Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Shut Up, Bigot!": Civil Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

via Virtue Online: By Ben R. Crenshaw WITHERSPOON INSTITUTE http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/04/16749/ April 14, 2016 Supporters of "same-sex marriage" claim that its opponents are bigots, like racists or misogynists, whose views should not be tolerated in the public square. In fact, marriage traditionalists are not bigoted but rather are realistic and honest about what marriage actually is. In a Public Discourse essay last year, "Shut Up, Bigot!": The Intolerance of Tolerance, I addressed how defenders of marriage are often called bigots for holding the view that marriage is, by nature, the union of one man and one woman, exclusively and for life. I objected to this censoring and bullying, explaining that those calling traditionalists "bigots" held a false postmodern conception of tolerance that confuses intolerance of ideas with intolerance of persons. Here I address the central objection that I have encountered to my argument. Denying Gay People the Civil Right to Marriage? The most common objection is that traditionalists are using "tolerance" as a cover for their discriminating and harmful views. The objection goes something like this: Discriminating against homosexuals by not allowing them to marry is as evil as racism and segregation, the banning of interracial marriage, or denying women's rights. You wouldn't be tolerant of these abhorrent things would you? America has become enlightened to LGBT rights, and you are simply using religious rhetoric to cloak your animus and bigotry. You have no right to demand tolerance just as the racist or misogynist has no right to demand tolerance, and society should call you what you are: a backward, intolerant bigot. The core of the complaint is that people in a same-sex relationship have a civil right to marry each other (i.e., a right to same-sex marriage), and that denying them this right is as scandalous and repulsive as denying blacks or women basic civil rights. In this case, traditionalists' calls for tolerance are ignored, just as calls for tolerance of racism, misogyny, and the like are ignored. The Limits and Demands of Tolerance If the analogies in this objection are correct, the critic has a valid point. Tolerance can only go so far. If members of a society systematically dehumanize any other group of people, the rest of society should not tolerate it. The practice of tolerance itself, however, is dependent upon a shared worldview that corresponds to reality. For example, because we all agree that by the laws of mathematics 2+2=4, we would not tolerate an elementary-school math teacher instructing her students that 2+2=5. We all agree that Aristotle's law of non-contradiction is necessarily true. Likewise, we wouldn't tolerate a religion that engaged in human sacrifice. We all agree that there is a moral law that unjustified killing of another human is murder and should be prohibited. We may not agree on the ontological bases for these truths, but all that is necessary is agreement that these things are true. In these and similar cases, intolerance is appropriate. Without it, society would become chaotic. Tolerance becomes relevant when truths are obscure. Is God timeless or in time? Are human beings body-soul composites or just physical matter? Is discarding leftover embryos used in in-vitro fertilization the equivalent of killing a person? These and a thousand other questions do not have clear-cut answers. This is why ongoing public discourse, academic freedom, and the joint pursuit of truth are necessary. Tolerating the views of those with whom one disagrees is an integral part of this task. For millennia, the necessity of sexual complementarity for marriage was one of the truths that cultures around the world shared (even those cultures that approved of same-sex sexual practice, e.g., ancient Greece and Rome). Yet this has now changed: the nature and definition of marriage, once indubitably and unanimously believed to be a union between man and woman, has become obscured. It has moved from the former category of a shared truth to the latter category of a debated idea. This means that, for traditional accounts of marriage, sexuality, and gender to be tolerated, they must be rationally explained and defended as reasonable, true, and moral. We can no longer rely on what everyone once knew to be true about marriage. False Analogies and Conceptions Such a defense of marriage has been made thoroughly, in part demonstrating that any comparisons to racism, misogyny, or prejudice against interracial marriage are false analogies. Refusing two people in a same-sex relationship the "right" to same-sex marriage is dissimilar in every way from denying black people human rights or women the right to vote, or banning interracial marriage. The reason the traditional view of marriage should be tolerated in public discourse and its adherents shouldn't be labeled bigots is precisely because it is a comprehensible, virtuous, and well-argued account of marriage superior in every way to revisionist accounts. Critics of the traditional view of marriage often think of opposite- and same-sex unions as two viable expressions of marriage, equally intelligible and able to coexist harmlessly. Thus one can understand why many think denying same-sex relationships marriage is a gross breach of civil rights. Yet approaching the debate over same-sex marriage from this premise is confused. In place of the fallacious analogies above, we need a valid analogy that captures the severity and consequence of what it means to redefine marriage. A Valid Analogy Consider the hypothetical case of a middle-aged couple, Dan and Susie, who own a pet Labrador dog named Max. This couple love and adore their dog so much that, for whatever reason, they come to believe he is actually their flesh-and-blood biological child. When they fill out their taxes, they claim the child tax credit for Max; when the new school year begins, they enroll Max in kindergarten; when they stop at McDonald's they order Max the child's Happy Meal and then let him romp in the play place. In short, they do everything for Max that normal parents would do for their children. Things don't go smoothly, however. When the IRS denies them the child tax credit, their local elementary school refuses to enroll Max, and the McDonald's manager kicks them out of the play place, they are incensed. How dare these people deny their child Max the rights and benefits of full integration into society! They decide to take their case to Washington, lobbying the government for help. Despite their passionate pleas, they are refused. The US government kindly but firmly explains that Dan and Susie are mistaken about the nature of reality: dogs are a different kind of species than human children. Their conviction that Max is their biological child is false, despite what they feel, insist upon, or do. Dan and Susie were not denied the civil right to have and raise children just because they had confusedly adopted their pet dog as their child. Instead, we would say that they failed to actually participate in the institution of parenthood (i.e., mothering and fathering), something that requires producing human offspring through sexual intercourse (or via adoption, etc.). Despite their insistence and self-righteous indignation, they were neither denied a civil right nor socially marginalized. They do not have the right to treat their dog as if it were a child, christen such behavior "parenting," and then insist that everyone else in society--including state and national governments--recognize their behavior as legitimate. Instead, their belief that Max is their child is correctly identified as false and thus detrimental not only to themselves and to their pet but also to society as a whole. But what would happen if Dan and Susie succeeded in convincing their culture that Max was indeed their biological child? What if thousands of other pet owners across the nation came to believe the same? What would happen if the Supreme Court, in a contested and controversial 5-4 decision, sided with Dan and Susie and redefined "children" to include pets? One could only imagine the social chaos that would ensue. Such a society would rightly be deemed to be living in a fantasy--a delusional world that would inevitably end in disaster. This is the proper analogy to the redefinition of marriage. Of course, this analogy is not asserting that gay people are somehow less human or a different species, but rather that revisionist definitions of marriage are as confused as Dan and Susie's revisionist definition of children. The traditionalist claim is not primarily that same-sex marriage is a bad idea, but that it is a nonsensical idea--an impossibility--just as a "pet (i.e., animal) child" is an impossibility. Since marriage necessarily requires sexual complementarity, to speak of "homosexual marriage," "gay marriage," or "same-sex marriage," is a contradiction in terms. It is akin to talking about square triangles, married bachelors, or monogamous throuples. It is unintelligible. Any society that believes it is possible to have "married bachelor" as a relational status with legal protection and congruent civil rights would rightly be declared delusional; so it is with "same-sex marriage." Natural Rights and Civil Rights How does this relate to the civil rights debate? Civil rights come in two forms. The first are pre-political, natural rights that governments recognize and codify as law, such as the inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. These rights are naturally occurring, God-given, and innumerable. They are known as negative rights because they place obligations of non-interference upon everyone else. In this case the civil right is a moral imperative that flows from the natural right. The second kind of civil rights come from civil law. In America, this includes the rights to vote, to trial by jury, to the standard of reasonable doubt, etc. These rights are not naturally occurring, innumerable, or provided by God, as they only obtain through social contracts and government legislation. They are not universal, but can vary from country to country and over time. It also means that changing these rights is not immoral (although usually imprudent). These kinds of civil rights are known as positive rights because they place obligations of provision upon certain parties. In this case the civil right is created when the positive right comes into existence via human effort. Civil Rights and Same-Sex Marriage Although debated, marriage is the former kind: a natural, pre-political right that is part of the created order. Therefore, the civil right to marriage depends on marriage as a naturally occurring, negative right. Since marriage did not come into existence through social contract or legislation (i.e., positive rights), governments and courts cannot redefine either marriage or the civil right to it. "Same-sex marriage" is a contradiction in terms, and one cannot have a civil right to a contradiction. Just as there is no civil right to being a "married bachelor," so there is no civil right to a "same-sex marriage" because such a thing does not and cannot exist--despite beliefs to the contrary. One can be granted the freedom to believe in illusory relationships, but in no case does one have the moral right to impose these false beliefs on the rest of society and use the strong arm of governments or courts to reshape the culture accordingly. In fact, just the opposite is true. Every government has the duty to correctly discern truth and then to craft laws, customs, and values according to those truths. While pluralistic societies should allow for differing beliefs and lifestyles, under no circumstance does this excuse the government from its duty to adhere to reality within its legitimate domains of authority--one of which is marriage. The irony is that same-sex attracted people have always had the civil right to marry. What they have not had is the civil right to "same-sex marriage," since such a thing is not possible. Just as Dan and Susie were never denied the right to have children or become parents simply because they were mistaken about what a child was, so same-sex attracted people have never been denied marriage just because they are mistaken about what marriage is. Marriage traditionalists are not bigots because their view of marriage is rational, well-argued, and virtuous, thus falling within the realm of debated ideas that are tolerated in the common pursuit of truth. Marriage traditionalists are not bigots because the analogies to racism, interracial marriage, and the like are false. Marriage traditionalists are not bigots because their understanding of marriage necessarily excludes "same-sex marriage" as a possible concept. Finally, marriage traditionalists are not bigots for denying same-sex attracted people the civil right to same-sex marriage, because this civil right does not exist. Everyone is welcome to get married, but we must conform to the reality of what marriage is, not attempt to shape it according to our desires. Facts are stubborn things, and the facts about marriage are stubborn indeed. Ben R. Crenshaw is a graduate student at Denver Seminary and a teaching fellow at the Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture ------------------------------

