7 percent

I am a fan of Religion News Service, but this story, which ran on Beliefnet puzzles me.

It begins: Just weeks before their church’s General Convention meeting, some 900 Episcopal clergy have signed a petition urging church bishops not to approve gay bishops or bless same-sex unions.”

And it quotes the Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas as saying: “It is our hope to demonstrate to the House of Bishops with absolute clarity that the clergy of this church want to return to our historical, biblical roots.”

Here’s the math: The 2006 Clergy “Red Book” of the Episcopal Church lists 17,209 clergy. Of those about 300 are bishops and 2,200 are deacons. That leaves somewhere in the vicinty of 14,700 priests.

So putting aside for the moment the difficulty fo verifying the authenticity of internet signatures, and allowing for the fact that the peition might garner more names by its May 31 deadline, we are looking at a document which in a best-case scenario would be signed by about 7 percent of Episcopal priests.

The RNS story says: The petition, which will be presented to the Episcopal House of Bishops before the June 13-21 legislative session, further exposes the rift between liberals and conservatives over homosexuality in the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church. (emphasiz mine.)

I’d say what the story exposes is that while the Episcopal right has spent millions of dollars over the last three or four years fomenting rebellion in our Church, they have rallied an anemic level of support.

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