Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Anglican and Roman church bodies comment jointly

The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have issued a joint statement.

This statement has been issued with a press release titled Churches comment on Government’s incitement to hatred plans which starts:

The Church of England and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have commented on the Government’s proposed amendment to the Public Order Act 1986 to create a new offence of incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation….

Scroll down from the press release to read the full text of the Memorandum to the Public Bill Committee on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 11:13am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

So, once again, the Church wants anti-discriminatory law to take account of its own homophobia.

Christianity is a homophobic religion. It needs reform, not kow-towing to.

Those who advocate this stance should be regarded with the same level of respect as the BNP in their attempt to rationalise racism.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 2:25pm GMT

"Christianity is a homophobic religion. It needs reform, not kow-towing to."

I would argue that it is only a small but vocal minority of self-professing Christians who are homophobic. Definately not a majority.

The appearance is made due to the Internet and other communications technologies which have been emerging over the past decade or two.

The best way to take the pulse of a people is go physically go out and visit the individual churches themselves and take a statistical sample. I would bet dollars to doughnuts that you'll find results far different than what you see on the blogosphere.

Peace!

Posted by: Mark W on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 4:30pm GMT

"The Christian churches,” the memorandum points out, “hold a set of beliefs about human sexuality, marriage and family which represents a strong consensus through time and space…."

If that were true we wouldn't have been having all those corrosive debates in recent years.
It would at least have been helpful to acknowledge that there is no one Christian view.

I'm really tired of people pretending to speak on my behalf and making sweeping statements that are so patently wishful thinking.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 5:33pm GMT

I have to confess, Merseymike, I don't understand the level of your hositlity here. Sections 2 and 7 seem quite reasonable. They seem to be asking for clarity in what is and is not acceptable. I certainly see nothing wrong with a conservative preacher saying that Christianity teaches that homosexuality is sinful. That's just stating doctrine. If he said all gays should be jailed or executed, that's hate speech, and ought not to be allowed. But what of the preacher who says we die 30 years before everyone else? Is it hate speech just because he believes propaganda? What is the responsibility of a non-scientist to know the reliability of the material he quotes if he sincerely believes it to be true? I think it will be a good thing if it teaches those Evangelicals who do not know the difference between evangelism, threat, insult, and scorn to learn the error of their ways, but I don't think it'd have that efrfect, they'd just think themselves oppressed for being forced to take their foot off everyone else's necks. Or do you think that someone ought not even have the right to say that Christianity teaches that homosexuality prevent us from entering the Kingdom? Differences in religious dogma ought not to be illegal after all, IMNSHO, though we can prohibit some of the more hurtful ways those differences are expressed.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 5:50pm GMT

I get irritated that C of E representatives here have written as if the C of E has one fixed view on the subject of homosexuality, when it patently does not! They do not represent my view, and I don't want the Government taking only theirs into account. It would be better if the Church stopped scraping round always trying to find ways out of human rights legislation, and just supported it without qualification.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 6:31pm GMT

The grounds of negative presupposition in public life are shifting, and may well shift, yet again - with many believers (including even some self-described conservative ones) favoring justice norms for citizen holiness in public life, based on that familiar Anglican combination - of reading the scriptures, investigating and applying the tradition, and above all being reasonable in any number of different best practices ways.

What conservatives religious views have to understand is that their traditional claim to being the best and most viable reasonable thinking possible - across several hot button discernment domains - is not going to fly, unquestioned.

What, we must ask, is the reasonable, logical connection between preaching vile things about queer neighbors in committed adult relationships - vile things any ninny can see are designed to stir up considerable strong emotions of fear or disgust or anger about those targeted? - and that conservative bugaboo of protecting marriage? Do we protect marriage by imprisoning people in very bad marriages for what we say are very good presuppositional reasons? Is that the state of the art reason to which we must all aspire in locked steps?

We can hear plenty of sound bite spin on every public channel, but the reasonable-ness of it all still escapes us. What is the reason involved in religious believers rolling over so flexibly and contextually, to re-discern divorce; and remaining so incredibly set and inflexible concerning the relationships of queer neighbors?

