Tuesday, December 28, 2004

 

The next great schism

While reading a link from LGF about a Muslim organization (Muslim Public Affairs Council [MPAC]) attacking the work of Steve Emerson I ran across a list of names from various Christian denominations and three Rabbis supporting the work of the MPAC. At the top is the name of a Episcopal Priest, J. Edwin Bacon. Why am I not surprised? For years leftists in mainstream church organizations have been pushing these denominations farther and farther away from the mainstream. Anyone familiar with this trend knows about the National Council of Churches. They have been communist apologists from the beginning. My father often railed against leftists in the Episcopal church, a losing battle, while the leftists did their best to drive out all conservative voices in the church. Much like our University system, many churches reflect the leftist values of these infiltrators.

There is a backlash and I am afraid that the only solution to the division in many churches is schism. Leftist ideology is too well entrenched in the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA)for conservative churchgoers to have much influence over decisions made on the national level. As you can see from the link above, some churches have gone over the head of the national church appealing to the largest part Anglican communion, the conservative African church. This drama is playing out. But I do not see either side backing down. Ultimately, this will be good for the average Episcopalian who does not support the leftist agenda of ECUSA.

The other disturbing revelation is that leftist clergy have bought into the radical Muslim/leftist nexus. It is amazing that two diametrically opposed ideologies can find common ground. That common ground being hatred of America. It does give us great insight into how morally bankrupt the left has become. They are slaves to their dogma. If the US foreign policy is the root of all evil, then Muslim extremists must be supported. This has lead to another schism of sorts within the leftist community.

Update:

Controversies cause Episcopalians to leave, join other faiths
BY MICHAEL GARTLAND Of The Post and Courier Staff

Harriet Borom couldn't stand all the controversy in the Episcopal Church.
"I couldn't in good conscience go and take Communion," she said. "I'm very traditional."
The departures from convention grated on her so much that one day while kneeling for the Eucharist, the Eutawville woman hit her breaking point. She'd leave the denomination she'd been a part of her whole life.
That was 1997.
That's six years before a gay Episcopal priest become bishop and six years before the same-sex marriage debate bubbled up as a denomination-wide issue. When Bor-om left, it was because a woman had offered her Communion.
The two more recent controversies have prompted conservative members of the church to break ranks and join other faiths. Church leaders and secular scholars see those issues as symptoms of a much larger problem in the Episcopal Church, one which dates back to the 1960s.
In February, Anglican leaders from around the world will gather in Belfast to discuss whether the controversy can be amicably resolved and if the Episcopal Church USA will remain part of the larger, worldwide Anglican Communion.
David Hein teaches religion and philosophy at Hood College in Maryland and has written extensively about Episcopal history and theology. He described the central problem in the Episcopal Church now as a general decline in its moral authority, especially in the hierarchy. That erosion began in the 1960s and '70s when the civil rights and women's movements, the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal prompted people to question traditional authority and institutions, including government, military and churches.
Those clashes resulted in sweeping changes in civil rights and government, but they also created confusion.
Changes in Episcopal prayer books in the 1970s and the decision to allow women into the priesthood also shook up the denomination, Hein said.
And for many traditionalists like Borom, the prospect of receiving Communion from a woman eventually forced the issue.
Sam Howell, an attorney in downtown Charleston, left for the Greek Orthodox church 14 years ago because of debates over new prayer books introduced in the 1970s.
"I felt I didn't have any personalenergy left to fight for my own salvation and benefit," he said.
The current controversies have compounded the problem.
"People are just looking at the Episcopal Church now and scratching their heads," he said.
Reasons run deeper than elevating a gay priest to bishop, he added. The installation of the Rev. Gene Robinson as the first gay Episcopal bishop brought the issue of homosexual clergy to the forefront of denomination-wide debate, but it also has thrown long-held attitudes toward premarital sex into disarray, Hein said. The effect all of this has had on the denomination's number is negative, he added.
"It stabilized in numerical growth in the last five years, but when this kicked up, people started leaving again," he said.
Exactly how many is unclear. The Episcopal Church population has experienced a steady decline since the mid-1960s when its membership peaked at 3.7 million. According to statistics issued by the denomination's headquarters, the Episcopal Church USA's population now hovers at 2.3 million. The rate at which people have left over Robinson's elevation is still unclear, though.
Maria Christodoulou, a research assistant at the Episcopal headquarters in New York, said population statistics for 2003 are not ready, but others in the church contend numbers are available and staggering.
The Rev. Kendall Harmon, the S.C. Diocese Canon Theologian and an opponent of gay ordination, estimates that about 36,000 members of the church left in 2003, many of them over the ordination of Robinson.
"They don't want to be a part of a church that has capitulated to culture, rather than tried to change the culture," Harmon said.
People who feel this way often leave for the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches, he added. Many remain in the Anglican communion but distinguish themselves from the U.S. denomination in their opposition to Robinson's ordination. Some go to other mainline Protestant denominations, such as the Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans. Others join congregations that are more closely associated with evangelism.
South Carolina hasn't seen the exodus that other dioceses have experienced, some say. The Rev. Greg Snyder, an associate rector at St. John's Episcopal Church on Johns Island, said that more liberal dioceses are most likely seeing more of a drain on numbers.
"Because this diocese is really conservative, no one has really left," he said.
Christodoulou noted that recent statistical breakdowns of departures from particular dioceses are not available, and that quantifying "conservative" and "liberal" dioceses would be statistically impossible.
In Raleigh, Garland Tucker and about 200 other Episcopalians formed Holy Trinity Church, a member of the Anglican Communion Network, an organization that opposes gay ordination and the general direction of the Episcopal Church. Tucker faults a drift toward moral relativism as the main reason for the Episcopal Church's declining membership.
"If this were a company, the shareholders would be asking for new management," he said. "The election of Gene Robinson is the focal point, but it's been building for a long, long time."


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