Sunday, 27 April 2014

GAFCON criticises Church of England again on same-sex marriage

Updated again Wednesday morning

The GAFCON Primates Council, which met in London this week, has issued a Communiqué, which after dealing with a variety of other issues, contains this passage:

…Meeting shortly after the recognition in English law of same sex marriage, which we cannot recognise as compatible with the law of God, we look to the Church of England to give clear leadership as moral confusion about the status of marriage in this country deepens. The Archbishop of Canterbury has rightly noted that the decisions of the Church of England have a global impact and we urge that as a matter of simple integrity, its historic and biblical teaching should be articulated clearly.

7. We are particularly concerned about the state of lay and clerical discipline. The House of Bishops’ guidance that those in same sex marriages should be admitted to the full sacramental life of the church is an abandonment of pastoral discipline. While we welcome their clear statement that clergy must not enter same sex marriage, it is very concerning that this discipline is, apparently, being openly disregarded. We pray for the recovery of a sense of confidence in the whole of the truth Anglicans are called to proclaim, including that compassionate call for repentance to which we all need to respond in our different ways…

The following names appear at the foot of the statement:

Primates present in London were:
The Most Rev’d Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop, Episcopal Church of Sudan
The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev’d Stanley Ntagli, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Nigeria (Vice Chairman)
The Most Rev’d Onesphore Rwaje, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya (Chairman)
The Most Rev’d Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop, Province of the Southern Cone

Also present:
The Most Rev’d Dr Peter Jensen, Diocese of Sydney, General Secretary
The Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria, Trustee
Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Trustee
The Most Rev’d Dr Ikechi Nwosu, Anglican Church of Nigeria

The Mail on Sunday has picked this up and reported it as Church of England split fear as African bishops speak out over clergy flouting a ban on same-sex weddings.

Another quote from the communiqué (emphasis added):

…We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation

This appears to be confirmation that GAFCON in general, and ACNA in particular, endorses the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014.

Updates

Religion News Service reports Conservative Anglican leaders back Uganda anti-gay law.

WASHINGTON (RNS) Leaders of the conservative wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion equate the experiences of Ugandans who support a new anti-gay law with those of victims of an earthquake or a terror attack.

The Global Anglican Future Conference — made up chiefly of Anglican archbishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America — concluded a two-day meeting in London on Saturday (April 26) with a statement that expressed concern for violence in South Sudan and Northern Nigeria. It then said:

“We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation.”

That legislation, signed in February by Ugandan president President Yoweri Museveni, specifies life in prison for some homosexual acts. It also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires citizens to report to the police anyone suspected of being gay.

President Obama has called the bill “odious,” and the U.S. Embassy staff has avoided meetings and events with any Ugandan government agencies since the signing.

But despite the GAFCON statement’s equation with catastrophes, the archbishops’ response seems more concerned with finances than outright support for the Ugandan law. The “backlash” line could be a reference to the loss of $140 million in financial aid and project support from the World Bank, the U.S. and other countries. According to IRIN, which covers humanitarian issues, this included $6.4 million intended for the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, which backed the legislation…

Episcopal Cafè has this: Why won’t ACNA say it is wrong to put gay people in prison?

…The Anglican Church in North America is led by a man who was so deeply offended by the ordination of a gay bishop that he decided to break away from the Episcopal Church and take tens of thousands of other people with him, but who is comfortable with church leaders who have successfully urged their governments to round up LGBT people and their supportive friends, and put them in jail.

For years, breakaway Anglicans have tried to downplay the role that simple anti-gay bigotry has played in their movement. They’d say that they didn’t hate gay people, they just didn’t think they should be able to be ordained or married. Or they’d say that homosexuality was just one symptom of the Episcopal Church’s drift from Biblical truth. Duncan’s unwillingness to say in a simple and straightforward way that he doesn’t think gay people and those who do not inform on them should be put in jail gives the lie to these arguments, as does the obsession with homosexuality evident in statements from the GAFCON primates council.

What we are seeing now is a comfortable white American religious leader who cannot bring himself to say that it is wrong to throw LGBT Africans in jail because he doesn’t want to offend the African archbishops who have been his allies.

Duncan is in a bind. On one hand, the bogus claim that the Anglican Church in North America is part of the Anglican Communion depends entirely on its relationships with Anglican provinces led by archbishops who support anti-gay legislation. On the other hand, ACNA’s leaders in this country know that their church won’t survive if its homophobic roots and willingness to countenance human rights violations that advance its institutional interests become widely known. His strategy at the moment seems to be to sign on to homophobic documents that circulate widely within the Anglican Communion while hoping that the U. S. media and the wider public doesn’t notice…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 2:45pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
Comments

Discounting ACNA which only gafcon recognises as an Anglican province, this is representative of just 6 provinces of the Anglican Communion. A self selected group can hardly expect to be taken seriously as the world wide Anglican voice.

