Seven Local Churches Split

Over the weekend, seven episcopal parishes in northern Virginia voted to split with the Diocese of Virginia over the issue of homosexuality. Specifically, the seven parishes object to the ordination of a gay bishop and the sanctioning of same sex unions. The churches now each face a lengthy legal battle regarding the ownership of the churches’ properties as they belong to the diocese of Virginia. The objection is being couched in terms of “following scripture” instead of the more likely explanation of “we dislike gay people and think they should be stoned.”

The churches will now be aligned with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, who encourages the jailing of homosexuals, so it’s really not so much about scripture as it is the jailing of those damn gays. Personally, I think the whole thing is no great loss for the Diocese of Virginia, so long as they’re able to get a good agreement of the purchase of the property.

The reactions from the parishioners, both for and against are strong, and full of emotion. One local Episcopal blogger wrote today: “Yes, I’m deliberately avoiding a discussion of the current unpleasantness here on this blog. There are many other sites both conservative and liberal that are more than happy to hash that out, and I’ve even commented on some of them. Just… not here, not today, alright?”

I can certainly understand the reaction. What’s your take?

20 Comments so far

  1. Krempasky (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

    My take is that it’s awfully snide to refer to folks that have religious convictions (and those would be the same as my church has held for, oh, 2,000 years or so) as interested in stoning gays.


  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

    I have a feeling that “Nigerian jail” is only slightly more appealing than a good old fashioned Stoning.


  3. Jason (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

    Good riddance. If your faith is grounded in hate, feel free to found a new Church aligned with a sympathetic bishop in Nigeria. We’ll continue to minister to all, not just those who are keen to point out the speck in his/her neighbor’s eye.

    Oh, and leave the Church buildings behind on the way out.


  4. Stacey (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 9:51 pm

    Good for them. If they believe in the Bible as their doctrine and governing document and they believe their parent church isn’t following the agreed-upon doctrine then by all means they should separate.

    It’s just as bad to assume that all the voting members (lets remember this was done by member vote) want to hurt and harm homosexuals is just as bad as what you are accusing them of.


  5. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

    “Personally, I think the whole thing is no great loss for the Diocese of Virginia, so long as they’re able to get a good agreement of the purchase of the property.”

    It’s unfortunately a big loss for everyone, considering the decades of debate and soul-searching leading up to this.

    And your primary concern is the real estate?


  6. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 11:44 pm

    I think what really, really, really bothers me about the whole thing was that these seven parishes chose to ally themselves, not with each other as a new episcopal church, or with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Mother Anglican Church, but they chose Archbishop Akinola, whose sole public scriptural idea is that gays belong behind bars. That’s a pretty damn clear message to me: we hates the gays.


  7. Tiff (unregistered) on December 19th, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    Agreed- having been through enough church politics and witnessed enough church infighting in my life, I actually completely support the right of congregations to remove themselves from the authority of a governing body they think is being unscriptural and re-align them with someone they think is more orthodox. Fine. (Being a raging Protestant, this is actually fundamental to my whole view on how one properly conducts corporate religious life.)

    But in choosing, they’ve selected a guy whose particular views on homosexuality are appalling even within most doctrinally conservative views, and THAT demonstrates that this is less about doctrines about who gets ordained and more about hating those homo-perverts next door. (How dare they love each other faithfully? Toss ’em in prison with the murderers and rapists.)


  8. Don (unregistered) on December 19th, 2006 @ 8:08 pm

    Think less of me for it if you will, but I’m more than willing to be snide towards people who are that hung up on a conviction based on such a tiny and insignificant portion of the Bible. The obsession with homosexuality and masturbation would be comic if it wasn’t used in such a hostile manner and it’s hard not to think less of such people when you think about how they don’t put this amount of energy into persecuting wankers or divorcees. Surely that has NOTHING to do with which group is a significant minority and pre-marginalized.

    When these people want to stand on principle and make changes so grand based on any of Jesus’s orders for us to love each other and look out for each other I’ll show respect for their stands on homosexuality.


  9. james (unregistered) on December 19th, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

    “The objection is being couched in terms of “following scripture” instead of the more likely explanation of “we dislike gay people and think they should be stoned.””

    wow. hard to believe that not wanting to consecrate openly gay bishops or support gay marriage could be equated to thinking gay people should be stoned.
    i am certainly no fan of the conservative wing of these churches or their attitude toward gays but there is a particular interpretation of the scripture that supports them and they obviously believe in it deeply.

    why use such loaded, divisive rhetoric? it only makes you sound mean-spirited and diminishes your argument. why not rather, engage them on the merits of their scriptural interpretation?

