Friday, 28 April 2006

Funding the Anglican Right

Updated August 2012

The links below are broken. The PDF file is now available here.

Washington Window, the monthly newspaper of the Diocese of Washington [D.C.] has a major feature in the May issue, in two parts, entitled Following the Money: Donors and Activists on the Anglican Right.
You can read it online here: Part 1, and also Part 2. Or the whole thing is available as a single PDF file here. (375 K)

Jim Naughton is the author of this work.

The full press release is here.

The first part of the series, “Investing in Upheaval,” draws on Internal Revenue Service Forms 990 to give a partial account of how contributions from Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., the savings and loan heir, and five secular foundations have energized resistance to the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and to permit the blessing of gay and lesbian relationships.

The article sets contributions to organizations such as the American Anglican Council (AAC) and the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) in the context of the donors’ other philanthropic activities which include support for conservative political candidates, think tanks and causes such as the intelligent design movement.

The second article, “A Global Strategy,” uses internal emails and memos from leaders of the AAC and IRD to examine efforts to have the Episcopal Church removed from the worldwide Anglican Communion and replaced with a more conservative entity. The documents surfaced during a Pennsylvania court case. The article also explores the financial relationship between conservative organizations in the United States and their allies in other parts of the world.

And that’s not all. Two other items just published touch on the same area:
If anyone still had illusions about the political slant of the IRD… from politicalspaghetti
This Schism Is Brought to You by the IRD by Daniel Webster in the Witness.

For the part of the Washington Window article that refers to UK recipients of funds, see below.

Update Friday 5 May This is reported in the Church Times Family trusts ‘fund ECUSA’s Right’

Extract from part one of the WW article:

By 2004, the AAC was a well-established advocacy group, not unlike others that flourished in Washington . It spent just under $600,000 that year on employee compensation, $124,000 on travel, and $114,000 in printing and publications. 39

It was also developing a global reach. Summarizing its expenditures for that year, the AAC says it spent more than $361,000 on “advocacy and diplomatic efforts with international partners on issues surrounding Anglican communion.” Three of those partners-the British evangelical organizations Anglican Mainstream ($60,000), the Church Missionary Society ($27,000) and the Oxford Center for Mission Studies ($7,000)-received gifts from the AAC during 2003-04. 40

The AAC was not the only Ahmanson-funded organization aiding conservative Anglicans in the United Kingdom . The International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians (INFEMIT), which is based at the Oxford Center for Mission Studies (OCMS), pursues philanthropic activities beyond the scope of an advocacy organization. 41 However, it plays a significant role in the Anglican controversy.

From 2000 to 2004, its American branch, INFEMIT USA , which lists the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Institute as its U. S. mailing address, contributed $357,414 to OCMS and $262,000 to the Network for Anglican Mission and Evangelism, (NAME.)

NAME held an international conference in Africa in 2004 which produced papers justifying the actions of foreign bishops who had claimed Episcopal churches as their own, or announced plans to found a missionary church in the United States. 42

According to IRS Forms 990, INFEMIT USA raised more than $2.75 million from 2000-2003. More than $2.6 million was contributed by an unnamed donor or handful of donors. It is not clear how much of this money was donated by Ahmanson, but he listed INFEMIT 14th on the list of charities to which he has given the most money. 43

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Comments

Thanks for publishing this. Do any of you know the extent to which former CAM members are current AAC members or funders? CAM was active in opposition to ordaining women 30 years ago.

Posted by: Columba Gilliss on Friday, 28 April 2006 at 9:44pm BST

Thank you for noting this information. Jim and the Diocese of Washington are to be commended for organizing this information in an easily understandable and truthful way.

The IRD/AAC is part of a well funded nexus of individuals and groups who in the main, hold what we in the U.S. call, fundamentalist views.

Part of their agenda, since an agenda is what they have, is to enshrine fundamentalist credos like young Earth-ism (the earth is 6,000 odd years old; fossils are the devil's handiwork) and theocratic government. As it is contrary to our Constitution to establish a theocracy and hence tantamount to treason, these individuals are quite circumspect about this partcular angle and tend to work in a piecemeal way to establish this goal.

As Jim notes in his article, one of their pride and joys is the Discovery Institute, which tries to topple science-based fact by calling evolution and biological development false and/or unproven. Their goal is to have biblical creationism taught in schools as being just the same as science.

Another tool is the IRD itself, which is trying mightily to destroy the roles of reason, critical inquiry and via medias in mainline denominations as a way of producing a more literal, fundamentalist-type pool from which they may then launch even more assaults on modernism and reason.

