I am, to my great dismay, coming to realize that few in the Church of England have any stomach to investigate Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori’s words regarding our dear Christ, and what she commends to belief (or unbelief) about Him amongst those she is given opportunity to teach. Any who are still in doubt on this matter, please read this. For any who are still wavering on what they believe about Christ, there is ample reason to avoid further invitations to Jefferts-Schori, and to general cooperation with TEC, simply because this cooperation is inducing fundamentalism within the Communion and within world Christianity.
To add to this matter, for many years now, supporters of TEC – often high-ranking clergy – have been implying that persons who oppose TEC do so because they do not “want their gay and lesbian friends and relatives to be part of their church communities.” This last quote is from Diana Butler Bass – a church historian whose writings I have enjoyed, and is usually a good bit more honest than this. I have never known an Anglican who does not want gay and lesbian people to be part of church communities, and the Anglican Communion’s official teaching on sexuality (known as “Lambeth I.10”) makes very clear that gay and lesbian people must be welcomed and provided pastoral care. I am concerned about this trend of attempting to paint all opposition to the Presiding Bishop as stemming from homophobia, or opposition to female leadership amongst respected Episcopalians, especially when it involves ample deception, as is so often the case.
In the Diana Butler Bass article, one of the respondents who seems to identify himself as an attorney writes: “Rowan Williams personifies the lower terminus of the alimentary canal.” Is it not obvious that writing such untrue things will induce some to extreme prejudice against those it targets, and are not such comments clear evidence that this may be happening? Is it not worth trying to paint a more honest picture of the beliefs, values, opinions, and actions of the group one is criticizing? Does she not realize that some gay and lesbian people who oppose Jefferts-Schori because of her Christology will also be thus tarred with the same brush as persons who do not wish to have any gays and lesbians visit their churches (and I repeat, I have never met any such person who is an Anglican)?
I must warn people in the other provinces of the Communion that TEC is frequently defended by words which are either untrue or patently false – and that even respected “moderates” such as Diana Butler Bass are capable of engaging in such.
Anyone who is still in doubt regarding the integrity of inviting Jefferts-Schori to the Church of England, and in the general credibility of the General Convention of TEC and its other reigning bodies, should look into what occurred at the time of the Presiding Bishop’s election. A major problem was found in the materials given to convention delegates describing Jefferts-Schori’s accomplishments – while she had been an assistant clergy member at her church (I believe 200 or so parishoners – the number dropped during her tenure), she was in charge of adult education. Someone – perhaps she – chose to describe this as being “dean” of a “school of theology,” and on the CV it appears just like this – “Dean of the Good Samaritan School of Theology.” She later provided an explanation for this fanciful description, which I find quite unconvincing, here, though she doesn’t explain why the language is so deceitful, nor if it was she herself was the one who provided the CV information, nor why she did not tell General Convention that the information was false before they voted. This was discovered shortly after the election occurred, though it was a few months before she was invested as Presiding Bishop. No inquiry was made, as far as the public knows, and no transparency was brought to the weighty questions arising from it.
This has far-reaching consequences for issues of trust regarding the structures which govern The Episcopal Church. If they are willing to tolerate deceit to their very General Convention, and when this is discovered, do nothing to investigate it in a transparent manner, where else might deceit be tolerated, and under what conditions can we trust the governing structures of The Episcopal Church? And if, as is very likely, this deceptive language came from the Presiding Bishop herself, to her own General Convention, how difficult it becomes in trusting her in her words to the larger Communion at such a time that there is so much tension, and so much to gain for The Episcopal Church by representing things in a manner other than how they actually stand?
I would plead with loyalist supporters of The Episcopal Church to be generous in honesty when engaging in dialog with others, and especially when describing those who they feel are opposing their views and aims.
The original CV is still on the site of The Episcopal Church here – and if it is removed from their site, a copy is available from this site: PB.Booklet.EnglishFinal
I shan’t judge whether election fraud took place, or not; this is immensely trivial compared to a Primate of the Communion who denies the resurrection and the divinity of Christ. I write this for the sake of those who are still wavering in faith about the reality of Christ – that you might not be deceived by the information you are hearing from TEC’s loyalist supporters. They are under stress, there is something understandable about using extreme characterizations of their opponents; and we must forgive and not judge. But forgiveness does not mean that we must agree with them, nor relinquish a healthy skepticism.