Friday, March 11, 2016

Anguish and Amnesia: The Episcopal Church and Communion

From the Anglican Communion Institute: Written by: Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 Download the full text of this article with footnotes (PDF) The hurt The sense of sorrow and sometimes indignation expressed by many TEC bishops over the Primates’ meeting and its decisions is understandable. The sentiment of grief comes in many forms. For some (e.g. Connecticut), “sadness” is marked by a warning against primatial overreach. For others (e.g. New Hampshire), TEC is experiencing pain because she is being persecuted like Jesus. For some (e.g. Western New York), the Primates gathering “fails” as an ecclesial council and is but a “clanging cymbal” in its understanding of communion. Some (e.g. California) went so far as to accuse the Primates, on this “sad day”, of acting in a manner “antithetical to the way of Christ”, and of being “dishonest”, “devious”, and “scapegoating”. Despite these strong notes of distress, TEC’s episcopal responses are generally gracious. They also almost all assert the fact that nothing has changed, nothing will change, and that TEC’s decisions regarding same-sex marriage are immovable. In this way, sadness is bound to a sense that the Primates’ common counsel is mostly irrelevant. It is true that the Primates’ decisions mark a clear rejection of TEC’s policies and decisions at its own General Convention. Nobody likes to have people forcefully disagree with them; and the matter of same-sex marriage is one of deep feeling and passion, and also irresolvable contradictions in presupposition and perspective among disputants. It is painfully grating when fellow Christians and thoughtful human beings insist they cannot agree with another’s point of view. I suppose it is also understandable that one might mourn the fact that such deep disagreements give rise to tangible estrangement. While the Primates insisted that TEC remains a beloved sister church in the Communion, they don’t want TEC representing the Anglican Communion or voting at Communion councils on matters of doctrine and polity. That too is painful. It is hard to hold together talk of “love” and the imposition of disciplinary “consequences”. All of us want voice and vote within our communities, and when these are restricted or taken away, we feel that our place in that community has itself been threatened or diminished. So, I say, let the bishops vent. It’s only natural. We have all been venting about these kinds of things, each from our own vantage of experienced threat and diminishment, over the past few years. But we should beware of confusing our hurts with ecclesial realities. In this case, TEC bishops have, one after the other, insisted that the Primates have no “right” or “authority” to make the decisions they have done, or to implement them. TEC bishops have said that the Anglican Communion has no means to shape their participation in its councils. They have said that the Communion itself has nothing to do with common teaching and an ordered common council. They have said, finally, that the Anglican Communion has historically been nothing like what the Primates have said it is. All of these claims are questionable, perhaps even false. Historical Errors about the Communion Let me take each of them in reverse order: 1. The nature of the Anglican Communion: TEC bishops as a whole seem to have adopted the view that the Anglican Communion is a serenely immovable reality wherein independent churches around the world respect one another, enjoy each other’s company, and let each other do as each pleases. This is normative, they say, and has always been thus. The Primates are innovators, they assert. This characterization is a gross historical fabrication. Respect, personal interaction, and legal independence among Communion churches, yes: but these constitute the thinnest veneer of communion life imaginable, and do not begin to touch the historical reality of the Anglican Communion itself. The Anglican Communion is an entity that is both the product of and the continued subject of dynamic evolution. There is no “always thus” in the Communion. This dynamism, furthermore, has not been haphazard. It has been consistently driven by three much more profound elements, which I list in order of historical importance: mission, catholicity, and the witness of ecumenical unity. This is no place for a history lesson, although it seems that reminders remain necessary. We can outline, then, what such a lesson would involve and how it would turn up some key continuities. There has been a clear current in the Communion’s emergence and evolution according to these elements of mission, catholicity, and witness to unity. First, England Reformation had at its core a sense of catholicity; in part, this drove Cranmer to be one of the Church’s first deliberate ecumenists, searching for council and unity in Europes. Then there were the complex and knotted politics of a divided realm – England, Scotland, and Ireland in the 17th century especially — that forced the Church of England to reconsider its link to the apostolic mission of the Church catholic. Next came the impulses of those vibrant mission societies that, in the 18th century, moved from England into the wider world of Britain’s colonial expansion, channeling the new pluralistic energies of the nation into a shared religious fervor for sharing the Gospel. By this point the missionary current had begun to flow deeply and strongly. It was linked to the earlier Reformation press for disseminating Scriptural knowledge. When the Protestant Episcopal Church’s late 18th- and early 19th-century life unfolded, concerns regarding the catholicity of Anglican witness took explicit hold in the face of vying Christian communities within America. (It was also a time when we see the first expressions of American Episcopalian exceptionalism – “we’re different”.) More missionary impulses flowed out from this period, and took form in a range elements that, after around 1850, became associated with something called “the Anglican Communion”: Canterbury, Lambeth Conferences, more mission, Anglican Congresses, more mission, formal ecumenical engagement in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies especially, more and more mission, and then the cascading organizing symbols of the Communion Office, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Finally, in the early 21st century, emerged the rumbling flow of the Covenant Process. And yes, more mission – in Asia, Africa, South America, and beyond as the Christian Gospel offered from Anglican hands and voices took wing outside the fading religious precincts of the West. Mission, catholicity, and unity have all driven the Communion’s emergence and formal articulation, as well as its developing order. What is more, American Episcopalians have, until recently, been at the forefront of this river of divine energy. This is all historically demonstrable, and TEC bishops today forget this at the risk of forgetting who they really are and why they are bishops at all. Saddened as I too am, in this case by TEC’s actions at Convention, I am grateful that I have been an Episcopalian: for because of this Communion dynamic that the Episcopal Church came out of and contributed to, I heard the Gospel of Christ Jesus, learned the faith, was caught up within the Scriptures, and drawn into the life of a world of unimagined yet holy believers from across the continents. It has been a foretaste of heaven in many ways, even with its all too this-worldly disappointments. There has never been a stable or ideal “Anglican Communion”. It has always been “on the move”. Describing the Communion in such a dynamic way, of course, also includes contestation and debate: that too has always been a part of the flow of life that has moved evangelically around the globe since its first springs in early modernity. (The Anglican Communion is a quintessentially modern phenomenon, in the sense of it being a vessel of the one Gospel’s adaptation to this epoch of human history.) The role of the Primates is itself a part of this contestation. But there is a difference between debate that seeks to unleash the current of the Gospel and one that ends by stymying it. The last 15 years have seen a dam built up, through often intentionally stoked conflict, to block the Communion’s evangelical dynamism. Now that the Primates have sought to unblock it, they can hardly be called unfaithful to the Communion’s character. For communion more broadly, and the Anglican Communion in particular is not a “thing”, but a movement