Those Brits. They're getting awfully feisty. Don't they remember
that we won the Revolutionary War and thereby got our independence?
Here's what showed up on my computer screen last week:
"NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF INDEPENDENCE"
"To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of
your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern
yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence,
effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume
monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and other territories.
Except Utah. Her majesty doesn't fancy Utah.
"Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for
the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world
outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need
for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A
questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you
Then I saw that the document is the work of John Cleese, one of
the old Monty Python crazies.
It's a joke.
But there's anotherand more seriousBritish attempt to renew
control over a portion of America. It comes from that bastion of British
religion, the Anglican Church, and it seems to be a bit upset about its
American offspring, the Episcopal Church, going astray.
Like a mother gently correcting a wayward child, the Anglicans
have asked the Episcopalians (according to the A.P.) "to impose temporary
bans on same-sex blessings and the ordination of unmarried bishops who are
That's a response to the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire
Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay guy who lives with his
longtime male partner.
And that offends the delicate sensibilities of some of the
Anglican archbishops. Which piques my dirty, rotten, secular humanist
desire to ridicule some more religious homophobia.
I'm not sure where the Anglican homophobia comes from, but I'll
bet it's at least partly from the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament.
I have a vague memory of a homophobic verse in Leviticus, so I flail about
for quite a while looking for it. I finally find it in Leviticus 18:22
which in my King James translation reads like this:
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is
But in flailing about in Leviticus looking for that passage, I
find lots of other abominations being warned against. Here's one from the
page facing the one just quoted: "Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender
with a diverse kind; thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed;
neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee"
The Truth, Mainly
Would Jerry Falwell scold you for those infractions? Would the
Archbishop of Canterbury? Probably not. But why do they take
homosexuality as a more serious sin?
Or how about the fifteenth chapter of Leviticus? It tells us that
during a woman's menstrual time a man must not touch her body, her
clothes, or her bed, because they're all uncleanas the woman herself is
for seven days. "And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two
turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door
of the tabernacle of the congregation" (Leviticus 15:29).
Turtles or pigeons. That's about as much wiggle room as you'll
find in Leviticus.
Slavery? No problem. Leviticus 25:44 says it's okay so long as
the slaves are of another religion: "Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids,
which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of
them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids."
But if you're a boy and you happen to see your little sister naked
(as in, say, watching your mother change your sister's diaper), "it is a
wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people"
I don't even want to know what "cut off" means here.
My point is this: If we're going to ostracize gays because of
what Leviticus says about them, then why don't we ostracize all the others
among us who violate other rules Leviticus lays down? If it's because
times have changed, if it's because we've outgrown the laws of Leviticus,
why do we persist in holding on to the homophobic one that does perhaps
the most harm to our principle of equality before the law?
So why don't American Episcopalians just tell the British
Anglicans to go jump in the lake? Provided, of course, that in the spirit
of Leviticus the Brits first properly cover up what the Monty Python boys
call their "naughty bits."
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail