Friday, 31 March 2006

LEAC: more reports

For earlier articles go here and here.

Next, two reports in the Church Times by Doug LeBlanc:
Survey is part of anti-liberal bid on 17 March and
Low-budget fight-back begins in Maryland on 24 March.

Then, this report by Sarah Dylan Breuer in the Witness Inside LEAC.

And now, the LEAC website at http://www.layepiscopal.org/. This contains several pages which make clear the mission and objectives of LEAC, together with The LEAC Difference and The Call for Lay Help, and the LEAC Response, not to mention Less Talk, More Education, More Action.

Unsurprisingly their press release on the website reports that:
Bishops responding to LEAC survey reject key homosexual agenda items.
The version of this sent to others appears to be rather shorter, see Episcopal Bishops, If Voting Secretly, Would Oppose Church’s Stance on Homosexual Agenda Items Adopted in 2003, a Lay Poll Reports.

They sent surveys to about 298 bishops, and got 80 responses. Of these responses, they report that:

56.25% of respondents now would disapprove of the 2003 General Convention resolution which led to consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, and 57.5% would oppose provisions for church blessing of same-sex domestic partnerships, another of the convention’s historic resolutions.

Considering the first of these two resolutions, this means that 45 bishops recorded to LEAC that they would now have voted against and that 35 recorded that they would now have voted in favour. The actual numbers of bishops who voted in 2003 was 43 against, and 62 in favour with 2 not voting. (Only active diocesans had a vote on the matter, whereas this survey went to all current members of the house.)

Voting by bishops on the second resolution at GC 2003 is not known as it was done by a voice vote.

Update
Magic Statistics has weighed in again with ECUSA survey results released. He comments in detail on the differences between the two press releases, and shows how misleading the public press release is.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 31 March 2006 at 2:27pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

Bad survey methodology. 27% returned. The report should consider the bias in return rates. Furthermore, the survey reached active and retired bishops while only bishops with jurisdiction vote to approve episcopal candidates.

The result is meaningless.

Posted by: ruidh on Friday, 31 March 2006 at 5:23pm BST

Bad survey methodology is a very charitable description. I have to say that I am puzzled by The Church Times decision to run not one, but two stories on an organization that isn't large enough to qualify for the "group sales" rate at a sporting event.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Friday, 31 March 2006 at 5:47pm BST

An interesting tidbit: the LEAC website is hosted by VirtueOnline.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Friday, 31 March 2006 at 6:04pm BST

Jim, that's brilliant. Not just hosting but apparently the same webmaster, Robert Turner, administering content.
http://name.space.xs2.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?whois=LAYEPISCOPAL.ORG

I try to avoid "guilt by association," but my gosh, this is like being photographed kissing Jack Abramoff on the lips while receiving a fat plain brown envelope from him. So much for the motives and credibility of LEAC!

Posted by: Jay on Friday, 31 March 2006 at 8:26pm BST

Some of the links aren't working. But this one http://www.layepiscopal.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=6 included this little ditty "Since, the revisionist side is the one encroaching on Scripture’s absolute teachings on key matters at issue..."

It must be lovely to be defending the existing paradigm and able to call it "Scripture's absolute teachings". These people would be worthy of a Pharisean scribe re-explaining to the Jews in the first century that the new sect formed following Jesus was in error because his teachings were not consistent with the "absolute teachings" of the Torah.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 31 March 2006 at 11:11pm BST

I found one true statement on the LEAC website,"The study ........ of course has no standing."
http://www.layepiscopal.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=11
Ooops! I had to edit it a tiny bit to make it "true."
This site is absolutely filled with the exact buzz words and phrases that the Network and VOL are so fond of repeating over and over. As if by repetition they can make their claims come true.
Good work Jim in finding the connection to VOL!
Has ++Carey ever stated how he came to endorse this farce of a study?

