Covenant has published The Hard Case Making Bad Law by Dale Rye. He starts out:
I have been asked to comment on the letter opinion of April 3 in the Virginia parishes case. My initial reaction: this 88-page document is probably about as well educated a discussion as we are likely to see from any of the judges dealing with the Episcopal/Anglican meltdown. My simultaneous reaction: that means we are all—liberals and conservatives alike—in a heap of trouble. My explanation may take awhile, but be patient… I will get there.
I must preface this by warning that I am not a member of the Virginia bar, and that Judge Randy Bellows’ letter opinion is expressly and exclusively based on a Virginia statute—Va. Code Sec. 57-9(A)—that has no analogue in Texas or most other states. That is, in fact, one of the most important things to remember when reading the opinion. The court honestly believes that it has put to one side all of the issues raised by the religion clauses in the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions; those are to be decided at a subsequent hearing on May 28. Other constitutional issues (including the Contracts Clause) will not be heard until the final hearing in October. Thus, the April 3 opinion has no direct application outside Virginia. Only a lawyer from that state can estimate how likely the decision is to hold up on subsequent appeals.
What I will comment on are the ways in which this decision illustrates why secular litigation was a spectacularly bad idea for all the parties to this dispute. Under the “hard cases make bad law” principle, this case (and those like it in other states) have the potential to seriously damage the constitutional rights of Christians-and all other religious practitioners-throughout this country. The problem with inviting an outsider in to clean your house is that he may throw out your treasures while trying to dispose of the trash. Ultimately, you may find yourself in possession of a place that is no longer recognizably your home…
Episcopal News Service reports BRAZIL: Bishops protest Southern Cone archbishop’s unauthorized visit, violation of Windsor Report.
The bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil issued an open statement April 9 expressing their “strong repudiation” of a recent unauthorized visit by Southern Cone Archbishop Gregory Venables to Recife “where he took part in and celebrated at official occasions outside his Province without the knowledge and consent of the Archbishop of the Province of Brazil and this House of Bishops…”
The full text of the open statement is included there, and is reproduced here below the fold.
This is not the first complaint that Brazilian bishops have made, see for example this letter (PDF) dated October 2005 addressed directly to the Primate of the Southern Cone, and this letter (PDF) dated November 2005 addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Footnote: photos of his visit can be found here.3 Comments
Updated again Friday morning
The following letter has been sent to the Leadership Team of GAFCON. A press release from Changing Attitude LGBT Anglican leaders threatened with murder and violently attacked in Nigeria and England explains the background to the letter.
Open Letter to the Leadership Team of GAFCON
Dear friends in Christ,
You may know that there were several instances of actual physical violence and threats of violence and death enacted against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders of Changing Attitude in Nigeria over the Easter Weekend 2008. The leader of a Changing Attitude group was violently beaten. Subsequently, death threats have been issued against the Directors of Changing Attitude in Nigeria and England.
The discourse taking place in the Anglican Communion about the presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches must be conducted in the context of Christian love and mutual respect. If it is not, then people will continue to perpetrate abuse and violence against LGBT people.
Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.
Changing Attitude understands that the Anglican Communion is engaged in an extended period of debate about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches. We are committed to engage in this debate and in the Listening Process which is integral to it and authorised by the Councils of the church.
Conservative Anglicans will want to argue against the position which Changing Attitude represents. They will continue to question the pattern of life and identity adopted by some lesbian and gay Christians. We recognise the integrity of those who hold this position at the same time as we disagree with it. We are not resistant to engaging in the debate with those who hold radically different views.
We recognise that it is extremely difficult to conduct this debate in language that does not polarise opinions or inflame tensions. Tension will grow more intense in this period immediately prior to the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON event.
The language we use has direct consequences on the lives of LGBT Christians. Language affects us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We ask that all of us within the Anglican Communion be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people. We ask that all of us actively discourage any form of threatening behaviour so that we may all engage in respectful listening and conform the pattern of our lives to the pattern of love embodied by our Lord Jesus Christ.
None of us wishes to encourage or condone violence and none of us wishes to be responsible, indirectly, for murder or violence perpetrated on another person, whatever their sexual identity.