There is a clear anti-intellectual, anti-Enlightenment strain to many of these groups funding the dissidents. This is quite contrary to the long tradition and application of reason and critical inquiry that has always marked the Episcopal Church and wider Anglican tradition. (In fact, it is in this spirit that we have established many, many top schools and universities.)

I daresay in many ways, it is anti-modern.

Posted by: RMF on Friday, 28 April 2006 at 10:35pm BST

There's a lot of material here, the people with more robust intellect might want to go through it. I'm not surprised, and a saying from Jim Wallis pops to mind: God's exhortation of his advisors such as Daniel is that "they are meant to be advisors to the king, not in the pocket of the king". The minute one dovetails one's theology into a funding source, it creates a potential leverage point of dependency and power, which can then be used to shape the church's activities and/or theology. Taking handouts, whether that be tax cuts, subsidies to undertake activities, sponsorship is a murky minefield that should always be walked with extreme caution and diligence because one can never be sure that one knows the location of every single mine.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 28 April 2006 at 10:47pm BST

Wow, concerted conspiracy theories just in time for GC 2006 and the ABofC's Lambeth 2008 decisions!

Maybe Evangelical and Traditionalists think that same-sex sex is holy really - and just got bought off for cash to further some neo-conservative conspiracy to gain control of ECUSA.. Maybe Bible translators have been paid off for hundreds of years too ??!

Shom Mishtake shurely ? Isn't it "liberals" who dominate ECUSA, who have rejected 2000 years of Christian teaching, ignored the voice of the rest of the Communion, made active homosexual priests, installed a man in a sinful sexual relationship as a Bishop, pushed ahead with authorised "blessings", driven out conservatives who challenge them, and are now threatening churches and priests in their dioceses who won't hand over the accounts and building deeds before General Convention... ("just in case" I presume ?)

If we want dumb conspiracy theories to distract attention from what is really going on, how about suggesting that in fact it was Jack Spong, Frank Griswold et al who have been bankrolled by neo-cons to hand over ECUSA ? After all it was they that have (maybe too obviously?) created the crisis that is ECUSA. They seem to plough ahead as if they are deaf to the rest of us ! And now pBp Friswold is retiring.... Hmmm, suspicious ? Give me a break!

Let's stay with the issues; or are we all just getting bored ?

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 12:26am BST

RE "concerted conspiracy theories"

What are those cliches?

If the shoe fits...

If it walks, talks, and smells like a duck...

You're not paranoid if they're really out to get you...

Posted by: Marc on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 12:11pm BST

Dave, granted all this has been known for some time.

Let me respond, however, to your last plea: "Let's stay with the issues."

Yes, Dave, I'd like to. But issues are one thing, and well-funded propaganda is another.

To someone like myself, who lives in a Network diocese, and has followed the twists and turns of their repeated mis-statements, mis-characterizations, mis-interpretations -- I am trying not to say "deliberate lies and underhanded dealings" -- I have to say that I would be glad to focus on the issues, with a view toward finding solutions to the "current crisis," IF the Network were willing to represent the issues fairly and permit solutions to emerge. But they are not.

Consider, as one example among many, the repeated statements by Network representatives that the Windsor Report demanded TEC cease ordaining gay and Lesbian clergy or face expulsion from the Communion.

Statements like these entirely misrepresented the Windsor Report, and the Network representatives who made them knew it. When called on their misrepresentations, they would eventually get around to admitting that their statements reflected what their faction wanted TEC to do, rather than what the Windsor Report recommended.

So they were misrepresenting the Windsor Report as endorsing their own agenda, in the hopes that TEC could be frightened into going along with them.

I haven't seen one of these claims in a little while, so perhaps, having been challenged too often, they have given up on this tactic -- for now. But the Network has a tendency to recycle their misrepresentations. When a bit of propaganda has been challenged too often to be useful, they simply retire it until everyone's forgotten about it, then reintroduce it.

On the other hand, they may simply refuse to accept evidence against their position. In the United States, for example, they persist in claiming that the Episcopal Church has a congregational form of church government. It doesn't, but they won't admit it. Check the comments on TitusOneNine every time a bishop asserts his canonical authority, if you don't believe me.

Dave, it's impossible to focus on issues when one party to the discussion persists in misrepresenting them!

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 4:26pm BST

I ask Simon's forgiveness for going off topic, as the issue of money and influence is an interesting one, but lets take this back to facts.

At the press conference at the close of the Primates Meeting in Northern Ireland, Archbishop Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion “does not see itself free to sanction same-sex blessing and the ordination of persons in same sex-relationships.”

