So I am sure that GetReligion readers will be shocked, shocked to know that gay-rights conflicts continue in the great state of California and that a hot new conflict on the horizon is linked to a giant project in public schools. This is not rocket science, for journalists. This new conflict, of course, will lead to public conflicts about human rights, values and, yes, religion. Here is the script so far in this latest round in a larger fight, care of a Los Angeles Times article that I have been meaning to get to since early this month:
Reporting from Sacramento -- As the battle over same-sex marriage makes its way through California's courts, another gay rights fight is smoldering in the Legislature.
Democratic lawmakers have revived a plan to require state schools to teach about the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans. They are reigniting a movement that halted five years ago when legislators approved such a requirement only to run into opposition from then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now, with a Democrat in the governor's office, the lawmakers and gay rights activists are more hopeful that school curricula will be revised. Gov. Jerry Brown has not taken a position on the proposal. But the push has divided religious leaders, educators and lawmakers and prompted accusations from opponents that those behind the effort seek to impose their values on the state and on students and parents who find same-sex relationships objectionable.
I am sure that none of that information surprised any regular readers of this weblog.
Now, you will also not be surprised to know that different churches are taking different stands on this matter. After all, there is a Religion Right and there is also a religious left -- although only one of these camps tends to get the capital-letters treatment in the mainstream press. I mean, click here and then here in the current contents of Google News. Note the rather obvious difference in these numbers (and, while you are at it, search for mainstream media references attached to both of these labels).
Religion is part of the story. Thus, there comes a point in the story where the Times team needs to separate the sheep from the goats for its readers. That looks like this, in a criminally brief and shallow reference:
The measure is backed by California Church Impact, a group whose members include the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church and others. But lawmakers have been flooded with letters of opposition from groups including the California Catholic Conference, the First Southern Baptist Church and the Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship.
The first sign of trouble, for those paying close attention, is that there is an Orthodox body on the left and then the Catholic Church on the right. That is rather strange.
You see, one would be hard pressed to find a major doctrinal difference between the two giant ancient churches when it comes to teachings linked to homosexual behavior as well as on the more complex theological issues linked to the mysteries of same-sex orientation.
Meanwhile, savvy readers may be asking: What's up with this reference to the Greeks, alone?
Well, click right here and all will be made clear.
California Church Impact is backed by or part of the California Council of Churches -- think National Council of Churches on the state level -- and the Greek Orthodox Church remains a member of that left-leaning ecumenical body. What about other Orthodox bodies and the NCC? Now that is becoming a more complex issue.
It's possible that the Greeks out West have taken a moral stand on this issue that would be quite shocking to the rest of the Orthodox. Also, I do not deny that there are rumblings, from time to time, when Orthodox leaders make common cause on moral and cultural issues with evangelical Protestants and traditional Catholics.
However, that isn't what I think is going on here. It looks like the Times just plugged in the names of some members of the California Council of Churches and went with it. It looked good. It felt good.
So what IS the Greek Orthodox position on this public-school issue in California?
Alas, to find that out a reporter might actually have to call some Orthodox leaders. And who wants to take the time to do that?