Sunday, July 21, 2013

Episcopal Bishop, Right Rev. Sean W. Rowe, Has A Change Of Heart On Anti-LGBT Bigotry & Discrimination

The Right Reverend Sean W. Rowe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, recently published an article in the Erie Times-News about the enlightening of attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

While this advancement in Rowe's thinking is welcome, it must be noted that when he was Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Franklin, Pa., he was also a member of the Franklin Area School District Board, the same school board that sat in silence, cast a blind-eye, even protected a high school administrator who was well-known in the community for the racist and homophobic ways in which he targeted and abused students.

Rowe has yet to account for his silence, let alone make amends for the suffering that he and his school board colleagues enabled in the Franklin Area School District.

Here is his current "reflection" on the issues:

Welcome LGBT People as Children of God

Right Rev. Sean W. Rowe - Erie Times-News - July 20, 2013:

Last week, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that she will not defend the state in a suit that challenges the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.

Her decision, resulting from the recent Supreme Court decision that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, is just the latest indication that our society's thinking about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their unions is changing rapidly.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage, and more than a quarter of Americans live in those jurisdictions. According to a June ABC News/Washington Post poll, 58 percent of Americans support marriage equality. That number climbs to 70 percent when Americans born after 1980 are surveyed, according to the Pew Research Center.

Civil marriage and religious marriage are distinct institutions, but our attitudes toward one influence our thinking about the other. So for many people of faith, these headlines about civil same-sex marriage equality require us to look at sacred traditions and texts with fresh eyes.

Many of us remember when issues of human sexuality were off-limits for discussion in our congregations. And sadly, far too many of us are familiar with the discrimination, fear and violence that LGBT people have suffered while people of faith turned a blind eye or, worse yet, acted as perpetrators.

Today it is possible for us to view same-sex relationships differently. Across our communities, we see the goodness and holiness of same-sex couples in committed, lifelong relationships. Same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities, their churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, and to their neighbors and friends. Just like opposite-sex couples, their love for one another draws them more clearly into fidelity and service to the world and allows all of us who know them to see the boundless love of God more clearly.

We can also see that our civic life benefits when same-sex couples have the dignity and legal protection that opposite-sex couples have always enjoyed. Same-sex couples, just like their opposite-sex friends and neighbors, work hard, raise children, volunteer for good causes and pay taxes. Erie would be poorer without its LGBT residents, and we need to stand against discrimination that makes their lives less safe or secure.

For too long, same-sex couples have had to live without the acknowledgment -- from their civic communities or religious congregations -- that they are both productive citizens and signs of the goodness of God's creation and love for the world. Now the growing civil acceptance of marriage equality can help people of faith to tear the scales from our eyes, testify to what we see, and fully welcome LGBT people as children of God and sisters and brothers in faith.

Reflections is a column by religious leaders in the region. The Right Rev. Sean W. Rowe is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 145 W. Sixth St.


JCF said...

"Rowe has yet to account for his silence, let alone make amends for the suffering that he and his school board colleagues enabled"

EBVC, have you spoken *directly* to Rowe about this matter? If not, you really ought to do so. If you have...well, let us know (I'm not sure what my advice would be in that context).

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Yes JCF, during the making of "Out In The Silence," when we were chronicling bullying at Franklin High School, we spoke with Rowe numerous times. He always said "the right things" in private. But in his role as a member of the school board, he did not act, and as a "leader" in the community, he took a public position of silence, thereby allowing serious abuse, and the fear that it generates, to continue. We wish him well as he moves forward, and hope that his words about justice and equality are genuine. But if history is our guide, true leadership from the "Right Rev"remains a question.