This is the working understanding of the Windsor Report's ramifications held by the majority of the Primates. It may not be the understanding of some of its American hearers.

Posted by: George Conger on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 5:08pm BST

Here is yet another link which widens our discussion of the campaign beyond immediate Anglican boundaries, heated as that is. AT: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2006/2/11/13559/0530

I would argue for increasing our conversations with the UCC churches which have apparently for the time being been able to fend off the realignment campaign, and continue to bear witness that God is still speaking. As the Harvard Business School long ago realized, case studies are a good way to learn how theories apply to real world examples. If we ever needed to get out of blind denial about the realignment campaign, now would be a good moment to start waking up. You can bet your bottom dollar that the conservagive campaign folks are networked and organized to speak and pull at the next GC, and at Lambeth 2008. You can even reasonably suspect that the realignment folks are even prepared to threaten, bully, and judge alternative believers according to their preferred totalitarian paradigms. You can fully expect campaign folks to trash talk any alternative way of approaching scripture, besides their own narrow preferences.

If the conservative folks cannot abide symbolic speech about realities which are so far mostly intangible and matters of faith, then they must bear those burdens, and not bully or trash talk or threaten the rest of us who have made some provisional progress in living quite well with all sorts of modern symbols (which are quite real, by the way, without being simply tangible).

I do note the recurring flash of insight into the roots of Christian Reconstructionism, and R.J. Rushdoony's continuing impetus. I do appreciate the passing honesty in a founder and funder of this campaign saying that we can hardly have any clear or good ethical qualms about the biblical morality of immediately stoning queers, and adulterers, and children who sass their parents (especially in public?) - even if we gently consider stoning unnecessary at the present time. But only for the time being?

If you want to get a better sense of where the conservative believers in this campaign are rooted, I suggest going to the source, at the Chalcedon Institute itself. Once you get the jist of Chalcedon narratives, it tends to put the IRD and related wedge folks into a deeper, clearer context. See Chalcedon at: http://www.chalcedon.edu. There is also a nice picture of Rushdoony, looking a bit like an Old Testament Patriach in paintings of a certain western era. Maybe this could be one of the expressions on Abraham's face as he tied up Isaac in strict obedience to Yahweh's command? I don't really want to have to kill you to get you back in line, but I will do so when God tells me, nevertheless.

Rushdoony certainly said that about stoning queers.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 5:35pm BST

I'm interpreting George's comment as being a specific response to Charlotte's assertion concerning WR being misrepresented by Network persons.

The point at issue here appears to me to be whether WR called for ordinations of priests or deacons to be included in its concerns. I'm quite sure George is right in what he says about many primates thinking WR should have said that, and behaving as if it had said that, but that doesn't affect what the actual text of the WR says. Which anyone can determine by reading it.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 6:11pm BST

There are some terms that are often used as red herrings to impede constructive dialogue. I particularly despise "conspiracy theory" because I often see dishonest elements using it to create a smokescreen. If the discussion is diverted into people proving whether or not they suffer from paranoia, then the guilty parties don't have to deal with the implications arising from facts.

This is a nice article (not related to the Anglican Communion) but related to looking at how power has developed in the US: http://www.countercurrents.org/lendman250406.htm

Some people who are not frightened to be called paranoid might find it interesting, and the more visionary people might find recognise common dynamics.

My two favourite paragraphs from this article were:

In the early days of the republic it all might have been different had Thomas Jefferson and James Madison prevailed over Federalists John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson and Madison believed the Bill of Rights should include "freedom from monopolies in commerce" (what are now giant corporations) and "freedom from a permanent military" or standing armies. Adams and Hamilton felt otherwise, and the final compromise was the first 10 Bill of Rights amendments that are now the law but not the other two Jefferson and Madison wanted included. Try to imagine what this country might be like today had we gotten them all.

and:

The lesson is clear. Mass people actions, if large and strong enough, get results. Lots of great thinkers through the years knew this and said it many different ways. I quote some of them often for inspiration, and I'll end by doing it again - 2 jewels from one of my favorites - the Mahatma. Ghandi wisely observed that "even the most powerful cannot rule without the cooperation of the ruled." He proved it. He also famously said - "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." He proved that too.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 8:21pm BST

"At the press conference at the close of the Primates Meeting in Northern Ireland, Archbishop Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion “does not see itself free to sanction same-sex blessing and the ordination of persons in same sex-relationships.” "

I think the relevant phrase here, is what does the ABC mean by "does not see itself" (and whom, exactly, was the subject of the quoted sentence?). The ABC knows that he cannot dictate to the member churches. Nor would he, I think, see the Primates, or Lambeth, or the ACC as being able to dictate to the member churches, either.

