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June 05, 2000 11:49am
Episcopal Bishop's Column Debuts on Sex Web Site
Source: Reuters

(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- A sex and religious issues column written by an Episcopal bishop made its debut Monday on an Internet Web site that includes erotic art and a column by a former porn star.

Bishop John Shelby Spong's column, ``The Religious Write,'' appeared on ThePosition.com, and already was drawing e-mail messages to the editor that Spong is ``going to hell'' and ``is not a Christian.''

The 69-year-old bishop, who retired four months ago as head of the Newark, N.J., Episcopal Diocese to pursue writing and lecturing, has been attacked regularly for his liberal stands, including the approval of gay clerics.

Spong signed a one-year contract to write columns for ThePosition.com.

Editor-in-chief Jack Heidenry said, ``There's definitely nudity'' on the site ``but we're not aligned with the porn industry. We're not running the equivalent of centerfolds.''

Spong's first contribution posits that the Ten Commandments are chauvinistic. ``When one looks at the Ten Commandments closely, the anti-female bias is clear,'' and, ``The church does guilt better than it does anything else,'' the bishop writes.

The column appears with cover story, ``The 100 Most Important People in Sex'' (including Spong), an erotic art gallery and a sex newswire.

Contributors include former porn star Candida Royalle as well as Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, writing on sexuality and the law.

Heidenry, who formerly edited theology books, said he has received about 30 e-mail messages from Episcopal priests and church members about Spong's column, equally critical and supportive. ``One said Bishop Spong is not a Christian at all and is going to go to hell,'' Heidenry said. Most supportive notes were from lesbians and gays, he said.

Spong could not be reached for comment. He is expected to return to his Morristown home this week after a summer teaching stint at Harvard University, a university spokeswoman said.

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