Monday, September 07, 2009

Extremists Demand a "War Chief"

There has been some suggestion from a few folks that Episcopalians need to calm down and play nice. I have no doubt that these sentiments are well intentioned. However, I continue to believe that they are misguided. We cannot simply ignore those who lie, steal and threaten violence against members of the Episcopal Church. That would simply be unethical.

Let me give you an example: If I was walking down the street, and saw someone being beaten and robbed, what would be my moral obligation? Hopefully we can all agree that ignoring the attack would not be an option. We would have to do whatever we could do to stop the violence.

There are parallels with that scenario and what is unfolding within the Anglican Communion. There are leaders within the Communion who have threatened and engaged in acts of violence against those with whom they disagree, in the attempt to gain personal power for themselves.

One would think that the actions of Peter Akinola would be sufficient evidence to suggest that the danger of violence is very real in some parts of the Anglican Communion. What is even more alarming is that to date, no one in a leadership position within the Anglican Communion has condemned Akinola's violence. In fact, he has been allowed to establish a satellite in the United States. How anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ could align themselves with such a disturbed leader is beyond my comprehension.

Did Akinola need to export his violence to the shores of North America? Not really. Threats of violence and the language of war have always been an integral element in the strategy of a handful of extremists in the US who have been plotting to destroy the Episcopal Church long before Akinola strode onto the stage. As a matter of fact, there is evidence that suggests that it was North American extremists who ushered Akinola onto that global stage, for their own nefarious purposes.

The North American extremists recognize that the tactics that work in Nigeria will not work so well in the US, so their violent intentions are normally carefully veiled within secret memos and closed meetings. But, every once in awhile, they slip out.

For instance, consider this 2003 memo, in which Bishops supporting the AAC/Network/ACNA (same group, different names) "commit to the guerrilla warfare of the next year." You can read more about the early plots of this guerrilla group to stamp out TEC here.

In case you might imagine that such examples of "war" language are just a bit of colorful allegory, let me suggest you take a look at this thread of comments from a notorious testosterone-driven website that claims to be Anglican. They are proud of the fact that they've got guns, and know how to use them. Challenges to their most unChristian threats are met with silence. To this day, that unfortunate thread remains up for all the world to see. Apparently, they honestly believe that such blatant attempts at intimidation actually help their cause. And, judging from the reactions of some Anglicans, which basically involves sticking their heads in the sand, perhaps they do.

More recently, it was almost humorous to hear this "slip of the tongue" by the leader of the American Anglican Council (more about that group of guerrillas later):

...Fr. Ashey compared the AAC to the Special Forces of the U.S. military.

“Like Special Forces, we go behind the scenes and we blow up things,” he said, adding quickly that what the AAC blows up is principalities and powers...
Oh, I bet he added that second part quite quickly, once the shock in the eyes of some of the reporters present registered.

This isn't the first time the AAC has proudly described themselves using war language. Back in 2005, David Anderson, leader of the AAC at that time, described his organization this way:

...We consult with a large number of our constituency on a variety of issues including assistance with legal, strategic and communications issues. This includes some covert activity! One of the major problems we face in the AAC is that a large portion of what we do is under the radar or behind the curtain...
We might need to refresh our memories regarding the history of this particular "covert operative". You have to understand David Anderson to understand the AAC, as for many years we could say he was the AAC.

Before David "I like a good fight" Anderson jumped to Nigeria, he was the rector of St. James, Newport Beach, which is the parish who has asked for their case to be heard by the Supreme Court. David then launched the American Anglican Council, partially bankrolled by Howard Ahmanson, a former parishioner and previous disciple of the infamous Rushdoony. You may recall that Rushdoony was the grandfather of the Dominionists, who advocated for, among other things, capital punishment for all gays and lesbians.

Anderson set himself up in the offices of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, where he continued to build his reputation as "that angry guy" among most Anglicans. He was rewarded for his lack of self control by being issued a mitre by Abp. Peter Akinola of Nigeria. Birds of a feather and all that.

The mitre has not seemed to tame David at all. His violent rhetoric continues:

...What do these days in the Anglican World Communion call for, a Peace Chief or a War Chief? I would argue that this present time requires a War Chief for the defense of the Gospel and the Anglican Communion. Those Anglicans who are proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ are beset on several sides by those who hate the true Gospel: humanism and materialism attack from one side, militant Islam from another, and heretical distortions of the Christian message from still another. The church needs leaders who correctly perceive the clear and present danger, have a workable vision of how to go forward in this crisis, and the energy, willingness and focus to actually lead. Without this leadership, the Communion will move into chaos and the advantage will be ceded to those who would reshape the Gospel and the discipline of the historic faith...
Sure sounds like yet another declaration of war to me. Unfortunately, it seems that the justifications for such warfare are rooted in a bad case of paranoia and a penchant for making false accusations. Do check out Susan Russell's analysis of David's letter. Mark Harris offers some good insights as well.

And by the way, as Mark points out, take care not to be hoodwinked by some of the other covert operatives of this war party. They like having lots of different names. This group actually thinks that some will believe them to be "moderate" conservatives. The evidence suggests otherwise. Jim Naughton provides some good commentary on the latest ACI statement here.

So, you are witnessing a beating and robbery taking place. What will you do? Ignore it? Or do whatever you can do to stop it?


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