The April 17 issue of The New Yorker will publish an article by Peter J. Boyer on the split within the Episcopal Church and the broader Anglican Communion. Online, The New Yorker has posted an interview with Boyer. Says Boyer:
I'm very curious to see what else Boyer writes about Akinola -- probably nothing surprising, and probably nothing about how "the most powerful Anglican cleric in the world" has endorsed legislation that would lock someone up for five years just for defending homosexual relationships.
The issue that has brought the worldwide Anglican Church into crisis right now is the ordination of an openly gay man named Gene Robinson as bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. (The Anglican Church in the United States has been called the Episcopal Church since we separated from England.) The Episcopal Church chooses its leadership on the local level, before presenting its nominees to the national Church, which approved Robinson’s election in 2003.
The ordination of an openly homosexual man to bishop caused immediate outrage in much of the rest of the Anglican community worldwide, mainly in the very evangelical, very orthodox global South, and particularly in Africa. The most powerful Anglican cleric in the world is, nominally, the Archbishop of Canterbury, but in reality it is a man named Peter Akinola, who is the primate of Nigeria. Nigeria was Christianized by the evangelical wing of the Church of England, a very fervent, orthodox, evangelical, and literalist brand of the faith.
There is no reason to believe that someone like Davis Mac-Iyalla would not be immediately imprisoned if the law were passed, and given Nigeria's reputation, probably without trial.
UPDATE: April 10, 2006, 11:37 am. Prior Aelred over at ThinkingAnglicans has this to say about the Boyer interview:
Sadly, Boyer is stuck on the old canard that the more ridiculous the things that religions ask members to believe, the more people join.Following the link, one finds the following article, "Fertility, not theology, cause of decline":
In the US the denominational numbers are demographic -- the mainline numbers are congruent with their declining percentage of their demographic of the overall population (i.e., mainline Protestants parents have fewer children) -- FWIW, the Southern Baptists are no longer growing but are also declining (for the same reason) -- the number of Roman Catholics is increasing because of immigration (see all the furor about illegal immigration) -- the number of Mormons is increasing because they continue to have very large families.
Truth seems to have no bearing on denominational size.Here is a link to a Baptist publication discussing the issue.
The decline in membership of mainline churches over the last century had more to do with sex than theology, research by a trio of sociologists suggests.
The popular notion that conservative churches are growing because mainline churches are too liberal is being challenged by new research that offers a simpler cause for much of the mainline decline--the use of birth control. Differences in fertility rates account for 70 percent of the decline of mainline Protestant church membership from 1900 to 1975 and the simultaneous rise in conservative church membership, the sociologists said.
"For most of the 20th century, conservative women had more children than mainline women did," three sociologists--Michael Hout of the University of California-Berkley, Andrew Greeley of the University of Arizona and Melissa Wilde of Indiana University--wrote in Christian Century.
"It took most of the 20th century for conservative women to adopt family-planning practices that have become dominant in American society," the writers said. "Or to put the matter differently, the so-called decline of the mainline may ultimately be attributable to its earlier approval of contraception."
This is essentially the argument used by many liberals worried that in the long run they are facing a losing political battle in the United States against a growing conservative slice of the demographic pie, or by some conservatives who call this demographic trend the "Roe effect."