The primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion on Jan. 14 suspended the Episcopal Church USA “from full participation in the life and work of the Anglican Communion” for a period of three years, to give the Episcopal Church time to recant its pro-gay ways.
The motion, presented to a gathering of archbishops in Canterbury Cathedral, was backed by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which consists of conservative Anglican bishops and leaders working “to guard and proclaim the unchanging, transforming Gospel through biblically faithful preaching.”
To translate, the issue was the Episcopal Church’s ordination of gay clergy and its policy of allowing churches to perform and sanction same-sex marriages.
The anti-gay Anglicans include a small number of U.S. and U.K. “high church” or Anglo-Catholic traditionalists who seek to be more reactionary on matters theological than Rome. But the main thrust for disciplining the U.S. church comes from the vast majority of Anglicans who reside outside the West. Specifically, African bishops, representing 60 percent of Anglicans worldwide, resist Western tolerance of homosexuality, to put it mildly.
As David Boaz writes in Newsweek, there was fear that archbishops from six African countries—Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—might have walked out if the archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, didn’t sanction the U.S. Episcopal Church for consecrating gay bishops and allowing Episcopal churches to perform same-sex weddings. Boaz praises the Anglican archbishop of South Africa, who has urged his church to abandon its “practices of discrimination,” which distinguishes South Africa on a continent where virulent homophobia is treated as gospel. (Despite racial oppression, South Africa is a country where Western enlightenment values always had a foothold, Boaz notes, which was significant in defeating Apartheid.)
In contrast, let’s look at some of the churches that demanded the U.S. Episcopal Church be sanctioned. The Anglican church in Uganda has no problem with draconian laws persecuting gay people:
In response to the Anglican Church of Canada’s intervention, Bishop Joseph Abura of the Karamoja Diocese wrote an editorial saying, “Ugandan Parliament, the watch dog of our laws, please go ahead and put the anti-Gay laws in place. It is then that we become truly accountable to our young and to this country, not to Canada or England. We are in charge!” Although the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty, its archbishop, Henry Luke Orombi, did not take a position on the bill.
Some prelates of the Rwanda church joined in their country’s tribal genocide:
Tutsis were murdered en masse in Rwanda in part because they flocked to places of worship for refuge…. In fact, both the Catholic and Anglican churches in Rwanda were deeply complicit in the genocide. … Astonishingly, church figures across Rwanda played a leading role in legitimizing and even inflicting genocidal killing.
These are the churches that anti-gay American Anglicans have chosen to affiliate themselves with.
The United Methodist Church—the nation’s largest mainline denomination—faces a similar issue as it remains officially opposed to same-sex marriage and defrocks it’s ministers who perform same-sex weddings. Here, too:
Many observers—both inside and outside of the [Methodist] church—note that the global nature of the church, in particular its growth in Africa, where homosexuality is often still taboo, is a major hurdle for those hoping to change church policy.
Let the churches of the light rise up to the Light; and those that present their hatred as righteousness dwell in the heart of darkness together.
More. I say, vote yes for independency, as Americans did in 1776.
Also, the Pilgrims, who were Separatists and not Puritans (despite the common misperception) had it right. They wanted to separate from the Anglican Church and believed attempting to “purify” it would only corrupt them.
Furthermore. Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering in Canterbury:
Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome. Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.
I also like this thought. Catherine M Wallace, a cultural historian and literary theologian, writes:
Like Christians of the past, we are to engage the tradition with the best critical tools and broadest moral sensitivity available to us, trusting that God is with us and within us, calling us always to courage and to compassion, calling us to be bread for a starving world. …
For some people, religion must be rigid, absolutist and judgmental in order to count as “religion.” That need for self-righteous absolutes is perhaps the deepest anxiety of all.