Friday, 2 February 2007

US Liberals accuse Traditionalists of planning "coup"

The release, on January 29, 2007, of the text of a third version of the request for alternative primatial oversight (APO) advanced by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh should dispel any doubts about the goals and strategy of its leaders. The Rt. Rev Robert Duncan is clearly attempting an ecclesiastical coup against both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. [...]

According to Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) president Joan R. Gundersen, “What Bishop Duncan and the Pittsburgh Standing Committee are proposing is nothing less than an international coup that would overthrow not only the established government of The Episcopal Church, but destroy the Anglican Communion. The Anglican primates have no authority over The Episcopal Church, no matter what Bishop Duncan or the Standing Committee might wish.” Read more

Socialists accuse Christian hierarchy of attacking equal rights

WHILE SOCIALISTS were out last week campaigning against cuts in the NHS, the leaders of Britain's main Christian de-nominations were involved in a different kind of battle. They want to be given an exemption from laws due to be implemented this spring that will ban discrimination against Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people (LGBT) in the provision of services.

This includes allowing gay couples to adopt children. The top Catholic in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said that his church would rather close down their adoption agencies than provide equal treatment.

The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York supported their fellow prelate's demands as did other religious groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Evangelical Alliance.

There should be no exemptions allowing discrimination by religious groups. Read more

Cheers as Virginia goes after "abandoned" properties

[...] Representatives applauded Bishop Lee’s pastoral address, in which he said of the departed congregations: “We respect their consciences, but also must respond when people who no longer share our mission seek to leave and take with them property that belongs to all of us and to our grandchildren in the faith.”

They applauded more loudly when it was announced that members of the remnant in four of the churches were present at the council.

But the occasion of the loudest applause indicated that other emotions lay under the surface. The Suffragan Bishop, the Rt Revd David C. Jones, has watched the efforts made by Bishop Lee to keep the diocese together. He has also seen the hate mail that the Bishop has received in response. As a consequence, he was not bothered about going off-message when addressing the council.

“I reject with all my might the notion that our theology has changed. It is outrageous to suggest that we have abandoned our faith.” He accused the secessionists of moving away from the notion of belonging to the Church through baptism in Christ “to an emphasis on adherence to one particular point of view — that development is not Anglican”. There were cheers when he read out a letter of support for Bishop Lee from neighbouring bishops. Read more

University censured over ban on same-sex ceremonies

Canterbury Christ Church University has been accused of discriminating against same-sex couples by refusing to allow civil partnership ceremonies to take place on its grounds.

The University and College Union (UCU) has criticised the vice-chancellor of the university, Michael Wright, for his policy that bans civil partnership ceremonies.

The UCU said lecturers and students at the university were outraged by the policy and described it as a "simple act of discrimination" that violated the university's equal opportunities policy. Read more

"Jews battle new gay law"

One of the UK's largest religious organisations has called on community leaders to oppose the new gay and lesbian Equality Bill regarding homosexual adoption.

The Federation of Synagogues called on Jewish leaders to stand with the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in opposing the Sexual Orientation Regulations, particularly in the area of adoption. Read more

Gay question is ‘not central to faith’ says Tanzanian bishop

THE Bishop of Central Tanganyika, the Rt Revd Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo, has dissociated his diocese from the statement issued in December by the House of Bishops of Tanzania, the province where the Primates Meeting is to be held this month.

The Bishops declared a “severely impaired” relationship with the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA), and announced that Tanzania would not knowingly accept any money from dioceses, parishes, bishops, and individuals that “condone homosexual practice or bless same-sex unions”. They described ECUSA’s response to the Windsor report as “a failure to register honest repentance for their actions” (News, 15 December).

In a long and reflective letter to the Anglican Communion, dated 26 January, Bishop Mdimi sets out Tanganyika’s position on matters of faith: “We try to express Jesus Christ in the sufferings and challenges of our communities. We cry with those who cry, and bring hope for a better future to those who suffer. Read more

Bishop of Botswana: "almighty dollar" behind African Conservatism

LOUD voices from Africa, aided by the “almighty dollar” and internet lobbyists, are distorting the true picture of what Africa’s 37 million Anglicans really think about sexuality and the future of the Anglican Communion, says the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Musonda Mwamba.

