The New Moral Equivalence
Prominent media hosts equate Christian and Muslim violence.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD), tells OneNewsNow the information about Jim Wallis receiving the funds surfaced recently in a report from WORLD Magazine.
"This was significant in that Jim Wallis in recent years has adamantly insisted he did not belong to either side of the political spectrum, but essentially was a centrist who was transcending left and right and was simply a purely Christian activist," Tooley notes. But in fact, he continues, with the Wallis-Soros connection now confirmed, "Wallis...stands exposed as what he always was: a man of the political left."
Wallis -- a spiritual advisor to President Obama -- has openly stated in the past that Sojourners did not receive funding from atheists, but he later issued a statement confirming there had been at least three Soros grants from Soros' Open Society Institute totaling about $325,000. One of those grants, according to Christianity Today, totaled $100,000 and was earmarked for "immigration reform" -- prompting Wallis to tell the publication: "I have no apologies for taking a donation on immigration reform from Open Society. We'd do it again."
Tooley thinks Wallis and Soros are in sync on several different levels -- some of which contrast sharply with Christian orthodoxy.
"George Soros, besides being politically on the left, obviously is very pro-abortion rights and pro-euthanasia and would have very strong views on a whole range of topics involving sanctity of life and definition of marriage and others that the vast majority of orthodox Christians would disagree with," Tooley suggests.
But the IRD president points out that at the same time, Wallis is trying to make his appeal primarily to evangelical Christians -- resulting in what Tooley describes as a clear "dichotomy."
Monday, August 30th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments
One of the giants decides to hang it up:
I think I’m going to wind down this blog. The stupidity of the religious Left has stopped being funny to me, and I find that commenting on their continuing decomposition just isn’t worth the energy genuine indignation would require. Politics is also going from bad to worse, what with the Ground Zero Abomination Mosque Roach House project failing to produce the correct response: pistol duels. I’m starting to feel like M. Scott Peck dealing with one of his evil-infected patients: that the sickness of so many parts of the world today is so great that it will overwhelm me if I don’t get away from it.
I understand that, I really do. The idea has occurred to me from time to time and if you run one of these things long enough, it’ll occur to you too. So why have I kept at it?
Probably the only advantage to being an intensely shy, moody loner is that it provides you with a certain distance. If you spend your entire life on the outside looking in, you’ll eventually develop an outside-looking-in way of looking at the world.
After getting over the wrench of leaving the only church I had ever known, the Episcopalians began to amuse me so it was fun to write about them. If you’re interested, here’s the best chronicle of that process(not available at fine bookstores everywhere; just sayin’).
And they can’t even do that anymore. These days, since they are so predictable, the Episcopalians and the rest of the Christian left bore me more than anything else. Hence the gradual move into other areas.
But how have you stayed at it as long as you have, Chris? Why hasn’t it gotten to you? Here’s one reason. Know why the Anglican Investigator exists? Know why I take occasional semi-successful stabs at humor? Stuff like that actually isn’t for the readership. It’s for me.
You have to amuse yourself once in a while.
Fact of the matter is that most of the time, I rarely post things because I think other people will be fascinated by them. I post them because I am. The fact that other people are as well is icing on the cake.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Anglican Communion News Service
By Jan Butter, Anglican Communion Office Director of Communications
I flew into Entebbe on Monday morning without map or compass; this was only the second gathering of bishops from across the continent of Africa. The first had been six years ago in Lagos, Nigeria, long before my time with the Anglican Communion Office.
As an invited guest I had received the conference agenda, but I was worried that disagreements between Provinces of the Anglican Communion -a perpetual topic for most bloggers and journalists -could overshadow the proceedings.
This concerned me because the official conference agenda appeared to be a genuine attempt to bring to the table those issues that hampered the mission of the Church in Africa: poverty, poor leadership, health inequalities, conflict and violence. In fact, many of the invited guests were from mission agencies such as CMS Africa and World Vision Uganda.
