Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Dr Radner's IRD connection

Ephraim Radner who just attended the HoB meeting at Camp Allen to deliver this paper, is a member of the Covenant Design Group, and of the Anglican Communion Institute, and whose day job is being Rector of the Church of the Ascension, in Pueblo, Colarado, is now also a Director of the Institute for Religion and Democracy. You can see this by looking here.

Jim Naughton who wrote Following the Money, thinks this is a bad thing, as explained in Shining a little light on the IRD:

By the way, am I the last one to learn that the Rev. Ephraim Radner, who is helping to write the proposed Anglican Covenant, is a member of the IRD’s board? Does it bother anybody else that this sensitive work is being done by a man so closely allied with an organization that aims to “restructure the permanent governing structure” of “theologically flawed” Protestant denominations? (see FtM, Part one, footnote 3.)

The board is chaired by Roberta Ahmanson, whose billionaire husband Howard has said that while he no longer thinks it is “essential” to stone gay people, adds “It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things.” (See FtM, Part one, footnote 13.)

The Rev. Philip W. Turner is a member of the IRD’s Board of Advisors. He, like Radner is one of the six members of the Anglican Communion Institute. It is worth keeping these ties in mind when reading the ACI’s frequent interventions in the current debate over homosexuality and church order.

This was discussed on titusonenine and at Stand Firm and Dr Radner himself wrote:

Yes, I am a new board member of IRD. I have great respect for the the organization, in that it was one of the first to attempt to provide views regarding church-supported political activities around the world that challenged the standard liberal claims of our mainline denominations. These views simply were not being heard within our church structures — a form of conscious and unconscious censorship that I know first hand, and that has deeply limited and wounded these churches (including the Episcopal Church’s) intellectual and moral integrity. IRD’s work in bringing attention to matters of religious freedom around the world, woefully and ignominiously ignored by American Christian denominations, has been a critically needed witness. I do not in fact agree with all of IRD’s past positions or even current ones, but I respect and co[n]tinue to respect its work and its leaders. But I have made it clear that I am my own person. I am, for instance, a Democrat who often, although not always, votes with my party, but also struggles with it for a host of reasons. I try to be responsible and critical in my political thinking and acting. Diane Knippers was a great leader and Christian, whose witness inspired me in many ways, and I am more than willing to help carry on a work she began. Obviously, one is judged by one’s associations. I am, for instance, in the same church as Jim Naughton. What are we to make of this? It is odd, and in fact sad, to the utmost that the Church of Jesus Christ has crumbled to such an extent that Mr. Naughton (along with many others on the left and the right) is more interested in political segregation as a way of exercising his ecclesial vocation than in understanding.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 3:17pm GMT | TrackBack
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Do we also know what Roberta Ahmanson's views are, or is she to be considered guilty by association?

Having said that, maybe someone should ask her husband to cast the first stone. As a self proclaimed Christian he might dimly remember the association. Of course, as a literalist he might think the parable refers to adulterers only.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 4:17pm GMT

Dr Radner is right that liberals need to advocate more for religious freedom. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

For me personally, I have problems with Christian evangelism. My main concerns are a) colonialism and cultural contamination, and b) theological disagreements with Evangelical Christians.

However, we should still support new Christian converts in countries where they are persecuted. Freedom to choose one's religion is a human right. Liberals are (I hope) big on human rights. Besides, if we do that, then we can more justly criticize conservatives for their opinions on people like Keith Ellison (see the comments on T19).

That, however, is the ONLY good thing I can possible say about the IRD. Radner says that our social witness compromises our spiritual and moral integrity. On the contrary - if conservatives neglect social witness, it is their integrity that is destroyed. Jesus had much to say about the way we treat other.

Posted by: Weiwen Ng on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 4:19pm GMT

Let's not forget that the founder of the Anglican Communion Institute (Rev. Donald Armstrong) has been inhibited by his bishop for financial impropriety. In case anyone wants to pay attention to it, it means that Dr. Radner has aligned himself with wingnut separatists who have already planned an authoritarian power grab. Thankfully, the American House of Bishops isn't falling for it.

See the story here:,1299,DRMN_15_5405878,00.html

and the wingnut response:

Posted by: Curtis on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 4:41pm GMT

Synchronicity or what ? !

I was just writing about this very phenonenon of right wing political forces targetting Churches, on the other thread here --when here it is-- chapeter and verse !