Whether the Primates/Lambeth-majority sees themselves able to dictate, is the relevant (and emphatically, *NEW*) question!

[To which I would urge TEC, if need be, to---in group-process terms---"block consensus"! (the last resort for the individual member, seeing a group about to go ethically off-the-rails: the group then has to return to further discussion...)]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 9:51pm BST

Precisely, Simon, and thank you.

Generally, Network talk about the "the majority of the Primates" means Dromantine.

I wonder whether George Conger believes that what was decided at Dromantine supersedes the actual recommendations of the Windsor Report. If so, does he believe that the Windsor Report is a dead letter? Or would he be willing to accept, under the same logic, that what was decided at Nottingham supersedes what was decided at Dromantine?

I would also like to ask George Conger whether he believes TEC must

1) agree to a moratorium on the ordination of Lesbian and gay priests, or
2) cease altogether to ordain Lesbian and gay priests, or
3) defrock all currently ordained Lesbian and gay priests

as a condition for TEC's remaining within the Anglican Communion, and finally

4) whether the Church of England ought to be living under similar discipline in order to remain a member of the Anglican Communion, and
5) how the Church of England could square this with the new UK Civil Partnership Act and employment laws.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 10:38pm BST

Dear Charlotte, I won't defend things that "my lot" say if they are inaccurate! I hope that "liberals" would be that honest too..

After all we are all wrong quite a lot of the time. The issue, however, is what God wants - not whether we are sinners!

As for "mis-statements, mis-characterizations, mis-interpretations" I also regularly see misinterpretation of conservative positions, and hyperbolic invective misrepresenting our beliefs and attitudes. For instance above: conservative's alleged "preferred totalitarian paradigms" - isn't this comment "distasteful, aggressive, hate-filled" the very things that "liberals" condemn blogs like virtueonline for (and, I suspect, anyone who has ever read a posting there) ?

Back to the funding issue, it is hardly surprising if conservative's within ECUSA are funded by conservatives! I suspect that the liberal organisations are funded by liberals. Neither is it surprising that BOTH sides are planning strategically. Shock horror !! ;-)

And the feared "realignment" is really just aimed at bringing ECUSA back to it's catholic apostolic roots within the reformed church. Not to some form of neo-literalist fundamentalism!

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 29 April 2006 at 11:36pm BST

Simon wrote: "The point at issue here appears to me to be whether WR called for ordinations of priests or deacons to be included in its concerns. I'm quite sure George is right in what he says about many primates thinking WR should have said that, and behaving as if it had said that, but that doesn't affect what the actual text of the WR says. Which anyone can determine by reading it."

Dear Simon, I guess this is one effect of the "fudge" approach often taken by Anglican leadership to try to keep as many people in board as possible. Statements that leave options open, and that can be interpreted several ways, are the norm aren't they ?

I don't remember WR having any conclusions on the ordination of people in same-sex relationship to the priesthood, it rebuked ECUSA for consecrating someone to the episcopate who was in such a relationship, though the reason(s) for the rebuke seemed open to interpretation.

The WR was, in my opinion, an attempt by the liberal "senior" primates to craft something that sounded tough, might be acceptable to the majority and yet gave ECUSA wriggle room. What the conservative majority are essentially saying is that ECUSA must not just "come close" to fulfilling WR, or just fulfil it in the eyes of liberal primates, but they must fulfil it in their eyes (the conservative primates' eyes).

Just like "adequate alterative episcopal oversight" is only adequate if it is adequate to the perceptions of the dissenters, so also fulfilling WR is only adequate if it is adequate in the eyes of those who have been offended against.

In reality, it is their interpretation of WR that has to be fulfilled if they are to accept ECUSA back in from the cold - unless the liberal primates hope to be able to do just enough to get a supportive vote for ECUSA at the Primate's meeting... But that, I suspect, would cause meltdown of the Communion - which would probably push the CofE into crisis too.

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 12:07am BST

Dear Charlotte, the law of the land is irrelevant to theological discussion - though it might mean legal consequences!

I think it's great that there are many faithful "gay and lesbian" priests ministering within the CofE. However the church rightly reminds them to abstain from same-sex sexual relationships. The pity is that some Bishops allegedly then turn a blind eye (or worse) to lgb priests who live in same-sex relationships.

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 12:29am BST

Yes, does God want us to mis-define and mistreat people the ways that conservative believers are urging us to pledge? Yes, does God wish us to turn a blind eye to the new empirical data? Yes, does God wish us to use an absolute new conservative notion of who God is, to conform our love of neighbor into a new domination of neighbor? Are conservative believers the sole holders of all the good keys to the Kingdom of God on earth?

