A series of essays and reflections. I try to write at least once and sometimes more each week. Opposing views are most welcome. This is a marketplace of ideas blog.
18 January 2017
Cathedrals, choirs, and inaugurations
You can be forgiven if the controversies the upcoming inauguration are causing in the Episcopal Church have not been on your radar. While we think we are important: we are less than 1% of the population. But we do have some impressive real estate. Our cathedral in Washington, is widely known as, "the National Cathedral."
One of the traditions that surrounds the inauguration is a non-denominational service of prayers, readings and music attended by the new president, vice-president and a fairly good sized chunk of official Washington, cabinet nominees / members, Congresspersons, Senators, and a lot of supporters, especially contributors. Mr. Trump and his team are planning to attend such an event. Therein the controversy.
Officially of course, the church has no opinion on elections. So neither Mr. Trump nor Ms. Clinton were endorsed in any way. But(!) the Republican platform was in opposition to most if not all of the social justice positions of the church. I cannot cite data, but my hunch is that less than 5% of Episcopalians voted for Mr. Trump. I would guess that something over 90% of Episcopalians support the Affordable Care Act.
Saying that Mr. Trump is not in tune with our values is to massively understate the case. And if that were not enough, we promise at every baptism that we will "respect the dignity of every human being." We interpret that mean gay marriage, women's right to choose, and accepting, welcoming and protecting the alien, legal or not. In short Mr. Trump offends us on about every level.
So do we host the inaugural service? We do. Does our choir sing at the event, it does. Are a large number of Episcopalians deeply offended, absolutely. The offended have made a vocal presence on social media, decrying the decision. Those actually making the decision, the bishop of Washington, Dean of the Cathedral, choir director have also made their case.
I have been on both sides of this. That is sort of a classic Episcopal position, we call it via media, the middle way. Sometimes however one must actually decide. So here I am, blogging what I am with some hope, calling my final word.
This us no ordinary inauguration. This is a minority president, who is flagrantly dishonest, stunningly demagogic, misogynistic, homophobic, a bigot, and by his own description, a sexual predator. Yes we must honor our law and undertake a peaceful transfer of power. Yes we can celebrate our institutions. But assisting in the event, or providing entertainment for the supporters of bigotry and hatred, as a church is wrong. The dean is wrong, and the bishop is wrong.
I think via media is simply not available when it comes to opposing frank evil. This inauguration brings evil into power. That is not something to sing about.