Daily Archives: July 1, 2008

Brian J. Grim on the Erosion of Religious Freedom in Iraq

Not long after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Donny George, an Iraqi Christian whose family had lived in the region for thousands of years, received a death threat in an envelope containing a Kalashnikov bullet. The letter accused George of working for the Americans and said his youngest son had disrespected Islam. George quickly arranged to send most of his family to Damascus, Syria, but he stayed behind to work at the Iraqi National Museum, becoming chairman of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in 2005.

Within a year, though, he too decided to flee ”” first to Damascus, and eventually to the USA.

“I was told by some people in the same ministry that ”¦ such an important institution should not be headed by a Christian,” George told the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom last year.

Many Iraqi Christians have suffered far worse fates. As documented by the U.S. State Department, Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq have endured extensive persecution since 2003, including the murder of their religious leaders, threats of violence or death if they do not abandon their homes and businesses, and the bombing or destruction of their churches and other places of worship. According to one Iraqi Christian leader, half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the nation since 2003, and some have likened the situation to ethnic cleansing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, Religion & Culture

Seymour M. Hersh: The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran

The White House’s reliance on questionable operatives, and on plans involving possible lethal action inside Iran, has created anger as well as anxiety within the Special Operations and intelligence communities. JSOC’s operations in Iran are believed to be modelled on a program that has, with some success, used surrogates to target the Taliban leadership in the tribal territories of Waziristan, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But the situations in Waziristan and Iran are not comparable.

In Waziristan, “the program works because it’s small and smart guys are running it,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s being executed by professionals. The N.S.A., the C.I.A., and the D.I.A.”””the Defense Intelligence Agency””“are right in there with the Special Forces and Pakistani intelligence, and they’re dealing with serious bad guys.” He added, “We have to be really careful in calling in the missiles. We have to hit certain houses at certain times. The people on the ground are watching through binoculars a few hundred yards away and calling specific locations, in latitude and longitude. We keep the Predator loitering until the targets go into a house, and we have to make sure our guys are far enough away so they don’t get hit.” One of the most prominent victims of the program, the former official said, was Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior Taliban commander, who was killed on January 31st, reportedly in a missile strike that also killed eleven other people.

A dispatch published on March 26th by the Washington Post reported on the increasing number of successful strikes against Taliban and other insurgent units in Pakistan’s tribal areas. A follow-up article noted that, in response, the Taliban had killed “dozens of people” suspected of providing information to the United States and its allies on the whereabouts of Taliban leaders. Many of the victims were thought to be American spies, and their executions””a beheading, in one case””were videotaped and distributed by DVD as a warning to others.

It is not simple to replicate the program in Iran. “Everybody’s arguing about the high-value-target list,” the former senior intelligence official said. “The Special Ops guys are pissed off because Cheney’s office set up priorities for categories of targets, and now he’s getting impatient and applying pressure for results. But it takes a long time to get the right guys in place.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Middle East

Ugley Vicar is Liveblogging from All Souls Langham Place

Please check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

USA Today: The rules of infidelity today are blurry

We used to know what infidelity was: sex with someone other than your mate.

But the 21st century seems to have blurred those clear-cut lines. Is having lunch every day with an opposite-sex work friend a breach of marital trust? What about a flirtation online? If there’s no sex, is it really cheating?

Such questions arise as societal and psychological pressures challenge deep-rooted ideas about the nature of infidelity. “We are as a society finally coming to grips with what it means to be faithful,” says Douglas Snyder, a psychologist at Texas A&M University-College Station. “It doesn’t just mean to have sex with someone else.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

ABC News–Pentagon Official Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran

Senior Pentagon officials are concerned that Israel could carry out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of the year, an action that would have enormous security and economic repercussions for the United States and the rest of the world.

A senior defense official told ABC News there is an “increasing likelihood” that Israel will carry out such an attack, a move that likely would prompt Iranian retaliation against, not just Israel, but against the United States as well.

The official identified two “red lines” that could trigger an Israeli offensive. The first is tied to when Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility produces enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. According to the latest U.S. and Israeli intelligence assessments, that is likely to happen sometime in 2009, and could happen by the end of this year.