Plenty of us dissent from the New Conformity for good and careful reasons of conscience. So we carefully and provisionally answer these questions differently than the conservatives wish us to answer.

We are demonstrably not of one mind on this and other issues, yet all of a sudden, because the time is ripe for a push to a new conformity on the conservative sides of overlapping communities, everybody has to line up, or else. Or else what? Or else the new conservative realignment will not end up dominating everybody, worldwide.

God talk hardly serves to cleverly disguise the domination agenda that has been publicly published, as well as the telltale signs of its progress as it continues to define terms and strategies in its own favor. None of this has to do with returning to catholic or reformed roots, except insofar as the shapes of those serve the ends of forcing realignment. Until the conservative strategy for reading scripture corrects itself via thoroughly learning the Copernicus lesson, long term, it is indeed a way to force us all backwards.

The realignment has little to do with church renewal, and much to do with certain aspirations to power - power to negatively define others, power to enforce certain rigid notions of doctrine, power to say once and for all who is right with God and who is not. Deprive the realignment folks of the ways and means of forcing their beliefs on the rest of us, and they are just a different variety of sincere believer, living the daily life that seems best. The telltale cue is that we always starting talking by presuming that conservative truths cannot allow us to agree to disagree.

So far as Queer Folks are concerned, it would all still be moot if we had not fairly recently actually learned that sexual orientation is either morally neutral, or maybe even at times a sort of earthly window through which we can glimpse the Imago Dei that shines in human nature, in our best affections as well as our best uses of reason and inquiry.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 2:53am BST

Charlotte,

What I think is irrelevant. It is what the Primates think that will drive events. And a sizeable number of Primates believe that the actions taken by the 74th General Convention are wrong.

As to your questions about the Church of England, you should review Rowan Williams comments to the Egypt Global South meeting as to whether or not the CoE will/can/should permit partnered gay clergy.

Posted by: George Conger on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 2:57am BST

I wonder if Mr. Conger can answer the question posed.

Is it his position that the Dromantine statement supersedes the Windsor report, which is supposed to have Communion wide application.

Is it his position that "it is what the Primates think matters" includes some of them being able to decide for themselves what elements of Windsor applies, and to which provinces.

Posted by: RMF on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 1:36pm BST

Since when does one describing a duck make one a duck?

The absolutists' repeatedly make the claim that if you disagree with them that infers you are also an absolutist. Are they hoping by calling us a duck often enough that we will become a duck?

It's a pretty hard stretch to say that encouraging monogamous relationships (hetero- or homo-), tolerance to "the other", respect for women, hospitality to people of other faiths is the same as "no sex please", unless your a married heterosexual (and the women can't say "no" to their husbands), denying communion to sexually active homosexuals, and telling everyone else that acknowledges Jesus but doesn't tithe to your church that they are going to hell. (The latter isn't that far a stretch, I've had to comfort several people in the last few months who were fearful that their dying parents weren't going to heaven because they weren't Anglican).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 4:39pm BST

Even Jesus and the Letters of John in the New Testament caution us that how one treats an LGBTQ neighbor - queer, ethnic or racial minority, woman, unbeliever, or alternative believer - on the civil side of the fence might be a key moment in which we can actually discern what is really going on, in a particular conservative form of the alleged, conformed, public, vaunted love of the holiest God possible.

We cannot afford to pretend that this is all something to simply be settled by Primate voice or Primate vote. Particularly if the libraries and the research centers have been ceremonially closed for that high ritual occasion of their meetings and worldwide consultations.

Voice and votes to go backwards, in civil life and in church life worldwide, will hardly end the issues, any more than the Abolition Movement would have been derailed by an international convention of prominent slave owners, or any more than Womens' Equality can be stopped by unarmed men.

Dear me, we could hardly have arrived so quickly, so breathlessly, on these shores where all the modern neighborhoods are burning down except the new conservative ones, unless we were herded here by the forces at work in our new realignment campaign.

Lord have mercy.

{Full post essay AT: http://drdanfee-blogs.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_drdanfee-blogs_archive.html

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 6:04pm BST

George Conger writes, in answer to my earlier questions:

"A sizeable number of Primates believe that the actions taken by the 74th General Convention are wrong."

I believe he is referring to the approval General Convention gave to the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, as well as to a refusal to place an outright ban on the blessings of same-sex unions.

And I do not dispute this.

But does he also assert that this "sizeable number of Primates" are demanding that TEC cease ordaining gay and Lesbian priests? And that a majority of Primates now demand that TEC cease ordaining gay and Lesbian priests, as a condition of remaining within the Anglican Communion?

