Thinking Anglicans

Fort Worth: the bishop writes

Updated again Wednesday evening

Bishop Jack Iker has written 10 Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Realign.

This appears in the current issue of the diocesan newsletter, Forward in Mission. The complete newsletter is available here as a PDF.

The first URL above appears to be only temporary, so the full text is reproduced below the fold.

Update Wednesday morning

A detailed response to this has been published by Fort Worth Via Media and can be found at 10 Reasons Why Now Is NOT the Time to Realign.

Update Wednesday evening

Further responses can be found by Pluralist – Adrian Worsfold at Iker’s Inaccurate Slur, and also by Mark Harris at Bishop Iker’s Reasoning.



Pittsburgh: deposition performed

Updated Sunday evening

The deposition of the Bishop of Pittsburgh was completed, ENS reports in Jefferts Schori removes Pittsburgh bishop from office by Mary Frances Schjonberg.

The letter sent to Bishop Duncan is here (PDF) and the formal deposition document is here (also a PDF).

Subsequently, the Standing Committee of the diocese issued a further statement, and ENS reported that Convention will go forward, Standing Committee says.

The Church Times reported on all this in US Bishops depose Bishop Bob Duncan for secession by Pat Ashworth.

Six Church of England Diocesan Bishops Make Joint Statement of Support contains the statement signed by the bishops of Blackburn, Chester, Chichester, Exeter, Rochester, and Win­chester.

Update Sunday evening

Across the Aisle has launched a new website at


weekend opinion

George Pitcher in the Telegraph Archbishops should note the balance between serving God and Mammon

Andrew Brown in The Guardian The red archbishop?

Jonathan Sacks in the Times It would be a saner world if we put our children first

Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah in The Guardian There is even more cause to remember this Rosh Ha-Shanah

Giles Fraser writes on the current financial crisis in the Church Times The bubble needed to burst


Canterbury, York and Capitalism

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written in the Spectator Face it: Marx was partly right about capitalism.

The Archbishop of York gave a speech to the Institute of Worshipful Company of International Bankers Archbishop Labels HBOS short sellers as “Bank Robbers”.

Stephen Bates in The Guardian Archbishop offers praise for St Bernadette – and Marx
Sadie Gray and agencies in The Guardian Archbishops attack profiteers and ‘bank robbers’ in City
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Archbishops of Canterbury and York blame capitalism excesses for financial crisis
Ruth Gledhill in the Times The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in support of Karl Marx
and Time to curb the ‘asset strippers and robbers’ who ruin the financial markets, say archbishops
Steve Doughty in the Mail Archbishops attack the ‘bank robbers’ who have brought economy to brink of disaster
BBC Archbishops attack City practices


Canterbury and Lourdes

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been participating in anniversary celebrations at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, at the invitation of the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Monsignor Jacques Perrier. He preached this sermon at the International Mass there yesterday.

Stephen Bates in The Guardian Archbishop offers praise for St Bernadette – and Marx
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Dr Rowan Williams becomes first Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Lourdes


God’s Own Country

God’s Own Country
Power and the Religious Right in the USA
by Stephen Bates
Hodder and Stoughton July 2008 £9.99

Since Sarah Palin was nominated as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, newspaper articles about her religious views have poured off the presses. See for example, these from Salon: The pastor who clashed with Palin by David Talbot, or Sarah Palin, anointed by God by Alex Koppelman or Sarah Palin, faith-based mayor by Sarah Posner.

To most Britons, it seems quite extraordinary that a person holding such views could be a serious candidate for national office. But to anyone who had read Stephen Bates’ book God’s Own Country when it first came out in 2007 it would not be a surprise. It had good reviews in the Church Times, the Guardian, and the Independent.

The book was republished in paperback in the UK in July this year, with the subtitle changed to more accurately describe the content, just in time for the American election campaign. Inexplicably, the US edition is not due until February 2009, neatly missing what must surely be a major marketing opportunity. However, it can readily be obtained now from Amazon UK.

