Here's a little developing story that you're not likely to see in the religion section of your local paper. On August 13, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America released a press release entitled "ELCA Clergy Support Gay, Lesbian Rights, Ordination, Survey Says." The release tells of a survey of 2,658 clergy from the seven largest mainline denominations, created by Public Religion Research. According to the report, 54 percent of the ELCA clergy polled favor ordination "with no special requirements," with 32 percent believing homosexuals should be chaste in order to be ordained, and 14 percent believing that gay and lesbian candidates should not be ordained under any circumstances.
My first thought was that title of the press release was overly definitive. While 54 percent is indeed a majority, it seemed to me that the headline made it appear much more lopsided than the poll results indicate. (I'd bet my house that had those numbers been reversed, the headline would not have been "ELCA Clergy Oppose Gay, Lesbian Rights, Ordination, Survey Says." Rather, it would probably say something like "ELCA Clergy Divided on Gay Ordination.") I also found it a little odd that this survey was being released four days ahead of the beginning of the Churchwide Assembly that will be voting on such issues.
The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund has been a leader in the movement for equal marriage rights and other protections for gays and lesbians. While the November 2008 victory of Proposition 8 in California was a clear setback, the movement has regained momentum in recent months as other states have acted to allow gay and lesbian people to marry. Now, the Haas, Jr. Fund is working with its partners to bring still more states into the column of those supporting equal marriage rights.
The Haas, Jr. Fund continues its leadership on this issue through an array of national partnerships. We played an instrumental role in creating the Freedom to Marry Collaborative and the Civil Marriage Collaborative. Through these collaborations as well as our other grantmaking, we’re investing in litigation, public education, organizing and other activities in states where real progress is possible on this issue in the months ahead.
At the same time, the Haas, Jr. Fund also is working with its partners to bring about pro-gay policy changes at the national level. We’re supporting efforts to promote equal access to public services, housing and employment, including service in the military, for gay and lesbian Americans. In addition, we’re investing in activities to make faith communities more welcoming and supportive for gays and lesbians and their families.
Gay and lesbian people and their families deserve equal rights and an equal opportunity to participate in their communities and in the institutions that bring Americans together. Working with our partners at the local, state and national levels, the Haas, Jr. Fund seeks to ensure that gays and lesbians are able to enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else, including the freedom to marry someone they love.
Over the past five years (2004-08), the Fund has made grants totaling nearly $29 million in the area of gay and lesbian rights.
No indication is made in the ELCA release of the partisan nature of the survey.
Part of me would like to believe this is just lazy (not to mention late) reporting on the part of the ELCA News Service. However, it looks to me like the news service is using its role of "gatekeeper" to promote the progressive position on these matters of sexuality. What do you think?