Shuck and Jive

Friday, January 05, 2007

Janet Edwards (Possibly) on Trial Again!

This just in from the Presbyterian News Service: Presbyterian Minister in same-sex marriage case faces new complaint: Accuser to re-file after previous case was dismissed on a technicality.

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Janet Edwards, a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh, could face new charges for officiating at a same-sex union ceremony even though a complaint against her for performing the nuptials was thrown out by a church court last year.

The Rev. James C. Yearsley, a Presbyterian minister who filed a complaint against Edwards shortly after she married two women in June 2005, is gathering the signatures of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ministers and elders who want to join him in pursuing the case.

“I am indeed continuing to pursue the case against Janet,” Yearsley told the Presbyterian News Service Jan. 3. “I’m going to file a new accusation against her. I will not be the only one filing it this time.” (Read More)

I have written about Janet Edwards before here, here, and here. This time a new wrinkle. Among the others filing with Rev. Yearsley is Rev. Toby Brown who blogs at Classical Presbyterian. Rev. Brown is from Texas and talks about signing on to the complaint here. His concern is that not only did Rev. Edwards marry two lesbians but apparently one is a Buddhist and allegedly Buddhist elements were used in the service.

Rev. Brown writes that Rev. Edwards is a "rogue minister."

Oh, Janet, dahling, you are such a rogue!

So, there you have it, a rogue marrying lesbian Buddhists in Pittsburgh!


  1. Oh well, if you ask me the people parading around and fighting this like it's God's greatest war are just wasting their time. There are better things to do with our time - how's about helping the poor - like raising money to help start programs for the 'poor' in society - now that's a way better use of time.

  2. Hey Society,

    Before you start complaining about those evil conservatives and their single-minded devotion to homophobia at the expense of the poor, you might want to do a little fact checking.

    An excellent new book highlights some surprising data and conclusions about who really cares, called Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. He shows conclusively that conservatives - and especially conservative Christians - give disproportionately more money to the poor than liberals (who like to give away other people money to the poor).

    Before you accuse Arthur Brooks of messing with the numbers because of bias, you need to know that he's a public policy professor, specializing in welfare and charitable giving, at Syracuse University. Before this study, he considered himself a liberal. Reason Magazine gives an excellent review of the book here. Tom Sowell, an Ivy League trained economist, also gives an excellent abstraction of the book.

    To his own surprise, he found that even after he had filtered out giving to religious organizations, conservative Christians still gave more to secular charities.

    Apparently, not only is there an income divide in America. There's also a charity divide.

  3. Thanks for the attention, S & J!

    You pretty much pegged the issue:

    "So, there you have it, a rogue marrying lesbian Buddhists in Pittsburgh!"

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

  4. Hi Toby,

    My father taught me how to play chess. And we often would go to chess tournaments together. Before each game, the opponents wish each other, "Good luck." I found that winsome, but odd, as we really don't wish too hard.

    Nevertheless, good luck on your complaint!

  5. Hey John, how did you know I linked you in my MySpace blog - a search or something? Just checking this out - I think it's cool you came over and left a comment - these are all people from my hometown (mostly) and I was glad to have you over for a comment. Thanks!

    Chris, I am well aware of the giving done in the name of Evangelicalism - they do give - I am aware of this - but are you aware that most of the money never goes to helping find solutions for the poor in their midst? No programs and no real involvement on their part in the endeavor - and a lot of the giving is only approved for most things missionary related - not for the poor neighborhoods in their cities (which is too bad). I think upon closer look some of that giving (a good amount of it) is sent to programs they see as salvific or helping to build their buildings, pa system, conferences, etc. How many of these churches are setting up programs to help the literal poor in their midst? How many are offering support to the the prisoner, sick, and unsheltered? I say it's high time they put that money together, went to a hood, put money into that community and stuck it out!

  6. Chris I checked out the links and I am glad with a lot of the giving - I think that's absolutely awesome!

    My point is quite simple in life - using the church as a truly salvific agent in society - which to me means - the church being used to help solve societies needs - which means those same churches get involved, work together, and build programs out of their churches that give the people in 'need' - a hand indeed. I have even come up with an idea - which I will post on my site one day - called the 'Action Group' - and it's 'no fail' endeavor. But when it drops and if it gets picked up - we might see some change coming out of these churches - and people filling the seats also. Just a thought.

  7. Chris, that is an interesting book; all kinds of ways we can assign labels to people and look at habits of labeled groups. Still, this book may do what the author says he intended; serve as a wake up call to liberals in terms of giving.

    I read a review of the book in the November 23 issue of Chronicle of Philanthropy by Ben Gose. This line caught my eye: “Most of the difference in giving among conservatives and liberals gets back to religion. Religious liberals give nearly as much as religious conservatives, Mr. Brooks found. And secular conservatives are even less generous than secular liberals.”

    So if we divide the country between liberals and conservatives, liberals look the worse. But we could divide the country between religious people and secular people and secular people look the worse. If we divided the country into four quarters then those darn secular conservatives are the biggest problem.

    One notion I have that I guess is conservative is that people deserve to be judged individually, without regard to whatever labels they fall under, be it liberal, conservative, straight, gay, Christian, atheist or whatever. I have secular friends who I know dig deep in their pockets and give a lot to their communities. Still, a very interesting book; thanks.

  8. SocietyVs,

    I'm a little confused by the two posts, seemingly separated by mere minutes but also by sentiments expressed.