Although Sarah Palin does not appear in the book, John McCain is mentioned three times. Jim Wallis of Sojourners is quoted as saying:

“John McCain is taking a risk dealing with these people: he has to get the Republican nomination and unless he gets these people’s endorsement from the Religious Right, he has no chance.”

Well, with Palin on the ticket, that endorsement for McCain, which earlier looked quite remote, now appears likely.

The book is aimed primarily at UK readers, and covers a lot of US historical background which one hopes would not be new material for Americans. The purpose is described by Bates himself like this:

There is a tendency here, in the secular UK, to write off American religiosity as alien and monolithic when, of course, it is far from that; and to see all US religious people as crazed fundamentalists, when they are not that either…. What I am hoping to show in this book is that US religion’s relationship with politics did not start with George W. Bush… These motivations have shaped the USA from the beginning and have very deep roots in the American psyche.

In fifteen chapters and nearly 400 pages, Bates therefore has plenty of ground to cover. He keeps the reader’s interest by writing as a journalist rather than as an academic. As with his earlier A Church at War this makes the book a much more enjoyable read.

The Pilgrim Fathers, The Great Awakening, William Jennings Bryan, Mother Angelica, Father Charles Coughlin, Aimee Semple McPherson, Joel Osteen, Judge Roy Moore, Ken Ham, Tim LaHaye, TD Jakes, and many other religious personalities are all included. The religious aspects of recent presidential campaigns (Clinton, Bush) are also covered.

As background to the current US election campaign, it is the ideal, even an essential, introduction to the religious dimension of American politics. Which as the nomination of Sarah Palin demonstrates, will be a crucial factor in the race for the White House this time round as well.


update on New Westminster disputes

On 10 September, the Anglican Network in Canada issued a press release, Parishes ask court to clarify parish trustees’ responsibilities.

On 11 September, the Diocese of New Westminster published Supreme Court suit brought against Diocese and Bishop.

And on 15 September, the Anglican Journal published Former New Westminster clergy and lay leaders sue diocese.


opinions collected

John Polkinghorne writes in The Times about Shining a light where science and theology meet.

Peter Francis writes in the Guardian that interfaith understanding is more important than a literal reading of scripture, see Face to Faith.

And yesterday, Jonathan Romain wrote about antisemitism and Islamophobia, see Keeping up the struggle. And there is more about that Pew survey both here and here.

Doug LeBlanc wrote Storming hell’s gates at Episcopal Life Online.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about A saint who taught me to see real reverence.

Two weeks ago, Ted Harrison argued for fewer bishops in the CofE, see A case of episcopal hyperinflation.


more on the Duncan case

Updated again Sunday morning

Episcopal Café has the rollcall of the vote at The post-deposition news conference and minutes.

Saturday morning updates

Further reports from Pittsburgh newspapers:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Ann Rodgers Some expected to resist split from Episcopal Church

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Craig Smith Episcopal bishop’s ouster sets up battle line

And a further report by Pat McCaughan at ENS House of Bishops adjourns Salt Lake City meeting with ‘spirit of commitment’ includes a link to a pdf file containing the official copy of the minutes and the rollcall.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has set up an additional website, In Support of Bishop Duncan.

The Living Church has published the rollcall vote in a more userfriendly format, and also has News Analysis: Curial Powers Expanded.

Sunday morning updates

For many additional reactions see Bishop reactions to Duncan issue, Saturday edition at Episcopal Café and also see many recent entries at Anglican Mainstream.

The Pittsburgh group Across the Aisle now has a website here with materials and pictures from the recent event A Hopeful Future.


press reports on Bishop Duncan

Updated Friday evening

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had this last night, and this morning has Episcopalians vote to oust Pittsburgh bishop by Ann Rodgers.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has Duncan out as bishop by Tony LaRussa.

The Associated Press has Breakaway Episcopal bishop ousted from ministry by Rachel Zoll.

Reuters has Episcopal church defrocks dissident bishop by Michael Conlon.

The Living Church has House of Bishops Deposes Bishop Robert Duncan.

Religious Intelligence has Bishop of Pittsburgh deposed by House of Bishops by George Conger.

Friday evening updates

The Times Ruth Gledhill Leading conservative bishop deposed in US

Telegraph Martin Beckford Bishop of Pittsburgh deposed by Episcopal Church for ‘abandoning communion’


House of Bishops votes on Bishop Duncan

Updated Friday evening

The American House of Bishops has considered the case of Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh. ENS reports that House of Bishops votes to depose Pittsburgh bishop for ‘abandoning Communion’:

After nearly two days of prayerful and solemn closed-door sessions, the House of Bishops on September 18 voted by a two to one majority to depose Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh. The vote authorizes Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to remove Duncan from ordained ministry.

The vote total was 88 to 35 in favor of deposing Duncan, according to Episcopal Church spokeswoman Neva Rae Fox. There were four abstentions…

The Presiding Bishop issued this statement:

The House of Bishops worked carefully and prayerfully to consider the weighty matter of Bishop Duncan. The conversation was holy, acknowledging the pain of our deliberations as well as the gratitude many have felt over the years for their relationships with, and the ministry of, Robert Duncan. The House concluded, however, that his actions over recent months and years constitute “abandonment of the communion of this church” and that he should be deposed. Concern was expressed for the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the face of leadership which has sought to remove itself from The Episcopal Church. In the days and months ahead, this Church will work to ensure appropriate pastoral care and provision for the members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, so that mission and ministry in that part of Pennsylvania may continue in the name of Jesus Christ and in the tradition of the Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops Daily Account Thursday, September 18 contains comments from different sides of the debate.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued a press release, Diocese of Pittsburgh Maintains Course after Purported Deposition, the Standing Committee has issued this statement. Bishop Duncan himself has issued this statement.

The Anglican Communion Network issued Network, Common Cause Leaders offer Support for Bishop Duncan and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America issued TEC’s Unilateral Removal of Bishop Duncan.

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh issued PEP Hopes Diocese Will Move Forward Gracefully After Duncan Deposition.

Episcopal Café points out that the Standing Committee statement is not unanimous, and has links to various other statements. And more background is here.

Friday evening updates

The Episcopal Café article titled Duncan deposed has been revised in a write-through. The remarks of Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) are particularly noteworthy.

Statements from other bishops can be found at Archbishops offer support to Bishop Duncan, Pittsburgh (Egypt, Sydney, Rwanda, Kenya, West Indies and Southern Cone), at Blogging bishops weigh in on the Duncan deposition and here (Fort Worth) and here (Western Louisiana).

And Stand Firm reports this:

“As was resolved by resolution made at the Provincial Synod in Valparaiso last November 2007, we are happy to welcome Bishop Duncan into the Province of the Southern Cone as a member of our House of Bishops, effective immediately. Neither the Presiding Bishop nor the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has any further jurisdiction over his ministry. We pray for all Anglicans in Pittsburgh as they consider their own relationship with The Episcopal Church in the coming weeks,” said Archbishop Gregory Venables.


Lambeth: a Welsh perspective

Archbishop Barry Morgan spoke to the Church in Wales Governing Body, and the full text of his address is available here.

A related press release is here: Lambeth talks need time to continue if church is to stay united, says Archbishop.

A press report about this was headlined Homosexuality should not be an issue to tear the Anglican Communion apart, says the Archbishop of Wales.


ECUSA: the claims about hierarchy

Recently, the Anglican Communion Institute published an article written by Mark McCall, a lawyer, entitled Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical? You can read this article as a PDF file here.

There was an introduction to it on the ACI website titled Constitution And Canons: What Do They Tell Us About TEC?

A Response to Mark McCall’s “Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical? has now been published by Joan Gunderson, a church historian in Pittsburgh. You can read that article as a PDF file here.

There is an introduction to it published by Progresssive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh and titled Historian Exposes Flaws in Argument That Episcopal Dioceses Are Independent.


Creationism in science lessons? – Tuesday update

Updated Tuesday evening to add Guardian and Telegraph articles.

Following his remarks about creationism and science lessons the Revd Professor Michael Reiss has resigned his position as the director of education at the Royal Society.

The Royal Society issued this statement today.