The Bishop, by background a lawyer and social anthropologist, was giving the keynote address to senior judges, lawyers, bishops, and clergy at the Ecclesiastical Law Society conference “The Anglican Communion: Crisis and Opportunity”, in Liverpool at the weekend. The minds of most African Anglicans were concentrated on life-and-death issues, and they were “frankly not bothered about the whole debate on sexuality”, he said.

In an incisive address, the Bishop concluded that the minority of Africans who had “the luxury to think about the issue” did not want to see the Communion disintegrate. They valued the bonds of affection, and would prefer to follow the process recommended by the Windsor report. He rebutted as “simplistic and a distortion of the truth” the belief that the African provinces were a monochrome body. Read more

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Fulcrum Discussion: Goddard (Andrew) replies to Goddard (GIles)

(Ed: yes, this really is all one parargraph):

In summary, I think the stance I take on sexuality and the current situation in the Communion fits the vision of Anglicanism I've just outlined in a way no other stance does. It is I believe fully biblical and I take encouragement in that belief from the fact that the church down the ages and across the world today read Scripture as opposed to homosexual practice whereas all other readings are very recent novelties and held by only a small proportion of Christians. The fact that the bishops from around the world at Lambeth 1998 so overwhelmingly took that view and judged the church could not bless same-sex unions or ordain those in them also means I see it as genuinely 'catholic' and hence those who reject such teaching and practice as the real 'schismatics'. As Archbishop Rowan says in his Hope and Challenge, the question is "whether the Christian Church has the freedom, on the basis of the Bible, and its historic teachings, to bless homosexual partnerships as a clear expression of God's will". Though, as he notes, this "is disputed among Christians" it is true "as a bare matter of fact, only a small minority would answer yes to the question". However, I also recognize that we are facing new challenges and understandings today and so need to keep on listening and learning and particularly struggling to combat all "victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex" (The Primates at Dromantine). It concerns me that some evangelicals and others are not always so clear on these last points but unless Anglican churches work within the current teaching and practice of the Communion I fear we will find it impossible to keep on walking together. Read more

Article (Melanie Phillips): Liberal Britain turns out the lights

Two days ago, a momentous change occurred to the character of our nation. Quite simply, Britain stopped being a liberal society.

On that day, the Prime Minister announced that there would be no opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies from the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which will make it an offence to refuse to place children for adoption with gay couples.

Mr Blair had apparently personally supported such an exemption, but backed down in the face of a Cabinet revolt — and was then lamely and lamentably supported by David Cameron. Far more was lost by this defeat than the last vestiges of Mr Blair’s political authority.

For with this decision, the country that first invented the concept of liberalism — the land of John Locke and John Stuart Mill, who fashioned the model of a free and tolerant society for the world — is now set to destroy the concept at its very heart. Read more

'Gay-only' venues fear equality law

Hoteliers chasing the pink tourist pound have joined criticism of a law outlawing discrimination against homosexuals.

The hotels, which cater for the thriving “exclusively gay” tourism market, say that they should be exempt from the Sexual Orientation Regulations as they will be forced to accept heterosexual guests.

Some say that a ban on “gay only” advertising could put them out of business.

There were also concerns that some heterosexual couples might be unhappy if they unwittingly booked into a gay hotel. Read more

Ed: You can view the (seriously badly designed) Hamilton Hall website here, where it is indeed advertised as "exclusively for gay and bisexual men". Ironically, that will become illegal! However, if you scroll down the page you will probably discover it's not really 'you'. Some of it is fairly seriously unpleasant, but if you can cope, I suggest you take a look. It is, as they say, a bit of an eye-opener.

Interestingly, there is a piece on Christianity and the Bible lower down the page. Amongst other things, it offers this gem:

When the Bible was put together as a ‘library’ – or as a ‘collection of books’ – which is what the word Bible means, it was massively edited. (around 200 - 400 BC) Many of the biblical documents were disliked by the founding fathers of the church and simply thrown out, and some have since been found in 1947 – The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels. What was left was massively edited and many aspects of Christ’s teachings were simply changed and distorted to suit the church. For a start - Reincarnation was taken out, and Hell and Satan were put in.
Now can anyone see what is wrong with this paragraph?