By the close of the first day, newspaper reports and online blogs were unsurprisingly filled with articles on topics that divide the Communion: human sexuality issues, bishops ordained in one Province ministering in another without permission; this, despite some genuinely important presentations and sermons on the role of Anglican bishops and the issues before conference delegates. Day two and three's coverage was sadly much of the same.
Absent was any mention of searching questions from the podium; questions such as 'if numbers of African Christians are soaring, why are several countries where they live still suffering from conflict, corruption and poverty?' Absent was mention of the commitment by one bishop to plant a million trees on his land before he dies in an effort to reverse deforestation and tackle climate change. Stories of hugely successful DIY community dam projects and of biogas schemes that provide villages with desperately needed water and fuel went largely unreported. Where were the newspaper articles or the blog entries describing the challenge to bishops to use their position and influence to help end the mutilation, rape and murder of African women?
As a former print journalist I know what sells newspapers, but there was so much more to this conference than internal disagreements over certain issues. All anyone needed to do was strike up a conversation with any bishop from any country and soon they would be marvelling over what was happening in dioceses and parishes up and down the continent.
There was the five-man ministry team that over two years has preached the Gospel to 15,000 soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has seen 13,000 of them repent of raping women and looting. There was the Sudanese bishop who produces and broadcasts a radio programme six days a week on a range of social issues that affect the community. There was the church-supported microcredit scheme, in one of the poorest rural Nigerian dioceses, that was so successful in helping women to capitalise on their own investments that the overseas donors sent auditors to the country to verify the claims.
On Saturday the bishops and other delegates were taken on a day-trip to one of three different sites. In Namugongo I stood with a large crowd of clergy from Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa and other countries and listened as a Ugandan priest told us that where we stood, 25 of the country's first Protestant and Catholic converts were roasted alive because they had chosen Christianity. The sacrifice of these martyrs was foundational to the Church in Uganda and every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims actually walk from across Uganda, as well as neighbouring countries, to Namugongo to remember them. Our group moved from shrine to shrine, chapel to chapel and we prayed together at each one. Before we left, all the bishops stood on the steps of a church for a group photo, eager to remember this collective moment.
Do all Provinces of the Anglican Communion agree on everything? No. Is there hurt and anger over actions taken by Provinces? Yes. But were 400 bishops from around 20 countries able to meet together, pray together and commit together to prevent violence against women and children; to work for poverty reduction; to help strengthen African identity and purpose; to call for strong, honest leadership for the continent; to promise to protect and nurture the next generation of African Anglicans; and to listen to the rest of the global Anglican Communion?
Yes they were.
Late one evening in Uganda I caught the end of a film in which a father tells his son: "the miracle of wood is not that it burns, but that it floats." After spending time with the bishops in Entebbe, I think the same could be said of the Anglican Communion.
Anglican Communion News Service
By Jan Butter in Kampala
Four hundred bishops from Africa announced today that 'business as usual' was no longer an option for the Anglican Church there and that Africans should "take their destiny into their own hands".
On the sixth and final day of the All Africa Bishops Conference in Uganda, the bishops issued a communiqué filled with commitments contesting the status quo in areas including politics, poverty reduction, violence against women, theological education and conflict.
The five-page statement was a clear challenge from the Anglican bishops of Africa to the Church, the continent and the rest of the Anglican Communion, and it pulled few punches: "While we will always be prepared to listen to voices from other parts of the global Communion, it is pertinent that the rest of the world listens to the unique voice of the Church in Africa," wrote the bishops.
"The Anglican Church in Africa has continued to witness growth so that the centre of gravity of Christianity today appears to be shifting to the continent. Nonetheless, the Church's relevance and impact on global mission and to social, economic and political transformation of the continent remains a challenge."
It was to these last items that most of the document's 'commitment' statements referred. The Church, the bishops said, needs to address the causes and effects of poverty and injustice on the people of Africa.
"We must be actively involved in working with partners at all levels to ensure equal access to medical care, food security and the promoting of good health practices to prevent the major causes of death on the continent, with particular attention to primary health care for African families, especially mothers, children and the elderly.