Posted by: paul richardson on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 4:20pm BST

Ugh, if GAFCON wants to influence 'faithful Anglicans' in England, I'm sure AMiE will be very accommodating.

Posted by: Dan BD on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 4:32pm BST

A simple factual correction (even if we all know this it still needs to be said):Robert Duncan is not an Anglican Primate, since the "Anglican Church of North America" is not an Anglican Province. Oddly, the claim to provincial status flies in the face of the "Law and Order" stance outlined in the statement. How very human that such a self-serving title should be claimed over the reality.

That said, and as much as I disagree with Bishop Duncan, I believe we should include him within the greater Anglican fellowship as a bishop within Anglicanism - nothing more, but also nothing less.

Posted by: Nigel Taber-Hamilton on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 5:56pm BST

I'm declaring my parish officially out of communion with GAFCON

Posted by: Fr Andrew Welsby on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 6:08pm BST

Father Andrew has the PCC passed a resolution to this effect or is it simply a unilateral declaration that you are now out of Communion with GAFCON by the parish priest?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 7:15pm BST

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has rightly noted that the decisions of the Church of England have a global impact."

Hoisted on his own petard.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 8:49pm BST

Surely the status of the ACNA is ambiguous? It's made up of a substantial number of ex-Episcopalians, is in full communion with the Anglican provinces of Sudan, Uganda and Nigeria, and justin Welby's invited one of its members, Tory Baucum, to Canterbury.

Posted by: James Byron on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 9:52pm BST

Ex-communicate married laity (unless they're Ugandan, in which case, incarcerate them): ANATHEMA.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! GAFCON? Not so much.

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 10:41pm BST

A brutal and bloody civil war in South Sudan. Another civil war brewing in Ukraine. Mutual massacres between Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic. A brutal sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and Syria that spares no one. Children forced into becoming soldiers, indentured labor, and prostitutes around the world. Global market capitalism bulldozes local cultures into dust, reduces all values to use and exchange, and undermines constitutional law to create plutocratic oligarchy. Pollution and negligence alter the climate of the whole planet. And the only alternative anyone think of is fundamentalist theocracy and nationalist autocracy.

And in the face of all that, God is alleged to be most pissed off by what 2 boys do together on a Saturday night.
He's supposed to be so angry that he sends storms and earthquakes that bring hardship to pious poor people in low-lying areas who've not even heard of these controversies.

Feh!

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:04am BST

GAFCON throw down the gauntlet to Canterbury to test whether the 'law of God', as they see it, now written into the law of the land in two countries represented, will be applied to clerics in the C of E who flout it, insofar as the Canons and disciplinary procedures of the Church can be so applied. It would be chilling to think that a CDM got there before a Ugandan court, even without a custodial sentence. The big test is in the court of public opinion; a universally hostile media here would surely deter any bishop from taking this step. And the greater the number of unpunished marriages there are, so the threat recedes.

Posted by: Andrew on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:51am BST

Regarding the status of ACNA: Being in full communion with one or more provinces of the Anglican Communion does not make one a member of the Anglican Communion. Witness the churches of the Porvoo Communion as well as the Lutheran and Moravian Churches that are in communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. ACNA is not in communion with the See of Canterbury, is not recognized as a member by the Anglican Consultative Council, and has not been invited as a member by the Archbishop of Canterbury to a Lambeth Conference or to a Primates' Meeting.

Posted by: Bill Ghrist on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:56am BST

A minor point - the GAFCON secretary is the Rt Revd Peter Jensen, the former Archbishop of Sydney. The present Archbishop is the Most Revd Glenn Davies.

Posted by: John Bunyan on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 4:09am BST

Again divorce and re-marriage air brushed from the letter! As you know ACNA ( the province that never was) is riddled with it, including its bench of bishops.The African component don't mention the widespread immorality( polygamy) never far beneath the surface in their provinces.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 4:38am BST

I hardly think the bishops' Pastoral Statement and Guidance is being, as the GAFCON bishops put it, "openly disregarded". It has been closely scrutinised and criticised, and where it is not followed and their explicit prohibition is disobeyed, I am sure it will not be being done carelessly, as if it can just be bypassed.