Posted by: faithwatch on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 6:21am BST

Half a day later, I am left pondering how this dialogue can be happening in the Anglican/Episcopal communion - a descendent of The Reformation. For a bit of fun, here is a link to one scholarly understanding of The Reformation principles: http://ministryhealth.net/mh_articles/263_luther_principles_reformation.html

The paper is quite good, but the comments that are relevant to my concerns are that "Luther never understood the laity to be idle spectators... In order to develop greater strength in their ministries, they were encouraged to read the Bible for themselves..." and also "The Office of Pastor was not to "lord it over" the people. Instead, it was an office of service. The pastor did not exercise absolute temporal power."

I particularly liked the last sentence, because I thought that was one of the cornerstones of the foundation of the Protestant branch of Christianity, that the established church was no longer the exclusive and absolute "owner" of the theological truth (or temporal power). That the bible was to be open to the laity as well as the religious castes.

It seems to me that to now deny that the laity can read and interpret scripture is in fundamental contradiction with this core principle. Maybe those who think that the laity should not be reading the scripture with confidence might be happier in an older form of Christianity where the bible is not meant to be read nor understood by the laity? But then is that in keeping with the founding principles of the original Anglican communion?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 6:29am BST

And another thing.........
Why are the Unitarians always put down? I'm married to one and I have no desire to become one myself. He thinks we Episcopalians are just plain nuts! Still, his church doesn't claim to be anything it is not and the people there are always very interesting and challenging in conversaton. They are fully involved in community outreach, doing the same things my church does, such as food and clothing for the poor. It's just curious to me, and amusing to my husband, that VOL, etc. seem to view Unitarians as the spawn of Satan himself.
The ones I know are quite decent, even though they are not, for the most part, Christians.

Posted by: faithwatch on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 6:36am BST

"Episcopal Bishops, If Voting Secretly, Would Oppose Church’s Stance on Homosexual Agenda Items Adopted in 2003, a Lay Poll Reports."

Terrified acting/behaving self-righteous sneaks, liars and hatemongers continue to smear/attack/harm the LGBT people of OUR church daily...it is amazing to me that anyone can *believe* these vicious cowards with their ongoing message/campaign filled with ugly and not-so-hidden deceit.

Lord have mercy on ALL of us for these crimes against LGBT people and humanity.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 2:45pm BST

Cheryl,

I'm enjoying following all the links you've been posting, on this and other threads.

This little tidbit from http://www.layepiscopal.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=6 jumped out at me:

"Some of LEAC’s action initiatives may be likened to getting the mule’s attention with a hearty swat with a 2 X 4."

Let's hope they're not engaged in animal husbandry! (Shall we call the ASPCA?)

And as for 'Scripture's absolute teachings'... well, we have a lot of work to do. I chalk that phrase up to LEAC's generally over-heated language, but they probably believe it on some level, even if they are as selective as everyone else is with the scriptures.

It seems to me that within popular Christianity, there is no clear alternative method of reading the Bible that can compete with the literalist readings out there. (lots of people have been working and writing on this, but I just don't think it's seeped into the popular imagination very well) The literalist readings are based in the ways people generally read in Western society today--factual, practical, goal-oriented. So you get this notion that the Book has to be historically accurate (viz., the creationist stuff), and that it provides clear moral 'teaching', neither of which is true. The Bible is a hell of a lot more complex than that.

Anyway, the LEAC is now clearly shown to be a partisan group (as if a sensible person couldn't have sniffed that out already), and its questionnaire did what it was intended to do-- build an argument for their point of view. The bishops who responded presumably knew and approved of what they were participating in... if they didn't, they were foolish indeed.

Posted by: Christopher Calderhead on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 4:29pm BST

A slightly different slant on the survey results:

Assuming that most progressive-minded bishops followed the PB's advice and consigned the survey to the circular file, whereas most bishops sympathetic to LEAC did return it (in order to help them prove their point), then only about 45 out of 298 bishops agree with LEAC's agenda.

