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Gauging tolerance

August 23, 2003

Mary McNamara is right. Her Aug. 19 column, "Our City's Tolerance Can Have Surprising Limits," highlighted a problem of living in a city as diverse as Los Angeles: You have to live with people with whom you disagree.

That has been a challenge and an opportunity for Episcopalians in this most multicultural city. Episcopalians, like other Angelenos, come in all sorts and conditions. We differ in race and ethnicity, in age, gender and sexual orientation. We even differ in our theology.

What I found disappointing in McNamara's article, however, is that she raises up her experience of one Sunday in an Episcopal church as representative of all our congregations.

I suppose we could chalk that up to the luck of the draw. Yet McNamara seems to think that most of our people heard a sermon last week based on Bible verses that "clobber" gay people.

Actually, I think the reverse is true. Most of our clergy would not resort to that unreflective use of the Holy Scriptures. Most Episcopalians believe that the Bible provides a message of love and inclusion -- it's not a hammer.

So I hope McNamara will come back to the Episcopal church. I hope she will find the many other people, just like her, who have been alienated by other churches and have found a home with us. Maybe next time she will attend one of the 94 Episcopal churches in our diocese whose names were printed on placards at this year's Christopher Street West gay pride parade. All of those congregations are welcoming and affirming to gays and lesbians.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno

Los Angeles

Bruno is the Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles


PERHAPS McNamara's surprise at the mainstream Christian (Catholic and Protestant) rejection of the ordaining of sexually active homosexuals and of same-sex marriages is rooted in her own ambivalence toward Christianity.

She describes her "cafeteria-style Catholicism -- I'll accept this, but not that," and committed Christians recognize immediately that she does not believe that every word in the Bible is God's holy word, inspired by Him and unchangeable by humankind.

That is the belief that binds Christians to God. To be selective in obeying the Scriptures is to choose to place human values above those of God.

Jack V. Fogarty

Los Angeles

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