If not, why have Network representatives repeatedly asserted that TEC must cease such ordinations as a condition of remaining within the Anglican Communion? Is not the whole matter a red herring, invented to push the Network agenda?

Further, does George Conger include, in this "sizeable number of Primates," the Primates of (for example) Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, and South Africa?

Does he believe that these Primates are demanding that TEC be expelled from the Anglican Communion?

Does he believe that a majority of the clergy of the Church of England would support the expulsion of TEC from the Anglican Communion? Or must he not rather admit that such a move would precipitate a schism within the wider Communion and the Church of England itself?

Does George Conger deny that the Church of England allows clergy who have entered into same-sex civil unions to continue to serve, as long as they give "assurances" to their Bishops that such unions are celibate?

Does he deny that the Church of England's solution is not acceptable to Archbishop Akinola? Does he deny that Archbishop Akinola has threatened, and recently, to break communion with Canterbury over this issue?

Does he deny that ++Gregory Venables called this move "disastrous"? Does he deny that very few of the so-called Global South Primates are willing to follow Archbishop Akinola into schism with Canterbury?

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 7:12pm BST

Charlotte

One of the things they do is make it "unbiblical" to speak against their position. That to speak against them is to be in league with the "evil one" (their term). One of my favourite hypocrite encounters was with a church leader who tried to tell me that we are to submit Ephesians 5:12. But then disputed that there is ever a struggle against corrupt authorities (see Ephesians 6:12).

Last year there were a number of sermons where my parish was told that only Jews could have corrupt priests, because Christian priests were covered by Jesus' grace. I was also told that Paul's exhortations against suppressing truth (see Romans 1:18) did not apply to church officials. I was disappointed to see ABC quoted as saying that they were meeting face to face because of problems with communications on the internet, the need for secrecy brought to mind Isaiah 29:15, Amos 3:5&7, & Matthew 10:24-42, especially “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”

There's also a place for more bible studies, precipitated by a "coincidence" that my ex-husband had to spend a night on my lounge last week because the key to his dwelling snapped off in the lock. It led to an interesting computer bible browse using the words "key" and "crown", which also linked into some of my recent studies on "Ephraim". Revelation 3:7-13 seemed so pertinent that I explored further and found ripples into Isaiah 51:9-17, Isaiah 61:1-3.

One of the big issues for the absolutists is the idea of God disciplining His people (including the priestly castes). They are so concerned about "saving face" that they fail to recognise the crucial step of acknowledging how depraved they and their people have become. God longs to show compassion, but until we demonstrate that we understand HOW we got ourselves into a pickle, there is no point in saving us because we'll simply end up in exactly the same space. A nice linking reconciling study that shows this uncomfortable stage is both necessary and biblical is found through a study of Ephraim (for starters see Hosea 7:1-2, Hosea 7:8-13, Hosea 11:3-4, Jeremiah 31:18-25, Isaiah 11:11-13, Hosea 4:14-19).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 30 April 2006 at 10:16pm BST

Hey Cheryl - my reference to ducks, etc., was a way of answering the quip about conspiracy theories - namely, if the Network/GS folks are conspiring (and they are), but dishonestly refusing to acknowledge it as such, that doesn't mean they aren't conspiring. Just take even a cursory look at their tactics and it's obvious what they are up to. Thus, shoes, ducks, etc...

Posted by: Marc on Monday, 1 May 2006 at 12:36pm BST

Dave wrote: "And the feared "realignment" is really just aimed at bringing ECUSA back to it's catholic apostolic roots within the reformed church. "

And this means precisely what? That we follow the received tradition of the Western Church? So the procession of relics will be reintroduced into the evangelical churches? As happy as I'd be to hear it, I suspect that's not what you mean. The main problem that I see is that this phrase: "catholic apostolic roots within the reformed church" is a cipher, an ideological construct that refers not to any particular body of beliefs than reflecting opposition to one (gay and lesbian clergy) or two (ordination of women) traditions with which the speaker disagrees.

I'll take the Network et al. much more seriously if they'd be willing to clearly define and stake out the boundaries of "catholic apostolic roots within the reformed church." As one who studies both the Scripture and its interp in medieval Europe I can tell you that the Tradition is far more diverse than most assume who appeal to it...