I think GAFCON leaders may not be used to things they say being criticised and scrutinised by their own clergy and people. I have worked in DR Congo and I know that bishops there rule with an absolute authority that is unknown here. There is no tradition of conscientious dissent, and no real protection for the independence of parishes and clergy. There are disciplinary processes, but they are, frankly, no protection against a determined bishop. So it is no surprise to me that GAFCON finds the way we operate in England hard to conprehend.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 6:39am BST

All this talk about excommunication is more than a little worrying. It reminds me of nothing more than the Red Queen in Alice shouting "Off with their heads!". Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't excommunications meant for the heterodox rather than the orthodox? Can the GAFCON Primates really be excommunicated for upholding traditional Biblical teaching? Or does the Exarch of Llandaff - His Holiness Humpty Dumpty in His Presidential Address now represent the new orthodoxy when he seems to be saying that the Bible can mean exactly whatever I want it to mean?
However, if Fr. Andrew and others are serious in their intent to excommunicate the GAFCON Patriarchs then the BCP states in the rubric following the Creed that the Curate shall declare and give notice of "Briefs, Citations and Excommunications"
T. A. kindly and helpfully provides a list of Primates above.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 7:22am BST

"This appears to be confirmation that GAFCON in general, and ACNA in particular, endorses the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014."

Has Welby ever said anything against it?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 7:29am BST

"aren't excommunications meant for the heterodox rather than the orthodox?"

Is calling for the life imprisonment of LGBT people now the orthodoxy of Anglicanism?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 8:40am BST

"The House of Bishops’ guidance that those in same sex marriages should be admitted to the full sacramental life of the church is an abandonment of pastoral discipline."

Discipline, discipline, discipline. Not a word about welcoming married people to the sacraments. To everyone except readers of the Daily Mail, this will go over like a lead balloon.

Also noted: "Finally, we gave thanks for the faithfulness and visionary leadership of Archbishop Robert Duncan who is shortly to retire as the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America."

Who or what is next?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 9:40am BST

"Can the GAFCON Primates really be excommunicated for upholding traditional Biblical teaching?"

"upholding traditional Biblical teaching"? Talk about question-begging, Fr David!

And of excommunication, I thought we were discussing this:

"The House of Bishops’ guidance that those in same sex marriages should be admitted to the full sacramental life of the church is an abandonment of pastoral discipline."

Ergo, it is GAFCON which is ***urging excommunication***, not being the recipient of same.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 10:04am BST

Meeting shortly after quasi-genocidal legislation passed in Uganda and Nigeria with their blessing...

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 11:36am BST

Can you be excommunicated for upholding traditional biblical teaching? Well, yes, If you go around preaching murder of sabbath-breakers and adherents of other faiths, that should surely merit excommunication today.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 11:38am BST

This is surely a case of a UK Government need to protect the Church of England against colonial interference in its affairs. GAFCON Primates might also be guilty of trying to undermine the U.K. Government in its decision to enact its own marriage legislation.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 12:01pm BST

'Which we cannot recognise as compatible with the law of God.' It's always the same tune, as I blogged recently: Call me a prophet of doom, but I strongly suspect that the facilitated conversations that our church has decided to enter are destined to fail, at least if their avowed goal is to figure out collectively what Scripture enjoins or forbids. The problem, as I see it, is not that the subject matter is highly contentious and emotionally charged. It blatantly is. The stumbling block is located in both sides' inability to be proved wrong. How could anyone show either side to be mistaken if both see obedience to the Word of God as ultimately informing Christian morality? How could either party ever come to the conclusion that it is Scripture itself that is immoral on the matter, as it is on slavery, the death penalty, demonic possession or witchcraft, among so many other things that are now deemed to be uncontroversial but for the most lunatic fringes of Christianity?

If we derive our moral conclusions entirely or even ultimately from the Book, we thereby deprive ourselves of the ability to see if or where the Book is immoral. We cannot correct ourselves or amend our views. Both views of Scripture eventually boil down to soft or hard inerrancy, depending on how dearly one values the use of human reason on the matter. If either side could first spell out how they could possibly know that they are wrong, conversation would stand a chance; if they are unable to do so, we might as well move on immediately to consider whether or not we can live with disagreement.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:00pm BST

This is a brilliant comment cross posted on various Facebook threads. It exceeds the 400 words limit but I hope you will be able to publish it, Simon.