Royal Society statement regarding Professor Michael Reiss

16 Sep 2008

Some of Professor Michael Reiss’s recent comments, on the issue of creationism in schools, while speaking as the Royal Society’s Director of Education, were open to misinterpretation. While it was not his intention, this has led to damage to the Society’s reputation. As a result, Professor Reiss and the Royal Society have agreed that, in the best interests of the Society, he will step down immediately as Director of Education a part time post he held on secondment. He is to return, full time, to his position as Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education.

The Royal Society’s position is that creationism has no scientific basis and should not be part of the science curriculum. However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.

The Royal Society greatly appreciates Professor Reiss’s efforts in furthering the Society’s work in the important field of science education over the past two years. The Society wishes him well for the future.

BBC ‘Creationism’ biologist quits job
New Scientist Royal Society prof resigns over comments
Lewis Smith and Mark Henderson in The Times Royal Society’s Michael Reiss resigns over creationism row
Ian Sample, science correspondent, in The Guardian Michael Reiss resigns over call for creationism in science lessons
Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent, in the Telegraph Royal Society scientist loses post in row over creationism in schools


Evolution and the Church of England

Update – early Sunday evening

The new website (more accurately a new section of the CofE website) is now online: On the origin of Darwin.
There is an accompanying press release Church of England marks Darwin’s contribution to science as bicentenary approaches.


There are reports in today’s papers that the Church of England will apologise to Charles Darwin for rejecting evolution in a new website to be launched tomorrow.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones in The Telegraph Charles Darwin to receive apology from the Church of England for rejecting evolution
Alexandra Frean and Lewis Smith in The Times Anglicans back Darwin over ‘noisy’ creationists
Jonathan Petre in the Mail Church makes ‘ludicrous’ apology to Charles Darwin – 126 years after his death


Creationism in science lessons?

The British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) held its annual Festival of Science in Liverpool last week. At the meeting the Revd Professor Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society and a priest in the Church of England, is reported to have said that creationism and intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons.

James Randerson, science correspondent, in The Guardian Teachers should tackle creationism, says science education expert
Aislinn Simpson and Richard Gray in the Telegraph Creationism should be taught in science classes, says expert
Lewis Smith, Science Reporter, and Alexandra Frean, Education Editor, in The Times Leading scientist urges teaching of creationism in schools
Steve Connor, Science Editor, in The Independent One in 10 pupils believes in creationism
BBC Call for creationism in science
Wendy Barnaby at the BA Creationism has a place in school science lessons
Robin McKie in The Observer Creationism call divides Royal Society
Reiss himself writes in The Guardian Science lessons should tackle creationism and intelligent design

The Guardian published a profile of Prof Reiss in November 2006 Michael Reiss: How to convert a generation

Some comment articles
Melanie McDonagh in The Times Creationism in class is nothing to fear
Ruth Gledhill in The Times You need to understand your opponents’ arguments
Archie Bland in The Independent The Big Question: Why is creationism on the rise, and does it have a place in education?
Adam Rutherford in The Guardian Teenagers are not stupid, even if creationism is
Damian Thompson in the Telegraph Creationism and the advance of counterknowledge
Rod Liddle in The Times Don’t get creative with facts when it comes to evolution
Robin McKie in The Observer Our scientists must nail the creationists

The Royal Society published this statement No change in Society position on creationism on 12 September.

The Royal Society is opposed to creationism being taught as science. Some media reports have misrepresented the views of Professor Michael Reiss, Director of Education at the Society expressed in a speech yesterday.

Professor Reiss has issued the following clarification. “Some of my comments about the teaching of creationism have been misinterpreted as suggesting that creationism should be taught in science classes. Creationism has no scientific basis. However, when young people ask questions about creationism in science classes, teachers need to be able to explain to them why evolution and the Big Bang are scientific theories but they should also take the time to explain how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis. I have referred to science teachers discussing creationism as a worldview’; this is not the same as lending it any scientific credibility.”

The society remains committed to the teaching of evolution as the best explanation for the history of life on earth. This position was highlighted in the Interacademy Panel statement on the teaching of evolution issued in June 2006.


