Church of England to Allow Gay Bishops, Sort Of

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has announced that it will no longer prevent gay priests, including those in civil unions, from being elevated to the office of bishop… with a couple conditions. One is that gay clergy must promise to be celibate. The other is that they “repent for active homosexuality in the past.” No kidding.

While conservative Anglicans are predictably irate over what appears to be a softening of his predecessor’s more conciliatory position toward anti-gay leaders in the Church by recently named Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, LGBT activists and allies hardly see the announcement as much news.

“It’s nominally good news but I don’t trust it,” the Rev. Colin Collins of the advocacy group Changing Attitudes told The Huffington Post UK, “I don’t believe that there is serious intent in the announcement and I won’t until the moment when somebody who is in a civil partnership is appointed as a bishop.”

And, perhaps, until video monitors are installed in all episcopal bedrooms so we can be certain that all bishops are adhering to the stands for sexual behavior set out by the Church.

Elizabeth Drescher, PhD is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University. Her forthcoming book, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of American Nones will be released by Oxford University Press later this year, and her writing on religion has appeared in The Atlantic Wire, AlterNet, The Washington Post, and other national publications. She is a consulting scholar at TheBTSCenter, where she edits the Bearings blog and, with Keith Anderson, is developing The Narthex.