Sunday, March 26, 2006

Perhaps Schism is the way forward?, cont'd

Providing additional reason to believe that conservative Anglican are -- at the moment -- constitutionally incapable of seeing a crisis of conscience for what it is, David Virtue has posted a now old letter (March 6) from the Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl, the dean and president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Zahl writes:
Camille Paglia says it well in this week's New York Times (6 March 2006). She says that faculties like Harvard's want diversity in all things except diversity of thought. She could have been speaking of the Episcopal Church.

Paglia's point is apt to an editorial that has appeared in newspapers throughout the United States this past week, beginning with the Washington Post. It is an opinion piece by the Bishop of Washington, John Bryson Chane, accusing American traditionalist church people of backing figures such as Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, who is supporting a piece of repressive legislation in his homeland that criminalizes homosexual activity and is thus opposed to human rights. Bishop Chane wants the American "orthodox" to speak out against Archbishop Akinola's support of this legislation.

We certainly want to look at all things in the light of core Christianity. And if the Nigerian legislation is as bad as Bishop Chane says it is, then we are required to say something.

But I, for one, have become almost unable to "hear" anything that the power-people in the Episcopal Church have to say until they start acting with love toward those in the small minority over whom they have canonical power.


I cannot listen to what the majority has to say – and I would truly like to – until those who hold the cards just now, in a human sense, give a little. When they give us some real space, then I shall listen to what they have to say concerning our co-religionist Peter Akinola.
It's been a while since this letter was written, and I for one will give Zahl the benefit of the doubt -- he has probably carefully read the offending legislation (pdf), as well as the State Department's condemnation, and the letter written to President Olusegun Obasanjo from Human Rights Watch and 15 other organizations requesting that the President withdraw it, in the intervening period.

Yet, like Zahl's note, most of the responses to Chane's op-ed from conservatives have viewed it as a personal attack on Archbishop Akinola. Few, if any, have bothered to look more deeply at what the legislation actually calls for. To whit, popular orthodox Anglican websites, like VirtueOnline and TitusOneNine, have yet to even acknowledge that their associate in Nigeria, Archbishop Akinola, may have stepped over the line in endorsing legislation that explicitly curtails homosexuals or those advocating on behalf of homosexuals their rights to speech, assembly, press, and religious beliefs. Given recent events, I hope that conservative Christians (not just Anglicans) now would be familiar with the potential effects of denying those rights.

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