The Guardian’s website Comment is free Belief has a weekly Question. This week it is
What is the future for Anglican conservatives?
Has the long Anglican civil war ended in defeat for both sides? Within the church, the liberals have been outmanoeuvred and may be excluded from the communion’s decision-making bodies. But the cost of this has been to establish the conservatives as anti-gay, and in the wider culture that is a great defeat for them, too. So will they abandon that fight, and move to others? Will attitudes to Islam be the next great struggle within Christianity?
The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, returned last week to devote himself to the care of persecuted Christians; and it is Muslims, he thinks, who are doing the persecuting. In countries like Pakistan, this is clearly true. But will conservative Christians be able to construct a narrative against Islam in Europe and America? Should they be trying to do so? Does it really threaten the future of Christianity?
The first contribution comes from Savi Hensman who has written ‘Conservatives’ who want to reshape the communion.
Ordinarily, being conservative is about favouring the old over the new, conserving what has been passed down from previous generations and being cautious about change. The more extreme Anglican so-called conservatives however have been so keen to “purify” the communion of what they see as undesirable that they have pushed for radical reform. Largely in response to their demands, the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling for stricter limits to the freedom of member churches, though this proposal has met with strong objections from many in the Church of England and beyond.
These Anglican “conservatives” are perhaps best-known for their hostility to same-sex partnerships. Yet some are also passionately anti-Islamic. Archbishop Peter Akinola, for instance, as well as being vocally anti-gay, appears to believe that, in the Muslim-Christian conflict in Nigeria, communal violence can sometimes be justified…