    “The churches will now be aligned with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, who encourages the jailing of homosexuals, so it’s really not so much about scripture as it is the jailing of those damn gays.”

    i don’t know much about this debate, having moved away from dc and not being episcopalian but i had a really hard time believing that congregations like truro where COLIN POWELL of all people was a member would align themselves with a man who promotes the jailing of homosexuals. so i searched for an attributable quote of archbishop akinola supporting the jailing of homosexuals. unfortunately i have not yet found one. i was wondering if perhaps you might be able to provide a link to such a quote?

    i was able to grasp that bishop akinola supported the passage of a bill in nigeria banning gay marriage and that this bill criminalized the performance of gay marriage as well as containing this clause:

    “(3) Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or
    meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is
    guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.”

    what this crimizalizes is the “public show of same sex amorous relationships” not the conduct of such by two people in their own bedroom.

    it’s an onerous law no doubt and the text of it actually criminalizes all kinds of speech and if this bishop truly supported it he should be ashamed of himself, but it is a far cry from your characterization of it as “jail all the gays.”

    again i ask the question, why use such loaded, accusatory hyperbole in constructing your point?


  10. Stacey (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 9:16 am

    I agree – that’s the only thing I found as well. I found that he supports that law which therein has consequences to breaking it, that is not – in any way – worthy of the way he was characterized in the post or some of the comments. I’m not stating support of the law, but it’s light years beyond spin to say that he wants to jail gays if the catalyst of that is him supporting this law.

    I’m not Episcopalian and don’t ever intend to be, and also don’t intend to defend a man whose record I’m not entirely familiar. I even have completely separate/opposite beliefs on church and congregational governance than the episcopal church and I think there are thing about their doctrine that don’t fall within Biblical guidelines (only minor ones, however).

    That being said, I can’t understand why we’re so upset about an entity unto itself (the church collective, or the church singular) which has its own doctrine and governing document following its own internal beliefs.

    I disagree with Don (although it’s hard to do that when he publicly calls you funny and young in your comments when you’re pretty far from either) that the parts of the Bible that talk about homosexuality are insignificant and small (only b/c I’d argue that no parts are insignificant) – but at least Don persues a content-driven argument.


  11. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 10:37 am

    From the Beeb:

    “Archbishop Akinola – a man known for his outspoken views on homosexuality – says he is thankful to God over the decision.

    “Once there’s a crack in the wall, you are likely to have all sorts creeping in” he told the BBC News website in Abuja.

    “When we began to notice these cracks a few years back, we did try as much as humanly possible under God to patch up these cracks,” he added.

    From the Atlantic:

    “Reacting to a proposal in the Church of England to ordain a gay bishop (a proposal ultimately withdrawn after intense pressure from African and Asian leaders), Akinola thundered, “This is an attack on the Church of God –a Satanic attack on God’s Church.” ”

    Gays are Satanic. Okay.

    “”I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don’t hear of such things.”

    Gays are crazy.

    Then again, from the Atlantic article:

    “He refuses to ally himself with American conservatives who want to break away from their liberal bishops altogether. “You don’t just jump from your diocese to begin to do whatever you like in another man’s diocese,” he told the Church of Nigeria News in 2001. “That is not done in our Anglican tradition.””


  12. Tiff (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    It’s also worth noting, Stacey, that no one at the churches choosing to align themselves with Akinola actually denies that he supported the jail-for-the-gays law in Nigeria. In fact, they’re trying to make excuses for him. From the Washington Post:

    ‘However, they know there are questions about a suburban Washington congregation technically under the leadership of Akinola, who has supported a new Nigerian law that penalizes gay activity, whether private or “a public show of same sex amorous relationship,” with jail time.

    Jim Pierobon, a member of The Falls Church serving as a spokesman for both Fairfax churches, said he believes Akinola is trying to ease tensions between Nigerian Anglicans and Muslims by supporting the law. That doesn’t mean the leadership issue doesn’t weigh on Pierobon’s conscience.

    “I can’t ignore what’s gone on,” he said Friday. “It gives me pause. But I understand it well enough that it’s not a show-stopper.”‘

    Supporting the jailing of gay people isn’t “a show-stopper?” Surely doesn’t sound like a church I’d want to worship in…


  13. chris (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 11:40 am

    religion is funny


  14. james (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

    hmmm, tom, what i actually wrote was:

    “so i searched for an attributable quote of archbishop akinola supporting the jailing of homosexuals. unfortunately i have not yet found one. i was wondering if perhaps you might be able to provide a link to such a quote?”

    none of the quotes you put out there actually show his support of jailing gays. again, i ask, do you have an attributable quote that backs up your statement that akinola supports the jailing of gays.