“The red line is not when they get to that point, but before they get to that point,” the official said. “We are in the window of vulnerability.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces

Bishop Robert Forsyth on the GAFCON Communiqe

What stands out in the statement? Five initial impressions of what will be important.

1. A strong commitment to stay in and affirm the Anglican Communion, despite all.

2. The creation of a fellowship of Confessing Anglicans within the Communion.

3. The issuing of the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis for such a fellowship.

4. A Council of Primates to oversee the movement.

5. A new Province in the USA recognised by the Council of Primates, which means that the power of the Archbishop of Canterbury alone to say who is in and who is out is to be shared.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

An NPR Story on the GAFCON Conference

“[In Jerusalem] we all sat around the table, and pretty well with one voice, we said, we are not leaving the Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Greg Venables, who oversees several countries in South America, said from Jerusalem. “We are not going to break away and form another church.”

There had been talk preceding the meeting of a theological divorce. The group did not split because, Venables says, “we are the true Anglicans.”

“We don’t accept that we can hand over the franchise of Anglicanism to people who suddenly, without consulting anyone, decided to create a new version of Anglicanism,” he says.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

(London) Times–Church of England clergy plan mass exit over women bishops

More than 1,300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, have written to the archbishops of Canterbury and York to say that they will defect from the Church of England if women are consecrated bishops.

As the wider Anglican Communion fragments over homosexuality, England’s established Church is moving towards its own crisis with a crucial vote on women bishops this weekend.

In a letter to Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, seen by The Times, the signatories give warning that they will consider leaving the Church if two crucial votes are passed to introduce female bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Text-Messaging Behind the Wheel

First it was drinking. Then it was cell phones. Now text-messaging is the latest behind-the-wheel activity lawmakers are trying to curb.

“All of my friends do it,” says Sonalie Patel, 17, who lives in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and admits that she too occasionally sends texts despite a ban on cell phone use for drivers under 19 and adults with learners permits. “It’s like an epidemic.”

Indeed, a Nationwide Insurance survey found that 18% of cell phone owners text and drive and that drivers between the ages of 16 and 30 are the most frequent texters. Young adults have even posted videos of themselves texting while driving on YouTube, and nearly 600 people have joined a Facebook group called “I Text Message People While Driving And I Haven’t Crashed Yet!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology, Young Adults

Time Magazine–An Anglican Schism: Headed for US?

For now, GAFcon seems to be trying to provoke a split rather than announcing one itself. On Monday, Rowan Williams responded to the Jerusalem declaration by saying he thought “the tenets of orthodoxy” spelled out in the document will be acceptable and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans. He did, however, note that GAFcon’s proposals for reorganizing its churches and “intervention” in existing dioceses were problematic. It now likely that the U.S., which brought the conservative-liberal tension to a boil with its consecration of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson in 2003, could end up being the setting for a GAFcon provocation. Certainly, after this past weekend, the temperature of the U.S. battle will only increase along with the international stakes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts

In the U.K., Fear over children's 'immorality'

Adults distrust young people and are increasingly worried about children’s declining morality, a report has found.

In the poll of 1,176 UK adults, 66% said children’s morality today was “not as strong” as when they were young.

Seven out of 10 questioned for the Children’s Society survey – 69% – said children’s community values had fallen.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens,said children were aware of these attitudes and wanted to be seen positively, not as “thugs”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK

Tony Clavier: GAFCOn and Voluntary Groups

In some ways the newly formed Gafcon body resembles much more this “colonial” strategy than perhaps its organizers contemplate. The banding together of like-minded Anglicans to give mutual support and to encourage evangelism and church growth, in bodies which remain within the traditional structure of the church, but in formal and ad hoc ways exercise their own control, has been a part of the Anglican story for centuries.

What is revolutionary and perhaps troubling is the intention of Gafcon to enter existing Provinces of the Communion without the authorization or consent of the canonical bodies involved. In this perhaps crucial aspect, Gafcon is proposing to act as a church rather than as a large “missionary society” or lobby or interest group.

That such a society exhibits impatience with existing church structures is nothing new. The argument which split the Evangelical Movement in the 18th Century was not simply about “Calvinism” versus “Arminianism”, although neither title precisely fits the moment, but about whether the existing parochial structure of the church was to be respected and used, or whether to go outside that structure and create cells of converts linked in “connexion”. Gradually the Wesleyans “invaded” the structure, placing evangelism above ecclesiology. Church evangelicals remained within the structure, “converting” parishes and accepting high office.