Yours in Christ,
Revd Canon Professor Marilyn McCord Adams
Rt Revd Michael Bourke
Rt Revd Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking
Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ramsbury
Very Revd Vivienne Faull
Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Rt Revd Richard Holloway
Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme
Revd Sr Una Kroll
Rt Revd Richard Lewis
Rt Revd Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield
Rt Revd John Oliver
Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon & Leeds
Rt Revd Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire
Rt Revd John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln
Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby
Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
Revd Dr Anne Townsend
The Revd Canon Angela Weaver
Letter sent to:
Rt Rev Nicodemus Okille, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Rt Rev Martyn Minns, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Archbishop Greg Venables, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop Justice Akrofi, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Rt Revd Michael Nazir Ali
Update Wednesday evening
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this statement:
Archbishop condemns recent violence against lesbian and gay people
Wednesday 09 April 2008
In response to reports of violence and threats towards Christians involved in the debate on human sexuality, the Archbishop has given the following statement:
“The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”
Additional information from Changing Attitude at Nigerians threaten English and Nigerian Directors of Changing Attitude.
And the BBC has published Archbishop criticises gay threats.
The Church Times has Gay Nigerians suffer violent abuse by Pat Ashworth.
A previous article linked to a page which linked to the transcripts of three lectures given by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey.
The Lambeth Palace website has now also published transcripts of the Question and Answer sessions which followed each lecture.9 Comments
Canterbury Press cordially invite friends and supporters of Thinking Anglicans to ‘An Evening with Bishop Gene Robinson’
To celebrate publication of: ‘IN THE EYE OF THE STORM’ By Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire
on Tuesday 29th April 2008 at 7 p.m. prompt
at: St Mary’s Church, Putney High Street, London SW15 1SN
(next to the river at the southern end of Putney Bridge)
RSVP by Wednesday 16th April 2008 to
Michael Addison, Canterbury Press: Michael@scm-canterburypress.co.uk
Telephone 0207 776 7551.
Please note: If you wish to attend this reception it is essential that you reply so that your name may be placed on the guest list. Admission will be restricted to named individuals on the list.
Copies of the book will be on sale on the night and there will be an opportunity for signing.
If you are unable to attend, the book is available from all good bookshops or direct from the publisher on 01603 612914 or visit www.canterburypress.co.uk priced £12.99.4 Comments
The Tablet has published an excellent article by Mary Seller who happens to be both a geneticist and an Anglican priest.
Legislators are trying to keep up with scientists who have found a way to make animal-human hybrid embryos for use in medical research. But is such use of animal and human material ethical? Here a leading geneticist and priest explains why she thinks scientists should indeed play God
Earlier in the week, Riazat wrote about the issue of whether the British educational system is failing Muslim pupils, see Wanted: faith in the future.
Face to Faith this week is by John Newbury and is about religious broadcasting.
Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Thomas Tallis and The Spectator.
Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times that Genesis tells us we have a duty to protect the planet.
In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about Earth Hour in Let there be dark.3 Comments
Earlier reports in previous article.
New York Times Neela Banerjee Virginia Judge Allows Case on Episcopal Property to Proceed
Washington Post Michelle Boorstein and Jacqueline L. Salmon Court Ruling Boosts Breakaway Churches
Time David Van Biema The Episcopal Property War
Washington Times Julia Duin Va. judge sides with breakaway Episcopal parishes
Institute on Religion and Democracy Court Rules in Favor of Departing Virginia Churches
Church of Nigeria CANA magnanimous in victory35 Comments
Updated again Friday night and republished
The long-awaited Virginia court ruling has arrived. It is favourable to the breakaway congregations.
The PDF file containing the full text of it is here (4.5MB).
Episcopal Café has this summary of the situation, Judge rules: Advantage CANA.
Julia Duin has Breakaway Episcopal parishes awarded property, assets in the Washington Times.
No doubt other reports will follow. The full report is 88 pages. To give the flavour, two excerpts are reproduced below the fold.
Diocese of Virginia press release
Associated Press Matthew Barakat Fairfax judge rules in favor of breakaway congregations
Reuters Michael Conlon US judge rules for Episcopal Church secessionists
Washington Post Michelle Boorstein Judge’s Initial Decision Favors Breakaway Churches
Ruth Gledhill has this blog article, Judge rules for Virginia ‘orthodox’.