Posted by: Derek on Monday, 1 May 2006 at 4:37pm BST

Dave,
"Back to the funding issue, it is hardly surprising if conservative's within ECUSA are funded by conservatives! I suspect that the liberal organisations are funded by liberals. Neither is it surprising that BOTH sides are planning strategically. Shock horror !! ;-)"

Well, actually, yes. Shock! Horror! In my idealism, I like to think that synods of dioceses and national churches are about attempting to discern the will of God for His church, to attempt to listen to the guidance of the Spirit. It's why we sing Veni, Creator, after all. I fail to see that lobbying and the funding of lobby groups by outside interests ought to play any role in this. I know it happens. It shouldn't. It's that simple. Stating that the left is hypocritical in criticizing the right for accepting funding from conservative groups while it likewise accepts such funding might well be true, but hardly justifies the practice. So whatever way GC2006 votes on a particular issue, we can say that one particular lobby group won. I doubt the Spirit has a lobby group, though no doubt both sides currently feel they fill that role. Thus, the Spirit, and therefore the Church, is the loser. Whatever way this comes out, people will have listened to each other yell, and all the while ignoring the voice of God while fervently believing they are hearing Him clearly. A pox on both your houses!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 1 May 2006 at 6:23pm BST

Marc

Sorry. That was an inadvertent parallel in imagery. I actually liked your posting.

It reminded me of a letter I wrote to my diocese in mid 2005 naively thinking they listened. In that letter I mentioned that a friend of mine had said there was a US legalistic concept that "If something looks like a duck, acts like a duck and sounds like a duck; then it is probably a duck". The letter to the local diocese commented that following tsunami, Nias quake, Aust's drought breaking rains if "It looks like God, acts like God and sounds like God; then it probably is God". (For those who don't know in early 2004 I tried to tell them something big was coming, so don't let them tell you they weren't forewarned).

That has been one of the reasons I have been so shocked at the conservatism of certain elements. When God is so clearly moving, I don't understand why people think God doesn't want things to change? God only moves this much when He wants to make a point. The only good thing about the conservatives being so entrenched is that it has brought the imagery of Moses taking the people into exile alive (the hardened heart of the Pharoah), and given a chance to rebuild bridges with the Jews (because now the Christians have resorted to legalistic historical interpretations rather than reading the signs of the times). Jesus' discussion about the weather seems appropriate right now (see Luke 12:54-59).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 1 May 2006 at 8:27pm BST

Dear Ford, my point is that it is a storm in a teapot, and a distraction from the real issues.

And I'm not sure that you have thought through your idealism... would you really suggest that causes and movements that you approve of in conservative provinces should refuse to accept outside funds ? As an obvious instance the gay support group in Nigeria that is receiving funds from Changing Attitude UK ? I think you would raise howls of protest from most commentators here if you decried CA UK's funding !

Posted by: Dave on Monday, 1 May 2006 at 9:10pm BST

Dave,
While I doubt many gay Nigerians would be brave enough to, if they were to use their funding to lobby bishops to change things in their favour, then yes, I'd decry their funding. I am well aware that both sides in this issue are hotly lobbying their bishops and plotting strategy. That's why I'm certain that whatever happens in this, we will not be following the will of God, we will be following the will of whoever played the game the best.

Do you really think that this kind of behaviour enables us to discern the will of God? Is this some kind of Calvinist electionism that says that the winner must be doing God's will since He gave them more funding than their opponents and made them more politically savvy?

There's a difference between funding support groups and using that funding to lobby and bring worldly politics into the Church. I would suggest this to you, Dave, the Anglican Church is not on the brink of schism because some of us are nice to gay people, she is on the brink of schism because the lobbiers are shouting so loud for what THEY want that no-one is bothering to listen to what God is telling them. Indeed, even if they did, the cries of "The Bible says...." and "I believe....' and "I could never worship a God as hateful/wimpy as your God" all drown out whatever He's saying anyway. That is hopelessly idealistic, I know, but I keep on keeping on. If the Church were to split, where would I go? Would I worship with those who use the Bible to justify their homophobia or with those who use it to justify their dislike of rules? I really don't see that as much of a choice, one kind of selfrighteousness over another.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 12:05pm BST

"It seems clear that the intention of the [Windsor] report was to curtail further same sex blessings."

Who said that Charlotte? An Anglican Communion Network leader? Some other reasserter?

No. FatherJake:
http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com/2004/12/bishop-robinsons-interview-on-npr.html

Posted by: Kendall Harmon on Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 12:35pm BST

Kendall
Maybe it's just me, but I can't find anywhere that Charlotte has suggested that Windsor did not seek to curtail same sex blessings in this thread. Most of her comments I just read were about (non-episcopal) ordinations.
Simon

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 4:23pm BST

Bishop Mark Dyer, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission, said in a speech at Virginia Theological Seminary in either November or December of 2004 that the Lambeth Commission had not requested a moratorium on the blessing of same sex unions. He said the Windsor Report requested that bishops stop authorizing rites for same sex blessings.

