Mary Ann Kaiser has been faithfully ministering in the Methodist Church for some time. Her pursuit of ordination was denied by a committee without even conducting the required interview. Their reasoning was impeccable. According to the Methodist Book of Discipline, a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” is barred from ordination. The question not being asked is, “does any human being have a right to mistreat another human being because of the unjust rules of their sect?”
Ms. Kaiser made an appeal to the Bishop to require the committee to at least go through proper channels. In a scene that could have come out of the passion narrative, the Bishop washed his hands sending the case on to another counsel. Like Pontius Pilate in the Easter story, the Bishop did not weigh in as a human being, but dissolved into the machinery of process.
The Bishop ruled that Ms. Kaiser’s appeal was “moot and hypothetical,” which basically made of her a nonentity. His ruling is hailed as moderate, but begs the question of whether any of us has a right to withhold justice from another just because our group does not consider them worthy of equal treatment.
It is a damnable thing to be successful in a religious hierarchy. The higher one rises, the more evil one must participate in. That is why Jesus forbade religious hierarchy. To get to wear the big hat requires a surrender of one’s conscience and submission to process that requires us to surrender personal responsibility for our words and deeds on behalf of the group.
Looking back at history, do the church leaders who submitted to a process that mistreated Jewish persons seem like such good church leaders today? In their day they were considered moderate, but today we recognize that they simply lacked courage. Do the Southern clergy who remained silent about their congregations’ practice of slavery seem faithful? In their day they blended into their culture and thus were considered moderate, but can anyone deem them so today?
Ms. Kaiser appealed to her Bishop for justice. His side stepping her request may seem moderate today, but there will come a day when it will be seen as the cowardice it truly was. People of faith have a duty before God not to mistreat any other person even if their church or synagogue demands it.