Jim Naughton wrote about it at Episcopal Café in The Anglican Covenant: a tool for the strong to oppress the weak.
So many points have been made against the proposed Anglican Covenant, which will be voted on this week by the Church of England’s General Synod, that one risks redundancy in expressing one’s own reservations. Mine have to do primarily with how the covenant would operate if approved. It is a dangerous document which takes John Adams’ famous formulation—“a government of laws and not of men”—and stands it on its head. The covenant is a document that sets forth a system for adjudicating disputes based on criteria that are almost entirely subjective and ad hoc.
In this peculiar system, one can do nothing that offends another province in the Communion, and anything that does not. Offense is judged not by analyzing the act, but in analyzing the response to the act. This is governance by hurt feelings, a system in which power flows to those who complain the loudest and the most frequently. The covenant lacks any of the safeguards, contained in most civil codes, to protect the accused from frivolous accusations. Hence there is no cost and much potential benefit in lodging complaints simply to keep one’s theological adversaries on the defensive. There is great incentive for them to behave in similar fashion.
One doesn’t have to be a lawyer to notice that the covenant contains no standards of evidence, and provides for nothing resembling due process, The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion can investigate complaints in whatever manner it sees fit. Perhaps this is unsurprising. If the only fact at issue is whether a party has given offense, the only evidence necessary is the offended party’s assertion that they are, indeed offended. Having conducted an investigation under standards of its own devising, the Standing Committee can then respond in whatever manner it chooses including the imposition of “relational consequences…”
Andrew Goddard has written yet again, this latest is titled The Anglican Covenant: Why a ‘Yes’ Vote is Significant.
As General Synod approaches its crucial vote on the Anglican covenant, recent discussions have revealed that there are at least three significant perspectives at work in the debate on the covenant and that there are some important differences between them which have not been explicitly articulated. Broadly speaking there are (1) those who, though unhappy with elements of the final text, are supportive of the covenant, (2) those who are against it and whose views are represented on the left by Inclusive Church and Modern Church and (3) those who are against it (though appear to be proposing to abstain in the Synod vote) on the right from a more conservative/GAFCON perspective. What are the reasons for the differences?
There is also an article by Benjamin Guyer at Fulcrum titled In Praise of Rhetoric? Anti-Covenantal Myths of Puritanism and Anglicanism (Part Two Richard Hooker)
Meanwhile, today the No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued a further press release, the full text of which appears below the fold.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NO ANGLICAN COVENANT COALITION GATHERS MOMENTUM
LONDON – As the Church of England General Synod prepares to debate the proposed Anglican Covenant, a group of unlikely campaigners are working hard to ensure that there is a serious debate about the potential risks involved.
Started just three weeks ago after online conversations among a small number of international Anglican bloggers, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has built on the work of two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, to set the shape of the debate.
“A month ago, General Synod and the entire Communion were sleepwalking into approving the Covenant without a proper discussion of the issue,” according to Coalition Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows. “In some places, the Covenant was being presented as a means to punish North American Anglicans. In Britain, the United States and Canada, it was being spun as nothing more than a dispute resolution mechanism. I’ve spoken to many Synod members who were only dimly aware of the Anglican Covenant. An astonishing number of people thought I was referring to the Covenant with the Methodists.”
The week preceding the General Synod debate has seen a flood of articles criticizing the Covenant, including:
“We are all strongly committed to the Anglican Communion, but we are not convinced that this proposed Covenant will do anything to keep the Communion together,” according to the Revd. Malcolm French, the Coalition’s Canadian Convenor. “Covenant supporters have hurt their case by being dismissive of critics while failing to make a compelling case for this proposed Anglican Covenant. And no one has been prepared to explain the initial and ongoing costs to implement the Covenant.”
Within the last three weeks momentum has gathered to encourage the Church of England to wake up. The first test will come tomorrow, when General Synod debates the Covenant and votes on a motion for initial approval, the first step towards final approval at a later session. Although significant decisions such as women in the episcopate normally require a two-thirds majority, questions should be asked about why the English House of Bishops has proposed only a simple majority for the Covenant.
Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1-412-512-9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1-306-550-2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384
Revd. Hugh Magee +44 1334 470446