Friday night additions
Episcopal News Service Office of the Presiding Bishop, Diocese of Virginia respond to preliminary court ruling
and also Mary Frances Schjonberg Virginia judge issues preliminary ruling on application of state statute
Fairfax Times Gregg MacDonald Fairfax judge rules against Episcopal Church62 Comments
TA reported earlier on this dispute between a journalist and a bishop, here.
Tom Wright has now responded to David Aaronovitch here in The Times under the headline Euthanasia – a murky moral world.
As noted in an earlier comment, the full text of the original Wright quote which was under attack was this:
The irony is that this secular utopianism is based on a belief in an unstoppable human ability to make a better world, while at the same time it believes that we (it’s interesting to ask who ‘we’ might be at this point) have the right to kill unborn children and surplus old people, and to play games with the humanity of those in between.
Margaret Duggan’s full report of the debate is now available at the Church Times site, see Welsh turn down women bishops.1 Comment
Mark Oakley wrote a comment article for the Church Times last week, arguing that those who divide the Communion lack an Anglican spirit.
Read it all now: An issue! An issue! We all fall down.18 Comments
From Inclusive Church
Women, Communion and the Church
3rd April 2008
Inclusive Church (IC) is disappointed by the Church in Wales’ decision not to allow women to be bishops. But we are pleased that the Church in Wales resisted pressure for any arrangements which would have discriminated against women and which would have destroyed the unity and integrity of its episcopate.
Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH (Women and the Church) and member of IC’s Executive Committee said, “I applaud the leadership shown by Archbishop Barry Morgan and the Welsh bishops’ resolute decision not to compromise the principle of having women as bishops on the same basis as men are bishops.”
The vote on women bishops failed narrowly to get the required two-thirds majority in the house of clergy.
For IC, Revd. Dr Giles Fraser said: “People mustn’t get disheartened. This will go through. The Gospel points towards full inclusion and if that’s what the Gospel says, that’s what God wants. Therefore all will be well.”
Inclusive Church has prepared a statement celebrating the historic generosity of the Anglican Communion and calling for renewed unity among churches. Churches in agreement with the statement are asked to send an email to email@example.com listing the church’s name, parish, diocese and province.
“As Christians, we believe that all people have been made in the image of God. We believe that God loves each and every person with an infinite, never-ending, unconditional love.
As members of the body of Christ, we acknowledge each person’s unique and valuable contribution as we seek together to build up that body in love.
As members of the Anglican Communion, we celebrate the gift of our diversity and are committed to being a broad Church that accepts and welcomes difference. We acknowledge our need of God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings which harm our shared witness in the world. We believe our unity is rooted in our baptism in Christ, and we will seek to maintain that unity through the grace of the Holy Spirit who lives and works in each one of us.”
As the Lambeth Conference approaches – at a time of debate and discernment in our life together – we believe the best way forward will not include segregating or excluding those with whom we disagree.
This invitation is intended for churches, and not individuals and should have the agreement of Church Vestries or PCC’s. Questions or comments can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org Comments
The full text of three lectures given in Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury during Holy Week are now available online. Go to Archbishop gives Lent lectures at Westminster Abbey to find the links to the transcripts.
The lectures focused on the relationship between faith and science, faith and politics and faith and history and the implications each of these subjects has on the individual and society. Dr Williams introduced the lecture series saying, ‘I have given this series the title ‘A Question of Faith’. The faith about which I shall mostly be speaking is my own, which is Christianity. But I hope that there will be in the discussion some matters which are no less relevant to other faiths and their relationship to the twenty-first century, its culture and its problems’. Following each lecture there was an opportunity for the audience to submit their questions to the Archbishop and a selection covering the variety of themes were answered.
Updated Thursday evening
Now, it seems, the response has been such that at least in Nigeria all the costs will be met from outside the dioceses. According to this Pastoral Letter (original as PDF here) signed by The Most Rev Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria (emphasis added):
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was introduced in our earlier pastoral letter written from the Bishops retreat in January. The planning of this conference, coming up in Jerusalem in the month of June, has reached an advanced stage. The choice of Jerusalem as the venue is to take us back in a pilgrimage to the biblical and historical roots of our faith to draw inspiration in the face of major attempts to undermine the sufficiency of Scripture by some of our brother and sisters in the West. Knowing that this is not merely a cultural or theological struggle alone, but more importantly a spiritual battle, we urge earnest and concerted prayers that the Spirit of the Lord will show us the way ahead for our beloved Anglican Communion.
