Presbyterian Church CrossSlowly but surely, the doors of churches in the US are creaking open wider for gays. The New York Times reports that the Presbyterian Church will allow gays to be ordained (WebCite cached article):

After 33 years of debate, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to change its constitution and allow openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.

The outcome is a reversal from only two years ago, when a majority of the church’s regions, known as presbyteries, voted against ordaining openly gay candidates. …

Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the church’s General Assembly, its highest legislative body, said in a phone interview from Minneapolis after the vote: “Everyone was civil. There was no applause, no cheering. It was just reflective of the fact that we are moving forward one other step.”

This particular lurch of progress hadn’t been anticipated, just a short time ago:

Although by the time the vote was taken in Minneapolis the outcome was expected, Presbyterian church officials said that even a few months ago they would not have predicted that the church was ready to change its policy.

“All of us are surprised,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church’s stated clerk, its highest elected official. He attributed the turnabout in the votes to both the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the larger culture, and to church members simply wearying of the conflict.

Conservative Presbyterians are, of course, not that happy:

Paul Detterman, executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal, an alliance of conservative Presbyterians, said: “We see this as a bit of a crisis of conscience for us. The book that we hold up as holy is saying one thing, and now the church is behaving differently.”

This is a reference, of course, to the militant Rightist mantra that “the Bible condemns homosexuality,” e.g. in Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13. But the Old Testament also decries many other things, for instance, eating shellfish (e.g. Leviticus 11:10-12 & Deuteronomy 14:10) and, perhaps more famously, pork (Leviticus 11:4-8 & Deuteronomy 14:7-8). If one believes Lev 18:22 must be obeyed literally, then quite obviously Lev 11:10-12 and 11:4-8 must be obeyed literally, too … no more shrimp scampi or baby-back ribs for these conservative Presbyterians!

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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