Archbishop of Sydney queries "Jesus loves Osama" signs

JESUS does indeed love Osama bin Laden, but a controversial Sydney church sign saying so is misleading, says Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen.
The sign "Jesus Loves Osama" outside a number of local churches, including some Anglican, also features a Bible extract saying, "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". Read more

Aussie Premier queries churches over Osama signs

Many Australians will question the priority of churches which have posted signs saying "Jesus loves Osama", Prime Minister John Howard says.

Several churches, including Baptist churches, in inner-Sydney have the message on signs which also feature a Bible extract saying, "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".

"I understand the Christian motivation of the Baptist church," Mr Howard told reporters.

"But I hope they will understand that a lot of Australians, including many Australian Christians, will think that the prayer priority of the church on this occasion could have been elsewhere." Read more

Motion asks General Synod to "acknowledge both sides" in sexuality debate

The Church of England’s governing body, its General Synod of lay people, clergy and bishops, will be asked to support a resolution recognising both sides in the current global debate on human sexuality when it meets later this month.

Anglican leaders in England are preparing to discuss a motion on 21 February 2007 which includes the following note: “That this Synod acknowledge the diversity of opinion about homosexuality within the Church of England and that these divergent opinions come from honest and legitimate attempts to read the scriptures with integrity, understand the nature of homosexual orientation, and respect the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire...”. Read more

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Bishop Calls For Blackpool Aid After Casino Loss

Blackpool should be given government aid to revive its fortunes after its super Casino disappointment, according to the Bishop of Blackburn.

The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade said jobs linked to the development would have gone a long way to alleviate some of the poverty in the resort.

East Manchester was named as the home of the UK's first super casino.

The Rt Rev Reade said: "This decision seems to me to be a great missed opportunity." Read more

Archbishop Sentamu to Lead Oxford University Mission

The second most senior member of the Church of England, the Archbishop of York, will travel to Oxford Tuesday 30 January where he will be the main speaker at the Oxford University Mission.

The mission commences today, and will continue until the end of the week, with the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu scheduled to deliver a public lecture at Oxford Brookes University.

During his visit to Oxford, Archbishop Sentamu will also lead prayers every morning at the Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford.

Dr Sentamu will give an evening address followed by a Question and Answer session each evening at the University Church of St Mary at 8.15pm from Tuesday until Thursday, and on Friday night at the Sheldonian Theatre. Read more

US congregation vacates church building

In a service overflowing with tears, hugs, and evocations of historic persecution of Christians, members of All Saints Anglican Church of Attleboro held their last service yesterday in their North Main Street building and bowed to orders from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts that they vacate the premises.

"I never meant us to be at this time and place," said the Rev. Lance Giuffrida , his voice cracking as he addressed about 160 worship ers who filled the sanctuary nearly to capacity. "I didn't do anything differently than when you called me" to the church's pulpit in 2001.

Since then, however, differences between traditionalists and liberalizers in Episcopal Church of the USA have deepened and hardened, underscored by their disagreement on homosexuality and gay marriage, according to adherents of both trends.

"I could not sit in the councils of the church in Massachusetts," Giuffrida said, breaking into tears. "I could not represent Jesus Christ in those councils."

As the minister spoke, congregants -- first one by one, then by the dozen -- rose from the pews and gathered closely around him on the altar, each laying hands on the shoulders of others, until virtually the entire group of worshippers stood as a single body.

Many congregants also cried as they expressed their acceptance of the fact that the building in which they worshiped belonged not to them but to the Diocese of Massachusetts, and that they were leaving it for a new home in a place to be determined. Read more

Interview: Carey discusses Homosexuality, Women, Scripture

[...] the ordination of women is a very clear mandate in scripture, [which speaks] about women’s gifts being used in the church. I was working from that biblical premise and a theology of the equality of male and female. The issue of homosexuality is on a different basis all together. We are talking not about homosexuals being allowed or not allowed to be ordained. Of course, anyone can be ordained, but the lifestyle that’s required in scripture and in the Christian tradition is that ordination is open to either single, celibate men or a married priesthood. You can’t have a third order coming in. The ordination of practicing homosexuals throws up enormous challenges sacramentally about marriage, about [clerical] orders, about ordination itself. These are not easy issues to deal with. Read more

Article (Jamaica Observer): Church vs State in UK

The British Labour government has moved one step closer to a religious intervention, setting the state on a collision course with the Christian churches.
Anthony Gomes

The issue surrounds the Sexual Orientation (Provisions of Goods and Services) Regulations shortly to be brought before Parliament. The Act is in direct conflict with Christian teaching which deals with homosexuality, casting the state in the role of a moral transgressor.