Pittsburgh: latest about Bishop Duncan

Updated Sunday afternoon

The Bishop of Pittsburgh has issued a pastoral letter today. You can read it in full here.

In a letter to the House of Bishops yesterday, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made it clear that there will be a vote this coming Thursday on whether to depose me from the ministry of the Episcopal Church. The charge is abandonment of the Communion of the Church, a charge initiated by five priests and sixteen laypeople of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Much of the “evidence” in the case is put forward by the House of Bishops Property Task Force, drawn directly from the Calvary litigation. We have long suspected that a principal purpose in the Calvary litigation was to have me removed, by whatever means, before the realignment vote. Whatever the purported evidence, I continue to maintain that the House of Bishops “vote” will be a gross violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church…

He then refers to a letter he sent to the House of Bishops on 24 August, and this letter is available as a PDF. This letter is also summarised in a Living Church news article.

Stand Firm has published the letter from the Presiding Bishop to which Bishop Duncan also refers. That letter is here.

And there is also a covering memo and then a lengthy memorandum from the Task Force on Property Disputes. The latter is a PDF file.

Sunday afternoon update

George Conger has reported at Religious Intelligence that there is Legal doubt over Presiding Bishop’s move to depose Duncan. The new issue is summarised thus:

However, the rules of the House of Bishops forbid modifying the agenda of a special session after the meeting has been announced, placing her plans in legal and canonical limbo. Whether the bishops will challenge her request is unclear, however, as her past legal missteps in the cases of Bishops John-David Schofield and Williams Cox provoked protests from bishops and dioceses distressed over what they perceived was her abuse of office, but no action followed.


weekend opinions

Roderick Strange writes in The Times that We must strive to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

In the Telegraph George Pitcher writes that United Jews put divided Christians to shame.

In the Guardian Simon Rocker writes about A mistake by Michelangelo in Face to Faith.

Earlier in the week, Riazat Butt wrote from Rome on Comment is free about The hard route to Heaven.

And Stephen Bates wrote Sarah Palin talks the God talk.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times When do bankers believe in socialism?


Lambeth: another Scottish perspective

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop Idris Jones of Glasgow and Galloway has published his address to Diocesan Council in which he discusses the Lambeth Conference.

The full text is available here: Bishop’s reflections on Lambeth.

…The fact is that neither of the extreme positions if I can call them that can be expected to give up what they believe God has called them to witness to as part of the life of their Province. There may be a way through but it is not dear yet where it would take us – meanwhile we hold to the position that we are in pending further provision in the Communion to take account of the need for some enlarged thinking. Whether the proposed Pastoral Forum to take over the care of congregations that have chosen to renounce the leadership of their Diocesan Bishop can have any place in this process I personally doubt.

It seems to me that the issue is not that we lack structure but that the structure has failed to address the situation and when it has attempted to do so Provinces have simply continued to do what they wanted to do and ignored the proposals put forward by the Instruments of Unity. I do have an unease that at the heart of our Communion there is a lack of evenhanded dealing. It was almost as if we were trapped into a game of “my pain is bigger than your pain”. The approach of the Church of Canada about which we were able to learn so much more this year and which was praised for its theological method was completely ignored and brushed aside for example whilst and the interference of another Province in Canada where proper and full provision had been made for congregations who felt alienated remained un -rebuked in spite of it having been forbidden by the recent Primates meeting.

The Canadian Anglican church has a long and strong history of fidelity and development – it gave the Communion AYPA for example – and has been not accorded the respect that it should have. There is more than one way of destroying a Communion but injustice is high on the list of how to achieve it.

We heard much about the need to support churches in other parts of the world; but very little of the vulnerability of the church where society has moved ahead of the game in its provisions which is the position that we find ourselves in along with other churches in the developed world.


interview with Archbishop Akinola

Third Way has published an interview with Archbishop Peter Akinola. It was conducted by Joel Edwards.

The title given it by the magazine is Solid as a rock.

There is also a news report in the Church Times by Pat Ashworth titled Akinola criticises West for cultural laxity and timidity.