Extreme Right tries to wreck Episcopal churches

This video is called Archbishop [Roman Williams] – care for environment teaches us about God.

From Barry Healy in Australia:

Class war and the Anglican schism

Barry Healy

26 July 2008

Dramatic events within the worldwide Anglican Communion have revealed a “cold split” with the potential for a complete collapse of the Episcopal formation.

Superficially, the debates have centred on the right of women and homosexuals to be priests and bishops, and gay marriage.

However, while theological arguments dating back centuries are being mouthed, behind them are class war elements of more recent vintage, including some connected with Reagan-era Central American death squads. African bishops have led the charge against modernity, but they are funded and organised by right-wing US think-tanks and the Sydney Anglicans’ arch-reactionary Peter Jensen.

The Anglicans are approaching a three-way split. Jensen’s fundamentalist grouping, established at the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in late June, is formally at war with the liberal Canadian and US Episcopal Churches and working aggressively to “plant” new churches in their territory.

Parallel churches

Jensen’s grouping has also set up its own leadership structures, including a rival primate’s council made up entirely of Africans at this stage, and it looks certain that the US will have two parallel churches, possibly with two primates.

Conservative High Church Anglo-Catholics are threatening to move under the Vatican’s umbrella and the vaguely progressive liberals led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, are hoping to cobble together unity by avoiding confrontation.

Lurking in the background are such organisations as the American Anglican Council, the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) and the Association for Church Renewal directed by a weird homophobe, Howard F. Ahmanson Jr, and funded by right-wing “charitable foundations”.

Meanwhile, from the BBC:

Most practising [Roman] Catholics ignore the church’s teaching on contraception and more than half think it should be revised, a survey has suggested.

Update 15 October 2008: here.

Condemn homosexuality, Vatican official tells Lambeth conference: here.

Knoxville, Tennessee: Unemployed man targets liberals in church shooting: here.

9 thoughts on “Extreme Right tries to wreck Episcopal churches

  1. Hi Kitty, I am nominally a member of the Episcopal Church. I was raised in The Church, and have, at times tried to participate in the life of The Church. It is a well known fact that Bishop Schofield, the leader of the right wing in the church is himself gay. He denies that lately, but in the past he claimed to have been “cured” of his homosexuality. I have friends who knew him personally and confirm the rumors.

    The diocese of Washington used to have an excellent report on line that followed the right wing money behind the split in The Church. I’m afraid, in the interest of unity, that they have taken it down.

    One of the many reasons why I’m home drinking coffee rather than going to church this morning: The progressive and inclusive majority of The Church keeps backing down and attempting to conciliate the minority. They call it unity but, frankly, I have no desire to unite with those people. Whether or not you believe that the Bible is the word of God it is still true that Jesus never mentions sex, ever. He calls on us to love and serve the poor and to resist the world. He doesn’t call for charity either, he calls for solidarity. That comes up again and again in Christ’s ministry.

    Meanwhile, back at The Church the great debate is about who should be having what kind of sex. I refuse to even participate in the discussion. As for solidarity with the poor, the great majority of both sides of the debate are content to give a little to charity.

    Some of the best voices in the mainstream of The Church leadership are in the Chicago Consultation:


    A very good hearted, mostly gay and politically irrelevant group of Episcopalians are to be found at the Anglo-Catholic Socialism website:


    I do like the Anglo-Catholic Socialists, I’m just not sure they’re good for much of anything. They support each other.

    My personal favorite Episcopalian website is The Mustard Seed:


    The Mustard Seed blogger is a college student, trade unionist and a candidate for the Episcopal priesthood. He is also a supporter of the American International Socialist Organization and the British Socialist Workers Party. He almost never mentions The Church or religion, but he is in service to and solidarity with the poor and oppressed.


  2. I have to comment again: I’m very unhappy with The Church over the issue of reparations for slavery. The Church of England was the largest slave owner in the British Empire. Rowan Williams sits in Lambeth Castle, a building that was paid for by the death of literally millions of slaves, most of them women who were worked to death by their twenties. The US Episcopal Church refused to denounce slavery for no more reason than the fact that The Church’s wealthiest supporters were large slaveholders. The Church also refused to support the Civil Rights movement until a young priest was murdered while protecting civil rights workers. I’ve never seen any serious discussion of these issues in The Church. Yet another reason why I’m home on Sunday morning.


  3. Hi Jon, I understand you completely. Let´s hope that the more progressive forces in the Anglican churches which you mentioned in your first comment in this thread, will prevail, also on this issue.


  4. Out & About News:

    Several people shot at gay affirming church in Knoxville

    by Jerry Jones
    Posted 07/27/2008

    Church services were disrupted today at a gay-affirming church in Knoxville when
    a lone gunman opened fire killing at least one person, and wounded several more.

    Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville,
    was the site of the vicious attack. It occurred while a group of children were
    singing for the congregation when the gunman opened fire. The children were
    staring in a production of “Annie” that was taking place as part of the normal
    Sunday service at the time of the shooting.

    Knoxville Police have not yet released a motive for the shooting. The church is
    the site of some gay affirming activities.

    A member of the congregation wrote in a national blog that the church just
    recently put up a sign welcoming gays. One of the goals of the church’s long
    range plan is to “Increase congregational participation in human rights programs
    for gay/lesbian/transgendered persons.”

    “Elrod,” who posted a comment on the blog, “The Moderate Voice” says he is a
    member of the church. He said he was not present today but did add “all we know
    right now is that the suspect was not connected to the church in any way. I have
    no idea if the man had some sort of political or cultural agenda (TVUUC had just
    put up a sign welcoming gays to the congregation), or if it’s just some lunatic
    acting for no reason at all.”

    It is home to Knoxville’s Spectrum Café, which is a social gathering place for
    Knoxville area high school youth who “support the principles of diversity,
    tolerance, and the worth and dignity of every human being.” Teens who come to
    Spectrum respect each others’ ideas, religious views, race, sexual orientations,
    abilities, and ethnic backgrounds. The group welcomes “self-identify as gay,
    lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who are questioning their sexual or gender

    The Knoxville Monday Gay Menâ’s Group meets at the church each Monday from 7:30
    p.m. to 9 p.m.

    David Massey is one of the coordinators of Spectrum Café, also known as
    “Spectrum Diversi-Tea and Coffee House,” which will begin its eighth year this
    spring. “We advertise it as a safe harbor for teens who identify as LBGTQ and
    their straight friends and allies, plus any other youth who are being harassed
    for religious beliefs, appearance, or abilities,” Massey said in an interview
    with UU World Magazine.

    At least seven people were shot – Becky Thompson with UT Medical Center
    confirmed to NBC News that seven people were transported from the church to UTMC
    for medical treatment.

    KPD says the call came in at 10:18 am. The first officer arrived at 10:21 am.
    The suspect was taken into custody at 10:22 am. Police believe he is the lone

    A witness told WBRI news that the gunman began shooting at random across rows of
    parishioners before he was tackled by members of the congregation. A member of
    the church, Steve Drevik told the press outside the church that the police had
    the suspect in custody.

    Witnesses also said that the man, who look to be in his 40’s with long blonde
    hair, was not a member of the church.

    WVLT TV said the man fired around 13 shots around 10:15 am (1415 GMT) before
    being overpowered.


  5. Right-Wing Pathologies Revealed After
    Adkisson Shooting at Unitarian Church

    By John Dolan, AlterNet
    Posted on July 29, 2008, Printed on July 29, 2008

    A classic drama full of hatred, ignorance and irony played out this week in the “forum” section of right-wing web site Free Republic (FR), as “Freepers” tried to make sense of a church shooting in Tennessee that killed two parishioners and wounded many others. The grotesque irony of the FR discussions is that, after early posters have indulged all their bigoted guesses about the identity of the killer, they find out the gunman was actually straight out of their own demographic: a 59-year old white man named Jim Adkisson, who left a four-page letter ranting against liberals, was known by his acquaintances to hate “blacks, gays and anyone who was different from him,” left a pile of books by O’Reilly, Savage and Hannity behind in his car, and even wore a red-white-and- blue shirt to his church killing spree.

    It’s morbidly fascinating to watch the FR threads wriggle and bluster to try to accommodate this most inconvenient truth. And if you have the stomach to read them, you can learn a lot (perhaps more than you’d like) about the pathology of the contemporary American right. For myself — and I realize this will be the most profound heresy to progressives committed to the populist line — reading these posts is a timely slap in the face — a painful reminder that maybe, just maybe, heartland Americans aren’t such wonderful people at all. What you see in these posts is the oldest, deepest and meanest strain in American culture: the Ulster-America founded by violent sectarians who moved westward again and again, from Scotland to Northern Ireland and then to the southern US, then again westward into the American continent, to find a place where they could hone their hair-trigger intolerance without fear of interference from warmer, more humorous people. But that’s me, and I’m often accused of “cynicism,” whatever that means.

    At any rate, I’ll present a little background on the site and then discuss a few of the posts. Make of them what you will.

