Monday, 15 June 2009

Money, Sex, Indaba: Corrupting the Anglican Communion Listening Process

The next stage of the Anglican Communion's attempt to resolve its differences over theology, sexuality and the authority of scripture will involve more "listening processes," but this time those processes will be paid for by a retired Episcopal priest who advocates same-sex blessings. The money given by the Episcopal priest will be monitored by a group of sex "experts" who advocate a vision of sexual freedom and "justice" that bears little resemblance to mainstream Christian doctrine or tradition, and at least one of these "experts" believes that pornography, bestiality, and multiple sex partners are not inherently harmful or wrong. Working quietly in the background is a foundation advocating sexual and reproductive health "rights" and charting a strategy to increase the voice and influence of progressive religious groups in the public sphere.

The Listening Process, also known as the "Continuing Indaba Project," was announced last month at the Kingston, Jamaica meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council after a briefing by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Anglican Communion Office (ACO). The staff of the ACO, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, announced that a $1.5 million gift was given to fund this project-a gift 2-3 times the size of any previous gift received by the Anglican Communion Office for its work, and at a time when financial reports concede diminishing giving and reserves for the troubled Communion. The delegates to the Anglican Consultative Council were told that the money was coming from a grant through the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

After subsequent questioning at press conferences, it turns out that the Satcher Institute is not the source of the $1.5 million dollars.

So where did the money come from? The Rev. Marta Weeks, a retired Episcopal priest from the diocese of Southeast Florida, has donated $1.5 million to fund the entire project through 2011. Weeks and her late husband have supported a wide variety of causes and educational institutions. As noteworthy as her gifts are, her beliefs on the issues the Anglican Communion is dealing with are even more significant. In January of 2000, she signed the Religious Declaration on Sexuality, Morality, Justice, and Healing which calls for a "sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure." This sexual ethic "applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual orientation." It calls for "full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex unions" as well as "a faith-based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights, including access to voluntary contraception, abortion, and HIV/STD prevention and treatment." [emphasis added] Read more

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