"We are not talking about pastoral provisions
that local priests make, and not
talking about clergy who are homosexual
or lesbian and who form long-term partnerships,"
Dyer said. (quoting here from my story in the Dec. 04 issue of the diocesan paper. You may be able to find his remarks on the VTS Web site.)

As I recall, Dyer's interpretation has since been challenged by another commission member. I want to say it was Drexel Gomez.

It doesn't seem to me that an authoritative interpretation has been advanced. And given the conflict among the commission members, it doesn't seem to me a consensus interpretation existed.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 5:57pm BST

Thanks once again, Simon.

Now you all know what life is like in a Network diocese!

Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 11:37pm BST

I gotta one-up you, Charlotte (knowing that we are in the same diocese.) It's even more "fun" if you are non-Network *clergy* in a Network diocese! ;)

Posted by: Marc on Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 2:24am BST

Jim Naughton regularly trots out the interpretation of Mark Dyer on this question, which brings us into the world of what the meaning of "is" is casuistry. Then he avers that there is no authoritative interpretation. This is intriguing, Jim, that we produce documents which can apparently have no authoritative interpretation? Is/was that really the Lambeth Commission's intent?

I have no problem in saying that the majority of the commission and the majority of the Communion understand it the way FatherJake does above. I think a lot of reappraisers see that, though they differ greatly in terms of how to respond.

But let the last word be here:

“May I also bring you greetings most especially from the Archbishop of Canterbury who specifically asked me to bring you this message and assure you of his own prayers for you this week and in the run up to General convention….Let’s be clear: On the one hand no one can force another Province or Diocese either to go or remain. We are not that kind of Church. Yet equally, no Diocese or Province can enforce its own continued membership simply or largely on its own terms. There has to be engagement. There is no communion without a shared vision of life in communion (at least that is how I understand Windsor). So it does seem to me, as I listen to those other parts of the Communion that I know best, that any further consecration of those in a same sex relationship; any authorisation of any person to undertake same sex blessings; any stated intention not to seriously engage with The Windsor Report – will be read very widely as a declaration not to stay with the Communion as it is, or as the Windsor Report has articulated a vision, particularly in sections A and B, of how it wishes to be.”

-- Bishop Michael Langrish of Exeter in a speech to the ECUSA House of Bishops, March 29, 2006

No mention, Jim, of liturgies there. The Windsor Report is a plea to stop and create space. To try to parse the word stop in such a way that the very practices which are understood to be departures from apostolic faith and teaching will continue is a tragic misuse of the gift of communion. Do you think it noteworthy, Jim, that the person you are (constantly?) quoting is the American on the Commission? Will we ever learn to listen to those outside ourselves and count what they think important enough to hear it on their terms?

Posted by: Kendall Harmon on Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 2:04pm BST

I think what is noteworthy, Kendall, is that Mark Dyer was on the commission, and you were not. What you are engaged in now is an attempt to make a document mean something that at least one of its drafters is on record saying is not what it meant.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 2:41pm BST

Kendall

I still don't understand why you, not Jim, introduced the topic of ss blessings into this thread, when the main thrust of it was diaconate/presbyterate ordinations.

I don't think there is any unclarity (despite this apparent dispute) about what Windsor is calling for in respect of ss blessings, "we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites,..."

I note the words "public Rites" and in Bishop Langrish's words the phrase "any authorisation of any person".

It's really quite clear what's covered there.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 2:49pm BST

A quick note about funding for Integrity in the US. Information can be found via the web site. If you go to the 'donate now' option, there are links to financial data. Also, each year the budget in full is published in Integrity's magazine. There are from time to time modest donations from pro-gay foundations, but nothing like the resources poured into IRD and its kin. The information on the Diocese of Washington web site is not a 'conspiracy theory;' it is a conspiracy to supplant ECUSA with a confessional fundagelical church.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 4 May 2006 at 1:26pm BST

Simon, some observations by Bishop NT Wright on what the Windsor Report meant have just been posted. As he was a member of the Windsor Commission, I guess that his interpretation is more-or-less as authoritative as they come. It's here: http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/comments/we_can_all_celebrate_diversity_bishop_tom_wright/

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 10:17am BST

Thanks Dave; this article was first published in the Church Times in October 2004.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 7:34pm BST

Thanks a second time for this comment, Dave. As I noted elsewhere, this article by Tom Wright goes back to October 2004, and first appeared in the Church Times.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 7:35pm BST
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