As far as North America and perhaps England is concerned, Gafcon seems to be following the path of the early Methodists in placing evangelical strategy and need over ecclesiology.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

Olympic Nightmare: A red tide in the Yellow Sea

With less than six weeks before it plays host to the Olympic sailing regatta, the city of Qingdao has mobilized thousands of people and an armada of small boats to clean up an algae bloom that is choking large stretches of the coastline and threatening to impede the Olympic competition.

Local officials have initiated an all-out effort to clean up the algae by mid-July. Media reports estimate that as many as 20,000 people have either volunteered or been ordered to participate in the operation, while 1,000 boats are scooping algae out of the Yellow Sea. The official news agency, Xinhua, reported that algae currently covered a third of the coastal waters designated for the Olympic races.

Water quality has been a concern for the sailing events, given that many coastal Chinese cities dump untreated sewage into the sea. At the same time, rivers and tributaries emptying into coastal waters are often contaminated with high levels of nitrates from agricultural and industrial runoff. These nitrates contribute to the red tides of algae that often bloom along sections of China’s coastline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Energy, Natural Resources, Sports

GAFCON Roundup (*sticky*)

[color=red]last updated: 3 July 2008, 12:30 GMT (8:30 a.m. Eastern)[/color]
What’s new: Response from +Hiltz of Canada, new GLOBAL petition to indicate your support of GAFCON, long commentary on GAFCON from Forward in Faith, etc…

Now that the responses to GAFCON are coming in fast and furious, we thought it would be helpful to create a roundup post to track them. As always, feel free to post comments that include links to articles and statements of interest.

[b]New entries July 2 & 3:[/b] (apologies these are in no particular order… it’s a busy day)

A NEW GLOBAL Petition in support of GAFCON:

++Hiltz (Primate of Canada)

+Chane (Dio. Washington)

+Benn (Lewes, UK)

CANA Bishop David Bena writes his clergy about GAFCON

Forward in Faith: Letter from Jerusalem

Bp. Kirk Smith of Arizona (See “A Final Thought”)

Alister McGrath

Chris Sugden

Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV reflects on GAFCON

GAFCON Report by Canon Bill Gandenberger (Dio. San Joaquin)

Church of England GAFCON Briefing (one of the Melbourne GAFCON bloggers)

Church Times blog (July 1): GAFCON Primates in London

A summary of GAFCON designed for parish newsletters (Produced by the Chelmsford branch of Anglican Mainstream, note this is primarily geared to CoE parishes)

New materials at Anglican TV:
GAFCON: The Post Gafcon London Meeting
GAFCON Archbishop Venables delivers closing sermon
GAFCON-Final-Press-ConferenceGAFCON: Final Press Conference

— end of new July 3 links —


I. GAFCON Communique and other important Conference Materials (see also section VI. below for more conference materials)

The GAFCON Communique — full text and primary T19 discussion thread.
— the SF Discussion Thread on the Communique.

GAFCON Final Press Briefing (audio)

GAFCON Final Press Release
SF Discussion thread

Jerusalem Declaration Acceptance Statement (Matt Kennedy’s liveblog)

The Offical GAFCON website is here.


II. International Response and Commentary

Archbishop Rowan Williams Response
SF Discussion thread

Bishop NT Wright’s Response

Bp. Allan Ewing (Canberra)

Abp. Peter Jensen (Sydney)

Bp. Robert Forsyth (South Sydney)

Modern Churchpeople’s Union

Bp. Tom Butler (Southwark)

++Philip Aspinall, Primate of Australia

Inclusive Church

Anglican Church League, Sydney


III. US Response and Commentary

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s Response

Bishop Iker’s (Fort Worth) Response

Canon Neal Michell (Diocese of Dallas) Response

Dr. Leander Harding

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina: Understanding the Times (pre-GAFCON)


IV. Bloggers and Various other Commentary

The GAFCON links post which we elves had posted during most of the GAFCON conference — links to all those who were blogging from Jerusalem

Matt Kennedy: The Anglican Communion Must Change or Die

Greg Griffith: Finally, Into the Breach? The Global Anglican Future Begins

Fr. Dan Martins: A First Take on the Jerusalem Declaration

The Ugley Vicar: Can GAFCON really help us in England?