'Principalities and powers...Spiritual wickedness in high places'

Howard Ahmanson may find gays being stoned in 'some places' sooner than he had hoped.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 4:42pm GMT

This is what the IRD thinks of the Episcopal Church ( ; listed under Anglican Action)

"Anglican Action seeks to promote orthodox teaching and practice within the Episcopal Church. The objective of Anglican Action is to transform the church into an effective witness to Christ in our nation and our world.
After 30 years of membership decline and over a million members lost, the Episcopal Church is desperately in need of reform and renewal. Among the issues facing the church are:
Church leaders at odds with people in the pews and the wider Anglican Communion.

Unrelenting pro-homosexual advocacy and undermining of the family by church leaders.

A House of Bishops that is divided and no longer offers moral leadership.

Seminaries that have abandoned biblical Anglican theology.

Public policy advocacy that may reflect leftist positions.

Church officials who embrace a radical feminist theology."

I don't see us advocating leftist policy positions. I would characterize our policy statements as moderate to liberal, sure. But if the IRD thinks we're leftist, that's a possible indicator of their ultra-conservativism.

I wouldn't characterize our LGBT advocacy as "unrelenting" as a whole. I can think of a number of bishops who have, truly, been unrelenting, but most of them are a lot more moderate. And anyway, this "pro-homosexual" advocacy doesn't do anything to undermine the family.

I know some clergy and laity who are feminists. They're in the minority. And, exactly what do they mean by "radical" feminists? Have they seen a bunch of Episcopal priests burning bras in the courtyard of the National Cathedral? Have we been successful in converting a significant proportion of our laity to (gasp!) homosexuality?

The formal name of North Korea is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. IRD must have taken a page from those guys.

Posted by: Weiwen Ng on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 4:52pm GMT

To read Dr. Radner's defense, one would think he is simply not aware of how extreme the IRD's positions are. How did he end up on its Board?

In the past two weeks, the IRD's representative (IRD VP Jerald Walz) on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (USA): has called for NAE Vice President Rich Cizik's removal from the NAE (in lock step with Dobson and other reactionary 'Christian Right' leaders); was the lone vote (38-1) against an anti-torture resolution; and, voted against (I think the lone vote also but I can't verify) the NAE's resolution calling for positive Christian action to address global climate change.

Torture. Global warming. "Religious freedom" issues HOW? Thank you Dr. Radner and your commitment to IRD in ensuring that our right as God's New Zion chosen to flood the coasts of the continents, and torture the survivors, is not hindered by the mainline liberals' suppression of God's Truth on these issues.

Posted by: Jay on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 5:06pm GMT

I have no interest in, and have made no comment on, Ephraim Radner's politics. He is a member of the board of directors of an organization that is quite explicit about its intention to undermine the legitimacy of the Episcopal Church. He holds this position while helping to draft the covenant for the Anglican Communion. This inspires mistrust. How could it not?

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 5:25pm GMT

"That, however, is the ONLY good thing I can possible say about the IRD "

I know you've grown weary of my saying this, but if you have not read Jim Naughton's two pieces on follow the money on the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC, do so.

The late Diane Knippers of Truro was big in IRD, and I can tell you it was no treat having her in the diocese and that organization so very near.

They are not innocent defenders of democracy and religion. Trust me.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 5:48pm GMT

In his statement Dr Radner wrote: [the IRD] “… was one of the first to attempt to provide views regarding church-supported political activities around the world that challenged the standard liberal claims of our mainline denominations.”

which translates: how churches could be unwittingly enrolled in the IRD’s political crusade against Modernity.

“These views simply were not being heard within our church structures…”

How could they when they originated outside them?

“… a form of conscious and unconscious censorship …… that has deeply limited and wounded these churches (including the Episcopal Church’s) intellectual and moral integrity.”

I thought it was the IRD that was deeply “limiting and wounding” the intellectual, moral and structural integrity of the Episcopal Church, and of other mainline Christian denominations in the USA.

“IRD’s work in bringing attention to matters of religious freedom around the world…”

Pray show that this is not just propaganda.

“… woefully and ignominiously ignored by American Christian denominations…”

This most obviously is just propaganda.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 7:06pm GMT

Well done Jim for finding out this information and drawing attention to it.

The time for compromise is over. TEC must stand firm and if that means the Anglican Communion doesn't want them - thats a good thing

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 7:22pm GMT

ragnarok approacheth, methinks....

More to the point, the extreme flakiness of the ConsEv lineup in the States is being exposed daily. First the condemnation of the Nigerian legislation by practically every civilised force in the world (plus bits of the US government) now this.

I can't help but feel there are some folk who went to bed with the person of their dreams, only to wake up with a hangover sharing the sheets with Grendel, and wondering, with extreme embarrassment, what they're going to do about the photographs everyone took of them together....

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 8:05pm GMT

"I am, for instance, in the same church as Jim Naughton. It is odd, and in fact sad, to the utmost that the Church of Jesus Christ has crumbled to such an extent..."

