Anglican Church May Split Over Gays

The worldwide Anglican Church has its panties in such a bunch over the issues stemming from the consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson they may be willing to sacrifice the unity of the entire denomination once and for all.

Rowan_williamsThe Episcopal Church (the Anglican Church’s U.S. branch) may be assigned “associate” membership in the Anglican Church while the more Orthodox branches will be offered “constituent” membership. All churches will then be offered to sign a “covenant” on which all churches can agree, the terms of which are not likely to be suitable to the Episcopal Church.

The only choice for the Episcopals at that point is to “cut ties altogether” or remain as “associates” within the larger Anglican body.

A year ago, the Episcopalians defended their position on Robinson and gays in a 130-page document they shared with the Anglicans: “Our actions around the question of homosexuality have deeply distressed a number of you…(We) recognize that the Episcopal Church has not reached a common mind on the matter of homosexuality. [However], the overwhelming majority of Episcopalians are committed to living a life of unity in difference…Members of the Episcopal Church have discerned holiness in same-sex relationships and have come to support the blessing of such unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions. We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before.”

The Anglicans, obviously, didn’t see eye-to-eye.

Worldwide Anglican Church to Split Over Gay Bishop [times online]

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Gay Bishop Rocks Anglicans [tr]
Archbishop Vows to Banish Homophobia [tr]
Episcopalians Defend Robinson [tr]

Comments

  1. xolondon says

    The Episcopal Church (in America) has never been conservative. If you want to discriminate against gays or women, there are plenty of churches better suited. Furthermore, the views of the African Anglicans should not control what is done in America. If they want a more conservative church, bully for them.

    The Episcopalian churches have been hit hard by all of this and I for one would like to see church leaders stand up as INCLUSIVE moral leaders in what I think will be viewed as a very reactionary period in American history. (that last bit is like saying the sky is blue isn’t it?)

  2. Brian says

    So the Jizm Schizm is upon us…

    I say the American, Canadian, and New Zealand churches… the ones who will be asked to sit at the back of the bus in the Archbishop’s new plan… tell Mr. Archbishop to shove it. No one goes to church in England anymore… I’m sure these three branches, if they should form a reformed Episcopal denomination, will do just fine thank you. The American Episcopal church is actually *growing*!

  3. says

    I really, really like Rowan Williams. He’s a brilliant scholar and a no-fucking-joke Christian socialist. Some of the statements he’s made about the American government are incredible, especially when you remember that he’s also a sitting member of the Lords. He gave an interview to the BBC in which he pretty much implied that the members of the Bush administration who encouraged pollution would be damned to hell.

    And I have no doubt that he, pretty much contrary to every other leader of a major world religion, loves and respects gay people. Living in the US it’s hard even to imagine a mainstream religious leader saying that gays deserve full legal rights–hell, we don’t even have candidates for national office who will say that. If it were up to him alone then gays (and women too, don’t forget: this debate is also about them) would be ordained without problem. But if you look at what he published yesterday you’ll see that there’s more here:

    “…the debate in the Anglican Communion is not essentially a debate about the human rights of homosexual people. It is possible – indeed, it is imperative – to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation, and still to believe that this doesn’t settle the question of whether the Christian Church has the freedom, on the basis of the Bible, and its historic teachings, to bless homosexual partnerships as a clear expression of God’s will. That is disputed among Christians, and, as a bare matter of fact, only a small minority would answer yes to the question.

    Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes – which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society – there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms.”

    As a gay man I find this tough to admit, but he is right. Williams (who’s almost certainly in that “small minority” himself) has done his level best to use his public position to advocate for the advancement of gays and the protection of our legal, political and moral rights. But religion is another matter, and while you or I can walk away from doctrines that we find oppressive, he is the Archbishop of Canterbury and for him it is not so simple. Another reason, for me at least, not to participate in religion. But if, like him, you have some sort of liberal conception of society wherein people can believe what they like, then I’m sorry to say you’ve got to support him here.

  4. JT says

    Several liberal bishops who either voted against or abstained in the Robinson election have expressed their regret at having done so. They thought, at that time, that unity with other churches in the Communion was more important than a single bishop in the US. Now, they are viewing the rest of the Communion as unappeasable and taking an approach more reflective of their honest beliefs.

    I don’t think it really matters, anyway if there is a worldwide “Anglican” Communion. The Kiwis made the real symbolic break, I think, when they came out with the English/Maori Prayer Book. It bears scant resemblance to the stuff the English, Kenyans or Zimbabweans use.

    After all, do Episcopalians really want to be associated with the former colonial masters of the world?

  5. Brian says

    I think JT is right when he says that many Episcopalians have found that the right wing Anglican factions in certain parts of the world are pretty much unappeasable. I’m sure Williams knows this as well, and he’s in a tough spot. If he is as progressive as he sounds, then he should realize that the Anglican Communion was doomed to split no matter what he did… the question now is what he wants the Communion to look like. Does he want to excommunicate the progressives, creating a very very conservative organization, or does he want to go the other way, allowing the conservatives to splinter off into their own denomination? I find it disingenuous to get all mush-mouthed and touchy-feely about “feeling the love” in the worldwide Anglican Communion when frankly the values system between the conservative and progressive members of the group could not be more at oods with one another. The American and Canadian (and New Zealand) churches are pretty much self-sufficient, and would likely thrive nicely if Williams decides to cut them loose. I just wonder if he is ready for what he’ll have left once that happens. Doesn’t sound like his kind of crowd, given the description of Williams provided by Kip.

  6. says

    Just today the slate of candidates for Episcopal Bishop of Newark was announced, and there is an openly-gay man on it. Hurrah for them! Rowan Williams is someone who threw Jeffrey John to the wolves to save his own skin. If he could do that he has no business telling the American Church whom to ordain bishop. He should resign immediately.

  7. Mike says

    What’s the big deal? The Archbishop of Canterbury, largely on behalf of ultra-conservative “Third World” churchmen in Africa and elsewhere, has decided that some congregations are more equal than others. Now where have we heard that before?

  8. Jennifer says

    This Archbishop has been such a tremendous disappoint to those of us who truly believe in the call of Christ as empowering, liberating and ABOVE ALL equalizing. He is one of many reasons that, following a seven year return to the Church, I have once again left it in disgust.

    The Church (particularly the Anglican one, which so fears losing its status that it can’t even be true to its own theology) has become the last stand of bigots and other mentally ill people who cannot bear the thought that God’s world is NATURALLY diverse. They cannot bear the fact that their white, male, Anglo Saxon, heterosexist phony little house of cards is falling to pieces. Worst of all, they have to face the fact that they are the real minority. Look in the pews of just about any church, Anglican or otherwise, and you will see a sea of women’s faces. Many of the men you will see are gay. The white, heterosexual male is the minority and yet he continues to call the tune. Well, gentlemen, keeping calling. Even from your deathbeds, keep calling. The more noise you old fuckers make, the quicker it really will all fall down around your grizzled old ears. Then the real Church can finally be built on its ashes and yours.

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