'Homophobia is part of a wider xenophobia which is cultivated by these ‘governments’. Most of these countries are ruled by despots. Xenophobia is essential to the maintenance of the status quo. Isolationism facilitates the need to keep the populace ignorant and resistant to outside influences. With knowledge comes power, and people power is inversely proportional to dictator power. So, certain people and ideas are deemed to be alien to the culture; indeed, to be a threat to the culture. Lies, fear, suspicion are fostered. No one questions what exactly the ‘culture’ of the country is that is under threat. It is sufficient for a common enemy to be identified.
Primarily that enemy is defined as ‘Western corruption’. This is appealing because the richer countries of the West do indeed have a sorry history of exploiting the developing world and riding roughshod over traditions and rights. Thus, even the more educated sections of the population can quite readily be attuned to categorising everything Western as somehow corrupt and threatening their welfare. It is essential to the despotic government that the population reject any advancement of their knowledge and understanding of the world. So, the Western threat is condemned as absolutely corrupt, to be resisted at all costs. It is a calculated move to prevent change, progress, awareness and everything that threatens the leaders’ hold on power. In countries where there are ingrained frictions, tribal, sects, class, historical disputes, past genocides, pogroms, etc it is important for dictators to identify a common enemy to unite the factions. This is true of countries on the African continent, North Korea, Putin’s Russia.
The common enemy today, defined as the ‘Western corruption' are LGBTQ people and ‘gay rights’. They fulfil the criteria perfectly: individuals that can be identified and discriminated against with impunity. They do not belong to any particular group or party, they are have no legal protections, and the general population is encouraged to unite against this insidious common foe. An easy target. So we are witnessing the same forces at work that produced the holocaust in Germany. Except this century, on the African continent, Russia and elsewhere, the victims are LGBTQ people. This is not primarily a religious problem, but it is exacerbated by the fact that religious groups especially Christian ones, could actually make a positive difference for good if they stood up for the teachings they claim to hold sacrosanct. Christians are condemned by both their active complicity in the new Holocaust and by their silence in the face of such gross cruelty and inhumanity.'

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:03pm BST

As I understand it, to be an Anglican is to be in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury (similarly to be a Roman Catholic is to be in Communion with His Holiness Pope Francis). Ergo, if the GAFCON primates are not in Communion with Archbishop Welby does that mean that they have excommunicated themselves?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:07pm BST

Pope Francis has attempted to unify the traditional and progressive wings of the Catholic Church by Canonizing their two respective cult heroes, John XXIII and John Paul II. By comparison and contrast, we are treated to Anglican Primates, including one who is not a Primate, interfering in the internal issues of a Province not their own. The recent comments of Archbishop Welby has probably increased the vulnerability of the C of E to this kind of external meddling.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:36pm BST

Erika's post:

"Christians are condemned both by their active complicity...and by their silence."

This is sort of resonant and makes me think of all our diocesan websites. They could and should extend welcome to LGBTQ people. They could and should provide links of pastoral support, and diocesan support groups or contacts. They could and should make positive efforts to include gay couples and gay news in their coverage.

Instead, in almost all cases...

LGBTQ issues are 'air-brushed' out of the websites. It's as if LGBTQ people didn't exist in church life.

This is pretty obviously done out of fear of upsetting the heteronormative and cisnormative section of the membership, or those members who are affronted and opposed to LGBTQ.

And it is re-inforced by "church spokespeople" who tell the media that the Church of England believes in the heteronormative principle, when clearly that is not true, and half the church accepts gay and lesbian sex. But that half of the church is air-brushed out of communiques, as if we weren't there.

The silence and complicity is coupled with claims that "we are not homophobic" and "are against discrimination"...

...but discrimination is possible, not only by doing something, but by doing and saying nothing, not speaking out, when terrible injustice is happening overseas, and LGBTQ people in the UK still face verbal assault, physical assault, contempt and bullying, on the street, in school.

Where are the diocesan resources and support for a trans girl being bullied at school? Where on a diocesan website can she, or her parents, find advice, concern, affirmation?

'Invisibility' is the tactic of people who are trying to assert and impose a heteronormal status quo. 'Those people' are relegated to 'somewhere out there' and 'othered' by not being acknowledged and made visible.

It is cowardly, because we all know it is happening, and driven by fear of upsetting people you're siding with.

It is as cowardly as saying nothing about apartheid, or anti-Semitism, or attacks on migrants.

If racial minorities were erased from Diocesan websites, there'd be outcry. But on most websites, lgbtq presence is erased.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 2:36pm BST

Erika, excellent post. Who is the author, or do they wish to remain anonymous?

I've always said that LGBTs now play the role once assigned to Jews a century ago; as a lightning rod for all the anger and hatred at modernity and liberalism, as personifications of the very cosmopolitanism that nationalist and fundamentalist movements fear and loathe so intensely.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 2:57pm BST

FD Blanchard,
I saw several possible authors credited and I'm trying to find out who did write it. I'll post it here if I discover their name.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 3:15pm BST

Thanks to Erika and FD Blanchard. I have already mentioned on another thread in TA an excellent book by David Nirenberg called Anti-Judaism. According to Nirenberg, anti-Judaism goes way back to pre-Christian times (though we quickly picked it up). Yes, to have a group defined as 'other' helps to solidify 'our group'. In USA this was certainly true for blacks over many centuries and still continues. Emmett Till 'had' to be killed as so many others did too. Jews 'had' to be eliminated for Hitler's crowd. Now that LGBTs are able (in some parts of the world) to come out of the closet, they can well serve this function. Samaritans aren't they? Who needs them? We do, we all do. We all need them, Jews, Samaritans, Blacks, LGBTs to remind us that we are all made in His image and His likeness. Thanks be to God.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 4:44pm BST

Mr Fernandez-Vincente, thanks for this: "If we derive our moral conclusions entirely or even ultimately from the Book, we thereby deprive ourselves of the ability to see if or where the Book is immoral."

Biting this bullet seems far in the future for church leadership. I'd just like to add that in the list of proofs of the bible's immorality that you included in your posting, you forgot to mention the hideous cases of genocide demanded by the god of Samuel and the rest of the judges, which, if anything, got worse under the kings.

When are we going to stop treating the bible like a magic-book?

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 6:38pm BST

Well, I, for one, have reached the point where I no longer care about who's "in" the Anglican Communion and who's "out" and whether the Anglican Communion can even be talked about in any sort of intelligible way.

I . no . longer . care. And I bet I'm not alone.

The plain truth is that chasm between the two camps is much deeper than the issue of same sex relationships. It really is, at heart, a fundamental difference in understanding about the very nature of God, and God's relationship with his people.

We ought to acknowledge it, wish the others well (even if they are incapable of wishing us well) and go our separate ways. The energy expended in pretending that there remain any real "bonds of affection" is just too much.

Regarding "excommunication," let's be reminded that the primates who later formed GAFCON refused to share eucharist with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The "excommunication" is already a reality at that lofty level. Let's just stop pretending it's otherwise.

Posted by: Lou Poulain on Monday, 28 April 2014 at 11:07pm BST

'When are we going to stop treating the bible like a magic-book?' How radical can it be to see the Bible as not inerrant including in matters of morality? It need not mean that we do not consider that its authors were not inspired. It also means that, lest we adopt this position, we will forever be dependent on secular thought to expose our mistakes. You're not alone, Mr Berry, but it looks like we're such a small crowd.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 8:32am BST

Thank you, Lou Poulain. Dead on.

Excommunication really means nothing, anymore, other than putting someone out of a particular community for causing trouble, at which point they go and make their own community. To that end, we've been excommunicated by Canterbury and Gafcon, Canterbury by Gafcon and a significant portion of TEC's actual congregants, and the idea that there are, any longer, bonds of affection is absolutely laughable.

The Anglican Communion is dead, and I'm tired of being berated and held hostage for a corpse that's fast falling apart in the midday sun of reality. It was always simply a vanity piece, a pretense at being "real" bishops in a "real" world church because of a Papal envy complex. Time to call the kids in, playtime's over.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 10:39am BST

Mr Fernandez-Vincente, thanks for this: "If we derive our moral conclusions entirely or even ultimately from the Book, we thereby deprive ourselves of the ability to see if or where the Book is immoral."

It's an interesting comment.

I think that, ultimately, I do derive my outlook (including moral approach) from the Bible. Specifically, from what it tells me about God; and the primacy of the great commandments of lover.

But while I still draw on the Bible for my moral compass (really, I'm drawing on God, and what I learn about God from the Bible)...

...I do agree that we need to be able to say of some things in the Bible, no, that is morally wrong, or limited to its own time, or just downright abominable.

The ethnic cleansing of the Canaanites, detailed in the Book of Joshua, comes in that final category. The emergent state (and occupying force) claimed a mandate and direct command from God, for the slaughter of every man, every woman, every child, every old person, every disabled person, everyone...

Um. No. That is immoral claptrap. That was not a command from God (who said "Let the little children come to me").

A close second, for me, is the story of Jepthah's daughter.

God's alleged treatment of the Egyptians via the plagues comes in third, probably.

The alleged wiping out of every human and every animal on the planet, is another instance of a very strange concept of God (if it wasn't obviously told in terms of myth).

We do not need to be deferential to all parts of the Bible and try to defend its inerrancy.

That is moral abdication.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 11:06am BST

Well, it's a day or two now since the GAFCON lot announced their disdain for the Church of England - and on C.of E. territory. Such chutzpah should surely call for at least a response from Archbishop Justin - in defence of his Church's right to its own understanding of how to bring justice to LGBTI people in its own province?