    “”Reacting to a proposal in the Church of England to ordain a gay bishop (a proposal ultimately withdrawn after intense pressure from African and Asian leaders), Akinola thundered, “This is an attack on the Church of God –a Satanic attack on God’s Church.” ”

    Gays are Satanic. Okay. ”

    once again, i ask you, why the need to oversimplify your opponent’s argument? what akinola says in that quote is that the ordination of gay bishops is a satanic attack on the church. in no way can you extrapolate that you say that he is claiming gays are satanic. if he has said, “gays are tools of satan,” or “gay people are possessed by the devil,” okay, but that IS NOT what his words are.

    tiffany you have once again described the law as “jail-the-gays” as tom did. this NOT wat that law says. i read it. it criminalizes certainl speech promoting homosexuality, homosexcual acts that ar conducted for display and marrying homosexuals. it is an onerous law, no dount, and one that no one who cherishes our bill of rights could every support, but your description of it is a mischaracterization. it does not criminalize homosexuality or private homosexual activity.

    look, i don’t neccesarily disagree with you guys fundamentally but you rhetoric is misleading and your name-calling makes you appear misspirited.

    tom, if you feel that the ordination of gay bishops is acceptable, you should argue the merits of that point, rather than misdirecting your opponents remarks to imply he said something that he clearly did not in the hopes that he will seem lunatic enough to discount all of his points.

    in the end by taking this tact in this debate you are only damaging your own points in the argument and appearing to all the world as a rhetorical bully. i am sure that is not your intention but it is how you are coming across to this reader.

    why must you be so over-the-top and employ so much hyperbole and misstatement of your opponents position?


  15. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

    James:

    “Furthermore, the Bill provides in its article 7(3) five years imprisonment for “any person involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.” It also provides the same sentence to anyone who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex, and “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage”” — civilliberty.about.com

    Man and a woman kissing in public? No problem. Two women or two men kissing in public, that’s 7 years in jail. That’s the law that Akinola supports, thusly jailing people for kissing each other in public.


  16. james (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

    yes, your analysis is correct. in fact if you will read my initial comment to your post you will see that i actually quoted the very clause of the law that you are quoting now.

    that is still not the same as “jail all the gays” or “encourages the jailing of homosexuals” as you stated in your post.

    you still have yet to provide a quote of akinola’s where he actively encourages the jailing of homosexuals or where he calls for a law that would “jail all gays.”

    you also have provided no backup for you statements that akinola believes that gays are satanic or that the people who voted for the resolution to remove their churches from the episcopal church “dislike gay people and think they should be stoned.”

    every time i ask you in these comments to specifically back up a claim you have made in your analysis of this you simply shift to another issue.

    if you have citations for these points, please my all means share them and i will back off and admit you were correct.

    i keep coming back to the question i have consistently asked you but you have yet to answer. why not argue your position on the merits? why must you continue to resort to hyperbole, overstatment of your opponents position and worst of all name-calling (i.e. the want to see gays stoned reference?)

    if you disagree with this nigerian law or bishop akinola’s stance on it, argue it on the merits of civil liberty or human rights or whatever.

    if you feel like the ordination of gay bishops or the conducting of homosexual marriages in a church is a good thing and supported scripturally argue that.


  17. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

    Because there ARE no merits for his position, James. Akinola seeks to persecute homosexuals by making even the simplest behaviors an arrestable offense. Things that you or I might do on a daily basis with our significant others, Archbishop Akinola encourages jailtime for.

    There’s no stance here except the incredulous.


  18. wayan (unregistered) on December 22nd, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

    Why does this come as a surprise? We already know Virginia is 57% anti-Gay.


  19. Don (unregistered) on December 25th, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone would claim there’s a distinction between “jail the gays” and “jail someone if they exhibit any public gay behavior” when there’s people claiming that they’re not prohibiting anyone from getting married, they’re just not okay with them marrying each other. However if you’re willing to send someone to jail for holding hands then you have vacated the moderate ground.

    I’m willing to agree that no parts of the bible are insignificant if we’re talking about metaphors and lessons but I am always surprised when someone claims that all aspects of the bible are equally important when taken literally. “And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you” just doesn’t strike me as important as “thou shalt not kill”

    Similarly, the largely ignored – at least as far as legislation – prohibition against masturbation comes out of Judah’s story. “Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.”

    We can decide that the wickedness was because he wasted his seed or we can see it as an act that was wicked because he chose to put selfish and prideful motivation above familial duty. Similarly, we can decide to continue to literally believe that it’s a brother’s obligation to take in and sleep with his deceased brother’s spouse or we can view this as a metaphor for looking out for our family and others. Are we obligated to produce offspring for their own sake or because they were (and perhaps still are) necessary to provide for their elders as they age?

    People are free to choose literal interpretations if they so choose, but I shall feel no guilt over thinking it’s silly and I certainly will not tolerate their making dictates in my life because of it.


  20. Dave (unregistered) on January 5th, 2007 @ 4:47 am

    I’m disappointed that an English church withdrew the ordainance (is that the right word?) of a bishop due to opposition from foreign leaders. Whatever happened to sovereignty?



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