The Daughter of Zion sings at the breadth and depth of a communion that includes Jim Naughton e.g. Isaiah 54:1-15. Those who deny communion to willing consentors, such as Jim, are not doing God's work. Zechariah 3, rebuke those who do not recognise the fire within and measure a soul only by outward appearances and the ability to flatter. Though the courtiers might imprison the Josephs or throw the Daniels to the lions or crucify the Jesuses on the crosses; God knows those who are lit with a holy fire. God knows who is redeemed and God looks for those who God can trust to take care of ALL God's children (not just the "perfect" and "powerful").

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 8:19pm GMT

Dr. Radner's comments are utterly disingenuous. It is not that conservative opinions have not been heard in the church; it is, rather, that they have not prevailed. Up until the early 1960's conservative opinions in TEC prevailed at all points. No one on the left thought they had not been heard, they had simply been defeated. Fair enough. But to disguise what is a bald attempt to gain control of the church by reference to some blackout of conservative thought is utterly deceptive and dishonest. It dovetails with Dr. Radner's screed against American exceptionalism. Here he snidely suggests that we somehow hold ourselves above and apart from ordinary humanity. Instead we should set this aside for the greater good of control by unaccountable prelates. American exceptionalism is in fact about the wisdom drawn from the Anglican Madison that centralized power is always dangerous and needs to be institutionally checked. Dr. Radner has some very strange readings here.

Posted by: William R. Coats on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 11:17pm GMT

Dr. Radner has been a major voice in the conservative group since GC03 at which time he was very prominent in the early days of our hearing of a "Network" of conservative parishes which first met publicly at Plano, Texas, and where delegates had to sign a statement of common beliefs before being admitted.

I have no doubt that Dr. Radner is no innocent when it comes to knowing and understanding precisely what the IRD is and stands for nor do I have any doubt that he feels their aims and goals are right, Godly and necessary. The danger, and his place in that danger, is that he is uniquely placed in the Covenant-formation group which seeks to make the Anglican broad umbrella into a paper parasol usually found in a tropical drink. It may look good but in a rainstorm it isn't going to keep anything dry.

Posted by: mumcat on Wednesday, 21 March 2007 at 11:22pm GMT

I was brainstorming about what to do about the "primatial vicar" problem. Why doesn't +KJS give +Bob Duncan a raise, make him "special needs" Bishop of the Diocese of Whinners, let him have all those parishes (under a hundred I'm sure) that hate queers, womyn, divorced people, anything but old almost dead white males, et. al, and let him fly a yearly paid junket to cry in ++Rowan's lap, but in the deal, he has to pledge obediance to +KJS, and give Pittsburgh back to the EC. And he has to get his buddies (we can make +Schofield the Archdeacon Metropolitan Master of Ceremonies of the Crybaby Hateful Faithful Carismaniacs, and +Iker Guestmaster of Recruitment) to get with the program, or they lose their pension, period. Or let Ahmanson ante up the differience.

Win-win situation. Problem solved. Mission accomplished.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 22 March 2007 at 6:48pm GMT

The Goat as Gardener again?

I don’t think it will be necessary. Dr Radner just had a piece on Disharmonyonline indicating he is leaving TEC of the Americas – and he has been the one among the Alphabet soup that has constantly said Don’t leave!

Now he is saying Don’t litigate for church property! but that, it seems to me, is the only chance of a hostile take-over they have now since the Frog jumped out of the water…

But this is also the expensive way and might succeed in some States, but certainly not in most.

Throwing in the towel?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 23 March 2007 at 10:04am GMT

The Titusonenine posting is a fascinating read. If it is representative of a signficant tranche of thinking within the reasserting cqmp, there are some interesting observations: for example that there is an uncomfortable variety of views both disciplinary and theological within the conservative bloc, and that the divisions there are just waiting to happen once external pressure is 'off' - the outdated amphictyonic theory of Noth may have something going for it here!

As pluralist noted elsewhere, tectonic shifts are underway which were bound to happen sooner or later. The axes of Christian division established at the Reformation have been largely irrelevant for years, and new alignments based on hermeneutics and culture are emerging at a rate of knots.

Interesting times.... Meanwhile my postbag seems to inform me that the CofE must suffer my church-emptying ministry for a couple of extra years if I want to get a pension....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 23 March 2007 at 12:35pm GMT

So if I went out and joined a Neo-Nazi group and said, "I don't agree with all their views," that makes it ok for me to belong?

I'm confused by Radner's defense.

Posted by: BobinWashPA on Wednesday, 28 March 2007 at 5:02pm BST
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