Daily Archives: August 3, 2007

Stephen Noll: A Response to Phil Turner

Dr. Turner’s letter, to which Noll is responding, is here: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/article/4810

The one criticism you make of my Open Letter that I find particularly painful relates to my call to “take the risk of breaking communion with false and lukewarm colleagues in TEC.” I do not retract it, but I shall try a clarify it. “False and lukewarm” refers to two groups, not one. There are those who have lapsed into heresy (which I think is identifiable whether or not it is declared so by a Church council). There are others who “tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.” Many of us have been quite willing over the years to work within a church that included worldly leaders and comfortable pewsitters. We even tolerated the Pikes and Spongs, thinking we had the historic tradition and formularies on our side. This is no longer the case. Jesus uttered a paradoxical pair of statements when he said: “He who is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30) and “whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). The time is coming and now is, I think, when the Spirit will dictate that only one of these courses is faithful. Hence it will be necessary to break communion with ”“ not to judge the eternal destiny of ”“ those who hold a true gospel while remaining in the Episcopal Church.

The exercise of prudence ”“ a virtue which I know from your writings you value highly ”“ always involves making a judgement call. I am making such a judgement call in my Open Letter. It appears you are doing likewise when you state that after September 30, if TEC retains its status unreformed by the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury, then the Anglican Communion will have “morphed into another creature altogether.”

So you yourself seem prepared to set a make-or-break date for the completion of the Windsor process and the sealing of the fate of the Anglican Communion. I agree. I do not think there is anything in my Open Letter that conflicts with that timetable. I am quite content to wait until September 30 to see what happens. That date is less than two months from now, and I don’t see what further division can happen in that time anyway. What I do think we need to do is to consider the outcome that the September deadline will come and go and no decision will be made at the Communion level.

That nothing will be done seems likely from two realities: the adamantine stubbornness of the Episcopal Church hierarchy and the apparent unwillingness of the Archbishop of Canterbury to take the necessary steps to discipline it. The House of Bishops, I am sure you will agree, will not change course, even as it effuses about its desire to remain in the Communion. You may be more hopeful than I about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s taking final action after TEC has been given its full measure of indulgence. I see little evidence of willingness from his actions and statements since the February Primates’ Meeting ”“ especially if the recent statement of Archbishop of York reflects the view at the top.

We shall know soon enough. There is nothing in my Open Letter that preempts the Windsor Report as qualified by the Primates’ Communiqué from Tanzania. There is nothing that precludes the Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause partners working within the formal structures of the Anglican Communion if the Episcopal Church walks apart; indeed, it is my hope and prayer that they may be recognized and enabled to do so.

Read it alll.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Identity, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Leslie Hook: Why those South Korean missionaries were in Afghanistan

Missionaries in Asia have long faced violence. A hundred years ago, American and European Christians streamed into the region to convert the Chinese and Koreans. During the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) in China, foreign missionaries were targeted and in many cases killed.

But they kept coming because Asia houses some of the world’s largest non-Christian populations. Today, Christians in Asia number 350 million, up from about 20 million in 1900, according to statistics from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. And as Christianity flourishes, more and more believers–often Asian–begin to heed Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to spread their faith across the world.

The presence of South Korean Christian aid workers is one of the most visible examples of the trend toward “majority world” missionaries–those hailing from continents other than Europe and North America. South Korea, for example, sent only 93 missionaries abroad in 1979, but by 2000 there were over 8,000 and this number doubled by 2006.

Read it all..

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry

Archbishop John Sentamu's Presidential address from the General Synod of the C of E

THERE IS a commanding invitation which echoes throughout the Bible. It’s a message given at various times to patriarchs and prophets, to nations and to shepherds, and to fledgling congregations in the Church’s earliest days. “Fear not, do not be afraid.”

My brothers and sisters this is a message that we need to hear, because it seems to me that we have become afraid. And what are we afraid of? Of causing offence by being ourselves? Afraid of the future? Afraid of looking foolish? Afraid of taking risks?

Read it all.

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

The affluenza epidemic

Remember when greed was good? It was waaaaay back in the ’80s, when a movie called “Wall Street” came up with the brash anthem for a decade: “Greed is good!”

It was a shocking notion at first, this brazen embrace of avarice. And yet the evidence was all around us. “Dynasty” dames dripped diamonds and pearls. Captains of corporate America – Donald Trump with his jets and helicopters, Ted Turner and his hyperactive empire – became the new American heroes.

Where once we may have felt reluctance and even shame at talking about how much money we made and how much stuff we could buy, America was now getting cozy with greed.

But in some ways, those were the good old days – when greed was a remarkable thing. For as we ride a wave of unprecedented economic expansion, with a red hot (if unpredictable) stock market and unemployment at a three-decade low of 4.1%, greed has gone from good to just a part of the landscape in American life. Accepted, hardly noticed. Unremarkable.

Some local teens get a few hundred dollars a month in spending money (in addition to allowance). Many top athletes not only get multimillion dollar salaries, they don’t want to give autographs unless they get paid for that, too.

This year, Americans are expected to spend a record $376 billion on dining out, says the National Restaurant Association. That’s more than $1 billion a day spent on “food prepared away from home,” and exceeds the gross national product of countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Austria.

Read it all .

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Chiquita Under the Gun

In April 2003 Roderick M. Hills, then-head of Chiquita Brands International Inc.’s audit committee, went to the Department of Justice with other Chiquita representatives with a stunning admission: The company had been making illegal payments to a violent Colombian group that the U.S. branded as terrorists.

