Thursday, June 27, 2013
Such a huge day yesterday in the forward movement of our country as the Supreme Court of the United States moves us closer to marriage equality! Not everyone is pleased - we've seen that before in civil rights issues, so no surprise. In fact, here's the official statement from the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg on the Court's decisions: "Everyone should be treated equally, but it is not discrimination to treat differently things that are different. The difference is the difference." That's one of those "WTF?" moments, meaning, of course, "Where's the Faith?"....ahem.
Yes, we still have work to be done. (The lead story yesterday in The Sentinel was on the theft of a garden gnome - clearly we have work ahead in Central PA!) What lies ahead for each of us depends on how we want our lives to unfold. In other words in our teaching, business as usual! We are not surprised to see this sweeping change toward equal rights in our country, or the world for that matter. We have worked hard to open the doors of our Centers and the closed mind of the bigoted. Not to downplay the excitement and joy, but seriously...if we didn't expect success then why did we treat or pray in the first place? Celebrate that we have this manifestation? You bet! Rejoice and make plans for future weddings (or begin taking applications, as two of minster friends have started doing!). Of course! But be "surprised?" No, not for those in our teaching. Besides the celebrations and fireworks we rest in the peace of knowing that Divine Right Action takes place for everything, not just the "big stuff."
You see, that's what faith is all about. It's easy to get caught up in the realization of the possibilities and acknowledgement of all couples through the decisions of the Supreme Court. I certainly did. As I read through Facebook posting after Facebook posting I was bawling like a baby. But we must stay focused on equality for all people. Along this line I want to acknowledge the work in New Thought that has already been done.
In 1995, Unity Worldwide Ministries (The Association of Unity Churches) created a diversity statement for the organization. I am told by ministers involved at the time that there was a lot of discussion and not just a little dissent in the member churches, but the organization as a whole accepted the statement and proceeded accordingly. Today Unity churches are still some of the most welcoming to our diverse population.
Two other examples exist within our own organization, Centers for Spiritual Living. Almost immediately after the Court's decisions were handed down yesterday our current Spiritual Leader for the organization, the Rev. Dr. Kenn Gordon, issued the following press release:
"Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. Marriage equality is a basic human right, This is a spiritual question, not a political one. Today's U.S. Supreme Court decisions are important steps toward the ultimate goal of full marriage equality. It is inane for us to put laws forward in our social contract like marriage and say it is OK for some but not for everyone. Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. We believe that love is the foundation of all major religious philosophies, and therefore we support the expression of love in same-sex couples and the right of same-sex couples to marry. Religious Science endeavors to get to the spiritual truth of the matter and through that lens we see that marriage equality is about human and civil rights. It is not up to a court to deny basic human rights to anyone."
Long before it was popular, the former president of our organization (then Religious Science International), the Rev. Dr. Arleen Bump stood up for marriage equality. My late partner, Frank, and I were honored to be the first gay couple for whom she performed a union ceremony. It was held in our church, then the Glendale Church of Religious Science, and she performed the ceremony in full doctoral robe and hood in honor of my ministerial path and for the relationship. The year was 1993. Her actions were significant and provocative according to some in the organization at the time. More than a few ministers raised an eyebrow and their objections - oddly enough, most of them were gay themselves. It wasn't a legal union, but she fearlessly upheld the sanctity of our relationship by refusing to cave to any protests. I honor Dr. Arleen today for being a leader in supporting marriage equality for over two decades.
So where do we go from here? It may not be a "we" - it might be an "I", or an "us." We don't need societal approval to work toward the goals we desire or to live our lives as we choose. This week marks a major transition in my life as I leave Unity of Harrisburg as their spiritual leader and begin making the necessary preparations to build our Center for Spiritual Living Cumberland Valley. I have made many dear friends at the church and throughout the Unity movement. It is my hope once our Center is more fully established that Unity of Harrisburg, Unity Church of Palmyra, Unity of Lehigh Valley and our Center will form our own local "New Thought Alliance" in bringing our unique New Thought principles to the people in south central Pennsylvania. Here we grow again!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,