Will the Anglican Communion not consider the remarks of the self-asserting moral rightists to have already placed GAFCON is a situation of intentional schism from the Anglican Communion?
I, for one, cannot live with institutionalised homophobia and misogyny as being part of the culture of the Faith Community I belong to. I think its about time we other Anglican Provincial Churches made our stand for justice NOW.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 11:14am BST

"Regarding "excommunication," let's be reminded that the primates who later formed GAFCON refused to share eucharist with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The "excommunication" is already a reality at that lofty level. Let's just stop pretending it's otherwise."

Indeed. As far as I'm concerned the Anglican Communion ended at that very moment. They couldn't even bring themselves to share Table with a fellow Primate. The Episcopal Church has been effectively excommunicated ever since. Another reason why the whining of right wingers who've won all the battles over the decades and now find themselves suddenly losing the war fall on my deaf ears.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 2:38pm BST

Thank you, Erika. Awesome post.

Welby would be wise to avoid feeding the cause of the despots. Alas, he has not shown that wisdom.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 4:48pm BST

"The Episcopal Church has been effectively excommunicated ever since."

Well... it was really lovely welcoming and listening to Katharine Jefferts Schori at Southwark Cathedral (though she was asked not to wear her mitre).

As far as I'm concerned, as a Church of England Anglican (and more importantly, Christian) I am fully in communion with The Episcopal Church.

Many Anglicans here in the UK would say the same.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 12:03am BST

Yes, Susannah, but by setting the example of Jesus (true icon and imprint of the divine nature, as Paul confesses) against previous portrayals of God, you are making a choice which is not based on the Bible. I'm with you all the way.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 7:38am BST

Oh Susannah, the point re Communion as far as Anglicans/ Episcopalians are concerned is not whether you personally are in communion with Katharine and TEC but whether you personally are in Communion with Justin and Canterbury.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 8:42am BST

"you are making a choice which is not based on the Bible"

I wonder whether it's even possible to make moral choices based purely on the Bible.
As children we are taught moral behaviour "because it hurts your brother if you hit him", "because stealing is wrong".. etc. purely on a case by case basis from which we then establish a sense of what moral behaviour is and why.

We already have this awareness when we come to read the bible and we recognise the moral parts of it as moral precisely because of our previous awareness.

I don't believe that anyone truly suspends their own moral compass and just sticks to what the bible tells them. At the very least, they decide which bible verse and principles resonate most closely with what they already instinctively believe to be true.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 8:44am BST

"Oh Susannah, the point re Communion as far as Anglicans/ Episcopalians are concerned is not whether you personally are in communion with Katharine and TEC but whether you personally are in Communion with Justin and Canterbury."

Oh no, no, Father.

Respectfully, according to my own belief, the point is that I am in communion with God, the Holy Trinity.

As a Christian, that is the eternal 'union'. It applies to everyone else who is in 'union' with God.

Our communion together springs from our irrevocable union in Christ.

It is that union in Christ that places us in communion with every other Christian on this planet, or through all history. What we might call the communion of saints.

For this reason, I consider myself in communion with every Catholic, every Orthodox, every Baptist, every Anglican.

One among billions of those people is Justin Welby, may God bless him.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 9:10am BST

It must be of deep significance to hold these expensive meetings in London. There is no local Primate to host and that must be the point?
NOT seeing Welby whose role as chair of Primates group is being ignored and NOT visiting the ACO and Kearon with its accommodation/hospitality. All intended to embarrass even humiliate the permanant secretariat and Lambeth Palace.
Instead we get a remarkable Communique.
Again this document apes (in part) those we used to have from the semi(?) defunct Instrument of Communion, that at this time would be keenly anticipating the next Lambeth Conference now just four years away - instead we see the hailing of their alternative gathering and another intended swipe at former episcopal allies throughout the world as another Instrument of Communion is replaced. Now, it really would be interesting to know who is bankrolling this whole project and it would be good if journalists began writing stories that acknowledge an effective split rather than a prospective one.
Despite Andrew Brown, the ONLY topic worth a serious mention in the document continues to be an attack on gay issues. There are of course other issues, that's why Jensen provides huge management and secretarial resources, but the presenting issue and uniting issue is the gay one.
I suggest it is not time to write off what remains of the Anglican Communion and perhaps gathering firmly and intelligently around statements like the Dromantine Anathema is the way forward. We have seen the Archbishops of York and Canterbury take a lead here, others need to add their voice. There can also be public support for the policy that has denied Uganda and its homophobic churches multi millions of dollars, continuing silence from Kearon and the rest is no longer the best strategy and in fact, never was.
We can see in this document, it hurts.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 10:11am BST

Martin - well written.

And by the way, congratulations on managing to get '(p)rimates' and 'apes' into the same post.