So civil society puts new pressures upon traditionalistic folks with negative views in sexuality, asking them to yet again account rationally - for their steadily negative presuppositions concerning human sexuality and embodiment. We particularly ask such believers to account for the many potentially deep connections between their favorite manner of trash talking, say, queer folks or unsubmissive women, and various injustices getting rationalized, up to and including physical or institutional-economic violence being done to the persons so targeted by traditionalisms.

So far, I haven't actually heard anything from any religious right that did not disavow responsibility by loosening the cause-effect connections between preaching vile and nasty things about, say, queer folks - and someone eventually getting riled up enough with anger or fear or disgust, to punch a specific queer citizen in the face for Jesus. (Or Allah? Or traditional Hindu or Buddhist family values? bad religion exists across many world traditions?)

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 6:53pm GMT

Ah, they have found something upon which they can agree ! At last !

Posted by: L Roberts on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 7:06pm GMT

Actually, Ford, I think they can say what they want, but what they are trying to justify is their homophobia. otherwise, the proposed legislation wouldn't be a problem for them. Think about it - and stop trying to defend the church. It is simply indefensible as an institution. The doctrine is itself homophobic.

Now, I don't think that shoiuld be illegal to believe, and the proposals in the law do not say that it should - at all. But don't you think it would make a refreshing change for the church to welcome a new piece of gay rights legislation unreservedly?

Well, they never have over here.

And until there is a split and the conservatives and liberals can express their totally different religions, for the two 'Christianities' have NOTHING in common, , they never will

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 10:09pm GMT

You all in the UK have in a way, to be so lucky that the Church is "running scared" and wanting to be exempt from what we in the U.S. call hate crime laws.

Over here the "Church" in it's many dysfunctional denominations as actually worked, lobbied and cajoled the grassroots to limit the freedoms of LGBT people in state constitutional amendments for domestic partner relationships, including the tax laws (the U.S., not Canada). And I suspect that many in the religious right are fighting pending legislation in the U.S. Congress to include sexual orientation in a hate crimes bill.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 11:51pm GMT

I think there is a legitimate argument to allowing people to disagree on such important matters. That said, I'm a bit disappointed that, if the issue is really freedom of speech, the churches are looking to defend the rights of Christians to express traditional Christian views, rather than the rights of everyone to express all kinds of views, some antithetical to the tradition. The special pleading weakens the free-speech case.

My major problem, however, is the line, 'The Churches draw a clear distinction between sexual orientation and behaviour based on that orientation.' It is true that, in RC ethics, this has been the norm, but it is a hugely controverted issue as to whether one can honestly separate orientation and action without doing damage to the person. They must know this.

Obviously, the distinction can be made in a formal sense, but that same distinction is the basis for calling the orientation 'gravely disordered' which certainly impinges on people's sense of self-worth and their orientation towards God. Again, this is something they must know.

Similarly, the claim that 'sexual relations outside marriage fall short of God’s purpose' is premised on there having been an intended universe without gays and lesbians and loads of others, whose very existence frustrates God's purposes. This cannot be innocently claimed without realising that these are incredibly problematic assumptions, even if they are 'of the tradition'.

There is evidence of nuance in the statement, to be sure, but nuance is hardly enough. And it should be admitted that those who are 'anti' are most likely to be affected by the legislation. However, that's no excuse for such a shoddy piece of theological work.

I'm not sure which is worse: the intellectual dishonesty in the agreed statement (by portraying the tradition as univocal and unproblematic) or the amateurish theology. I almost expected the former, but the latter does none of us proud, and it hardly gives anyone cause for hope in our current debates. If Rowan can sign onto such witheringly poor theology, then we need to pray a heck of a lot harder....

Posted by: Joe on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 12:17am GMT

"I certainly see nothing wrong with a conservative preacher saying that Christianity teaches that homosexuality is sinful. That's just stating doctrine."

Well then the doctrine should be changed, and Catholic never mind liberal theory allows it to be changed. This doctrine gives rise to everything else. Some Churches, small as they may be, have already changed.

