The case of a high-ranking Episcopal bishop charged with drinking and texting before fatally hitting a bicyclist has raised questions about everything from church politics to bike lanes. But no debate about Bishop Heather Cook has been as intense as that about the theology of addiction.
Is it a sin? Does it qualify for forgiveness? Or are addicts blameless victims of disease, inculpable?
And how did these topics impact the leaders of the dioceses of Easton and Maryland ”” Cook’s last two places of employment ”” first when she was arrested for drunken driving in 2010, and then last year when she was selected despite that to become Maryland’s first female bishop?
In small church discussion groups, in sermons and on Christian Listservs, the ways Episcopal officials handled Cook have fueled debate about how Christianity really sees addicts.