Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Week Ending 6/15/20

Employment Discrimination Opinion Has One Gap

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a 6-3 opinion that the 1964 Civil Rights Act gives broad protection to LGBTQ employees.  Justice Neil Gorsuch, the lone Episcopalian on the court wrote the opinion.  In general the opinion dismisses all of the claims made by employers, but Gorsuch notes late in the opinion that an employer defense based on religious freedom was not litigated in this case and awaits a later decision. It is likely that litigation based on that claim will follow.

Continuing Stories

Albany Now Awaits Hearing Panel Ruling

Bishop William Love of Albany now awaits the outcome of the Hearing panel.  Love's refusal to  implement the General Convention 2018 resolution B012 resulted in a partial inhibition  and Title IV charges.  Resolution B012 required every diocese to provide local means for a same sex couple to be married in a church ceremony. Love's defense, presented by the Albany Chancellor, the Rev. William "Chip" Strickland, argued that the General Convention Resolution was not mandatory, and was not part of the "discipline" of the church which clergy swear to obey at ordination. Paul Cooney, who recently retired as the Diocese of Washington chancellor  and is a George Washington University law faculty member, argued the case for the Episcopal Church. Cooney characterized the resolution as a required, legally adopted, part of the rules of the church, and noted the personal conscience options available to the bishop. The Episcopal News Service provides a summary of arguments, questions, and background here.  The hearing, conducted virtually due to the current pandemic, can be watched in full here.  The panel is currently working on the written opinion.  Only when it is finished and agreed on will an outcome be announced. 

Episcopal Church Takes New Anti-Racism Steps

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made anti-racism one of the strong themes of his focus on the the love that Christians should practice.  With the protests and demonstrations of the last several weeks, the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion have taken concrete steps and made strong statements against racism, including acknowledging ways the Church has and is complicit in racism. Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Indianapolis, provided a strong testimony at a virtual meeting of bishops and canons on how racism had shaped her life.  Executive Council  adopted an anti-racism resolution and voted $400,000 for grants to combat racism.  American deomnstrations have touched off similar protests in Europe. The blog Thinking Anglicans has links to a series of opinion pieces resulting from the demonstrations in England against racism.

Monument Issue Heats Up Again

The recent protests against the racism still deeply embedded in American society have brought new attention to the many monuments around the country that celebrate people who actively aided racist causes, especially those celebrating Confederate Civil War heroes.  Parishes and institutions in the Episcopal Church have been grappling for several years with removal of  memorials in buildings and on their grounds honoring men who were prominent supporters of the Confederacy.  Most were erected after 1890 and were part of an effort tied to glorifying the "Lost Cause" and reinforcing white supremacy.  The city of Richmond used the broad avenue separating east and west within the city as a place to erect a number of statues of Civil War leaders.  In more recent years, monuments to a more diverse group of Virginians have been added along the appropriately named "Monument Avenue." Now pressure is mounting to remove the monuments to Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders.  Bishop Susan Goff of the Diocese of Virginia has published a statement supporting the removal of the offending statues.