The case for organising a clean break gets stronger; rather I am waiting for those who maintain obnoxious exclusive views to organise themselves elsewhere as they have threatened for a long time and as they may be beginning to put into action now.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 12:38am GMT

"Christianity is a homophobic religion."

I hope that hate speech law protects Christians as well!

Posted by: Margaret on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:33am GMT

Ford,
Please re-think you post as though the church had put out a joint statement on slaves, jews or blacks. If you still believe that it is ok to let stated doctrine remain overstated and reinforced, and opposition from within the organisation's own ranks ignored, then fair enough.

But for me there comes a point where, once you have identified something as morally completely unacceptable you can no longer accept the theology of those who still believe it is immoral because of nothing more than personal prejudice (it's not as though there wasn't sufficient information around these days).

Your posts sometimes remind me of myself in my early teens when I firmly believed I was a liberated woman because I had no problem with women working outside the house provided they still had time to do the chores....

There is no place and no theology for negatively defining the lives of women, blacks, jews, slaves, gays or whoever else might be next in line. There just isn't.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 8:10am GMT

Merseymike: I'm an Anglican priest, and yet I agree with you completely. So, as far as the institution is composed of people with our views too, it is not totally indefensible, I think! The problem is that the urbane side of the C of E, which has generally dominated and kept extremist nutcases well down in the past, seems to have abdicated responsibility at the moment, and be allowing the extremists pretty much a free hand.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 8:15am GMT

"I hope that hate speech law protects Christians as well!"

Would you include gay Christians in this, Margaret?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:25am GMT

Margaret quoted: "Christianity is a homophobic religion."

and wrote: "I hope that hate speech law protects Christians as well!"

Not from the truth.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:37am GMT

God doesn't seem that concerned about the sanctity of marriage.

Who was the priest that married Adam and Eve, or did they ever have a marriage anyway?

Then Mary was made pregnant out of wedlock and without a man.

King Judah slept with a temple prostitute, who happened to be the widow of two of his sons, and I think that child went on to become the line of David.

Isaiah conceived to temple prostitutes, it appears with intent.

The moral code that they attempt to impose on GLBTs is harder than what they demand of themselves and harder than the standard God has endorsed on many occasions in the bible.

God doesn't just use the "perfect". God is quite capable of annointing and working through the incompetent and imperfect as well. In fact, I think God sometimes does that deliberately to annoy some souls - and to give them the twin lessons of humility and fear of God, whose foolishness is greater than human wisdom.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:43am GMT

Surely the churches have no right to comment on such legislation, at least until they have made expiation for their own role in legislating hatred over many centuries? It is as unpleasant as if the churches were to intervene to criticize laws against antisemitism -- or rather, more so, since in the case of the Jews they have made some feeble gestures of apology.

Posted by: Joseph O'Leary on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:48am GMT

The doctrine is itself homophobic, writes Merseymike. He is right. To show this, just consider the following paragraph:

"6. The Christian churches hold a set of beliefs about human sexuality, marriage and family which represents a strong consensus through time and space. This tradition teaches that human sexuality is a gift of God which finds its proper expression in marriage, the exclusive, freely-accepted and permanent bond between a man and a woman, and that sexual relations outside marriage fall short of God’s purpose. Moreover, while Christian tradition recognises the contribution of sexual relations to personal growth and well-being, it does not believe that an active sexual life is necessary for human fulfilment. The single life of chastity is valid and fulfilling in its own way. This tradition forms a coherent and important part of Christian teaching and informs Christian practice. It would be impossible for Christianity to be practised and taught without these convictions being widely and freely discussed within the churches and in the wider society."

Now rewrite the paragraph as follows, using only the general consensus of Christian doctrine over time and space (until the last few decades):

"6. The Christian churches hold a set of beliefs about JUDAISM which represents a strong consensus through time and space. This tradition teaches that CHRISTIANITY IS THE FULNESS OF REVELATION, and that JUDAISM falls short of God’s purpose. Moreover, while Christian tradition recognises the VALUES OF THE OLD COVENANT, it does believe that EMBRACING CHRISTIANITY is necessary for SALVIFIC fulfilment. The JEWS ARE REJECTED BY GOD UNTIL THEY WILL BE FINALLY CONVERTED. This tradition forms a coherent and important part of Christian teaching and informs Christian practice. It would be impossible for Christianity to be practised and taught without these convictions being widely and freely PROCLAIMED within the churches and in the wider society."