Initially, the Act impacts on the question of adoption by gay couples, from one of the numerous adoption centres and fostering agencies located throughout the United Kingdom, operated by the Catholic Church and the Church of England. The Christian churches are precluded on moral and religious grounds from placing children in the homes of same-sex couples, where it is more than an educated guess that the children, as they grow older, would eventually conform to the couple's lifestyle.

When it was apparent that there would be legal consequences for declining applications for adoption by same-sex couples, the churches have demanded an exemption on moral grounds. Read more

Brazilian bishop to visit breakaway US congregation

A nearly 2-year-old Anglican congregation in Fernandina Beach will be visited by its bishop for the first time Thursday.

The Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Recife, Brazil, will arrive in time for lunch to meet with clergy and lay leaders, and will celebrate a service at 6 p.m. at the Amelia Island Nassau County Association of Realtors Building, 910 S. 14th St., where a public reception will be held following the service.

The church has about 30 members, three quarters of whom came from St. Peter's Episcopal Church. The worldwide Anglican Communion has 38 provinces, the U.S. Episcopal Church being among them. Read more

ACNS notice: Anglican Communion Leaders to meet in Tanzania

The Primates of the world-wide Anglican Communion will gather for their regularly scheduled meeting 14-19 February, 2007, Jangwani Beach, near Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Other Inter Anglican Meetings will be held around those dates at the same venue.

There are 38 Primates (Senior bishops, Presiding Bishops, Moderators) of the Anglican Communion. The Primates come together from the geographic Provinces around the globe. The Archbishop of Canterbury chairs the meetings with the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (AC), serving as secretary.

As "primus inter pares" - first among equals, the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers his fellow primates together for Bible study, worship and conversation on the current state of affairs and mission in the global church. Archbishop Rowan Williams has stated that he is looking to the Primates for guidance on matters relating to the Lambeth Conference 2008 as well as looking at the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report, in light of a special report to be discussed from a sub-committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and Primates Standing Committee. There will also be reports on the Panel of Reference and The Listening Process work. Read more

Christian Students Recruit Top Apologist to Lead Campus Faith Debates

Christian students have invited one of the world's leading Christian apologists to conduct a two-week tour of English universities next month, in a bid to help them win the intellectual arguments for Christianity, and teach them how to evangelise in our increasingly secular society.

Dr William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in California, USA, will be in England from February 26 to March 10.

Here, he will conduct debates with academics, give public lectures, and speak at campus 'lunch-bar' events where he will be questioned by atheists and agnostics. Topics will include contemporary arguments for the existence of God, the historical origins of Christianity, the foundations of morality and the problem of suffering and evil. Read more

Archbishop Speaks Out on Supercasinos

The Archbishop of Canterbury has voiced concern over problem gambling after yesterday’s announcement from the Casino Advisory Panel that the lone supercasino licence had gone to Manchester.

Dr Rowan Williams said that research figures made it quite clear that gambling was becoming a “more and more popular form of addiction in this country”, and that “we must not underrate the seriousness of that”.

“All addictions are imprisonments for the soul and therefore any form of addiction is something that ought to be of concern to the population at large and to the religious population in particular.” Read more

Interview with Hirsi Ali: My life as an infidel

[...] Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia, where aggression was regarded as a survival tactic and your identity revolved around your clan and family. As a Muslim, she learnt too that it was her duty to submit to men, and to Allah.

At the same time, Allah was a mysterious force to which she never entirely related, partly perhaps because of her family’s habit of never explaining things to children. When she was circumcised, at 5 with scissors and no anaesthetic, she was told only that this would keep her pure, and in adolescence she came to believe that submitting to God involved the suppression of her sexuality and the self. She asked questions and argued; this theme is always there and would affect her relationships in adult life. Books, from Jane Austen to crime thrillers, told her of a world of freedom, adventure, individuality and romance and she wanted to fall head over heels in love, but when she was 22 and her father arranged her marriage to a man she regarded as a peabrain, running away was a logical step. Read more

Article (Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor): Regulation must not trump conscience

The debate about the role to be played by Roman Catholic adoption agencies has brought into public awareness the outstanding contribution they make to the common good. In his statement on Monday evening, the Prime Minister expressed his desire not to lose this expertise. Indeed, one of the terms of reference for the independent assessment panel that is to be established is to find ways to ensure that "the valuable expertise of faith-based adoption agencies in successfully placing the most vulnerable children, including the full range of post-adoption services, is retained and developed".