Far from a triumph or vindication of their cause, but rather an indication of how far outside the mainstream they are.

As for their web site, it's more of the same hate-filled scare-mongering.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 5:45pm BST

Folks might want to look at this blog: http://magicstatistics.com/2006/03/31/ecusa-survey-results-released/. The author is a statistician, and an Episcoplian. He has been commenting on the survey from its original appearance.

In essence, this is a poor study, with results that are only useful if you're looking for a headline or a soundbite for folks who don't look too closely. Ignore the man behind the curtain....

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 6:01pm BST

The thing that gets me, is that LEAC is yet another example of conservative *duplicity*.

Instead of coming right out, and saying "We are another conservative organanization in TEC (with one foot outside, if we don't get our way) agitating to reverse GC2003, and much of the past 40 years of TEC's history", they come up w/ this whole "we are not aligned...just answer our non-partisan survey" line o' bull.

If conservatives believe they have "the Truth", why don't they believe that their Truth will set us all free? Why do they hide it under a bushel?

It is difficult to take the *content* of what they say seriously, when it comes *packaged* in misdirection and bad faith.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 8:18pm BST

I would suggest that this survey, flawed as it is, didn't quite produce the results the surveyors hoped for. First of all, the report refers to a "reversal" but doesn't indicate the percentage of those who changed their vote (if they had one in the first place: this was asked on the first two questions, each in two parts, on the survey form, but no result for the "B" section of each question is shown in this article.) How many of the 56% actually represent a change in voting?

More importantly, note the response to the crucial third question:

"Survey respondents split almost evenly on the third question, assessing relative loyalty to ECUSA and the Anglican Communion, with 46.25 % desiring to stay with ECUSA regardless of whether it remains in the Anglican Communion. Solidarity with the Anglican Communion would come first in such a showdown for 45% and 8.75% chose not to answer that question. This division could be a serious ECUSA political concern for the presiding bishop as he leads his church into a critical period through mid-June’s General Convention and beyond."

In short, there was no overwhelming support, even among the tiny proportion of respondents, for choosing continued participation in the "Anglican Communion" over continued participation in The Episcopal Church even if no longer part of that "fellowship." Perhaps the predominantly lay surveyors forgot that clergy take an oath as part of their ordination vows, and that oath is to "the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church" -- not to some ill-defined "Anglican Communion."

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 8:38pm BST

I'm very frustrated that Jim Naughton beat me to the whois result - I was all set to be clever. :)

I can only add that layepiscopal.org has almost no contact information - a phone number, but no name to go with it. Why should we take these people seriously, if they're so reluctant to identify themselves?

Why so secretive, especially with the quotes on their front page:

Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.
-- Martin Luther

A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero only one.
-- Shakespeare, paraphrased

Posted by: Gigantic Hound on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 8:51pm BST

Tongue in cheek: if non-reply indicates indifference or non-approval of the survey or the agenda of those who issued it; then it could possibly be said that only 15% of people are concerned about these trends (56.25% of the 80 respondents out of a possible pool of 298). Which also probably indicates an even smaller level of concern in the broader community.

Chris, thanks for the nice comments, I again enjoyed your posting. If you want more links (I often find good stuff), then use the link to get my email address. I've a few people who share ideas and post links with each other.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 10:14pm BST

re the item by Doug LeBlanc in the March 24 Church Times:
to set the record straight, it is All Saints Chevy Chase where the meeting of LEAC was held, NOT Christ Church!

Posted by: Diana Smith on Monday, 3 April 2006 at 11:59am BST

The Magic Statistics entry on this controversy is well worth reading.

As I said in a previous post on this topic, "And as for this horrible excuse for a "survey" - if I had turned in such a proposal for a research project in graduate school, my professors of statistics and research methods would have driven me out of the building with pitchforks and torches :)"

Posted by: David Huff on Monday, 3 April 2006 at 4:09pm BST
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