Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Take a chill pill

I don't know that I entirely agree with this CT Weblog post, but it's cute, and it does have a point:
Those worried that evangelicals' participation in politics may produce a theocracy may take comfort from Western Europe, where church and state have mingled for centuries. The closer church and state get, the more the church looks like the state.
Almost two years ago, a Danish minister said, "There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection." After making the statement in an interview, Thorkild Grosboell was suspended by his bishop. But because the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the state church of Denmark, the bishop could not fire the disbelieving pastor. Only the government can do that, and "the government refused, saying he should be given another chance to explain himself to Jan Lindhardt, a regional bishop who has been one of his few defenders," according to the Associated Press. "Lindhardt has said that although he disagrees with Grosboell's views, there should be room for him in Denmark's state church."

On Sunday, Grosboell returned to his pulpit in Taarbaek. Grosboell recently renewed his ministry vows, but said his views about God have not changed.
In England, the intricacies of church/state relations have produced a strange requirement for gay clergy who are now allowed to register for civil unions. "The new law leaves [church officials] little choice but to accept the right of gay clergy to have civil partners," says the London Times. Despite the legal requirement, the church still requires gay clergy to remain celibate.

So the church compromised. "Homosexual priests in the Church of England will be allowed to 'marry' their boyfriends under a proposal drawn up by senior bishops, led by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury... They will, however, have to give an assurance to their diocesan bishop that they will abstain from sex."

That's far from the Puritan requirement that a marriage be consummated before it is official.

Though the requirements may be changed before a final draft is approved by the House of Bishops, some bishops are already uncomfortable with them. "We all have clergy in gay partnerships in our dioceses, and there is a genuine reluctance on the part of a number of us to make their lives more difficult," said one bishop.

It seems those fearing theocracy have little to worry about.

Blending church and state has a tendency to defang one of those players. And when one of them slides off in an unexpected direction, things get interesting. (CT doesn't mention it, but the Greek Orthodox church has managed to tie the government in some pretty decent knots with one corruption scandal after another.)

Still, I'm not sure that I'd be willing to place money on the Dobson-Perkins-Robertson-Falwell-crowd losing their bite overnight. And given the kind of corruption that Ralph Reed has shown a propensity for getting into, neither am I confident that mere moralism is the issue here.

But ain't those Danes wacky?


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