Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Mean to Say: There Are Limits?

Lionel Deimel apparently supports his Bishop only so far, and no farther. It may be one thing for an Episcopal Bishop to bring a bunch of lawsuits in Mr. Deimel's name (and indeed, in the name of the whole Episcopal Church [USA]), but it is apparently too much for Mr. Deimel if that same Bishop subscribes his name to a cause of which Mr. Deimel does not approve -- as he makes clear in his post "An Episcopal Bridge Too Far", the highlights of which may be read below:
I was upset to learn today that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh—its bishop, anyway—signed on to a statement by Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania (CASP) expressing opposition to the federal mandate that institutions with a religious affiliation must provide no-cost contraceptives to their female employees. . . .
In the opinion of Mr. Lionel Deimel, the statement which his Bishop signed is "nonsensical", because it states:
Today, we speak together about two shared concerns: (1) the preservation of religious liberty as guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, and (2) the moral imperative of providing healthcare for all, women, men, and children alike. 
And why is this "nonsensical"? Let Mr. Deimel, that most assured of Episcopalians, explain it to you in his own words:
Calling on the federal government to broaden its exemption so that religious-affiliated organizations can avoid paying for contraception, the statement warns:
Many religious institutions are now placed in the untenable position of (a) violating their consciences, (b) ceasing health insurance and paying ruinous fines, or (c) withdrawing entirely from providing the social services to the wider community that have long been a social justice hallmark of their ministry. Creating gaping holes in the public welfare safety net is in and of itself an immense injustice. 
All this is so much nonsense intended to support the absurd position taken by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I have written elsewhere why I believe the bishops are wrong.
Mr. Deimel considers the Obama administration's imperial decree that insurers provide contraception and abortifacient coverage "free of charge" to their customers as "a clever fig leaf" to disguise what is going on -- in other words, he approves of "clever fig leaves", so long as they are of his devising. He does not appreciate, however, his own Bishop calling it what Mr. Deimel says it is -- a fig leaf. And why? Let us listen, for a moment more, to the tergiversations of Mr. Deimel, to which (this time) I have added some bold emphasis to bring out his operating philosophy:
Nowhere in the statement (or at the news conference) is anything said about how what is generally viewed as basic health care for women is to be provided for female employees of religious-affiliated organizations if their employers are relieved of their responsibility for providing it. The expressed concern for universal health care, therefore, seems less than sincere. 
"Generally viewed" by whom, Mr. Deimel? Obviously, you must mean "viewed by Lionel Deimel and all those who are smart enough to agree with his way of thinking." I thought so.

And pray tell us, Mr. Deimel: just who imposed upon employers a "responsibility" to provide "basic health care for women"? Oh -- you say it was the Democrats who passed "Obamacare" in the dark of the night, by every legislative trick at their disposal? In a piece of legislation which now bids fair to be ruled unconstitutional on its face? I guess that counts for something "generally viewed" as legitimate in your ballpark.

But we have not reached the full extent of Mr. Deimel's outrage. No -- it turns out that he saves his wrath for those who would presume to act in his name:
Upset as I am about the CASP statement, I am that much more upset by the fact that my own bishop, Kenneth Price, was willing to lend his support to this horrible document.  
...   It is not actually clear to me that Bishop Price had the right to commit the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to the CASP statement, a matter that perhaps will need to be considered at the next diocesan convention. Certainly, he does not represent my own view in this case, and I know he does not represent the views of a number of fellow Episcopalians with whom I have discussed this matter.
The sheer hypocrisy of his position here seems to elude Mr. Deimel, so let me spell it out for him. His same Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price, has signed numerous pleadings in the Pittsburgh litigation in the name of the Episcopal Church (USA).  He has also signed them in cases in other jurisdictions, again claiming to act on behalf of the Episcopal Church (USA).

No one in Mr. Deimel's branch of the Episcopal Church (USA) authorized Bishop Price to sign these court documents -- there was no resolution adoped at General Convention, for example, to allow Bishop Price to represent to a court that he speaks for the entire Episcopal Church (USA).

So give me a break, Lionel Deimel -- spare me your hypocrisy. You consider it a fine thing when Bishop Price signs official court pleadings in your name, and in the name of the Church which you support.

But you consider it "a bridge too far" when that same Bishop signs on to a statement about religious freedom of which you personally disapprove?

Just who is running the Episcopal Church (USA) which you support, Mr. Deimel? And if you disagree with how it is being run, suppose you consider joining the rest of us Episcopalians who think likewise, and actually do something about it?

Just saying, Mr. Deimel -- you're either for what is done in your name as an Episcopalian, or you're not. But I don't see any provision in the Constitution or Canons of ECUSA which lets you pick and choose what you want to support when it is convenient for you, and otherwise lets you oppose what you dislike as "inconvenient."

There is a world out there in which the things you support, Mr. Deimel, are having real consequences for the lives and well-being of others. Rather than complain of those things which have little consequence for that world, such as who shall get free contraception at everyone else's expense, Mr. Deimel, you might wish to reconsider your priorities.

After all, it's not "Episcopalian" to oppose your Bishop -- or so you've been telling us, at any rate, with all the lawsuits that Bishop Price and other ECUSA bishops have instituted in your name.


  1. Interestingly, it was Bp Price who as Secretary of the HOB signed off on the "legality" of deposing +Bob Duncan. And then cried crocodile tears about how difficult it was for him to vote to depose his "friend" Bob.

  2. If you have the stomach for it, you will see that Mr. Deimel has lots and lots of (vitriolic) opinions and proclamations about exactly how things should be run over on his blog. I wander over to his site when I need a reminder of some of the reasons I left TEC.