    As Dr. Brook's work shows, conservative Christians give more to secular causes than secular liberals do. Here's a quote from Dr. Brooks' relevant material:

    Some people might object to my conflation here of religious and nonreligious charity. One might argue, for example, that religious charity is more likely to take place for non-altruistic finance the services that they themselves consume, such as sacramental activities. Therefore, disparities in charity might disappear when we only consider explicitly nonreligious giving and volunteering.The SCCBS data do not support this hypothesis, however: Religious people are more generous than secular people with nonreligious causes as well as with religious ones. While 68 percent of the total population gives (and 51 percent volunteers) to nonreligious causes each year, religious people are 10 points more likely to give to these causes than secularists (71 percent to 61 percent) and 21 points more likely to volunteer (60 percent to 39 percent). For example, religious people are 7 points more likely than secularists to volunteer for neighborhood and civic groups, 20 points more likely to volunteer to help the poor or elderly, and 26 points more likely to volunteer for school or youth programs. It seems fair to say that religion engenders charity in general — including nonreligious charity.

    If you have something other than your opinion to back up the claim that the discrepancies are based on evangelicals padding their own pews (and pet causes), I'm all ears.

  9. Hey I've been wrong before but experience has shown me not to be otherwise optimistic - but I'll admit I am wrong on the giving thing - they give and I am glad they do. I am saying - can they do more? Like fill in where those charities are missing the mark?

    I have been in churches half my life and I am not saying the giving isn't there - hell it's even demanded - the book backs that idea and it has to be true. I raise questions about involvement also - since this seems to be a high mandate of Christ - who never had united way's to donate to - still they went out and did what they could for the less fortunate. However, I would say some of that charity is missing the mark - poverty in many neighborhoods exists in a variety of ways - some would say the programs are there but they are usually filled (capacity issues). I say churches can fill the gaps that are being missed - so when we talk about charity - I am down for the cause - but I think a bigger church effort for some overlooked areas can exist.

    I mean I may be wrong and this all could be 'opinion' - but that's quite alright with me - I am sure of the conditions that exist in my own hometown - I am hoping others are exempt from this.

  10. Again, Society, the data sets clearly show that conservative evangelicals are also at the forefront of volunteerism. These accusations you sling around, couched as they may be, are inaccurate on the whole. They may be accurate for a very small geographic/demographic sector with which you interact, but not on the whole.

    Why? I've got an opinion on that, too. Mainly, it comes down to this: Conservatives believe in results, liberals believe in feelings. If it doesn't actually help (or change things), then conservatives don't waste their time (they conserve it).

    Textbook example: I matriculated at either the most, or second most, liberal seminary in my denomination. There were numerous opportunitues for "standing in solidarity" with the poor and oppressed: marches, rallies, protests, petitions, etc... While there, I worked very hard to organize a Habitat for Humanity team. NO VOLUNTEERS. I tried to get a team to help Repair Affair (like Habitat, except you fix instead of build). 85% of the campus evangelicals showed up, but only 3 liberals (all in all, 11 people).

    Now, organize a protest against Bush, or have a rally against Taco Bell, and you can hardly find enough buses to get them over there.

    I'll admit, it's my experience. But it correlates with the generalizable data beautifully.

  11. ""standing in solidarity" with the poor and oppressed: marches, rallies, protests, petitions, etc... " (Chris)

    First off, how does this constitute actually helping the poor? No march, rally, or protest is doing anything at that certain time except showing 'we agree - poverty is wrong'. Lobby the gov't all you want - that's still not an answer, that's lip-service to the plight of the individuals suffering - and while we march or protest they still suffer - I think a more amenable answer is uniting the churches into a front that does get involved - that builds programs for those most in need. This is being done but if we could align the churches on such a mass scale a lot more could be done than any of us dream to think of.

    "While there, I worked very hard to organize a Habitat for Humanity team. NO VOLUNTEERS. I tried to get a team to help Repair Affair (like Habitat, except you fix instead of build). 85% of the campus evangelicals showed up, but only 3 liberals (all in all, 11 people)." (Chris)

    I applaude the efforts to do this - it needs to be done! I really could care less about statistics or not, are the churches involved within the communities that are being helped (which does include liberals also)? Is this endeavor still up n running? Or has this ceased due to lack of support? Maybe we as church members should start approaching church boards about these issues and getting them involved also - so they take a keen interest in the 'salvation' of their communities. If this isn't happening, then the church, as a whole entity, is missing the mark.

    Which has always been my point - no book can ever say that - because there would need be no book to defend the statistics if this was being done as a whole group - the problem would be almost non-existent.

    The problem isn't that people aren't giving or volunteering - it's that most of these projects are usually not for the 'long haul' or are 'pat answers' to real, ingrained problems in communities. Building houses is grand (and I agree with it), but what about lobbying local cities for ways for the poorer groups to own these homes that so much of them rent.

    I don't know if I have all the answers to the poverty issues facing society (I know I don't) but I am pretty sure if we as whole united church group (including all denominations) put our minds together - we can solve a whole sh*tload of problems - and no one is the worse for working together.

    So even if the giving exists - it's on what level and what depth are some of these projects attaining - as I know some of them are definitely attaining great success. But I would lay it out there that some of these projects either die off or have no long-lasting effort - since this does not seem to be a huge church issue at the moment. But we can make it one.

  12. Chris said “Conservatives believe in results, liberals believe in feelings. If it doesn't actually help (or change things), then conservatives don't waste their time (they conserve it).” This statement is absurd given that conservatives led us to war in Iraq and have been either unable or unwilling to change war policy for years now. The Iraq War is now estimated to have a total cost of 2 trillion, not to mention the high cost in human lives. Maybe the people protesting President Bush have this sort of thing in mind. The only thing Bush supporters have to go on is the “feeling” that this must be the right thing; contrary to all available evidence.