[Episcopal News Service] The bishops’ and congressmen’s committees on social justice and American politics completed their work before the 80e General Convention with an online marathon session on June 22 in which committees advanced 16 resolutions on topics ranging from women’s reproductive rights to threats to electoral democracy embodied by the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
During an all-night meeting that lasted nearly three hours, the bishops and deputies also held a final hearing, on resolution D066. The move would call on the Episcopal Church “to advocate for access to gender-affirming care in all forms…and at all ages.” The resolution was proposed in response to Republican lawmakers push to pass nationwide anti-transgender legislationincluding measures that would deprive transgender minors of medical treatment to align their bodies with their gender identity.
Six people testified in support of the resolution, including transgender clergy, parents of transgender children and members of the TransEpiscopal group.
The Very Reverend Amy McCreath, Dean of the St. Paul’s Cathedral Church in Boston, Massachusetts, described her transgender son’s experiences as he struggled with his gender identity in college. Until then, “I had no idea the power of the forces threatening the emotional and physical health of trans youth,” McCreath said.
This resolution won the unanimous support of committee members and bishops, and it will be on the consent calendars, meaning its passage is all but guaranteed when General Convention meets July 8-11 in Baltimore, Maryland. Most of the other resolutions taken by the committees have also been forwarded to the approval schedules.
The bishops’ and deputies’ committees have separate slates and vote separately, but they often meet for hearings and deliberations on resolutions. Other resolutions recommended in votes by the Social Justice and American Politics Committees include D002promote equity in health outcomes; C054supporting reforms that would expand voter registration and access to ballots; C027, affirming the Church’s support for nuclear disarmament; and D013supporting efforts to declare “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as the national anthem of the United States.
The committees proposed a resolution offering support for the child protection and foster care systems, D046, and another promoting public investment in post-secondary education, D048. Resolution B007 was also forwarded for approval. He advocates federal investment in “evidence-based community violence response programs.”
The January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, which is now the focus of House of Representatives committee hearings, is referenced in Resolution D042. He calls for reform of the Voter Count Act of 1887 after Capitol rioters and other supporters of former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully tried to ‘take advantage of ambiguities’ in the law to undo Trump’s defeat. Trump in 2020. Another resolution put forward by the Social Justice and American Policy Committees, Resolution D063seeks to combat “misrepresentations that fuel division and fuel hatred and violence”.
Below Resolution D031, The Episcopal Church would take a stronger stance behind “a fundamental shift in the way we treat migrants, moving away from detention and other mechanisms that can support unjust immigration policies.” Bishops and MPs advanced the resolution, to prioritize policies that will reduce and eventually end the detention and surveillance of migrants.
Two resolutions before the committees deal with Aboriginal issues. D082 highlights the often overlooked issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, while D070 promote advocacy for legislation addressing inequalities in health care, housing, nutrition and education in Indigenous communities. The committees recommended both resolutions without objection.
Alan Murray, member of the committee of MPs, spoke briefly in favor of a resolution he had proposed, D076denouncing the work of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers”, facilities generally aimed at referring pregnant women to alternatives to abortion.
“These centers often misrepresent themselves as medical centers, providing factually incorrect information to pregnant women about pregnancy, abortion, contraception and fertility,” said Murray, a lay deputy for the Diocese of Oregon. explanatory text which he submitted with the resolution.
The resolution, which was recommended by the committees, also includes an apology for the church’s past support of these centers, specifically referring to a measure adopted in 1994 by the General Convention.
Few of the resolutions discussed at the June 22 committee meeting generated much disagreement, with the exception of D054regarding the choice of Louisville, Kentucky, as the site of 81st General Convention in 2024.
The resolution would ask the General Convention to consider moving the 2024 meeting to another city due to Kentucky’s restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. These rights should erode further in Kentucky and dozens of other states after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that could overturn abortion protections insured since 1973 by Roe v. Wade. Kentucky is one of 13 states that have “trigger” laws prepared to make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is canceled.
Louisiana Bishop Morris Thompson called resolution D054 “horrific” for setting a precedent by requiring ideological alignment for a city or state to host the General Convention. “I just don’t think we should be doing this,” he said, adding that Episcopalians in the Diocese of Kentucky “have been working hard to prepare” to host the next triennial nationwide gathering. church in two years.
Ven. Carole Maddux, deputy for the Diocese of Atlanta, expressed unease at “a litmus test of sorts” for host cities. She also suggested that there could be unique opportunities to promote the church’s position on issues such as reproductive rights in places where those rights are under threat.
Murray, the Oregon congressman, countered that the resolution does not order a new location but simply asks General Convention leaders to reconsider the city. He also warned that a particularly restrictive abortion law in a host state could pose real threats to the health of female bishops and MPs facing certain medical emergencies, such as miscarriages.
Daniel Valdez, a deputy for the Diocese of Los Angeles, said the resolution could also inform how the church views the locations of future General Convention meetings. “It’s a long battle that we will have to stand firm on,” he said.
The positions of the Episcopal Church on abortion have generally sought to balance a pastoral approach to supporting women facing unwanted pregnancies with the Church’s position on policy responses – that governments must ensure women are in control their medical care and are free to make decisions based on their own consciences.
Bishop Mary Glasspool, assistant bishop of the Diocese of New York, spoke against the resolution. “I’m definitely in favor of reproductive rights,” Glasspool said, alluding to the impending Supreme Court ruling.
“I just think when you want to make a political point about reproductive rights, do it around reproductive rights,” she said. “Going after General Convention programming has a lot of collateral damage, including disrespect for the people of Louisville and Kentucky.”
A majority of MPs at the meeting voted to recommend the resolution, while the bishops’ committee voted to reject it. Since the House of Representatives must first pass the resolution in Baltimore, it could be voted up or down on the house floor, but if approved by the House of Representatives, it would move to the House of Representatives. bishops with a recommendation that she be defeated.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.