Just as such a statement of doctrine in 2007 would be clearly antisemitic, so the churches' joint statement is homophobic.

Posted by: Joseph O'Leary on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:59am GMT

"Christianity is a homophobic religion. It needs reform, not kow-towing to."

Every time you end a sentence with a preposition, Merseymike, God kills a kitten.

Posted by: MRG on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 12:30pm GMT

Margaret, hate speech laws don't apply to the truth, so it ain't hate speach unless you are trying to claim that jailing us and our supporters and inciting people to murder us is somehow an act of love. I know, some consevos seem to think they are, believing that such kindnesses might encourage us to repent, but I figure it's only the more extreme who think that way.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 12:43pm GMT

"you still believe that it is ok to let stated doctrine remain overstated and reinforced"

I don't, which is precisely why I don't see a huge problem with the statement. They are not saying "We should be allowed to condemn gay people from the rooftops and incite people to hang them from the bridges." They are saying that any Church should be able to state its doctrine without fear of being hauled in front of the courts for that. I might not agree with what they say, but I very strongly oppose the idea that the State or anyone else has the right to silence them because their views are unpopular or wrong. Sorry, Erika, but I see this as a free speech issue, and I don't think anyone has the right to curb another person's or group's right to expression simply because they find the things expressed repugnant. I'm not entirely American on this, I believe the State can, and should, limit the right of groups to speak in ways that damage the public good, and inciting hatred against another group certainly does that, but this is not the case in the simple stating of Church doctrine, whether or not that doctrine is correct or uniformly held. I took this statement as part of the debate as to how British society goes about doing this. We've done it in Canada already. If this was about blacks, women, Newfoundlanders, or whatever, I'd still defend the Church's right to claim that its teachings, whether or not they are uniiform and whether or not I believe them, are that this group shall not enter the Kingdom. What's wrong with letting them exhibit the quality of their Fishtianity? If they don't mind being seen as bigots, if they don't mind giving the unChristian appearance of being someone's enemy, which is how they are seen WRT gay people, then so be it. It simply shows how misguided they are and makes them more easily identifiable. We shouldn't deny them the right to be seen in public proudly betraying the Gospel. But that doesn't mean they have the right to incite others to kill me either.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 1:04pm GMT

This statement bears only the authority of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, it is not accurate to attribute it to the CofE Bishops, or indeed to the Church of England as a whole.

In my opinion the press release is highly misleading in its wording on this aspect.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 4:31pm GMT

Ford,
I take your point.
There are two issues here. One is the fact that the doctrine is homophobic and needs to be challenged, the other is that the church nevertheless should have the right to present itself as homophobic if that is what it believes.

On the other hand there is actually no agreement within the national church and the various churches in the Anglican Communion and to put out a joint statement that makes it sound as though all members of the church believe and are required to believe in homophobic views is, at the very least, being disingenious.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 4:32pm GMT

Simon
thank you for that clarification.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 4:59pm GMT

"there is actually no agreement within the national church and the various churches in the Anglican Communion and to put out a joint statement that makes it sound as though all members of the church believe and are required to believe in homophobic views is, at the very least, being disingenious."

The Right in this, as far as I can see, is made up largely of Evangelicals with some Anglo-catholics. Given that in Evo speak, Evangelical means Christian, and Anglo-Catholics all like to see ourselves as the true guardians of the Tradition, does it surprise you that the Right wants to present this monolithic image? I argue they should admit if their view is not uniformly held. I figure that's better than shutting them up. Also, that is more of an internal issue anyway, it is up to the rest of us, not government, to insist that that they not portray their narrow view as representative of those who disagree. We haven't been all that successful in reclaiming the word Christian, all the same.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:04pm GMT

It would be interesting to know the names of the members of this council.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:15pm GMT

Why a joint statement with Rome?

Didn't you split in the 1530ies?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:16pm GMT

"Why a joint statement with Rome?