"The Anglican Church in Africa must join the global movement that refuses to stay silent about the current socio-economic and political state of affairs. We should stop agonising over the deplorable state of African underdevelopment and start organising towards a proactive, pragmatic engagement with good governance and infra-structural development."
They also made several demands on those in authority, particularly in Africa. Such demands included ones on human rights abuses: "We call for and actively work to bring about an end to all forms of abuse and forms of slavery. We demand the protection of our people, particularly our women and children, from human trafficking, sexual immorality, abuse and violence, and structural, cultural and domestic violence."
There were also calls for national leaders to meet global poverty reduction targets: "The successful hosting of the World Cup by South Africa…demonstrated how Africa's potential can be unleashed. This should inspire and motivate the Church as well as political leaders to proactively promote and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015."
The bishops' document stated also that "the inherited model of theological formation and educations has been identified to be inadequate" for the African Church. It said that rather theological curricula would be developed on the continent that would enable its leaders to be "more relevant to the practical and spiritual needs of contemporary society". They also reaffirmed their commitment to "Anglican orthodoxy and authority of Scripture" and the "Biblical standard of the family with man and woman as its foundation".
On the Anglican Covenant bishops wrote: "Whereas we accept the rationale for an Anglican Covenant, we realise the need for further improvement of the Covenant in order to be an effective tool for unity and mutual accountability."
The communiqué also contained statements on tackling climate change and on encouraging the Anglican Church in Africa to become more financially self-reliant and more strategic in its planning: "After a long period of African underdevelopment and misconceptions of African identity, it has become increasingly pertinent for Africans to take their destiny into their own hands.
"By setting and achieving their own strategic goals, based on the Biblical model of Christ's mission, African Christians can define their own identity, recover their self-esteem and reach their potential under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."
The bishops also spoke out on several trouble-zones on the continent including DR Congo, Sudan and Madagascar and called on national and international authorities to work harder to bring peace to these conflict-affected countries.
Notes to Editors
1. The 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference (AABC) from the 23rd – 29th August 2010 is at the Imperial Resort Hotel, Entebbe, Uganda. It was organised by The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA).
2. The conference brought together Bishops from 400 dioceses in Burundi, Central Africa, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, Egypt and Uganda. www.africanbishops.org
3. The Anglican Communion Office serves the Anglican Communion, comprising around 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 160 countries.http://www.anglicancommunion.org/
4. Media queries about the Anglican Communion in relation to this conference should contact Mr Jan Butter on +256(0)700882038 or email@example.com
UGANDA: CAPA Bishops Conference: From My Ear to Yours (2)
By David W. Virtue in Entebbe
August 26, 2010
The CAPA primates met with Rowan Williams in a closed-door session Tuesday night. It went on for many hours, but Williams got the message loud and clear - there will be no compromise on homosexual practice. None. When I tried squeezing an African Primate, not so much about the content of the meeting, but about the dynamics of the meeting and how Rowan responded, he simply said this, "When all was said and done, he was being Rowan."
WORSHIP. There is nothing quite like hearing more than 400 strong African voices raised in glorious harmony singing the great hymns of the church. Hymns stretch across the ages, cultures and time. No praise choruses here, just the grand hymns of the faith that have sustained Anglicans both Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic for generations. Tears came to my eyes as we sang one of my favorite hymns,When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), often referred to as the "Father of English Hymnody". One wonders if I will ever hear it sung again like this in my lifetime.
Here is the breakdown by numbers of the bishops who are here: 40 from Kenya, 8 from Indian Ocean, 180 from Nigeria, (the largest), 7 from Burundi, 12 from Central Africa, 8 from Congo, 3 from Egypt, 12 from Rwanda, 10 from South Africa, 39 from the Sudan, 23 from Tanzania, 35 from Uganda and 17 bishops from West Africa = 396 bishops. There are 30 plus additional people from aid agencies and a small number of media.