When the proposal was first discussed in January, we were staggered by the enormity of the cost, but we trusted that if God[’s] hand was in it, He would provide. Indeed the Lord has gone beyond our expectations by raising up from among us those who have felt sufficiently committed to the need to preserve the sanctity of our historic faith that they have committed huge resources to cover all the cost of the conference. May our gracious God reward these people abundantly and may they never be confounded as they continue to trust in Him and give themselves to His glad service.
The Bishops also resolved that Dioceses that had paid the required amount but have an outstanding balance in their Endowment Fund commitment should have their accounts credited with the money meant for the travel costs. This should enable us to make further progress in our desire to resource our Seminaries and other major projects in our vision. This will be a tremendous blessing to the seminaries where our clergy are trained. We have made resources available to meet their most critical needs so that our candidates for ordination and the future shepherds of our church will be well prepared for their ministry without being subjected to the usual handicaps in their training. We hope our postulants and the staff of the seminaries will reward this gesture.
In a Communique of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria issued at the same time (PDF original here), there is further material about GAFCON:
GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE
10. The Primate addressed the proposal for the Church of Nigeria to take part in the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and Pilgrimage in Jerusalem from June 22nd through June 29, 2008. The goals of this conference are to:
a. Provide an opportunity for fellowship to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Christ.
b. Develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians within our current context
c. Prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centered mission a top priority.
11. This decision to participate in GAFCON received unanimous support from the Standing Committee and also from the Mother’s Union Executive. It is a decision that has a long history and we were reminded that it has arisen out of a decade-long struggle within the Anglican Communion. Ten years ago at the 1998 Lambeth Conference a decision was made concerning the teaching of the Church as it applies to issues of human sexuality. The essential elements of the teaching have been enshrined within Resolution 1.10. An overwhelming majority of the bishops adopted this resolution. It led, however, to a very negative and defiant response from the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the USA – now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC). This led to their decision to approve the consecration of Gene Robinson, a homosexual priest living in a same-sex partnership, as bishop of New Hampshire. This, in turn, led to the unprecedented meeting of all the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003 at which they called for what became known as “The Windsor Report”. Sadly the ominous words of their final communiqué, that ECUSA’s intransigence would “tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level,” have proved to be true.
12. We were reminded again of the enormous efforts undertaken by the Primate and many of his colleagues to find a way to bring the necessary healing and reconciliation to our beloved Communion. These efforts have included innumerable meetings that have been held around the world and countless communiqués that have been issued at an enormous cost in both time and money. Time and time again TEC was given the opportunity to repent and embrace the scriptural teaching of the Communion but to no avail. One report, “The Road to Lambeth” commissioned by CAPA and endorsed by the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria concluded that: “We Anglicans stand at a crossroads. One road, the road of compromise of biblical truth, leads to destruction and disunity. The other road has its own obstacles because it requires changes in the way the Communion has been governed and it challenges our churches to live up to and into their full maturity in Christ. But surely the second road is God’s way forward. It is our sincere hope that this road may pass through Lambeth, our historical mother. But above all it must be the road of the Cross that leads to life through our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
13. It is this second road that is leading us to Jerusalem and the call by Primates and senior leaders of the Communion, representing more than thirty million active Anglicans, for the bishops and their wives together with clergy and lay leaders to meet for prayer, study and pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is the shared conviction of the GAFCON leadership team that this will provide a unique opportunity for those who hold to the historic teachings of the Church to meet and discern God’s call for our common future as Anglican Christians. The Primate reported that in the last few days God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignly providing the funds necessary for all of the Bishops, their wives, the clergy and lay delegates of the Church of Nigeria to attend.
Thursday evening update
Some further articles related to the above:
Martyn Minns has written a Report on CofN Standing Committee Meeting 2008. It includes this paragraph:
He talked about the Global Anglican Future Conference (affectionately known as GAFCON) that he is leading in Jerusalem later this year. He carefully explained the long history behind the decision to gather with other provinces of the Anglican Communion that refuse to spend any more time agonizing about sex but instead want to get on with the work of the Gospel and celebrate transformed lives. He announced that everyone going from Nigeria has already been paid for – and here’s another funny thing – paid for by generous Godly people in Nigeria! They have raised all the money from inside their own country!
