Liberal clerics would work to win hearts and minds until victory was in sight, and then, by brave acts of civil disobedience, push the side over the top. As winners, they would be magnanimous: there would be hugs, healing, and reconciliation. A few benighted homophobes would, inevitably, skulk away, but they would soon die off. So the diplomacy, politicking, and negotiation continued, until the grand act of civil disobedience, the ordination of the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, which was to force the hand of the Church.
In their blind arrogance, imagining themselves intellectuals and moral heroes, liberal clerics overplayed their hand. They did not understand that they had no credibility and little power. By the end of the 20th century, educated upper-middle-class Americans, traditionally the Episcopal Church’s constituency, were as secular as their European counterparts, and the fastest-growing “religious group” in the US was the unchurched.
Few took priests seriously, and their campaign for gay rights made them look silly ”” fighting for the right of same-sex couples to have their relationships blessed, when few heterosexual couples regarded marriage as a matter of importance, and even fewer wanted church weddings.
Whatever happens regarding the status of the Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion will have no impact on most Episcopalians, who have little interest in church affairs beyond their own parishes, and are not terribly concerned about the Church’s official views about sexuality or anything else.