Didn't you split in the 1530ies?"

We had a referendum on denominational schools a few years back. The Pentecostals, who in normal circumnstances denounced the RCs as the Whore of Babylon, became fast friends, indeed, around our way Pentecostals spoke fondly of "Father" who they treated as near equal to their pastor. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:42pm GMT

Whew. Straining at gnats and swallowing camels, this conservative stuff is.

Anglicanism is way too important, way too precious, way too meaningful - for us to leave it all up to the bishops, let alone that even smaller group of the strict conservatives who still affirm flat earth views about queer folks, let alone to the even smaller group of the Primates Meeting. Let alone to the Archbishop of Canterbury who is, I guess, an army of one.

What a puzzle, what a conundrum.

What does a pluralistic, progressive society or worldwide communion do with people who believe, say, in Creationism? Just letting them live and let live seems hardly enough for them nowadays, for they say they are commanded by God to convert everybody to their higher revealed Creationist truths. We are solemnly warned that we must believe their way, or we will become amoral mammals low enough to be actually descended from mammalian forebears as a species. Our Creationists believe that God requires them to run for school board, then have the board vote to skew the science curriculum in favor of their Creationist views. It is all there, plain and simple, in the scriptures.

Nor did I pick Creationism by happenstance. The negative views preached about queer folks are at least as empirically challenged by the data as Creationism is by the evolutionary data we have.

When it comes to queer folks, we are increasingly revealed as Luddites, just to the extent that we remain traditionalist believers. It's just the facts, and more and more and more, everybody gets a chance to weigh it, no matter what we formerly thought true.

If history teaches us any lesson, it is probably that traditions in an empiricially contested domain will win out in the short run, and fail in the long run.

Meanwhile, I have a progressive believer life to live, shared with a wide range of different other people, as well as I can manage. I came to that good daily life, no thanks to the judgment and condemnation of the conservative views of most religious groups. Nor am I asking conservative religious permission to continue the best daily life of which I may be capable. I am here, I am queer, I am a citizen, I follow Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord, get used to it.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:39pm GMT

"I am here, I am queer, I am a citizen, I follow Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord, get used to it."

Amen

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:54pm GMT

'...I certainly see nothing wrong with a conservative preacher saying that Christianity teaches that homosexuality is sinful...' (Ford Elms)

It is wrong to lie.

And even worse for a minister of religion to stand up and tell lies during the liturgy.

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:15am GMT

"I am here, I am queer, I am a citizen, I follow Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord, get used to it."

Amen

AMEN to that, Erika !

Get over it !

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:16am GMT

"It is wrong to lie."

All right, I see nothing wrong with a preacher saying from the pulpit that some interpretations of Christianity , particularly the one he follows, teach that homosexuality is a sin. You're quite right though, that's not all Christians, and I have railed enough about Evos comandeering that word from the rest of us.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 1:57pm GMT

But they don't want to say that Ford, they want to say it's the only Theology ever, and that all that dis-agree will burn in Hell.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 30 November 2007 at 11:29pm GMT

"But they don't want to say that Ford, they want to say it's the only Theology ever, and that all that dis-agree will burn in Hell."

But why is it more heinous to say this about homosexuality than it is to say, for instance, that if one hasn't had some sort of dramatic conversion experience with much public outflow of tears, one is not "saved" and is therefor going to Hell, or because one prays corporately out of a book, one is going to Hell, or because one actually believes the Real Presence, or that said Real Presence calls for some gesture of reverence, one is going to Hell, or because one is so confident in one's belief that Christ, true to His promise, gives us the victory, that one actually believes the saints have received that victory and can intercede for us, one is going to Hell, or if one practices contemplative prayer, one is going to Hell, or walks a labyrinth, or any of the other things that Evangelicals have been saying against non-Evangelicals since the first day Evangelicals were invented?
I'm used to Evangelicals thundering from their pulpits that anyone who isn't like them isn't a Christian and is going to Hell. I don't see this as anything new. They're doing what our synod used for its slogan: Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still. The difference is that the ones enclosed in the Evangelical circle are being consigned to the flames, not called to the Table.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 9:22pm GMT

It's just as bad, naturally. But most people don't know about it.

