I recently found myself in a conversation on facebook with a friend of mine from my evangelical days. I was a youth minister at a particular church, and this friend was a recent high school graduate from the church when I knew her. She messaged me to ask a number of questions about being Episcopalian and about my views on certain Christian themes in general. In this series, I'll simply restate the questions I was asked and then my reply. These are pretty off-the-cuff responses, but precisely the kind of thing a blog is for. In other words, they're pretty rough around the edges.
1. So the first question: What does it mean to be Episcopal, and when and why did I become Episcopal? Also, when and why did my political views become liberal (or were they always)?
First: Episcopal. The Episcopal Church is the church in America
that comes out of the Anglican Communion, or the Church of England.
When England colonized America (not when the Pilgrims came, but later),
most of them were part of the Church of England. During the American
Revolution, those Christians naturally set up their own hierarchy (since
there is no separation of church and State in England). But
essentially it is the same church as it was. You can read more here: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/.
why I joined the Episcopal Church (in 2008). The short answer is, I
learned about the history of Christianity. A slightly longer (but still
not full) answer is that I learned that bishops, the creeds, and the
Bible were all part of the same process in the history of the Church.
So much more to talk about here, but I don't want to tax your patience.
I also came to really appreciate Catholic theology. The Episcopal
church is similar to Catholicism but without explicit veneration of Mary
(or the Marian dogmas) and without the pope.
Third, when/why did
my political views become liberal. I don't know if liberal is quite the
right designation, but that seems to be where I fit in the common
understanding of it. They've always basically been liberal in the sense
that I think taking care of the poor and ensuring justice for all is
liberal. I would rather people took care of each other than pay less
taxes, for instance. My father was a factory-worker, so I believe in
collective bargaining. If I were a woman I don't think I could ever
choose abortion (but not being a woman, how would I know?!), but I don't think it should be outlawed. I think that
does more harm than good. Fundamentally, I don't think America is a
Christian country, and we do both Christianity and Americans a
disservice to think of it as such.