Posted by: Sam Roberts on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 1:47pm BST

"It is that union in Christ that places us in communion with every other Christian on this planet, or through all history. What we might call the communion of saints."

Well said, Susannah.
All we can really do here is to say "I don't want to have a relationship with you". It won't change the fact that we are in communion with each other.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 2:27pm BST

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, over 200 girls have gone missing and nothing is being done. These girls and their families seem to have no support what so ever. The girls are both Muslim and Christian. Their crime is going to school.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2014/04/nigerias-stolen-girls.html?utm_source=tny&utm_campaign=generalsocial&utm_medium=facebook&mbid=social_facebook

I wonder if the ABC believes that girls should not be educated because it causes violence???

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 4:28pm BST

Martin
"There can also be public support for the policy that has denied Uganda and its homophobic churches multi millions of dollars"

Do you mean money from religious organisations and individuals or do you mean government aid?
After the anti gay Bill was passed in Nigeria and reports of the first vigilante attacks came through I queried government aid to Nigeria with my MP who forwarded the question to the Minister for Africa and he replied that no aid money was given directly to the Government of Nigeria but that all assistance was provided through development agencies, multilateral agencies and independent contractors.

He also mentioned efforts to co-ordinate a political response with the EU to lobby the Nigerian government to reverse the legislation.

I expect the same will be true for Uganda.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 4:32pm BST

I was referring to the article posted in part above, Erica:
"The “backlash” line could be a reference to the loss of $140 million in financial aid and project support from the World Bank, the U.S. and other countries. According to IRIN, which covers humanitarian issues, this included $6.4 million intended for the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, which backed the legislation…"

The specific loss of the $6.4 million was a stunning piece of news. No matter who is financing this schism, they are going to struggle to fill all the gaps!

Letters to the World Bank!
Certainly letters to MPs and MEPs saying what a great response this was.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 at 11:46pm BST

Sorry Erika, but my main point is that it's our bishops who should be picking this up and applauding it, precisely as a consequence of their abandoning the common policy established at Dromantine. It is the leaders of our Churches who need to be able to stand up in a public forum and support their own words.
Lets start with Peter Carnley!
Retired he may be, but he is still active. The words of the Dromantine Anathema were apparently drafted by him.
Perhaps TA might invite him to offer a short piece, about time the editors got more proactive!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 1 May 2014 at 8:30am BST

As an Episcopalian, I was interested to learn that I was excommunicated. Perhaps that's the reason I pay very little attention to doings in Canterbury any longer. I am also well aware that the Episcopal Church in the United States is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. This is, in my view, a good thing, and represents a good future direction for the Episcopal Church. We are distant from London, Lambeth and the British Commonwealth, but we are next door to large numbers of US citizens descended from Protestant continental European immigrants. I have believed for some time that we would be better off consolidating with the Lutherans and others in our own nation, and thus rooting ourselves where we are in good Anglican fashion.

We might also usefully strengthen our bonds with the Continental European churches. Many in the US would appreciate it if we did, since their roots are there. There were people in the Lutheran Church in Germany who behaved heroically during the Hitler-regime, and again in the peaceful revolution of 1989 and the events leading up to reunification. This history, and not the endless swill of anti-gay, anti-woman obsessiveness we get from Lambeth, could serve as the foundation for a sorely needed renewal of the mainline American Protestant churches.

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 1 May 2014 at 12:54pm BST

What's Charlotte talking about?
What's this nonsense about excommunication and London?

Is she a member of TEC?
Last time I looked, pretty recently, they were in full communion
- or is she part of a breakaway sect?

There seems to me to be a great deal of utter drivel here and elsewhere about TEC on the margins or outside.
In fact, because this HAS NOT happened and because (for example) Welby has welcomed the Doctorate for TECs leader and sent an open letter reminding Nigeria and Uganda of their duty of care to gay people the schism between GAFCON and the rest has proceeded at a pace.

It seems there are many here willing to do more harm than the venomous homophobes of the Global South!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 1 May 2014 at 7:13pm BST

Dear Charlotte, The future you envisage for TEC in developing greater relationships in the USA amongst liturgical/protestant denominations is how the Lambeth fathers of 1948 imagined things would develop as they opined that Anglicanism was provisional and its vocation was to disappear....but that's not what happened.... A interesting PhD subject there, I think.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 1 May 2014 at 7:51pm BST

Martin, I'm a lifelong Episcopalian, I was responding to comments above on this thread that the Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC) had been excommunicated. I really don't know the status of TEC at the moment, because I haven't been keeping up. The fact is I've stopped caring what Canterbury does.

