and lesbian couples who want to pledge to live together until death do them part.
The essay was a big hit.

Enough to worry Backholm:

"Because this argument is getting so much play, I think it merits a response."

Backholm of course, totally mischaracterizes Russell's message saying she says "marriage doesn't matter." (Untrue, see blockquote above.)

Saying marriage doesn't matter because Kim Kardashian can't keep hers together is like saying you shouldn't try to make healthy food choices because people eat candy bars.
If I could run with the candy bar metaphor, Backholm's postion seems to be I should be denied the pleasure of an occasional Snickers because it might have a detrimental effect on Backholm's health. I suppose if one believes in magic, that might make sense.

Of course, "marriage matters" to Rev. Russell and to the Episcopal Church. She's quite explicit "all marriages" matter, not some to the exclusion of others, as Backholm insists is the only possible choice. Rev. Russell discusses two of her parishioners:

Alec and Jamie, gay men who have been together for 10 years, married since 2008, new parents to a 5-year-old son adopted out of the foster care system, a son they are raising in a stable, loving home, bringing him to Sunday School every Sunday, and teaching him to write thank-you notes on Crane's Informal Notes with good penmanship.
Russell's point is not that "marriage doesn't matter," but rather, Alec and Jamie's marriage does matter. They are a part of her family of faith, they are a member of her community and she respects them, and their family. And it is her wish that someday United States government will respect Alec and Jamie's marriage as well.

If there is anyone here who thinks "marriage doesn't matter" it is clearly Backholm.

As the tide is turning and Christian Dominionists are losing the battle on marriage equality, in the courts and the legislatures and in the hearts and minds of their fellow Americans, their tactics of offense are getting ever more incendiary and desperate. Apparently, they think if they just shout louder and ever uglier terms they will turn the ship around.

The sad news for them is, even 71% of Catholics support civil recognition of same-sex marriage. And they are defying leadership. I can't imagine how many Episcopalian support it. A full scale attack on mainline Christianity and Christians over this issue seems ill-advised .

PhotobucketI think, if they pull out the "No True Scotsman" argument on every person of faith that supports LGBT equality, they will fast find themselves losing more friends than they make. A 2009 study by Public Religion Research Institute of mainline Christian clergy found them more supportive of LGBT rights than not: hate crimes legislation (67%); workplace protections (66%); adoption rights (55%). On marriage, we see a common split when civil unions is offered as a polling choice, with third and third. But assured no Church will be made to perform unions under duress and support for same-sex marriage nearly doubles among the "Uncertain Middle," from just 26% to 49%.

There are a number of Episcopalians on this site. How do you feel finding out you "believe in nothing?" It was my impression Episcopalians believed in Jesus Christ's edict to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. I thought they believed one expresses love for God by tending to the weak, the needy, the poor, the sick, and all that stuff. Was I misinformed?

Rumblings are Washington state may be on deck for fresh marriage equality push soon. I guess Washington-based Backholm is trying to get in front of that.

If the Christian Dominionists want to accuse every marriage equality supporter of "believing in nothing," I have three words for Exectutive [sic] Director, Backholm: Please, carry on!

Hat tip to Laurel Ramseyer at Pam's House Blend.

7:38 PM PT: It pleases me the good Reverend saw this post and tweeted a link with this Roosevelt-esque message:


Yep, you're doing something right when the Right Wing goes into attack mode. Bring it on! #prop8 #LGBT #NOH8 #DOMA #HRC

Originally posted to Angry Gays on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM PST.

Also republished by Milk Men And Women, Street Prophets , and Anglican Kossacks.

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