Graham Kings: On the GAFCON Final Statement: Encouragements and Serious Questions

Christopher Seitz on the GAFCON Communique’

Brad Drell: What The Gafcon Statement Means For Western Louisiana

Bobby J. Kennedy: GAFCON: What’s in it for me? (Another view from Western Louisiana)

Fr. Lee Nelson (Fort Worth, GAFCON attendee): My Thoughts on the Jerusalem Declaration and the GAFCON Statement

Tony Payne (Sydney, GAFCON attendee): GAFCON final day: Making a Statement!

Dr. Karin Sowada (Sydney, GAFCON attendee): Singing Bishops and Firm Words

REFORM Ireland (GAFCON attendee): Moving Forward

The Rev. Grant LeMarquand (Trinity Seminary, Ambridge)

Cherie Wetzel (Anglicans United, Dallas, GAFCON attendee)

Tony Clavier: GAFCON and Voluntary Groups

Chris Watson Lee: GAFCON Roundup

V. Mainstream Media Reports

Timothy Morgan: Misunderstanding GAFCON (Christianity Today)

Travis Kavulla: Remaking Anglicanism (National Review)

Time: An Anglican Schism Headed for US?

Telegraph July 1 (coverage of All Souls Langham Place, comments by ++Jensen and ++Orombi)

NPR: All Things Considered, June 30, Barbara Bradley Hagerty (Comments by ++Venables, Naughton, +Minns, +VGR)


VI. Miscellaneous Conference Materials

Matt Kennedy’s blog entry listing TEC Bishops and Anglican Primates in attendance at GAFCON

Given at GAFCON 2008

Notes on Dr. Os Guiness’ talk at GAFCON

The full Transcript of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s GAFCON Talk
GAFCON Day 3: Live Blog of +Nazr-Ali Remarks to General Assembly

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali on authentic Anglicanism

Dr. Mark Thompson: “Just what is the Bible?” (GAFCON Scripture workshop)

Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda Interviewed at Gafcon by BBC’s Today Programme
Live Blog: Archbishop Henry Orombi’s Sermon at the Opening Eucharist

GAFCON: Live Blog of Day 1 Press Conference

GAFCON ”“ A Rescue Mission: Archbishop Peter Akinola’s opening address
GAFCON: Transcript of Archbishop Akinola’s Opening Address

Bp Bob Duncan: Anglicanism Come of Age: A Post-Colonial and Global Communion for the 21st Century
SF Discussion thread

GAFCON: ”˜The Way, the Truth and the Life’ Publication [PDF Document]
T19 thread
SF Discussion

VII. All Souls Langham Place London Post-Gafcon meeting
1. Presentation by ++Orombi
2. Presentation by ++Venables
3. Interview with JI Packer
4. Panel Discussion
5. Apb. Peter Jensen Presentation
6. Petition to declare support of GAFCON for CoE members (COE members only!)

VIII: Additional Anglican TV videos:
GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration Video
GAFCON Behind the scenes briefing
GAFCON Interview with Archbishop Venables
Anglican Report with Archbishop Orombi

[color=red]last updated: 3 July 2008, 12:30 GMT (8:30 am Eastern)[/color]

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Featured (Sticky), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

The Modern Churchpeople’s Union: Ethos of Anglicanism "betrayed"

Contrary to their claims, the Anglican Communion is traditionally one that embraces difference and respects diversity. Since the reign of Henry VIII the Church of England has sought to encompass a range of opinions because it recognized that no one group has special access to truth. Therefore engagement with those with whom you disagree is essential in pursuit of truth.

The formation of FOCA is nothing less than a pre-emptive first strike by those who are determined to have their own way come what may. Their abandonment of serious theological discussion and debate is a betrayal of the ethos of Anglicanism.

Jonathan Clatworthy, General Secretary of the MCU said: “They tried to take over, using homosexuality as a rallying-cry and threatening to split the Anglican Communion. Finding their more extreme demands rejected they have finally decided to go their own way. This will be an opportunity for the Anglican Communion to reaffirm its traditional openness and diversity, recognizing that nobody has all the answers”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates