Anglican Communion, TEC Conflict, UK Religious info

Interesting perspective to consider

Found this on the Stand Firm website. Good to take a step back and read it all.

Sarah Hey

Two Articles from Different Anglican Progressives

We as traditional Anglicans tend to focus on the various embattled states in which we find ourselves.But we forget — [and probably that’s generally healthy to do so] — that the whole notion of being “in battle” is a shock to Anglican progressive activists. I always remind people that they really thought that they would march in through the arc de triomphe at the 2003 General Convention, and victory would be completed. Over and over they stated that there would be very little resistance, and what there was would be brief and fleeting as the 10 or so people who were opposed to revision of moral teaching would quickly leave.

Instead — they over-reached, and folks woke up, connected, organized, and acted.

The result has been four years of unceasing and escalating strife. It is instructive to observe that not only have things not “died down” but every year has seen an escalation of interest, conflict, and outrage. One cannot overestimate, too, the sense of disappointment and surprise for revisionists that has come from “all that noise” out of the traditionalists.

We tend to focus on the “too little, too late” motif — but the other side keeps thinking “where’d these folks come from?” Indeed, in one sense it is “too little, too late” to save the Episcopal church from destruction. But it is certainly not “too little, too late” for something good to come of all of this . . .

Exhibit A for my thesis is this little article by Theo Hobson:

This year Anglicanism will define itself with new clarity – the once-a-decade Lambeth conference will confirm the anti-liberal mood of the last five years. The humiliation of liberal Anglicanism will be complete. Its demand for equality for homosexuals has been thrown out in the most decisive possible way.

I think it’s time to admit that the tradition of liberal Anglicanism is finished. Those Anglicans who carry on calling for an “inclusive church” are relics of a previous era. They should face the fact that the religious landscape has changed utterly. Liberal Anglicanism has become oxymoronic. For the first time this church has defined itself in opposition to liberalism, taking a decisively reactionary stance on a crucial moral issue.

In this article in the New Statesmen, the retiring head of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [Great Britain’s version of Integrity] Richard Kirker seems to recognize the consequences of poking the sleeping giant:

But that is not how it appears if you are Reverend Richard Kirker, who is about to step down after nearly 30 years as head of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM). For the first half of that time, he fought a lonely battle to get church leaders to discuss sexuality. Now it’s hard to get them to talk about anything else, but not in the way he had in mind. Homosexuality is at the centre of a global struggle for the soul of the Anglican Communion, and as gay people are accused of bestiality and demonic possession, the Church seems to have become a repository for the homophobia unacceptable in the rest of society.

Whereas in the old days the Church’s anti-gay faction was led by an obscure “Mary Whitehouse in a dog collar” called Reverend Tony Higton, Kirker’s main enemy today is Archbishop Peter Akinola, the powerful Anglican Primate of Nigeria. In open disregard of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons” and to “condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”, Akinola says homosexuality is as dangerous to mankind as global warming. If Rowan Williams has issued any rebuke, it has been barely audible until recently. Gay-friendly before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, he now reserves his chief condemnation for the North American Episcopalians who have elected an openly gay bishop. Many of the archbishop’s former close gay friends have been left reeling by what they call his betrayal.

“The situation is appalling. Life for gay priests is immeasurably worse than when I started doing this job, because of the obsessive scrutiny of those who hate us,” says Kirker, a battle-scarred 56-year-old whose shoestring organisation still numbers no more than 2,000 members. “Many people have given up the fight and left the priesthood. Others do not join it because it’s not worth putting themselves through the indignity of interviews that intrude into personal morality in a way that was once never considered desirable or necessary. It is now official policy to ensure that gay people who don’t give a commitment to celibacy are not selected for ordination.”

Note too that the old tactic of “outings” is being revived — and certainly Kirker has some interesting thoughts about the outing campaign of 10 years ago.

“In that context, his biggest regret is not that he dangled a pink rag in front of the evangelical bull, but that he did not wave it vigorously enough. In a dramatic parting gesture that will reopen old wounds for the Church hierarchy, he says he now deeply regrets not expressing explicit support for the “outing” campaign of the mid-Nineties, to which he has never previously acknowledged links.

The campaign was prompted by tabloid revelations in September 1994 that the then newly enthroned bishop of Durham, Michael Turnbull, who had condemned gay clergy in loving relationships, had a conviction for cottaging. An ex-monk called Sebastian Sandys outed three more bishops, including the then bishop of Edmonton, Brian Masters, at a debate at Durham University. Meanwhile, Peter Tatchell’s OutRage! issued a list of ten gay bishops who had endorsed anti-gay discrimination within the Church. They included the high-profile bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood (who has since died).
The climax of the campaign came in March 1995 when the then bishop of London, David Hope, was named Archbishop of York – the number two post in the Church of England. Under pressure from Tatchell, Hope – who had endorsed the sacking of gay clergy and backed a Children’s Society ban on gay foster parents – acknowledged that his own sexuality was a “grey area”.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, it’s probably not a good idea to focus on the disappointment of our Worthy Opponents. We certainly have disappointments, goals, and friendships enough to hold our attention without focusing on the other side. But at the same token, it’s a nice thing to have in the back of one’s mind as we read and ponder all of the ideas, analyses, and strategeries that are out there.


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