My religious background is quite varied. I was born Catholic (dad). Switched to Mormon when I was six (mom). Switched back to Catholic when I was eleven (dad’s mom).
When I left home for college at Texas A&M University, I lived in the dorm my first year. I made friends on my dorm floor with people who were Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Jewish, Scientology, Rastafari, Hindu, and even Native American. Those are just the ones I can remember. We had a group of about 20 students who went exploring each weekend, visiting different churches and religions, usually on Sunday, but we made exceptions when necessary for Saturday or a week day, depending on the religion.
Ever since that time, I have had little respect for religion. Everyone had a different God. Didn’t make sense to me then, and still doesn’t make sense to me now. However, I’m a full supporter of religion if it helps create responsible citizens, i.e., if its members don’t go raping, pillaging, or killing people (ooops, that leaves out a lot of religions!).
I love to visit churches, though, because they usually are some of the most beautiful architecture around. I do wonder, though, what kind of god requires that these huge edifices be built in her honor instead of using that money to house the homeless, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, heal the sick……….
Recently, when I was up in Pasadena, I found three beautiful churches within blocks of each other. That took me back to my college days wondering whose god was the biggest and the baddest…..
One church was not open to visitors so I didn’t bother taking any pictures of it. Another church had a huge brick campanile; read about it here in my blog at The Leaning Tower of Brick. The third church was across the street from City Hall (see my City Hall pictures at Pasadena City Hall). It was open to visitors so I took pictures of the interior and exterior:
That is All Saints Episcopal Church in downtown Pasadena. According to Wikipedia, it is Southern California’s “largest and most liberal churches.” According to Rector Ed Bacon, via Wikipedia: “Political activism ‘is in the DNA of the church.’ “
Therein lies another problem for me: the mixing of religion and politics. My personal belief is that it should not be done. Nothing good can come of it. And I mean nothing. All we have to do is look at today’s Republican leaders in the United States, not to mention theocracies in other countries. Nope. Nothing good can come of mixing religion and politics. There’s a reason why the Founding Fathers created a wall of separation between church and state. If churches want to get involved in politics, then we need to start taxing them. Heck, we should tax them anyway. That alone would budget the balance and reduce the federal deficit to zero!
All Saints Episcopal Church has been so involved in politics throughout its history that the IRS actually did investigate them after the 2004 presidential election. It took three years for the IRS to conclude its investigation. On September 10, 2007, the IRS notified the congregation that its sermon on the Sunday before the presidential election was political campaign intervention. However, the IRS offered no explanation as to why the sermon violated the ban on political intervention, did not indicate if it intended to impose excise taxes on the church or its officers, and did not revoke the church’s tax exempt status.
All Saints Episcopal Parish was founded in November 1882. The current church building was built in 1923-1924, opening in December 1924. It was designed by noted architects Roland Coate (1890-1958), Reginald Davis Johnson (1882 – 1952) and Gordon Kaufmann (1888–1949) in the Gothic Revival style. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Wikipedia lists several political and social activism moments of note which I found interesting:
1942 — Rector Frank Scott stands “in front of trains to protest the removal of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II”
1964 — Rector John Burt joins with Martin Luther King, Jr., to speak for racial justice in Los Angeles
1971 — Rector George Regas preaches anti-Vietnam War sermon, “Mr. President, The Jury is In”
1987 — All Saints’ AIDS Service Center created
1990 — Regas preaches “God, Sex and Justice” sermon on homosexuality
1992 — First same-sex union blessing, of Mark Benson and Philip Straw, performed on January 18
1999 — New Vision Partners founded to advance a peace and justice agenda from an interfaith basis
2004 — Regas preaches “If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush” on October 31. (This was the sermon that caused the IRS investigation.)
2008 — Mel White and Gary Nixon become first same-sex couple married at All Saints Church in response to a ruling by the California Supreme Court of California
2008 — Following the passage of California Proposition 8, the All Saints Vestry passes a resolution supporting their clergy in declining to act as agents of the state in marriage while the state discriminates against same-sex couples. (If gay couples can’t get married, neither can straight couples!)
2009 — Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Bacon’s January 7 statement that “being gay is a gift from God” creates controversy and provides a national platform for All Saints’ message of inclusion
2009 — Bacon joins with interfaith witnesses at the White House as part of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture
If I were religious and lived in Pasadena, I’m pretty sure I’d belong to All Saints Episcopal Church.
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