On the other hand, the fact that some persons in the continental Lutheran churches set examples of moral courage during the 20th century that will last for all time - that matters a great deal to me. TEC is in full communion with many of these churches and their American branches. I'm glad we are and I hope our connections with them can increase.

In any case, and whether the powers that be in Canterbury realize it or not, people in the United States these days don't feel a special connection to England, let alone the English Church. Our language might be (American) English but we are a mixture of ethnicities and cultures -- and religions, too -- much more so than in Great Britain. The Upper Midwest has many more Lutherans in it than Episcopalians, the South many more Methodists and Presbyterians. The West Coast looks toward the Pacific Rim for its cultural links. Almost everywhere in the United States you would find a large number of Catholics, whose ethnic backgrounds might be Irish, Mexican, Italian, Polish, or Haitian, and there are many people also who worship at one of the Eastern Orthodox churches. All this makes the religious situation in the US entirely different from that in England. England and English religious traditions don't have the kind of institutional authority that the Established Church has, and they aren't a part of most people's cultural heritage, either.

It has made for a rather farcical situation in recent years. Canterbury keeps trying to jerk our chain and bring us into line, but the chain isn't attached to anything at our end. To me, it makes more sense for the Episcopal Church in the United States to forge bonds with the Lutheran and other churches who are our real neighbors, not least because of the moral courage they showed in their times of crisis, which puts the Anglican Communion to shame.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 11:24pm BST

Thank you Charlotte, had we all known how entirely careless you all were we might have encouraged Canterbury not to bother. That surely might have saved a great deal of bother.

The rest of the Anglican communion thank you for telling us to p*** off.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 4 May 2014 at 1:01pm BST

Good point.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is larger than TEC and is not declining at anything like TEC's rate. That's how small the denomination now is.

(Incidentally, Lutheranism in NA is splintering into various smaller subsets, but they have avoided the litigious constraints pursued by the PB of TEC. North American Lutheran Church, ELCA, LCMS, Word Alone, etc. It's not clear how one hands out the moral authority prizes amongst the various NA Lutheran bodies).

TEC will likely hover around 1M at the end of 2017.

The comparison with the CofE is fraught, as noted. But of course some in TEC value tremendously the Anglican Communion links, so there is not a monochrome 'let's go it alone with our US denominational friends' attitude. As things continue to devolve, it will be difficult to see what TEC will become in five years' time.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 4 May 2014 at 3:03pm BST

As noted before, 1/3rd of TEC dioceses are posting growth. I can see it in my diocese and my parish. Cseitz's predictions of doom and gloom are far from my reality. Indicators are that TEC is attractive to younger people, who don't want bigotry or pat answers. We have a lot of young families.

I know that some would love to see TEC "devolve," but the truth is the opposite, within the parameter that all mainline Protestant Churches are seeing declining numbers. The fact that some areas are growing is miraculous. Further, some of the "schismatics" are coming back. As cultural attitudes change toward LGBT people, the schism is making less sense to many.

I care about the Anglican Communion, a communion with Jesus Christ as our head. Not Canterbury, or Nairobi, etc.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 4 May 2014 at 9:16pm BST

"Lutheranism in NA ... have avoided the litigious constraints pursued by the PB of TEC."

That's because the canon law concerning property in the ELCA is quite different from that in TEC, not because of the PB's attitude concerning litigation.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Sunday, 4 May 2014 at 10:05pm BST

If 1/3 of Tec dioceses post modest growth and 2/3 post serious decline -- leaving aside size -- this alters the decline statistics not one iota.

There is no dispute that Tec in toto is shrinking at an alarming rate. Fully 40% have under 3000 ASA. Barely enough to afford a bishop.

Thank God committees have been formed to address an alarming situation.

Frank Griswold was PB. He refused to interfere in affairs of Diocesans. So you have your facts wrong.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 5 May 2014 at 1:18am BST

For what it's worth, the national Episcopal Church had intervened in the lawsuits brought by the Diocese of Los Angeles against the departing churches before KJS was even elected PB.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Monday, 5 May 2014 at 9:13pm BST

Griswold demurred from any involvement in CFL, Dallas, SC, VA, TN, and several other dioceses. So there is not a property law difference except one the PB and her chancellor determined it would find. It is also not going well for them in TX, Quincy, SC precisely because the alleged property law difference is just that. It apparently took $900K and several years for the expert testimony to try to find one -- a fact which the Quincy judge took as probative that a plain reading in favor of his assertions did not exist.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 6:32pm BST

This is late now but for the record, re my post at Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:03pm BST.

I have been able to confirm that this comment was first posted by Rosemary Welsh on 26 April on the Changing Attitude Facebook page.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 10:23pm BST
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