in service of a divine gospel and evangelical imperative: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” and making us “ambassadors for Christ” who beseech the world for our Lord (2 Cor. 5:19, 20). The dynamic elements of Mission/Catholicity/Ecumenical Witness that mark the Anglican Communion are not theological criteria; rather they embody a divine vocation empowered by God’s own life. TEC can decide this vocation is not hers; or she can dispute its articulation. But to press for that vocation’s subversion as taken up by her sister churches is not only antagonistic, it has led her to embarrassing and shameful offenses, like the cultural racism that, in TEC hands, now paints African and non-Western church leaders as socially primitive exemplars of an undeveloped religiosity. It is a divinely developing Communion, by contrast, upon which the Primates have in fact made their wager. It is, in any case, interesting to see TEC bishops, who frequently applaud the Holy Spirit’s progressive revelatory capacity in their own midst, assert an entity called “the Communion” in a way that is closer to the ahistorical and static platonic form of some imagined (and indeed, historically unreal) ideal that has never existed. It is a view that now strangely seeks to trump truths articulated in the process of catholic debate and discernment within the larger church. 2. Common teaching and ordered common council TEC leaders like to describe this impassible Communion as something antithetical to shared teaching and decision-making. To be sure, these elements often seem in tension or even conflict with the dynamic character of the Anglican Communion. Common teaching and council was made difficult just at the moment when the Communion gained clear public profile in the late 19th century and beyond, due to a host of sociological changes: pluralizing indigenous leadership, the rise of the seminaries and their diverse formations, ideologies of debate and resistance that mimicked civil political attitudes, polities of individual choice. We see some of these social changes influencing debates already in England in the 17th century, in the Anglo-American world of the 18th-centurhy, and in formal ecclesiastical party strife in the mid-19th century. By the 20th century, diversity and divergence became positive cultural values in the eyes of many Westerners especially. It is, in any case, a political reality out of which we do not seem able of move, and for which we have no obvious alternative. Nobody seems to agree on much of anything these days, and civil political life is more and more about managing disagreement, rather than shaping and enacting common vision. Nonetheless, in the midst of these social developments, the press for alternatives to such degraded diversity has in fact been central to the Communion’s life and for one main purpose: mission, catholicity, and ecumenical witness. Although hardly immune to the tensions and struggles of expanding diversity, the Anglican Communion has always sought for ways to overcome unchecked diversity’s debilitating and dispiriting elements. Thus, mission societies aimed at common catechesis around the globe; the Lambeth Conferences were first convened and continued to search for ways of resolving conflicts and furthering mission on the basis of agreed-upon frameworks of teaching and witness; the amazingly rich array of ecumenical discussions and dialogues, set loose in the wake of Lambeth’s Appeal for unity in 1920, were premised on the hard-won fruit of theological agreement. Other Christians were, for decades, astonished, not so much at the Communion’s uniformity, but at its thirst for “agreement” and the work Anglicans were willing to put into this just in the midst of their own humanly typical conflicts. Common teaching and common council have never been finished products for Anglicans. They have been given in the mode of hope. The ordering of the Communion, as it has taken shape over the last 150 years, underscores how historically false are TEC’s claims regarding the way Anglican churches are “meant” to relate to one another. The fact that individual churches have chosen at this or that time – as TEC does today — to ignore the shape of common teaching and the decisions of common council proves nothing about the Anglican Communion other than that some members sometimes reject commonality and the reasons given for it; perhaps they have even lost hope in such coming-together through sheer historical forgetfulness. The notion, furthermore, that there have never been consequences for rejecting communion commonality is also false, however contested these consequences may have been: concrete examples in 19th- and 20th-century South Africa, in Rwanda in the 1990’s and other smaller disputes are admittedly few and generally not that significant for the larger church. Where real consequences to a rejection of Communion teaching and council have been significant is found in the ad hoc and often more destructive realms of frayed relationships and their knock-on effects: estrangement, broken communion, the decoupling of missionary cooperation and material support, shameful discord in the face of a world in need of reconciliation. It is hard to argue that these informal and inescapable consequences, deriving simply from churches doing their own thing without formal pushback, are good ways of dealing with the rejection of common teaching. It is even harder to claim that they are better than a formal decision-making process that involves representatives from around the Communion. Only a glance at recent Anglican experience shows us how absurd such an argument would be: all around us in the Communion, and in the United States especially, we see the ugly consequences of laissez faire disunity scattered about in the form of rancour, lawsuits, and missionary drought. There are always “consequences” to disunity, most of them ugly and painful. The question is how we can faithfully redirect them towards the fulfillment of divine purpose. What the Primates did, then, was to respond to a widespread desire for a deliberate rechanneling of the Anglican vocation. If TEC wants to resist this and reap yet more “informal” consequences, she is playing with the forces of her own demise. 3. Political means TEC bishops tell us that the Communion has no legitimate means, in any case, to formalize the consequences of the Americans’ resistance to the wider church’s requests and witness. This too is false, and patently so. The Primates asked that TEC representatives no longer to serve on decision-making bodies of the Communion that either deal with matters of doctrine and polity, or represent the Communion in inter-church and inter-faith meetings. In fact, most Communion-wide commission-work and counsel is pursed via invitation. Invitation is made mostly through Canterbury or the Anglican Communion Office, and it does not follow any rules of choice or representation. Sometimes nominations for such invitations are solicited, sometimes not. Why invitations might be issued or not is up to the inviter, as Archbishop Rowan Williams showed in 2010 (“the Pentecost Letter”), when he did something similar with respect to TEC representatives according to his own counsel. If the inviter is swayed by the arguments of this or that group, then that is all that is required to control who comes to represent and decide. If Lambeth or the Primates or the ACC or Canterbury itself publicly “decided” that so and so should not be invited to participate in this or that form of Communion counsel, or represent Communion churches because of a failure to embody common teaching and discipline, and if the inviters listened to such a decision, that is all it would take. There is no code of Communion canon law and no tribunal that makes any of this enforceable; there is only the collective of the Communion’s leaders themselves. But where else is communion’s Christian force humanly embodied? Participation in the Communion’s formal life is not a right, but a privilege, based on the movement that is the Communion’s own apostolic evangelical witness. 4. Primates’ place. Over and over TEC bishops have decried what they see as the Primates’ usurpation of powers. In this, rightly or wrongly, our bishops are behind the curve. The Primates have, over time, been given a very prominent place in the evolution of the Communion’s life. Obviously, the very category of archbishop and primate could only come to be as Anglican churches could form their own integrities, become locally independent and finally move towards a fully indigenized ministry. Much of this was driven by the mission and the apostolic quest for catholicity itself. So it is no surprise that it waited until the post-colonial moment of the 1960’s for the very notion of a “Primates Meeting” to emerge. In the late 1970’s this took concrete form, first with the locating of the Primates as an important aspect of common teaching and council – the Primates’ Meeting itself was born – and then with recommendations for the Meeting to assume greater leadership. Three successive Lambeth Conferences tell the tale: The Lambeth Conference of 1978 passed Resolution 11 urging “member churches not to take action regarding issues which are of concern to the whole Anglican Communion without consultation with a Lambeth Conference or with the episcopate through the Primates’ Committee (emphasis added) and requests the Primates to initiate a study of the nature of authority within the Anglican Communion.” 1988 broadened the scope of the responsibilities assigned the Primates’ Meeting. Resolution 18.2 “Urges that encouragement be given to a developing role for the Primates Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates’ Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters (emphasis added).” The 1998 Conference reaffirmed Resolution 18.2 (1988) noting that it “urges that encouragement be given to a developing collegial role for the Primates’ Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates’ Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility (emphasis added) in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.” The Conference further asked “that the Primates’ Meeting, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, include among its responsibilities positive encouragement of mission, intervention in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within provinces, and giving guidelines on the limits of Anglican diversity (emphasis added) in submission to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and in loyalty to our Anglican tradition and formularies.” Since 1998, the Primates have been trying to follow these recommendations, albeit with some confusion at times, and certainly with some opposition. Their precise role and the form it takes are developing. That development is precisely how our Communion works as a Communion. The direction of the Primates’ Meeting’s emergence could be reversed, and TEC is free to argue (as some have) that it should be reversed. What TEC cannot argue persuasively is that the role of the Primates’ Meeting has been appropriated by misdemeanor, hijacked, invented, and so on. Not so. The fact that the Covenant’s first draft placed the Primates in the position they have recently assumed – a recommendation many supported even though it was later revised – was but a sign of this movement laid out by successive Communion recommendations. Perhaps the argument made by some in TEC, that the Primates are, if not illegitimate in their actions, at least “unrepresentative” of the Communion, is a better line of attack. Yet this too would be a false assertion.. Short of universal franchise for every Anglican in the world (and we don’t even know who they are in our own parishes!), “representativeness” is a conventional act, not a quantitative science. Within Anglicanism, since the 16th century and reaffirmed repeatedly, that convention has, rather decidedly, been ordered around the episcopacy in a primary way. To be sure, the Primates constitute a group of mostly old men. But then, so does the House of Bishops of TEC (plus a few old women), along with the leaders of TEC’s General Convention as a whole. Come to think of it, it sounds like TEC all the way down. Conclusion: What TEC leaders need to decide It is worth bringing up the Anglican Covenant here, not to make any argument about it specifically, but simply to point to the way that the dynamics at work in the Primates’ directives are just those that the Covenant attempted to address. The notion that “the Covenant is Dead In the Water”, repeated by many TEC leaders and their allies, is wishful thinking at least when it comes to underlying substance: the Primates are trying to do what the Covenant itself is far more systematically laid out to do. They are doing so because Anglican churches have, thus far, failed to engage what they need to engage if they are to be truly Anglican Communion churches. Thus, in one form or another, the Covenant by some name or other, is not going away: what pressed for its articulation continues to press us. Instead of continuing to dig their heels into the ruts of rejection, TEC leaders should try to contribute to the creative ordering of the Communion as it really is. The current discussion around the Primates’ directives has failed to substantiate TEC claims. Just the opposite: that discussion now only underscores the vanity of all those accusations regarding Communion “coercion” of member churches. Just as TEC is free to ignore any other church in the prosecution of its own affairs, so the Communion does not constrict the internal workings of this or that church. Today’s requests and “consequences”, just as the Covenant’s relational expectations, have always been framed by the inherent freedoms of local Anglican churches to determine their own way forward. One of those ways is “communion”, and its historically vibrant form in the Anglican Communion. Another way involves the rejection of communion altogether. TEC is free to be a part of communion or not. There are no legal compulsions in this regard. But TEC leaders need to be clearer in their own mind as to what is at stake here. Some might feel that ecclesial discussions like those above are all beside the point. Some have, in fact, insisted that the matter of same-sex marriage for same-sex attracted persons is one of fundamental human dignity and justice; the ecclesial issues of Communion are irrelevant to its affirmation by this or any other church. That may be the case so far as TEC wishes to claim, according to its own special view. And the hurt some Episcopalians have strenuously voiced surely derives from their sense of indignation that justice, as they perceive it, is being denied. Nonetheless, as long as the matter of same-sex attracted behavior is legitimately discussed and debated within the Church – and most TEC bishops still tell their conservative colleagues, priests and laypeople that such debate and diversity is legitimate – then the Communion can discuss and debate it, as they have. In doing so, the Communion’s leaders can claim, as did the Primates, that human dignity attaches to persons, not to internal feelings or behaviors, which are to be otherwise evaluated theologically; hence it is necessary to repudiate homophobia and civil penalties against same-sex attracted persons, even while insisting on the divinely created norm of heterosexual marriage. Furthermore, just as TEC’s General Convention has moved ahead to decide the issue for itself, so too can the Communion move ahead within the realm of its competencies to decide this or any other issue on the basis of Communion-wide counsel. If, on the other hand, TEC leaders want to say that there is no longer any room for diverse perspectives and practical decisions to be made on the matter, the Communion’s life is indeed irrelevant to TEC’s life. But then why bemoan what the Communion’s Primates have decided on the basis of common discernment? TEC leaders would have already judged common discernment and decision-making as retrograde. What TEC leaders cannot reasonably say is that the choice for Communion does not involve the commitments, responsibilities, and consequences tied up with Communion life – with common mission, catholic identity, and ecumenical witness. Hurt feelings are not a substitute for any of these realities. The next three years will require of TEC clarity and hard decisions about this. Without that, “safe distance” will become simply “distance”, and new and fuller tears will then be shed, and deservedly so. Let TEC then be clear about the character of its independent life vis-à-vis a bona fide historical reality called the Anglican Communion. Let it seek to clarify its present self-understanding. Let it speak this out clearly so that the larger Communion can hear and understand who TEC now wants to be, and in just this way, how it wants to differentiate itself vis-à-vis the historical Communion’s evolution and present life. There is no need for too much sensitivity, but only clarity about its new self-understanding. Download the full text of this article with footnotes (PDF)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Fruit of Nice Guy Bishops

During my lifetime, the Episcopal Church changed dramatically and one of the biggest changes was in the selection of bishops. Once upon a time, the Episcopal Church elected theologian-bishops like Fitzsimmons Alison of the Diocese of South Carolina or Robert Terwilliger of the Diocese of Dallas. In more recent times the Episcopal Church has been electing nice guy bishops. This trend has been seen in a number of instances and one in particular is the Bishop of Central New York.

This is his statement on last week's decision by the primates of the Anglican Communion:

21 Jan 2016

Author: Gladstone Adams

You probably have heard of the decision that has come out of the recent Anglican Primates meeting in Canterbury, England. (The Primates are the head bishops of the various provincial churches that make up the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which our Presiding Bishop is one.) Of the Primates gathered, a majority voted to censure The Episcopal Church for our full embrace of LGBTQ persons, specifically for our most recent General Convention’s action approving inclusive marriage rites that can be used for same-sex couples.

According to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the Primates' decision is not a “sanction” of The Episcopal Church, but a “consequence” of our theological and pastoral decisions that are not embraced by a majority of the head bishops of the Anglican Communion. Whatever the term used, the Primates decided that clergy and lay leaders of The Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, cannot participate in any official Anglican bodies that deal with matters of doctrine or policy.

The positive part of the Primate’s declaration is that they unanimously expressed a desire to continue to walk in partnership, joined in Christ in mission and ministry. In my perspective, however, the Primate’s decision to censure The Episcopal Church compounds the pain of discrimination that LGBTQ people have suffered over the centuries and continue to suffer as a result of Church policy. For that pain I am deeply sorry, and as a Bishop of the Church I apologize to all LGBTQ people, especially those of this Diocese.

Discipleship can be costly and sometimes, although we do not want it to be so, relationships are strained as part of that cost. People who love God can honestly disagree on weighty matters, and it is my desire to respect and remain in relationship with those who disagree with me. It is my belief, however, that as I read Scripture, understand the teaching of Jesus, examine the history of the Church, and apply God’s gift of human reason seeking the Spirit’s direction, that the actions of The Episcopal Church moving toward full inclusion of LGBTQ people are of God. The Spirit is calling us to stand by our carefully and prayerfully made decisions.

We, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, will continue to embrace our baptismal promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” As we believe everyone is made in God’s image, we will continue to work to be a faith community that offers God’s radical hospitality to all, assures everyone of God’s loving embrace, and supports relationships lived in fidelity to God and one another, no matter one’s sexual orientation. All leadership positions of this Church remain open to all who seek the Way of Jesus.

