No matter how well you think your local parish is doing, ask youself this question,
"Has the Episcopal church been a good steward with our money?"Based on the decline in membership, the continued support of abortion, the slide towards gay marriage, the mixed up theology of many bishops (including our own) and confused ramblings of our Presiding Bishop, I would say, "No."
Something else to consider when filling out that pledge card is the money wasted on litigation.
The recent rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court of an appeal by the Episcopal church to review two breakaway cases in Texas, one involving a parish and one involving an entire diocese, may signal a bellweather moment in the course of the Episcopal schism (see the Anglican Curmudgeon's post). It would appear that the unilateral imposition of a trust by a denomination on individual church properties will have to meet the property statutes of each state in the Union and churches wishing to split from a denomination will have to duke it out in state courts (unless there is some gross negligence on the part of the state). For Episcopal parishes this means that any attempt to leave their diocese will still face the likelihood of a long and expensive legal battle, but that the probability of a favorable outcome is higher than ever. For any diocese that wishes to depart, the stakes are higher, but the legal basis for a favorable outcome appears stronger.
People have questioned why the Episcopal church has pursued the departing groups so aggressively (to the tune of 20-40 million dollars) when the primary basis for the Episcopal church's claim on departing properties is a questionable "implied trust" hastily added to the Canons when the first hints of schism started to appear.
Some have said that it is all about money. Property = Money in their eyes.
“The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so.” - Screwtape― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
I would argue that it is not about money, and the fact that the Episcopal church is burning through money in pursuit of a lost cause is proof enough.
No, this must be about ideas. More than that, it is about who controls the promulgation of ideas to the pewsitters.
Control is obtained through manipulation of the discernment process for those called to ministry, through control of the seminary educations of those discernees, through manipulation of local parish rector searches, through careful grooming of lay delegations to diocesan conventions and General Convention, and through intimidation.
Intimidation in order to maintain control of what goes into our Sunday morning mind numbed brains is what all the litigation is about.
As far as the Episcopal church sees it, as long as it keeps the vestries and pewsitters in line, absorbing their twaddle from the pulpit, and sending in their pledge cards, all the time talent and treasure spent on litigation is is not money wasted.
Of course, in the long run such a strategy is doomed because the ideas found in scripture will never be trumped no matter how hard revisionists try to present an alternative view through sermons or through canonical machinations.
As much as our bishops and priests would like to deny it, this present war of ideas is just a small battle in a much larger and longer spiritual war.
Let's face it.
We pewsitters in the Episcopal church are being played as tools of fools on the battlefield of what will ultimately prove to be the losing side of a great, ongoing spiritual war.
Now that is something to consider when filling out that pledge card.
If you are pledging to engage in spiritual warfare, whose side are you going to be on?
"The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.” Screwtape ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters