17 June 2006

Abortion & The Episcopal Church.

A resolution I had the privilege of drafting and which the Diocese of Tennessee's Bishop & Council sent on to the General Convention is one of three dealing with the Episocpal Church's affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Here's the Tennessee resolution:
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. does hereby rescind the affiliation of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice effected by the Executive Council on 12 January 2006.
EXPLANATION On 12, January 2006, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America formally affirmed the affiliation of the Episcopal Church with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a registered political lobby. In 1978, the General Convention declined to affiliate with the organization (then known as the "Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights"). Abortion remains a matter of deepest controversy among this Church's membership and is perhaps the most contentious issue in American public life. Many Episcopalians in this Diocese are profoundly troubled by this action of the Executive Council and cannot in good conscience support an organization which promotes an act we believe to be gravely contrary to Christian morality. As the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury has written, "For a large majority of Christians - not only Roman Catholics, and including myself - it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life." The literature and website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice reveal that it advocates positions on abortion specifically at odds with those of the Episcopal Church, as expressed by a resolution of the 71st General Convention, which resolution declares that, "As Christians, we believe strongly that if [the right to abortion] is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience." It is certainly true that many of our ecumenical partners, including the Roman Catholic Church, are utterly opposed to the agenda of groups such as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and this affiliation will unquestionably hamper these relationships and our striving together toward the unity in mission and ministry for which our Lord prayed. The effect of this action of the Executive Council, an action which involves the Diocese of Tennessee and every Episcopalian, is to preempt dialogue between Episcopalians who find themselves on opposite sides of this issue, further dividing an already polarized Church by taking away one more plot of middle ground upon which we could meet and seek, in charity, to persuade one another.
Bishop Ackerman (Quincy) has submitted a resolution which would set policy guidelines for similar affiliations, which would curb this kind of foolishness.
Here is another resolution to rescind the RCRC affiliation from the Rev'd D. Lorne Coyle of the Diocese of Central Florida.
South Carolina delegate and member of the Human Sexuality Subcommittee of Social and Urban Affairs (and friend) Lydia Evans reflects here on her very helpful Convention blog.


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