    For those who want to do their own analyses before reading on, here are the web addresses of the three FR threads discussing the Tennessee shootings, in the order they appeared:
    http://www.freerepu blic.com/ focus/search? ;s=tennessee% 20church
    http://www.freerepu blic.com/ focus/2052204/ posts
    http://www.freerepu blic.com/ focus/2052590/ posts

    For those unfamiliar with online rightwing culture, Free Republic is a far-right website established in 1996. It soon found a huge, loyal audience among the right wing’s most rabid, ignorant and openly fascistic voices — or ast FR calls them, “grassroots conservatives.” Even other rightwing websites shun FR, and you’ll often see these sites worrying, when online discussions become openly racist or fascistic, that they’re becoming too much like “the Freepers,” as FR’s ranting posters proudly call themselves.

    The same hatred of “liberals” that drove the Tennessee killer is on display, with unconscious irony, in the house advertisement appearing at the top of one of the forums on the church shooting. A bald eagle (one of those endangered species Freepers love to hate) stands before an American flag, with this caption: “Driving liberals crazy and having fun doing it!”

    The first posts reacting to the church shooting are smug gloats. Many posters were absolutely certain that the gunman would turn out to be a Muslim: “It appears that the identity of the gunman is being protected …. [S]omething tells me this guy had a Quran in his pocket and a diaper on his head. Wonder what was inside the diaper?? The picture in the article showed both a white and a black person. So it couldn’t be a black guy in a white church. If it were a white guy in a black church, they would be holding nothing back from the media. My best guess the shooter was probably a diaper wearing Islamic fanatic.”

    Other posters displayed a different sort of hatred, one which is consistently underestimated by liberal commentators: the weird, atavistic, violent hatred felt by American Protestants for churches they consider heretical.. To read these posts is to be reminded of a fact we don’t like to admit at all: America still clings to the culture of the mean, violent Ulster Protestants who populated the South and West. For Freepers like this, what’s worth mentioning about the church shooting is not that two people were shot to death and many more wounded, but that it happened in a Unitarian Church — and worse yet, while the childrens’ choir was singing “Annie,” a non-religious song! A Freeper sums up his contempt in this post: “Three words: Unitarian Universalist Church (Having said that, I still offer a prayer for all involved. Very sad, when you gotta be armed just to go to church.)” Note the broadminded concession after the sneer at Unitarians; it’s “sad” even when mere heretics are murdered. Another poster gets his compassion out of the way first so he can get to his real point, the worthlessness of Unitarians: “Prayers up for the victims.

    That being said, the term “Church” is relative in the case of Unitarian Universalists … and certainly nothing “Christian” about it.”

    Several Freepers are obsessed by the fact that children were singing “Annie” when the gunman opened fire. They’re not music critics; their outrage is at the fact that a secular tune was being sung in a church at all.

    That interests them far more than the murders. “GOP Pachyderm” doesn’t even mention the killings, so angry is he at the choice of song: “Kids were practicing a scene from ‘Annie’? Are you sure this was a church?”

    Yes, that’s clearly the most important fact about this story. Another poster sneers, “I suppose for a UUC, Annie would be quite appropriate, ” while a poster calling himself “antiunion person” comes up with a classic bit of Freeper humor: “This guy must have really hated Annie to open fire like that.”

    The easy familiarity of the slurs — “UUC” is apparently recognized slang, among Freepers, for “Unitarian Universalist Church” — suggests that these people spend a great deal of time spitting on other denominations. One joke repeated several times on the three threads dealing with the story is that it’s surprising mere Unitarians were able to tackle the gunman. In fact, it seems the congregation behaved with great courage and alertness, before Adkisson could fire the several dozen shotgun shells he’d brought with them. But that, like everything else about the story, doesn’t fit Freepers’ picture of the world. Unitarians are liberals, and liberals are cowards. That’s what they’ve been told, and evidence to the contrary just becomes a punchline.

    Then, after the first few dozen posts, comes the biggest shock of all, the news that the killer was no Muslim but a white American straight out of a FR demographic profile. How are the Freepers going to handle that?

    The simplest and most honest position is represented by a Freeper using the name “Weegee” who defends the gunman in grotesquely comical language. As “Weegee” sees it, Adkisson was simply expressing “a difference of opinion” — enlightening those Unitarian sinners with a shotgun: “How is this a hate crime? … [The gunman’s] anger, from this excerpt, appears to have been with church leadership which taught acceptance and celebration of sinful activities. So it could be construed as a difference of opinion in religious doctrine.”

    This is the voice of Ulster-America, the line that has been breeding true, unfortunately, for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s time we faced that fact that many millions of our fellow Americans think like Weegee — millions of little Ian Paisleys with a slightly different accent.

    Another straightforward reaction favored by those reacting to the identification of the gunman is denial. He simply can’t be a right-winger. It must be a plot to discredit conservatives: “The libs and the MSM have salivated for years over the prospect of angry, white, christian, conservative terrorism against their pet immorality and perverted views of religion.

    They will attempt to play this up as such as much as possible a such when the truth is, this was simply a diluded.[sic] depressed individual who snapped and became a murderer.