So, no outrage.

Nor do most people in the sects know or realize or imagine or even dream, how peculiar and strange and shocking their manners and dogmas and theology and goings-on would be to others, if they only knew.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 11:25pm GMT

Ford,
"I'm used to Evangelicals thundering from their pulpits that anyone who isn't like them isn't a Christian and is going to Hell. I don't see this as anything new."

You actually know people who believe this other than the odd cranky preacher? I don't recognise any of my evangelical friends in this description.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 9:23am GMT

"You actually know people who believe this other than the odd cranky preacher?"

Yes. I have been told these things by many. Part of the problem is that until very recently, the phenomenon of the Anglican Evangelical was unknown here. I was genuinely shocked a few years ago when for the first time I heard Anglicans using the catch phrases (being 'saved'. Jesus as one's "personal saviour", etc.) that I usually associated with what I would have called Fundamentalists. I lumped them together. I see now that this was inaccurate. All the same, Anglican Evangelicals clearly share many of the same beliefs and attitudes as those I mentioned, so I find it very difficult to separate them. I have asked for clarification and gotten none I can comprehend. Most of the things I mentioned did NOT come from Anglicans, I grant you, though they DID some from people with the same mindset, using the same language, and expressing many other beliefs that I have heard from Fundamentalists. Perhaps I am overgeneralizing. That labyrinths and contemplative prayer are Satanic however, ARE things I have heard from Anglicans.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 5:08pm GMT

After I posted my question to Ford I also remembered a few people I know who do hold the narrowest beliefs about salvation.

Is there anyone here who could comment on whether these are nevertheless isolated incidents or whether there really is an "evangelical" theology about it?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 5:39pm GMT

I don't know about a systematic theology concerning this, Erika, but look at behaviour. How often have you heard or read "Christians believe....." followed by a statement of conservative Evangelical belief? The obvious meeaning is that those who do NOT hold these beliefs are not Christian. How often have you heard someone who has "been converted" in some sense speak of "When I became a Christian"? I have heard this repeatedly from people who used to be Anglicans and then converted to, say, Pentecostalism? Their meaning is clear. When I then hear Evangelical Anglicans expressing the same ideas about redemption, worship, atonement, etc. as these same people use, I fall into the trap of assuming the other unspoken beliefs as well. That may be wrong of me, but then I hear of "faithful Anglicans" who are "orthodox" being persecuted by the "faithless" who don't believe the Bible (which is the standard Fundamentalist accusation, in my experience), and it seems to me the meaning is also clear: we are "faithless", don't believe the Bible, are heterodox, and, without actually coming out and saying we are going to Hell, they certainly seem to be implying it. And if we aren't going to Hell, why are they trying so hard to separate themselves from us? Why would someone in Canada recently publish a letter asking why he should have to "share the same communion rail with these people"? If we do not bear the stain of everlasting condemnation, why separate from us?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 7:43pm GMT

Erika

If you look under the rocks, don't be surprised if you find bugs.

Yes, there are really an "evangelical" theology that sees that all is condemned but them and this world and all its occupants are going to be destroyed for being riddled with sin and they are going to have a squeaky clean new world with none of us riff-raff or our fallen natures.

Ford is not the only one whose had to listen to hateful words nor erroneous trash being spoken from the pulpit or published by cruel ignorant diocese leaders.

If you really want to look under rocks, think about the names that often come on TA as the proponents of destroying the TEC church and its theology for being "unrepentant". Go to their websites and forums and read and judge for yourself.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 7:54pm GMT

Cheryl and Ford,
I don't doubt that many evangelicals hold pretty rigid views. I have experienced them on TA and I have occasionally dipped into the conservative blogs.

But my question was rather whether they are representative of anything at all other than a noisy minority.

I do have evangelical friends. Some of them even believe some of the stuff that gets posted here. But I have yet to hear one say that my own salvation is in danger because I don't agree with them.
They pity me, yes. They believe I'm wrong, yes. But they accept me as a fellow Christian and they certainly don't start to pray for my salvation any more than for anybody elses.