The decision of the Primates does not affect us in the every day life of our churches except in one essential way. That is, we must continue to pray for one another and love one another as Jesus has loved us, especially where we may disagree. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, reconciliation and agreement are not the same thing.

I will be attending an Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in March where I may receive much more information and clarity regarding the decisions made and where we may go from here. Until then, God be with you all. I call upon you to remain steadfast in God’s hope as we seek “to be the passionate presence of Christ for one another and the world we are called to serve.”

In Christ,

Skip

[http://www.anglican.ink/article/bishop-central-new-york-responds-canterbury-primates-communique]

As you read that statement, did you notice any theology? Of course not, which is the problem in the Episcopal Church. When the leadership of TEC asked the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to write a theological statement on human sexuality, the statement released in 2003, "The Gift of Sexuality: A Theological Perspective," was roundly criticized by liberal and conservative theologians alike [a conservative critique is found in The Windsor Report and a liberal critique is found here: https://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/dojustice/j033.html - there were a number of others from both sides of the theological divide].

The level of theological work is certainly not raised by the Bishop of Central New York, but this is what we've come to expect from him. He told a group that I was a part of in 2003 that he had written a theological statement on the General Convention's action that summer in endorsing the consecration of Vicky Gene Robinson, a divorced man in a committed homosexual relationship, but when he gave it to his staff along with a more personal reflection piece, they thought the reflection piece was a better statement to be published in the diocesan newspaper. Instead of a reasoned affirmation of the General Convention's action, the diocese was given much less.

In the statement copied above, the bishop says "as I read Scripture, understand the teaching of Jesus, examine the history of the Church, and apply God’s gift of human reason seeking the Spirit’s direction, that the actions of The Episcopal Church moving toward full inclusion of LGBTQ people are of God." That has about as much weight as the folks who preface or explain their actions with "the Lord told me to do it." People of God, it has been the age-old premise of the Church that the Holy Spirit does not speak or lead contrary to the revealed Word of God, which is the Bible.

The bishop next quotes from the 1979 prayer book liturgy, that we are to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” In his perspective, to maintain the historic position on sexuality and marriage is to disrespect the dignity of people who hold to other views of sexuality and marriage. It is to deny them justice and to create discord. This is strange thinking considering that it is the same prayer book that has the baptismal covenant from which he is quoting and the wedding service that clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

In his statement, do you see any acknowledgment of the discord that TEC has created in the worldwide Anglican Communion by her unilateral actions? Of course not. To do so would require humility. Instead, the victim card is played and the defiance that has marked the words and actions of TEC since 2003 come to the fore.

This is what you get when you elect nice guy bishops. What you don't get is theologians who understand how to do the hard work of properly interpreting Scripture. Even a committee of six bishops and "seven academic theologians" [from the Gift of Sexuality] could not adequately do that. And this is precisely the problem in TEC. This is why TEC has been censured by the Anglican Communion.

Skip is a nice guy, but hardly a theologian. Unfortunately, the Episcopal House of Bishops is filled with other men and women like him that exhibit the same deficiency.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Where Do U.S. Anglicans Get Anglican News?

Last week was an important week in the life of Anglicans in the United States, and American Anglicans of the Episcopalian variety and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) variety used a number of websites to track the news from the historic meeting of Primates at Canterbury Cathedral in England.

The heads of the 37 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion were joined by Archbishop Foley Beach, the head of the ACNA. The meeting began on Monday and there was a partial media blackout due to no press conferences being held until Friday and the lack of availablity of the primates during the meeting. Information leaked out in drips and drabs and Anglicans and Episcopalians received what news and conjecture that was released through a variety of sources.

The principle sources for reporting on the meeting for the United States were EpiscopalChurch.org, Episcopal Cafe, Virtue Online, Anglican's Online and Stand Firm in Faith. It may be too early to say which was the go to site, but here are the stats according to site metrics from Alexa.com as I write:

EpiscopalChurch.org's worldwide rank is 93,868. It's national ranking is 16,300.

Episcopal Cafe's worldwide rank is 176,909, with a national ranking of 32,992.

Virtue Online's rank worldwide is 349,069. It's national ranking is 59,184.

Anglican's Online ranks 413,758 worldwide and 127,986 in the United States.

Stand Firm's worldwide rank is 564,827. It's national ranking is 109,191.

So, two liberal sites were more popular than Virtue Online, and three liberal sites were more popular than Stand Firm. Interestingly, today, the traffic to the liberal sites were all increasing while the traffic to Virtue Online was down and the traffic to Stand Firm was dramatically down.

Alexa.com explains their ranking system, saying, "The rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors to this site and pageviews on this site over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM

I'm still waiting for an apology from Susan Russell. I've known for a long time that she isn't about to apologize for her blatant lie. When I commented that the LGBT movement would be expanding to other perversions she denied it. Then Bishop Vicky Gene Robinson opined that there are many letters in the alphabet. That was an open admission that the LGBT movement was moving on to greater sins. Still, no apology from Susan Russell. Then this from the Washington Post: "Wesleyan University’s student government threatened to cut the school newspaper’s funding because it published a column critical of campus leftists. Wesleyan created a “safe space,” a.k.a. a house, for LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM students (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf---, Polyamorous, Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism)." Read it for yourself: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/higher-education-brought-low/2015/11/25/a79f118e-92d6-11e5-b5e4-279b4501e8a6_story.html By the way,this is just one example of why I call so-called higher education higher propaganda. The propaganda starts in elementary school and continues into college. You can read more about that in the same article. Susan Russell, I still waiting.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

pecusa legal expenses revised by the Anglican Curmudgeon

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015 What Is ECUSA Spending on Lawsuits? (Updated for General Convention 2015) [WARNING: the following post may be dangerous to one's mental health. The panoply of unbelievably large figures in it may also cause one's eyes to glaze over. For those who cannot wade through it all, here is the bottom line: The Episcopal Church (USA) has spent, and further committed (in its adopted budgets) to spend, a total of $42,675,466 on suing fellow Christians in the civil and ecclesiastical courts over the first eighteen years of this century. When one adds in the estimated additional amounts spent by individual dioceses on such litigation, the total amount exceeds Sixty Million Dollars. Can't believe it? Well, then, read on -- you have been warned.] Since September 2010, when I put up an analysis, based on ECUSA's monthly statements and their annual audited statements through 2009, I have kept track of how much ECUSA and its major dioceses has spent on attorneys' fees and other costs associated with all of the 90 or so lawsuits against former Episcopalians to which it (or one of its dioceses) has been a party. In 2010, it was only 60+ lawsuits, as catalogued here (see pgs. 23-26), but the Church continues to sue everyone who leaves it, whether the law is against it or not. In order to give as complete a picture as possible back then, I also included the latest ECUSA budget projection of legal expenses through the triennium 2010-2012. One has to realize that ECUSA does not make it easy to discover the amounts it spends on litigation -- the leadership at 815 Second Avenue would obviously prefer that those who sit in the pews every Sunday and contribute their pledges not be aware of just how many millions have been squandered on ECUSA's scorched-earth litigation policy. I am fully aware that those are fighting words to all those who support the current administration at 815 Second Avenue: "Prove it!" they say. Well, in the course of this post, I intend to do just that. So please suspend your judgment until you have digested the entire piece, and checked out all the links to my sources -- which are uniformly from ECUSA's own published financial statements and official minutes. I am a lifelong Episcopalian myself, and I am utterly ashamed and outraged by what the Presiding Bishop and her cohorts are doing in our Church's name. The amounts the Church spends due to its litigation policies come in a number of different categories. Not all the categories are shown in the same financial documents. For instance: The yearly audited financial statements, which are the most accurate source, do not break out "litigation expenses" as a separate category, but instead lump them in with all the other general operating costs of the organization. But what they do disclose are (a) the amount of moneys loaned (not granted outright) to rump dioceses; and (b) the amount of legal out-of-pocket expenses contributed to ECUSA by the Presiding Bishop's Chancellor's law firm, Goodwin Procter. (Note: While the IRS does not allow lawyers to deduct the value of their services rendered pro bono, it does allow them to deduct out-of-pocket expenses incurred in performing the services -- travel, hotel and meals; telephone, freight, postage and similar amounts. In order to keep track of ECUSA's full legal expenses, these contributed costs must be added back into the totals, or else those totals would appear artificially low in comparison to other corporations incurring similar legal services and related expenses. Moreover, ECUSA includes their amount in its income -- see the auditors' note -- so they have to be part of its expenses, as well.) The monthly statements of operations, though not audited, are the best source of information for (c) the cost of Title IV proceedings -- at least until recently -- and (d) the amounts paid to Goodwin and Procter over and above their donated services, as well as to local law firms retained in various states by ECUSA. The minutes of the Executive Council are the best source for (e) the amounts of grants and credit lines extended to the rump dioceses. (The audited financials show only the amounts actually borrowed against credit lines as of the year end; they do not disclose the total amount of credit lines extended.) The budgets adopted by General Convention and the Executive Council are the best detailed source for actual moneys spent in the past on particular line items, and they are the only source for (f) the future anticipated legal expenses of the Church. These are most often wildly understated, and Executive Council is constantly having to revise them upwards. In September 2010, I had concluded that ECUSA and its Dioceses of Virginia, Los Angeles and San Diego had committed to date a combined total of Twenty-one Million Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($21,650,000.00) on litigation for the years 2000-2012. Four years later, I revised the total spent by ECUSA alone (not including any of its dioceses) during that same period to $21,858,714. This number I broke down as follows: For the Griswold years (2000-2006), the total is somewhat higher than estimated previously, because I found an entry for "Legal Support to Dioceses" paid in calendar 2006 in the amount of $443,519. The new total is: TOTAL 2000-2006: $ 1,777,180.00 For the first triennium under Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori (2007-2009): Title IV Expenses: $ 1,702,222 -- i.e., almost as much as PB Griswold spent on everything legal! Litigation Expenses (including contributed expenses): $ 8,392,584 Grants to Sustain Rump Dioceses: $1,200,000 TOTAL 2007-2009: $ 11,294,806.00 For the second Jefferts Schori triennium (2010-2012): Title IV Expenses: $ 992,921 Litigation Expenses (including contributed expenses): $ 4,933,807 Grants to Sustain Rump Dioceses: $ 575,000 Loans to Rump Dioceses: $ 2,285,000 TOTAL 2010-2012: $ 8,786,728.00 Jefferts Schori Actual Total, 2007-2012: $ 20,081,534 Plus: Griswold Total, 2000-2006: $ 1,777,180 GRAND TOTAL, 2000-2012: $ 21,858,714 That amazing number is now historical fact, and does not change. But the totals since 2012 do. At the time of my 2014 post, I did not have the final, year-end figures for 2013, but now I do. Actual 2013 legal expenses alone (not including contributed expenses) were reported (p.3) at $2,125,008 -- more than $1.1 million over the amount budgeted. (This item includes in-house legal staff support, such as the salary of the Presiding Bishop's Special Assistant for Litigation, Mary Kostel.) To this must be added the amounts of contributed legal expenses, which are disclosed only in the 2013 audited financial statements (p. 11): $386,000. (The Presiding Bishop's Chancellor's law firm, in return for being awarded all of ECUSA's litigation work, gives ECUSA "discounted hourly rates" -- isn't that fine?) The total thus for 2013, exclusive of grants, loans, and Title IV expenses (which the Treasurer no longer itemizes), comes to $ 2,511,008.00. Now include the $735,000 authorized in grants and loans to just the South Carolina rump diocese in 2013 (after a further $300,000 increase authorized in June), the $785,000 authorized for San Joaquin, plus amounts to other dioceses, and the $270,000 spent on Title IV (per the 2014 budget, line 277), and you reach: TOTAL LEGAL EXPENSES (ECUSA ALONE) FOR 2013: $4,601,008. For calendar 2014, ECUSA has reported legal expenses of $1,741,166 -- this time only $526,681 over budget. (Those darn legal expenses! Just cannot budget for them!). Contributed expenses are not known yet, but a safe estimate is $300,000. Add in the 2014 grants and loans to litigating dioceses: a general $500,000 line of credit approved in February 14 (FFM038); a separate loan of $785,000 to the Diocese of San Joaquin approved in June 2014 (FFM050), along with a further $775,000 to be drawn as necessary for the "maintenance of any recovered property"; and $270,245 budgeted for Title IV proceedings (line 277). The total then comes to: TOTAL LEGAL EXPENSES (ECUSA ALONE) FOR 2014: $4,371,411. For calendar 2015, we have budget amounts only thus far (which are notoriously underestimated). The budget for legal expenses in 2015 is $1,160,486 (line 346), and for Title IV expenses (line 277) $275,622. The number for legal expenses almost certainly needs to be increased (March 2015 already ran 50% over budget), and we do not have the figures for any of the other components yet in 2015. The safe thing to do is to estimate that the total for 2015 will be something like the average for 2013-2014: TOTAL LEGAL EXPENSES (ECUSA ALONE; ESTIMATED) FOR 2015: $4,486,210. This in turn allows us to estimate the total for the last triennium of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's term: it comes to $ 13,458,629. Note that the total far exceeds either of the two preceding triennia ($11,294,806 for 2007-2009, and $8,786,728 for 2010-2012). And so, for 2000 through 2015, we have: Jefferts Schori Total, 2007-2015: $ 33,540,163 Plus: Griswold Total, 2000-2006: $ 1,777,180 Note the hugely disparate legal expenses under Jefferts Schori, as compared to Bishop Griswold's last six years (there were no litigation expenses during Griswold's first three years) -- an increase of nearly 1,900%. Now do you see what I mean by "scorched-earth litigation policy"? Together, the two are responsible for the Church's spending the following GRAND TOTAL, 2000-2015: $ 35,317,343 Just to put that number into perspective, take a look at line 362 in the (2014) budget. It is even larger than the amount as ECUSA budgeted to spend for ALL of its operations in calendar 2013! And we are not done yet. We have a budget proposed for General Convention to adopt for the next triennium, 2016-2018. There we see (line 346) $3,572,082 proposed for legal expenses, and (line 277) $888,305 for Title IV expenses. Given the inadequacy of the previous budgets to forecast actual amounts, it would be safe to increase the larger amount by 50%, so say: $5,358,123. Then to that total must still be added the (unbudgeted) estimates for loans to litigating dioceses, and for contributed expenses (will the new Presiding Bishop elected in 2015 continue to use David Booth Beers and his law firm, Goodwin Procter, to handle all of ECUSA's litigation?). A good estimate for those numbers, as we have seen, is a round $2 million. So the total spent and committed to be spent by the Episcopal Church (USA), all on its own, and for the first eighteen years of this century, comes to TOTAL LEGAL EXPENSES (ECUSA ALONE; ESTIMATED) FOR 2000-2018: $42,675,466. Note that this total now exceeds the amount budgeted by the Church for all of its operations in 2015 alone ($40.8 million). And we still are not done. We have to add in the amounts spent by individual dioceses -- Los Angeles, Fort Worth, San Diego, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, etc., etc. Starting with Virginia, we know the Diocese took out a $2 million line of credit, but that sufficed for only the first two years of its protracted litigation. Taking into account interest and the duration of the lawsuit, it is safe to estimate that Virginia alone spent $4 million litigating against former parishes. Los Angeles' total must be comparable. But Fort Worth's litigation is not yet over, and because it has hired several law firms, it is safe to say its budget is the highest of all -- around $6 million. Add another $6 million total for all the many other dioceses in litigation (see the bottom of this page) and you can easily see how, by the end of 2018, the total spent on litigation-related items within ECUSA will easily be WELL OVER SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS. In other words, the total estimated amount has trebled since I first estimated it five years ago, and increased by 50% over my estimate just last year. That is an unconscionable waste of non-profit resources. Even taking into account Bishop J. Jon Bruno's (he of the forkèd tongue) announced intention to sell the St. James property for $15 million -- rather than allow the parish for which the Diocese supposedly sued to recover its property to continue to use it -- the amounts recovered in property values to date pale into insignificance compared to the amounts being squandered in seeking to recover them. And the administration at 815 is becoming less and less transparent in disclosing the waste on this huge scale. No longer do they break out "legal aid to dioceses" or "Title IV expenses" as separate line items in their monthly statements. And why do they not publish the total amounts they expect to be repaid from the dioceses receiving the loans? Is it realistic, for example, to expect the rump Diocese of San Joaquin alone, which is unable to sustain itself on its own, to repay the more than $3 million ECUSA has loaned to it thus far? How does that represent "good stewardship"? Will no one at the forthcoming General Convention -- House of Bishops, House of Deputies, clergy, or laity -- hold them to account? Will the bishops and deputies not require each candidate for Presiding Bishop to state clearly his intentions regarding carrying on this waste of the Church's precious resources? Ultimately, the New York Attorney General is the officer who has the jurisdiction and power to look into the misuse of non-profit assets, and it is high time he did so. After all, at the request of both clergy and laity he invoked his jurisdiction over the scandal involving Treasurer Ellen Cooke, and that involved only a few million dollars: chump change in comparison to what is going on now. For almost ten years now, the Episcopal Church (USA) has had an out-of-control litigation budget. It is a scandal of ineffable magnitude. It must -- and hopefully soon will -- be brought to a halt. Posted by A. S. Haley at 9:50 AM

Friday, October 24, 2014

Money talks for pecusa no matter what

Former Connecticut church sold for benefit of local Muslim community
Anglican Communion News Service
October 23, 2014

The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) has sold its property at 35 Harris Road, Avon, former home to Christ Episcopal Church, to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. (FVAMC).

The sale, for $1.1 million, was completed on Oct. 21.

The building was vacated after the congregation voted in 2012 to dissolve as a parish and close by the end of that year.

The following spring, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and other ECCT staff hosted a meeting of community leaders and interested residents to discern how the property could best be used "as an asset to God's mission of restoration and reconciliation" in greater Avon and beyond....read more.


(via the ACC)
Reconfiguring the Anglican Communion without Archbishop Welby's input?
By Barbara Gauthier
October 22, 2014
On October 3rd, Archbishop of Canterbury said that the Anglican Church in North America was not Anglican and definitely not part of the Anglican Communion. The next day, the Diocese of NW Australia recognized the ACNA "as a member church of the Anglican Communion, in full communion with Diocese of North West Australia." On October 9th, seven primates of the Anglican Communion welcomed Archbishop Foley Beach of the ACNA as "an archbishop and fellow primate of the Anglican Communion." A week later, the Diocese of Sydney's Synod passed a resolution "without dissent" declaring that they intended to be in full communion with the ACNA. This prompted a commenter to observe that ++Welby's decision may not matter much at all in the long run - or, for that matter, in the short run either:

The dominos are starting to fall and I'll bet they start picking up speed before the end of the year. The ACNA issue is being taken out of Welby's hands (and he essentially asked for that) and he's going to soon be asking someone "what happened?"...read more. 

(via the ACC)