Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Oops! ABC News Prediction from 2003: "Why Episcopal Conservatives Won't Split"

The trustworthiness of the mainstream news media has been a recurrent issue these days. There is nothing new about the problem as we can see from the bias evident in the following article from 2003 published by ABC News.    

Why Episcopal Conservatives Won't Split 

"— More than a dozen conservative bishops may have angrily walked out of the Episcopal Church's convention on Tuesday, but don't expect them to leave the denomination."
Oops is right. Many bishops did leave, taking their dioceses with them, and more pewsitters left the denomination altogether. Sunday attendance has dropped by 26% so our reporter might want to revisit her expectations.
"Why? Because they learned a lesson 27 years ago, when the church battled over whether or not to allow female clergy. After a huge fight that Episcopalians still recall and dissect, the church voted yes — and some of the conservatives said with much fanfare, 'Goodbye, we're starting our own church.'"
"...Yet today, few people even remember the names of the splinter churches they formed. They are tiny and without influence. Conservatives are well aware of the history and have played the gay issue quite differently."
Women's ordination and the 1979 Prayer Book revision were two of the reasons that "conservatives" left in the 70's. There was sufficient inertia in the pews and such tiny numbers of female priests that only a small number of people left the denomination. It has taken a couple of generations for female priests to be trained, "called" to parishes, and for them to take over a large part of the Episcopal organization. The real lesson from the past is that revisionist teaching introduces a cancer that slowly invades a Church body, spreading to vital organs, weakening resistance to other threats, and ultimately leading to death.

Back to the article,
"Lesson One: Schism gets headlines (briefly) but not much else. 
Forming a new denomination would disconnect conservatives from the 73 million-member Worldwide Anglican Communion — churches in England and around the world — denying them influence, money and support. Individual parishes will also be reluctant to leave because the Episcopal Church owns the buildings and their financial assets. Instead, conservatives will look to affiliate with a church overseas so they can remain part of the official Anglican Communion."
What has happened is that "conservative" dioceses easily connected to the majority of world-wide Anglicans and were not really concerned about influence, money, or support. The Episcopal church has been able to retain some church buildings, but not all. This may have had some effect on the departure of some "conservatives" but many were willing to fight the TEc's lawyers in court.
"Lesson Two: It's all about the battle to define 'mainstream." 
"Today, women are accepted as clergy in most Christian groups, and those who opposed women's ordination appear in hindsight to have been on the fringe. And so, conservative Episcopalians in the current debate have been careful to present themselves as moderate, while portraying Episcopal church leaders as ultra-liberals who stole 'their' church out from under them."
There was no battle to define mainstream. Mainstream denominations are dying because they have cut a new channel and are flowing downhill in a new stream. Who wants the label of "mainstream" anyway?
"'This body, willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the church of Jesus Christ,' Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said on behalf of the dissenting bishops."
The quote does not do justice to the full damage to the faith from TEc's rejection of the Bible.
The Web site of the main conservative group — the American Anglican Council — welcomes visitors with this greeting: "We are mainstream Anglicans. We are orthodox Episcopalians. We're missionaries called to fulfill the Great Commission, to proclaim Biblical truth and to transform the Episcopal Church from within. We'd love to share our mission and ministry with you."
The AAC website thankfully took out that "mainstream" word.

This last bit left me scratching my head,
"Lesson Three: Play on liberal white guilt. 
Last time, conservatives opposing ordination argued that a rift would harm relations with the Roman Catholic Church. This did not persuade American Episcopalians, who were (and still are) the church of elites and intellectuals.
This time, the AAC has teamed up with Anglican leaders in Africa and Asia — where, they point out, Anglicans are growing the fastest — who say they will not associate with a church that permits a gay bishop."
I don't know how "liberal white guilt" plays into that, but some guy at the liberal General Theological Seminary (GTS) had it figured out,
"'What makes this battle interesting is that the conservatives know how to play upon white liberal guilt,' says Robert Bruce Mullin, an Episcopal Church historian at General Theological Seminary in New York. Mullin said the appeal to Third World Christian sensibilities is 'poignant' and smart, though he believes they will ultimately fail."
 So "conservatives" were suffering from "liberal white guilt" which caused them to associate with African bishops? What do you expect from a GTS historian?

To be fair, ABC News tried to include some balance in the article although it is still off base,
"Others disagree. Allen Guelzo, an Episcopal Church historian at Eastern College in St. David's, Pa., said the Third World alliance may give dissidents the leverage they need to actually split the Worldwide Anglican Communion."
That made it sound as though "conservatives" were the ones who wanted to split the Anglican Communion. Guelzo actually meant something entirely different,
"'People in Africa don't have this American clubbiness,' Guelzo says. 'They'll walk. They are the majority. So that gives an entirely new heft to dissident protests. If the African bishops really do proceed as they have threatened, then we have introduced an entirely novel situation.'"
At the end of the article the author makes her worst prediction of all,
"...Ultimately, conservatives and liberals alike will pray, cry, and yell at each other. They'll hold meetings and caucuses and issue pronouncements. There will be a gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and conservatives won't like it." 
"But the most likely outcome is that all of them — conservative, moderate, liberal, gay, and straight — will remain in the same church."
All of them will remain in the same church?


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