Shuck and Jive

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Janet Edwards Acquitted!

As predicted, Rev. Janet Edwards was found not guilty of violating scripture and her ordination vows by marrying two women. The verdict was unanimous. Now, I suppose the decision will be appealed.

In the meantime, good work, Janet! Sorry you had to go through all that hassle. But you are helping the church understand its mission to be a vehicle of blessing.


  1. For an appeal to be successful in the PCUSA, the appellant has to show that something went horribly wrong in the original trial from a procedural standpoint, that unfairly prejudiced the proceedings against the appellant. Appeals don't get won on substantive grounds--that is, a higher court wouldn't say "oh wait, Janet really did violate Scripture and the Constitution."

  2. Thanks for that, Heather. And thanks for your great witness!

  3. That's great news.

    "unanimous" is a very good sign that the leadership is in better hands than it has been in the past.

    Big defeat for the Whine Skins and vindication for Janet and all of those who supported her.

  4. I'm pretty surprised that they couldn't get even one dissenter ... in Pittsburgh Presbytery, no less.

    But I guess they'd have actually had to bother to try to make their case in the first place.

    What a waste of time and money. Those 13 accusers owe Rev. Edwards an apology, and should probably be brought up on charges themselves for making frivolous accusations they, apparently, had no intention of actually prosecuting.

    But of course, already the "Martyrs R Us" crowd is trying to make the PJC out as a group of "Pharisees" rather than laying the blame squarely where it belongs: at the feet of the incompetent Prosecuting Committee and the 13 co-accusers who couldn't be bothered to even show up.

    I know folks on "our side" are disappointed with the apparent legal nitpicking in this decision and the Spahr decision (and I'm not thrilled myself, though the reasoning does make me giggle a little), but I've been thinking it may actually be helpful. There will, I hope, be a great many wonderful happy weddings conducted under the auspices of these decisions. Maybe those weddings will give the folks in the middle time to realize that, in fact, the sky is not falling just because some queers got married. That realization might, eventually, pave the way for some real BoO changes.

  5. This really is a change. Clergy can perform marriages for gay couples and call them marriages.

    To think a few years ago, this is what got that guy in Cincinnati--Van Kuiken--defrocked.

    People are slowly getting it. The more it happens the less it becomes a federal case.

  6. Yup. It'll be interesting to see what happens when cases come forward from MA or CA.

  7. It really seems the strategy is to intentionally fail and then play the martyr.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in CA. Already the Fundamentalists are bringing frivolous harassment charges against good ministers for performing blessing ceremonies. Not even weddings. When they fail, they will again cry foul and say "we tried - the church is too far gone - the system is rigged, time to "amicably separate".

    (Good thing they are amicable. Imagine if they weren't).

  8. Heather on her blog mentioned that a case involving a PCUSA minister in MA is coming.

    I suppose even in that case the church could rule that even though it is a marriage in the eyes of Massachusetts it is not a marriage in the eyes of the PCUSA and the minister did nothing wrong.

    I don't think the court is ever going to move beyond the verdict it gave with Edwards and Spahr without a broadening of what marriage is in the Book of Order.

    However, the court will, I think, do the best thing in the meantime, which is allow ministers to do ministry in accordance with their freedom of conscience.

  9. Actually I would suspect that in a state that defines same sex marriage, if a pastor officiates over such marriage, that pastor will have conducted a same sex marriage.

    Because marriage, in the reformed tradition, is defined by the State. It is not a sacrament.

    In fact, you don't even need to be an ordained minister to officiate over a marriage.

    All a religious ceremony does is invoke God's blessing over a civil union. A calling to all believers from the time of Abraham forward. To bless and to invoke God's blessing.

    So while I think a charge could stick in MA or even CA, what would be the point? It should fall in the same category as Good Samaritan laws.