For this reason, I welcome the two-year period that has been established in which to find a practical way forward. But I want to make it clear that our agencies must be able to act with integrity and in accordance with Catholic principles and should not be asked to do otherwise.

Furthermore, I cannot deny a deep sense of disappointment at the failure of the Government to respond more flexibly to our fundamental concerns. Read more

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Blog (Ruth Gledhill): Durham rips into New Labour

[...] "The idea that New Labour - which has got every second thing wrong and is backtracking on extended drinking hours, is in a mess over this cash-for-peerages business, cannot keep all its prisons under control - the idea that New Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years - I am sorry - this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government.

"Legislation for a nouveau morality is deeply unwise. That is not how morality works. At a time when the Government is foundering with so many of its policies - and I haven't even mentioned Iraq - the thought that this Government has the moral credibility to be able tell the Roman Catholic Church how to order one area of its episcopal teaching is frankly laughable. When you think about it like that, it is quite extraordinary. I suppose the hope is that in 18 months time there will be a different Prime Minister who might take a different view, and this will kick it into the long grass until then."

I am not sure there's much hope of Gordon Brown backing down on this one without alienating large parts of the party, but on the other hand, the prospect of losing thousands of badly-needed votes in Scotland might temper his opinion a little. Read more

Catholic Archbishop disappointed, Durham scorns 'arrogance'

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales said last night that he was deeply disappointed by the failure to allow a waiver for religious adoption agencies, but pledged to work with the Government to find a way forward.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor welcomed its wish to keep the expertise of Catholic agencies and the two-year independent assessment plan.

The Anglican Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, said: “This completely fails to take into account the views and beliefs of all those involved. The idea that new Labour — which has got every second thing wrong and is back-tracking on extended drinking hours, is in a mess over this cash-for-peerages business, cannot keep all its prisons under control — the idea that new Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years; I am sorry, this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government.” Read more

Gay adoption laws will have no exemptions, Blair tells Catholics

Tony Blair bowed to his Cabinet and party last night by accepting that there would be no exemption from antidiscrimination laws for Roman Catholic adoption agencies.

In an attempt to soften the blow, the agencies will be given 20 months to prepare for the new laws. Until then there will be a “statutory duty” for religious agencies to refer gay couples to other organisations.

There will be a regular assessment by adoption and child welfare experts on the impact of the regulations to ensure that the existing expertise is not lost. Read more

Article (John Richardson, 2001): European 'godless "Calvinism"' real threat to Christian freedom

[...] Europe and America also differ radically on the understanding of freedom of religion. The American Constitution simply states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. By contrast, whilst the European Convention on Human Rights seems also to establish the right to freedom of religion, it simultaneously confers on the State the ‘right’ to limit this freedom. Thus Article 9:1 states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, but then 9:2 continues, “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject ... to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society”. [...]

However, whilst the Calvinist approach may be acceptable when operated within a broadly Christian cultural framework, it becomes highly undesirable, and indeed positively dangerous, once that framework has been abandoned. Within Europe in general, and the United Kingdom in particular, it means that even under the banner of ‘Human Rights’, the individual may find himself operating within a socially coercive system which attempts to extend the arm of the law into previously private aspects of daily life.

Naturally this will be done in the best possible taste. It is in the interests of combatting racism, for example, that our own government has seriously proposed abolishing the England Football Supporters’ Club. But can racism be eradicated by law? The Christian answer is “No”. Of course it could be argued that racism can and should be restrained by law. But should this legal restraint allow the abolition of organizations which in themselves exist for lawful purposes? It is surely a measure of how ‘punch drunk’ with repressive legislation we have already become that this proposal met with barely a whimper of public protest.