During a coffee break today, I met with a dozen Sudanese bishops all of whom read VOL. I was thrilled to meet them. They seemed very appreciative of VOL's ministry informing them about what is going on in the Anglican Communion. "We don't trust any other sources," they told me. When I think of the nasty, noisy American conservative Episcopal blogs that I live with like bad canker sores, it was a joy to sit down and talk with bishops from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Rwanda who say VOL is their sole source of trustworthy news. An honor indeed.
Social issues are featured high on the agenda. The environment, poverty, HIV/ADIS and diseases of one sort or another are being addressed. However, one wonders if some of the speakers, many of whom are bureaucrats who struggle with resources, are adopting UN language to get UN dollars. Every Anglican province has an HIV office as well as development offices with huge staffs.
One of the criticisms of Episcopal Church bishops like John Chane of Washington and Tom Shaw of Massachusetts is that Africa is more concerned with homosexuality than the pressing issues of Africa. It is a lie, of course. It is the North American churches that are obsessed with homosexual behavior, not the Africans. Africans have no interest in the subject at all. They are being forced to address it precisely because it is being thrust upon them by the West's Culture Wars.
This conference is not shying away from addressing the subject, but this conference has dispelled forever the African church's alleged lack of interest on social issues that are tearing people apart including war and disease. Whole lectures have been devoted to HIV/AIDS, the environment, poverty, disease, war and the need for clean water and what local churches should be doing about it. One African bishop says he hopes to plant one million trees before he dies. (Has US Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori planted a single tree?) The Africans have the resources. What they need is help to mobilize and strategize them.
The problems are immense and the need is great. Many African nations have had a series of corrupt political leaders, which has made change difficult. Uganda is a case in point. The country has gone from Idi Amin to a solid Christian Anglican president today. Things can change. The church even has a provident fund for retiring clergy. No, it is not in the same league as the Church Pension Fund, but the African Anglican world is growing and changing. Constant whining about Western pansexuality will not hold them back. The evidence is in. The total Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) for the whole of North America wouldn't be one decent sized Nigerian diocese. So the question is: who should be listening to whom?
The deeper truth is that the axis of Anglicanism has moved from the Global North to the Global South. African Anglicans no longer need to go through Canterbury (if they ever did) to get to Jesus. In reality, Canterbury and Lambeth are historical relics and tourist attractions along with St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. There is very little if any gospel being proclaimed there, hence the churches are empty. (The church hugging the walls of Lambeth Palace now sells plants and offers advice on herbal cures).
African churches are packed to capacity and overflowing. Evangelists vie for new converts often on opposing street corners. Anybody caught preaching on a street corner in England could get nailed for being either homophobic or Islamophobic.
By contrast, Africa will have 633 million practicing Anglicans by 2025. By then, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada will cease to exist or be little more than a reverse Plunket Society for geriatric priests in need of colostomy bags held up by vague Unitarian beliefs.
There is enormous spiritual dynamism here. The Holy Spirit's presence is palpable.
Anglican leaders are facing challenges of marriage and divorce and occasional bad leaders. They address them all in the framework of the gospel. Charles Bennison, V. Gene Robinson, Mary Glasspool et al would not even be priests here, let alone bishops. These African leaders say these people need converting to Christ first. African bishops are horrified when they hear and read all about what is going on in North America. They shake their heads, put their arms around me and say, "We are praying from you and the Episcopal Church." Many of them openly weep at what is happening in North America and England. They can't find words to express what they see going on in the churches in Europe and North America. And they wonder aloud why it is that these nations that brought them the gospel, now has "another gospel" they do not recognize.
The Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso, General Secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, made a pro gay comment to "New Vision" newspaper that has gotten him into trouble with the Primates here.
Asked whether homosexuality that has split the Western church from their African counterparts was on the agenda, Kaiso said the church was finding ways of advocating for change in the mindsets of those who purport to be homosexuals.
It is not God's will, Kaiso added, that people should live a hopeless life. "Change is possible in Africa but how can we achieve it? Our leaders use our money badly and fail to build hospitals, wells and roads. But since the church is everywhere, even where governments don't reach, we can use that strength to mobilize people."
Infuriated that he is sending mixed signals over homosexual behavior, Kaiso is being taken to task.