    It has nothing to do with conservatism or traditional values, despite the upcoming best efforts of the MSM [mainstream media] to the contrary.”

    Posters like these can barely keep up the pretext of regret for the killing of people who embrace “immorality and perverted views of religion” — even while they’re attempting to say that their Ulster-American ideology has “nothing to do” with the killings. One poster even waxes indignant at the “character assassination” directed at Adkisson: “He’s NO conservative … just a deluded lunatic sociopath. I don’t recall the MSM targeting people with any other philosophy for outright character assassination!”

    And of course, there are those who jump straight to the pure liberal-conspiracy theory: “This guy is no more a true constervative [sic] than Timothy McVey was.

    Conservatives don’t commit acts of terrorism. I won’t believe this until the killer’s actual letter is released. It could be the sheriff is a liberal himself and is saying these things to smear conservatives.

    Could be a liberal disguised as a conservative in order to give conservatives a bad rap.”

    Which prompts this reply from a relatively sane Freeper: “As I understand it, Eastern Tennessee is just chalk [sic] full of Liberal Sheriffs.” More to the point, most people would agree that McVey was a conservative — a conservative terrorist, just like Jim Adkisson. In fact, perhaps if Clinton had called out Rush Limbaugh when the Oklahoma City bomb went off, demanding that Limbaugh fly to the bombsite and help clear the wreckage with his own soft, manicured hands, perhaps this tide of hate could have been stopped before the proliferation of O’Reillys, Hannitys and Savages percolated down to the car trunk of a mean, stupid white Tennessean. Maybe. Personally, cynic that I am, I doubt anything could have stopped this. This is bedrock America speaking, Ulster America.

    Maybe it’s time we looked it in the face, instead of pretending that our compatriots are all just good-hearted folks who have been misled..

    John Dolan is an editor of The eXile. He is the author of, most recently, Pleasant Hell (Capricorn, 2005).
    � 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

    View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/93198/


  6. Nov 15, 3:04 PM EST

    Fort Worth is 4th Episcopal diocese to break away

    AP Religion Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) — The theologically conservative Diocese of Fort Worth voted Saturday to split from the liberal-leaning Episcopal Church, the fourth traditional diocese to do so in a long-running debate over the Bible, gay relationships and other issues.

    About 80 percent of clergy and parishioners in the Texas diocese supported the break in a series of votes at a diocesan convention.

    The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, an umbrella group for those who want to stay with the denomination, plans to reorganize the diocese. They promised that “the Episcopal Church’s work of Christian ministry and evangelization will go forward” in the region.

    A lengthy, expensive legal battle is expected over who owns Episcopal property and funds. The Fort Worth diocese oversees more than 50 parishes and missions serving about 19,000 people. The Steering Committee estimates that at least five parishes and hundreds of other churchgoers will remain with the New York-based national church.

    The other seceding dioceses are Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill.; and San Joaquin, based in Fresno, Calif., where a legal fight over assets is already under way. National church leaders are helping local parishioners reorganize each diocese.

    All four withdrawing dioceses are aligning with the like-minded Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina, to try to keep their place in the world Anglican Communion.

    The vote is the latest fallout from the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

    The 77-million-member Anglican fellowship, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church, has roots in the missionary work of the Church of England. Most overseas Anglicans hold traditional views of the Bible and Robinson’s consecration has moved the global communion toward the brink of schism. Breakaway U.S. leaders hope to form an Anglican province in North America.

    Years before Robinson’s election, Episcopalians and Anglicans were already divided over how they should interpret Scripture on issues ranging from salvation to sexuality. That rift broke wide open when the New Hampshire bishop was installed.

    “Some have encouraged us to stay and fight as the faithful remnant in (the denomination), to work for reform from within,” Bishop Jack Iker said in his speech before the balloting.

    “I can only reply by quoting the saying that `the definition of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing, expecting different results,'” he said. “The time has come to choose a new path and direction, to secure a spiritual future for our children and our grandchildren.”

    Of the four withdrawing dioceses, only Pittsburgh ordains women. In 2006, the Episcopal Church elected its first female leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

    Nationally, most of the 2.1 million Episcopalians don’t consider their theological differences cause to leave the denomination, which has more than 100 dioceses. Outside the four that are splitting off, church officials estimate that about 100 additional parishes of a total of more than 7,000 have withdrawn on their own.

    However, the secessions have a large cost to the national church, not only in legal expenses and lost donations from the dioceses, but also in damage to the Episcopal public image as the U.S. church struggles to keep its place in the global Anglican family.

    On the Net:

    Diocese of Fort Worth: http://www.fwepiscopal.org/index1.php

    Episcopal Church: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/

    © 2008 The Associated Press.


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