Are they in the minority or is the noisy lot on the blogs in the minority?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 9:03pm GMT

Erika:

I have met evangelicals (not Episcopalians, thankfully) who firmly believe that I am not a "Christian" and firmly believe I am damned to hell for not believing in quite the same way they do.

One of them is a member of the Lutheran Missouri Synod, others are Church of God, a few are Baptists.

These are the folks who drive cars with bumper stickers that say things like, "In case of rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned". This kind of person--so convinced of their own salvation and so convinced of everybody else's damnation--is the very quintessence of what makes Christianity so unpopular among young people in the USA.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 12:54am GMT

Erika

Your question is quantitative, and I think principles are often more grounded in qualitative answers.

How many Cains did it take to murder Abel? One.

Where do you draw the line against violence against children, women, GLBTs, ethnic minorities?

The first injury, the first 100, 1000, 100 000, 1 million. When it is one individual, 10% of the population or complete decimation?

Some see my theology as childishly simple. But a child knows that what is done to one can be done to many.

I draw the line not on whom is targetted, nor how many, nor what percentage, but on the principles that it is not okay to murder (attempt to murder) another sentient being. In kind, it is not okay to suppress, vilify or tyrannise "another" because they are a threat to your world view or world order.

Souls who do so are more like Esau or Cain, who in their jealousy, can not bear to allow something that might be more attractive to God to exist. In their attempts to sacrifice or suppress their competitors, they demonstrate a fundamental distrust of God and lack of appreciation for what God does bequeath them.

We have no right to demand of God more than God gives to us. Further, our legacy is not increased by depriving others of theirs. That applies as much to males who would vilify Cheva and thus all females as it does to those who would reject non-Christians or GLBTs.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 9:43am GMT

Cheryl,
My question was born out of reading various conversations here over the past few months where evangelicals have been accusing liberals of abandoning scripture (which I know isn't true), and liberals accusing evangelicals of being totally dismissive of everything that isn't in their own "I made it myself" faith concept and denying that the rest of us are Christians in a meaningful way. This I hear but cannot judge. Is it true? Is it as untrue as the slander the conservatives throw against us?

I'm feeling a little lost at sea and drowning in voices of people all across the Anglican spectrum claiming to "represent" millions.

I can't conduct a poll among Anglicans to discover whether this is true. But I can at least ask a few questions here.
It is telling that those who replied were liberals confirming their personal experience.

I'm hoping that the odd evangelical will chime in and defend themselves and clarify their views.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 11:31am GMT

"Are they in the minority or is the noisy lot on the blogs in the minority"

My prejudice is that they are actually the majority. I have run into Evangelicals on other sites who give quite the opposite impression. I am at a point now where I can say, grudgingly, that perhaps the majority of Evangelicals do NOT have the beliefs I spoke of, but I am actually just forcing myself to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know Evangelicals who do not fit my stereotype, even in my own family, and I think of them when my bigotry gets too firm a grip. But, then I come here, and while there are one or two who break the stereotype, but the majority who post here just reinforce it. A large part of the reason why I post to them as I do is, I grant you, spite. I just want them to know that there are others out there who, if they wanted to, could say exactly the same kind of condemnatory things about them, and that maybe they should give some thought to what that means, maybe they should be a bit more humble. It is funny at times how little effect it has.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 1:37pm GMT

Ford and Erica, within Christianity in the US I would say that they are a evangelicals are a very noisy block. That protestantism composed of many denominations is the majority here, and within almost every one of those denominations is the "fundie" cult, that takes literal translation of scripture to heart.

Today a candidate for the president of the US is making a speech justifying his religion. Unlike a predecessor who made a famous speech justifying his faith community, the present candidate is using his religion as a crutch; a appealing factor.

This is the difference between now and forty years ago, since positions are now "polarized", people around openly espouse their faith as a vehicle to manifest their personal views.

I think Erica, you have English friends who are too gracious to be judgmental around you. (Politeness still trumps a fervent belief, in some more enlightened areas of the world) It ain't that way anymore here in the USA. It's like those cars that Pat O'Neal has seen. "I got JESUS and I"M better than YOU!"

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 4:04pm GMT
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