What we have here is a battle between two relevant parables linked to a major religion-beat story.
The first is that classic ducks analogy. You know the one (care of UsingEnglish.com): ” If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck”
In other words, if the Church of England narrowly approves the use of stand-alone (that’s crucial) rites to bless same-sex relationships, then that is the visual equivalent of same-sex marriage rites. Cue the “duck.”
It’s safe to say that a formal, honest change in Church of England doctrine on marriage would be the last straw for the stressed-out Anglican Communion causing a schism that would probably end up in the lap of King Charles III. At this point, Global South leaders — representing about 75% of Anglicans in pews — have already proclaimed that it’s time to start cutting the ties between the “Canterbury Communion” and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
Does it matter that the technically evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby abstained from the vote? Click here for a conservative Anglican news-you-can-use collection of his actions on this issue in the past.
So the walking duck image is certainly relevant, in this case. However, this brings us to an image that I have used several times here at GetReligion — with Anglican news events, even. I am referring to the “lighthouse” parable and, dang it, it’s relevant once again
As the story goes, this lighthouse had a gun that sounded a warning every hour. The keeper tended the beacon and kept enough shells in the gun so it could keep firing. After decades, he could sleep right through the now-routine blasts. Then the inevitable happened. He forgot to load extra shells and, in the dead of night, the gun did not fire.
This rare silence awoke the keeper, who leapt from bed shouting, “What was that sound?”
Now, once upon a time, almost anything that Anglicans and/or Episcopalians approved on LGBTQ+ issues was automatically one of the year’s most important mainstream news reports. Ditto for actions by Pope Francis or Catholic leaders in once-important lands (think Germany).
Now, this no longer seems to be the case. Does it matter that this big Anglican vote received a bit of wire-service ink (which will never see the light of day in dead-tree-pulp editions of most newspapers), but that was about it? Where is the celebratory coverage that was so common in the past?
The New York Times, for example, is still capable of bold headlines on the other side of the equation, sin this double-decker 2022 headline when the doctrinal left didn’t get the result that it wanted:
The Anglican Church’s ‘Kick in the Guts’ to Gay Parishioners
Divisions over the acceptance of homosexuality have proved intractable both on a global level and inside even liberal-leaning countries like New Zealand.
Can we now expect major reports from the Gray Lady and National Public Radio about how these semi-rites are wonderful, but still represent a theological glass that is only half full? Maybe elite newsroom scribes haven’t received a nod from the key sources in New York City and Rome that it’s time to celebrate?
Yes, there was some coverage that is worth noting.
The BBC — one of the world’s most powerful newsrooms — offered a calm, very technical piece (“Church of England backs services for gay couples”) — that (interestingly enough) never mentioned the Archbishop of Canterbury. The key is the accurate use of “special services” in the lede. Spot the “duck” here?
Gay couples will be able to have special services of blessing in Church of England parishes for the first time.
The services, while not formal weddings, will be able to include the wearing of rings, prayers, confetti and a blessing from the priest.
The amendment to back the services on a trial basis passed the Church’s parliament by one vote.
The Church of England’s official teaching is that marriage is only between one man and one woman.
Earlier this year, bishops refused to back a change in teaching which would have allowed priests to marry same-sex couples, but said they would allow prayers of blessings for people in gay relationships as part of wider services. It had been thought approval for standalone services might not come for well over a year from now.
So a slightly fast-tracked move by a very narrow vote. That’s newsworthy.
The story ends with a nod to the local Anglican right:
Read it all at GetReligion