At the start of the new millennium it is vital that Christians begin to realize once again the conflict between law and gospel. Whether in church or state, you cannot by definition establish gospel values through legal instruments, whether they originate from Brussels, Moses or the General Synod. Thus to the extent to which our society enacts more and more legislation to produce desirable social outcomes, to precisely that extent it becomes less and less Christian. Indeed, it may be that in the near future the distinguishing characteristic of true Christianity will be its resistance to law in favour of the risks of freedom. Read more

Schori, Carnley will respond at Primates' Conference

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has been allotted two sessions of next month’s primates’ meeting to describe The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report.

Sessions on the “listening process,” the proposed Anglican Covenant, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference, as well as social and development issues are on the agenda for the Feb. 12-19 meeting to be held at a hotel near Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, sources in London tell The Living Church.

Archbishop Peter Carnely, the former Primate of Australia and chairman of the Panel of Reference, will brief the primates and respond to criticism that the panel has been dilatory in its work. Established as a “matter of urgency” by the 2005 primates’ meeting, the panel has released recommendations on petitions received from the Diocese of Fort Worth and from traditionalist congregations in the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster. Petitions from the Dioceses of Florida and Lake Malawi are currently under review. Read more

Article (Virtue online): 'Rule of law' will extinguish orthodoxy

The rule of law today is weighted toward the extinction of orthodoxy in the Episcopal Church. What will happen to dioceses like Central Florida when their orthodox diocesan bishop retires? What provisions are made under the rule of law to guarantee orthodox jurisdictions the right to choose their own leaders? The rule of law in the Episcopal Church means that conservatives must consent to their own destruction, because when you come down to it, the only good orthodox cleric is a ruined one.

What is the ruse by which orthodox sheep are led to their own slaughter? "The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church." This is the old religious institutionalism elevated to use as a political weapon, not only against orthodox "schismatics", but even more against those in the "murky middle", the classic nominal Episcopalians who instinctively trust their leaders and desire to keep "church politics" out of their Sunday fare. It's a ruse to bind consciences in a mistaken loyalty.

The essence of evangelical Christianity is to uphold the institutions of the covenant out of faithfulness to the Lord of the covenant. If we love the Episcopal Church more than the Lord of the church, we will lose both the Lord and the church. Read more

Christian documentary says Bible supports homosexuality

"What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?" many Christians ask their clergy on the controversial issue.

It's the main question addressed in a new feature documentary "The Bible Tells Me So," which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, last week.

The feature documentary centers on the national conversation around Scripture and homosexuality and how Scripture has been used in both good and bad ways, Daniel Karslake, director of the film, explained on the Sundance Channel. Mainly, the film relays how the religious right has used the Bible to support the "stigmatizing" of the homosexual community.

"My faith made it impossible for me not to make this film," Karslake stressed. The film's thesis is that Scripture does not condemn homosexuality.

Among the clergy featured in the film, the Rev. Mel White of Soulforce, an organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious and political oppression, says that the Bible is being "used, misused, to condemn gay people." He called it an "old trick" used by fundamentalist Christians. Read more

Monday, 29 January 2007

Boy, 12, becomes youngest transexual

A boy of 12 is believed to have become the world's youngest sex change patient after convincing doctors that he wanted to live the rest of his life as a female.

The boy - originally called Tim, but now known as Kim - has started to receive hormone treatment, in preparation for the operation that will eventually complete the sex change.

Tim was diagnosed as a transsexual two years ago, when doctors and psychiatrists concluded that his claims to be "in the wrong body" were so deeply felt that he required treatment. The therapy involves artificially arresting male puberty, with a series of potent hormone injections before the administration of female hormones to initiate the development of features such as breasts. Read more

Article (WIlliam Rees Mogg): SORS - a clash between European and English laws and philosophies

[...] The philosophers of English liberalism have concentrated on the liberty of the individual, where the European philosophers have emphasised universal propositions. John Stuart Mill’s great work On Liberty makes his overriding concern for the individual absolutely clear. “If all mankind, minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

The Cabinet, less Ruth Kelly and Tony Blair, is trying to impose its will on the Roman Catholic Church, which has become the representative of liberty as such. I do not doubt that the Catholic hierarchy will stand up for themselves. They have the full support of the Anglican Archbishops of York and Canterbury. They deserve everyone’s support. The European philosophers are represented by the universalism of Immanuel Kant, who believed in the “categorical imperative”, which he defined in this way: “I am never to act otherwise than so that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.” How English Mill seems; how un-English Kant was; how Kantian our human rights law has now become; how rapidly we are losing our liberties. Is it not strange that the weakest Government in modern memory should also represent the most insidious threat to our liberties? Read the article

Davis supports Catholic Church, Cameron stays shtum

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, has come out in support of the Roman Catholic Church in the gay adoption row, after Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said last week that it would be unjust if new sexual orientation laws forced the Catholic Church’s adoption agencies to place children with gay couples.

Leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron, has yet to break his silence on the gay adoption issue, which also brought forth a joint statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York last week in which they gave their support to the Catholic Church.

Mr Davis said he would oppose new regulations that would make it illegal for Catholic adoption agencies to turn away gay couples, The Telegraph reported.

Tory right-wingers backed his intervention, as they appealed to the party leader to voice his support on freedom of conscience. Read more

Williams 'may have been moved by case of paedophile abuse'

Dr Williams may have been influenced by his close involvement with a remarkable couple who rescued a boy brutalised by a notorious social services paedophile ring.

Horrified by the inference that the Archbishop is homophobic, the couple have spoken for the first time of their friend's 'immeasurable' help as they struggled to save a child driven to despair by abuse while in the care of the London borough of Islington.

And they described how Dr Williams even devoted an entire week's prayers for Liam, the terribly damaged boy they went on to foster.

Liam Lucas was just one of the children abused by predatory paedophiles who took advantage of far-Left Islington Council's childcare policies in the Eighties and Nineties, when it pro-actively recruited gay social workers.

Paedophiles exploited its well-intentioned commitment to equal opportunities and soon most of Islington's 12 children's homes had child molesters on the staff who cynically pretended to be ordinary homosexuals. Numerous children and other staff made allegations of abuse, but were branded homophobes and ignored.

Liam - now 29, in a permanent relationship and the proud father of year-old Isabella - was even falsely classified as gay by Islington social services, which decided he should be fostered only by single men.

Quaker couple Brian Cairns, 57, and his wife Kate, 56 - who became friends with the future Archbishop when they were students together - fought to foster him instead. The horrors Liam later disclosed eventually helped end a 20-year regime of appalling abuse. Read more

Young, British Muslims 'getting more radical'

A bleak picture of a generation of young British Muslims radicalised by anti-Western views and misplaced multicultural policies is shown in a survey published today.

The study found disturbing evidence of young Muslims adopting more fundamentalist beliefs on key social and political issues

Forty per cent of Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 said they would prefer to live under sharia law in Britain, a legal system based on the teachings of the Koran. The figure among over-55s, in contrast, was only 17 per cent.

In some countries, people found guilty under sharia law face penalties such as beheading, stoning, the severing of a hand or being lashed.

The study, by the Right-wing think-tank Policy Exchange, also found a significant minority who expressed backing for Islamic terrorism. Read more

Hymns replaced by Bono lyrics at church

n what is more rock concert than Book of Common Prayer, a live band will belt out U2 classics such as Mysterious Ways and Beautiful Day as worshippers sing along with the lyrics, which will appear on screens. The atmosphere will be further enhanced by a sophisticated lighting system that will pulse with the beat, and striking visual images of poverty and drought. Read more

Article (Cayman Net News): The Primacy of the Bible

ON 27 June 2006, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a commentary entitled ‘The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today, A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion’.

Written in response to the 75th Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA, which had ended a week earlier on 21 June, Dr. Williams’s encyclical focused on the primacy of the Bible as the centre of Anglican tradition and the basis for all decision-making within the Communion, especially regarding the debate(s) gripping much of the attention of the Anglican Communion at this time.

In Dr. Williams’s words, “it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against.”
Whilst one can appreciate the Archbishop’s challenge, what many church leaders fail to realize is that the Church has not equipped adult Christians to debate issues such as these. Many adult Christians regard Biblical interpretation as the sole domain of their priest or minister.

Instead, a critically thinking adult Christian should be able to appreciate that, because Holy Scripture was not written in a void, it can only be accurately interpreted in light of its original context, audience and language. Read more

Design group to give draft covenant to Primates

The Anglican Communion's Covenant Design Group's report to the February meeting of the Communion's Primates will include a draft covenant, according to one of the two Episcopal Church members of the group.

