Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Church of the People

From the Guardian:

The American church is to be commended for quietly carrying on with its life. The entire Anglican communion has risen up against it, Lambeth Palace included. But it has chosen to maintain its dignity. Last week Katharine Jefferts Schori became the first woman leader of an Anglican church anywhere in the world when she was appointed to head the US Episcopalian church and said there should be "room at the table" for gay and lesbian members of the church...

...In Nigeria the listening process has had an equally remarkable beginning: the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has successfully sponsored a bill, now on the statute books, increasing the legal penalties not only for homosexual activity but for any public statement in defence of homosexual people.

It might be imagined that at this point Williams would finally remember his principles and intervene. And intervene he does. He warns the Americans of their duty not to offend the Africans, and lobbies parliament for exemptions from UK anti-discrimination legislation to ensure that all church schools will have the right to maintain a consistent anti-homosexual ethos. And under his leadership the Church of England itself is becoming increasingly active in the persecution and expulsion of its own homosexual membership, with sanctions imposed against everyone from homosexual clergy to homosexual godparents, with no rebuke or restraint of any kind imposed on those who continue open campaigns against all gay people and their supporters...

...In the early days some of us would write to Williams asking how he could bring himself to oversee the active persecution of minorities he used to champion. At first he would reply sadly in his own hand. Now he is more likely to have his chaplain issue a curt rebuke. He is too busy advising the Americans to resume active discrimination against homosexual clergy to worry about bewildered liberals at home. And so we wonder how and when it will all end, quietly cheering on the dignified, magnanimous Americans.

The US liberals are not campaigning to destroy the church. Their church - unlike our own - is a church of the people. The ordinary scripture-reading people of the US church call their own clergy and elect their own bishops. Some of them are women. Some of them are gay. These are the people the churchgoing faithful have chosen. Long may they be faithful to their soundly biblical, soundly Christian principles.

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