Ruth Gledhill has republished on her blog the article she wrote for the Church of England Newspaper which is about GAFCON. See Anglicanism’s hectic summer.
And for those who want to understand Nigerian culture better, this article in the Guardian yesterday, though it does not mention religion at all, may nevertheless be illuminating, see Nigeria’s immorality is about hypocrisy, not miniskirts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.11 Comments
Update Wednesday evening
The vote was lost. Official report of the results here.
The Church in Wales is voting today on whether or not to allow women priests to be ordained as bishops.
The presidential address of the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, is here.
The article he wrote for the Guardian today is titled At odds with the gospel:
In an age when women have broken through the glass ceiling in most professions in Britain, it is strange that they still face discrimination in a church that believes there is “no male or female” in Christ. Women can become judges, surgeons, chief executives and heads of state, but in the Church in Wales – which waited until 1997 to ordain women as priests – they are as yet unable to become bishops.
I do not see how, having agreed to ordaining women to both the diaconate and priesthood, the church can logically exclude women from the episcopate. That is why I and my fellow bishops will be asking members of the church’s legislative body today to vote in favour of a bill to allow women clerics to become bishops. It’s a move that Anglican churches have made in other countries – Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the US, though not yet England. I believe Wales is now willing to embrace this important change too…
Updated Wednesday afternoon
Several newspapers report the remarks of a General Synod member for London diocese, Alison Ruoff.
The Church Times has a recent picture of her, available here.
The Times Ruth Gledhill ‘No more mosques’ says Synod member and Church of England Synod member’s call to ban the building of any new mosques
Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre No more mosques, says senior Synod member
Daily Express Tom Whitehead ‘STOP BUILDING MOSQUES IN UK’
Only the Telegraph has comments from official church spokespersons:
The former magistrate, who was one of the strongest critics of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on Islamic law earlier this year, added that sharia would be introduced into Britain “if we don’t watch out”.
Apart from being a Synod member, Mrs Ruoff, a conservative evangelical, also sits on the Bishop’s Council, which advises the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres.
Although her views are representative of a small minority on the Synod, and Church spokesmen moved quickly to isolate her yesterday, they may exacerbate tensions over the place of Muslims in society.
A spokesman for the Diocese of London said: “Mrs Ruoff’s comments are her own and do not reflect the views of the Diocese of London, which enjoys excellent inter-faith relations across the capital.”
A Church of England spokesman added: “These are her personal comments, speaking as an individual.” But senior Muslims had already reacted angrily to her comments, saying they were more typical of a member of the British National Party than the Anglican Church.
Mrs Ruoff, speaking in an interview with Premier Radio, the Christian radio station, said: “No more mosques in the UK. We are constantly building new mosques, which are paid for by the money that comes from oil states.
“We have only in this country, as far as we know, 3.5 to four million Muslims. There are enough mosques for Muslims in this country, they don’t need any more.
“We don’t need to have sharia law which would come with more mosques imposed upon our nation, if we don’t watch out, that would happen. If we want to become an Islamic state, this is the way to go.
“You build a mosque and then what happens?
“You have Muslim people moving into that area, all the shops will then become Islamic, all the housing will then become Islamic and as the Bishop of Rochester has so wisely pointed out, that will be a no go area for anyone else.
“They will bring in Islamic law. We cannot allow that to happen.”
Wednesday afternoon update
Inayat Bunglawala No more mosques?19 Comments
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has this announcement:
Bishop Duncan’s Attorney Protests Lack of Response from The Episcopal Church Document Actions
In a letter sent March 28, John H. Lewis, Jr., attorney for Bishop Robert Duncan, protests the behavior of The Episcopal Church’s national office. He notes that not only has there been no response to Bishop Duncan’s March 14 statement that he considers himself “fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this church,” but that The Episcopal Church’s national office has neglected to distribute Bishop Duncan’s letter and other information to House of Bishops.
Lewis goes on to note what appears to be “the deliberate failure of The Presiding Bishop to follow the Canons” in the purported depositions of Bishops William J. Cox and John-David Schofield.
The full text of Lewis’ letter is available here (pdf).
Update: Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Henry Scriven and Melanie Contz began again receiving emails from the House of Bishops at approximately 1 pm on Monday, March 31. Bishop Duncan’s March 14 response to the Presiding Bishop has also been added to the College for Bishops website.