Both the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb, associate professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, rector of Church of the Ascension in Pueblo, Colorado, adhered to the group's agreement to keep the details of its report confidential. Grieb said the report contains a draft of a proposed covenant.

However, both spoke to the Episcopal News Service about the covenant-design process and discussed their thoughts about the idea of a covenant for the Communion, which originated in the Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-120). The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed the group at the request of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates' Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council.

"The covenant process is moving at a great speed," Grieb said. "It's a good time for all of us to become clear about what the covenant is." Read more

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Article (India Knight): questions whether paedophilia is becoming 'acceptable' or should be 'unforgivable'

[...] I hate to say it, but middle-aged gay men with a liking for “boys” fall into this category, especially if they are intelligent, articulate and witty: people just turn a blind eye, think about Thomas Mann and Death in Venice, and never express the opinion that an adult male fancying someone young enough to be their grandson is, well, distasteful.

Express the opinion that, in your view, old blokes drooling at 14-year-olds is really unpleasant and unattractive, and you’re accused of being a) illiberal; b) homophobic; and c) generally bigoted. And then people give you long lectures about the Greeks, as if you hadn’t gone to school. It’s absolutely extraordinary. [...]

I also think, prison overcrowding aside, that there is a general movement afoot among the self-styled intelligentsia that now believes that “boy love” (oh, please) is on a par with, say, sadomasochism: not necessarily something you’d elaborate about over supper, but not that wildly unacceptable either.

The heterosexual version, mercifully, still remains infradig when it comes to infants and young children, but a liking for pre-pubescent Lolitas is not as completely unacceptable as it once was — and we can see the consequences of that erosion in any department store stocking hideous, age-inappropriate clothing for very young girls. [...] Rear more

John Follain (Sunday Times) talks to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

He is partly to blame for Tony Blair facing a cabinet revolt and has been branded a blackmailer by his critics, but Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, has lost little of his cheerful disposition.

As the prime minister struggles to defuse a row over church adoption agencies being forced to accept homosexual couples, Sua Eminenza (Your Eminence), as he is addressed in Rome, was anxious to explain why he had decamped from Westminster for a short visit to the Eternal City. Read more

Williams Invites Other U.S. Bishops to Primates Table

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams invited two other Anglican representatives other than the head of the Episcopal Church from the United States for a worldwide meeting in February.

The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, bishop of Western Louisiana and president of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice, and the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the conservative Anglican Communion Network, will join Anglican leaders from around the world as "the other voices" from the Episcopal Church at the Primates meeting.

The invitation by the archbishop comes as some Global South Anglican leaders said they would not recognize Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church as a representative of the U.S. body. Jefferts Schori supports the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions. Read more

Williams 'fostering schism', aide fears

The Archbishop of Canterbury has "fostered schism" in the Anglican communion's row over homosexual clergy, one of his most senior aides believes.

In an email that lays bare growing tensions at the heart of the Church, the communion's secretary-general endorses a withering assessment of Rowan Williams.

Rowan Williams, Church schism, homosexual clergy
Rowan Williams is fighting to keep the Anglican Church together as it struggles over homosexuality and women priests

He supports the view that the archbishop has chosen "a path that is not courageous or well-defined" and has appointed a "virtual lynch mob" to try to preserve unity. Read more

Louie Crew circulates Kearon e-mail, describes publication as "betrayal"

The publication of details from a private e-mail message sent by the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council to Episcopalian Louie Crew was a betrayal, according to Mr. Crew, a five-time deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Newark and a former member of Executive Council.

“I shared the message with a limited number of trusted friends, one of whom betrayed me,” Mr. Crew told a reporter for The Living Church. “I have harmed an important leader in the Church and I deeply regret that.” Read more

Secretary-general of Anglican Communion hints at ‘difficulties’ with Dr Williams

DISQUIET at the attitude of Dr Williams to the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) is shared by the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, it was revealed this week. [...]

In an unguarded email to Louis Crewe, who runs the pro-gay Integrity organisation in the US, Canon Kearon writes that he had sent Bishop Marshall’s criticism to Dr Williams.

“Sadly, it’s very accurate, and is almost the script for a very difficult meeting I had with him last Wednesday,” he writes. “We discussed absolute limits of appeasement, and also how a future direction might be identified.” Read more