California bishops to issue statement on Prop 8

The Living Church:

Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California announced that he will deliver a statement signed by all six California diocesan bishops of The Episcopal Church that calls on Episcopalians to defeat a state ballot initiative that would amend the state’s constitution to read “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Bishop Andrus will hold a press conference on Sept. 10 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco [Addendum: video here]. He will be joined by assisting Bishop Steven Charleston of California and Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California. Earlier that day, clergy and lay leaders from throughout southern Califorina will join Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, who will hold his own press conference at the Los Angeles Cathedral Center.

“The Episcopal Church stands for equal rights for all persons and fair treatment for all Californians,” a spokesperson for the Diocese of California said.

Sean McConnell of the Diocese of California writes:

Our bishop and many clergy in this diocese have publically expressed opposition to California Proposition 8, the ballot initiative intended to overturn the state supreme court’s May 2008 decision granting marriage rites to same-sex couples. The decisions you make when you consider many city and county propositions or ballot initiatives might come from a deep personal consideration of your core Christian values. And even the candidates you consider … do your religious beliefs inform whom you vote for?

Politics: What’s a preacher to do?

According to the Rev. Anne Howard, executive director of the Beatitudes Society, it is simply a good rule of thumb to remember that the people in the pews are smart, thinking people. “You don’t ever hammer people over the head and tell them how to vote.”

“Preachers must always speak prophetically about political issues. If we are going to speak about hunger, or the environment, or healthcare, we need to do so prophetically. To be prophetic is to speak about those things in ways that get people to consider them deeply, but we cannot back the candidate who supports specific issues. But, speaking prophetically, we can ask people to consider what the issues are as they consider their choice.”

Legally, a church can take positions on public policy, specific pieces of legislation, and even on ballot measures or initiatives.

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