At the April 18 Chicago Presbytery Assembly meeting, the Rev. Sara Dingman, Transitional Synod Executive of the Synod of Lincoln Trails, was an honored guest. She was introduced and made a few brief comments. In particular, she celebrated the role that the Synod and Presbytery had played in opposing Indiana’s RFRA law. So, I looked into the nature of this opposition.
What I found is that the Rev. Dingman, had released a statement (From Rev. Sara Dingman of the Synod of Lincoln Trails) on this issue. Screen shots of the title and key content follow.
The Rev. Dingman thanks numerous individuals for their support, including the Rev. Jan Edmiston, Associate Executive Presbyter for Ministry, with a link to her personal blog( achurchforstarvingartists). Two screen shots are also provided below.
It’s out of scope for me to debate these individual’s conclusions and arguments. However, with regard to the Confession of Belhar and how it is likely to be used, a couple of points must be made, those being:
- Even before Belhar has been officially included in the PCUSA Book of Confessions (assuming that it passes in enough Presbyteries), it is already being used by a PCUSA official to oppose the creation of any space for Christians (or members of any other faith for that matter) to decline commercial participation in an event that contradicts their strongly held religious beliefs.
- Having carefully read both posts, I find not the slightest evidence that either of these PCUSA leaders acknowledges that there are legitimate opposing interests in play, or that some in opposition to the RFRA have exceeded the bounds of honesty or civility in their actions.
What I do see is condemnation of any business owner who dares to follow their religious conscience by choosing non-participation in a same-gender wedding.
What about a church that declines to rent their facilities for a same-gender wedding? Or, what about a church that declines to bless a same-gender marriage of its members? Should we assume that here our PCUSA leadership will turn from contemptuous opposition to fearless supporters for freedom of religion and association?
I didn’t have much hope for real support of religious conscience back on April 8. I now have good reason to believe that the Confession of Belhar will be used to oppose the exercise of religious conscience within the context of same-gender marriage, at a bare minimum.