In years past, the admission might have been enough to get Chiquita off the hook. Companies and their executives who reported wrongdoing and agreed to cooperate often have enjoyed lenient treatment. Many received a “deferred prosecution” in which no charges were filed unless they committed additional crimes.

But things didn’t work out that way for Chiquita — or for Mr. Hills and some colleagues. In March of this year, Chiquita pled guilty to engaging in transactions with a terrorist group and agreed to pay $25 million in fines, the first time a major U.S. company was charged with having financial dealings with terrorists. Now Mr. Hills, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, faces the possibility of personal criminal charges. A federal grand jury is looking at his role, and that of other high company officials, in continuing the company payments for almost another year after the meeting with the Justice Department.

The investigation illustrates the recent posture taken by U.S. authorities to prosecute aggressively even when companies turn themselves in for breaking the law. Critics say that strategy could cause difficulties if companies decide they suffer no worse by waiting to get caught. “This case will make companies think twice about self-reporting,” says Stetson University law professor Ellen Podgor.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Terrorism

Simon Heans Reviews Rowan Williams Tokens of Trust

For many years I had to teach two periods of General Divinity defined as ‘theology for non-specialists’, to sixth formers. Rowan Williams’ most recent book, Tokens of Trust, started life as six talks about the Creeds given at Canterbury Cathedral during Holy Week 2005 to a mixed audience, some of whom, as he tells us in the introduction, were ‘regular churchgoers’ and others who ‘were fairly new to it all’. So here we have theology for non-specialists, the Archbishop’s General Divinity lesson. But Dr Williams proposes for our consideration another, more important, sense in which this is a work of general divinity: ‘I shall be suggesting that Christianity asks you to trust the God it talks about before it asks you to sign up to the complete system.’ So according to Dr Williams, Christianity is first of all a general belief in God (‘trust’) before it is specific doctrine such as the Creeds contain.

General divinity

We might see here an echo of the older sort of general divinity which recommended that catechesis should begin with arguments for believing God to exist before moving on to the credal propositions about him. But the question of God’s existence does not really interest Dr Williams. He writes disarmingly: ‘You won’t be surprised to hear that I haven’t found the decisive new argument that will prove once and for all that there really is a God.’ And he seems to regard the traditional arguments for the existence of God as not much better than themes for the school debating society: ‘When people argue against the existence of God, it helps to have some points you can make to counter the idea that belief is just completely irrational’ But according to Dr Williams, they do not go to the real issue, which is trust in God.

He is right when he remarks that ‘the number of people who come to a living personal faith as a result of argument is actually rather small’ But that criticism would seem to apply to Tokens of Trust since it is towards the ‘God who can be trusted’ that Dr Williams wants to argue his reader. Traditional general divinity was aimed at demonstrating the existence of God and said nothing about his attributes. This was not something that divines in the older Christian tradition believed their general arguments about God could settle. Their ‘living personal faith’ was not general, but specific. It was in the God specified by the articles of the Creeds.

Their position was really the opposite of Dr Williams’: it was ‘the complete system’ in which trust was to be placed. There was, properly speaking, no faith in God outside it because the Creeds defined what it meant to have faith. In contrast, Dr Williams wants to persuade us that it is possible to speak in general terms about faith in God. My argument here is that Dr Williams’ account of God as One Who Can Be Trusted rather than as He Who Is (the title of one of Eric Mascall’s books of traditional general divinity) is deficient both logically and exegetically

Maker of heaven and earth

‘We can trust the maker of heaven and earth,’ writes Dr Williams, ‘precisely because he is the maker of heaven and earth.’ From looking at the world around us, we can conclude that ‘God is to be trusted as a loving parent.’ He is unselfishly concerned for the welfare of his creatures: ‘The love that God shows in making the world…has no shadow of self-directed purpose in it; it is entirely and unreservedly given for our sake.’

But of course the difficulty with this position, as Dr Williams himself points out, is that accidents happen. Writing of the tsunami, he comments: ‘Does this mean that God makes a risky world? Clearly yes, as we see it; anything that is less than God is exposed to risk.’ But then can we continue to speak of God as ‘a loving parent’, the maker of a world ‘entirely and unreservedly given for our sake’?

In fact, we soon find Dr Williams qualifying this claim on God’s behalf. He tells us that we should not think of the world as made for us after all: ‘Things in

the universe exist in relation to the Creator before they exist in relation to us, so that a degree of reverence and humility is appropriate when we approach anything in the created order.’ We are also told that if it is to be a world at all then it has to be ‘really different from him’, but why does it have to be so different? Couldn’t God make a world in which natural disasters did not happen?

Of course this is ‘the problem of evil and suffering’ which every essay in general divinity encounters sooner or later, and I am not blaming Dr Williams for not having solved it! But I am suggesting is that it is especially a problem for his thinking about God because he wants to make a general connection between ‘the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth’ and the idea of trust. In other words I agree with my sixth form sceptic in finding the sentence ‘We can trust the maker of heaven and earth precisely because he is the maker of heaven and earth’ to be a non sequitur. From the sheer existence of the universe, it does not follow that we can trust its maker.

Dr Williams seems to admit as much himself in drawing our attention to people – Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish writer who died in Auschwitz, and Job are mentioned by name – who ‘right up against the worst of suffering find it possible to live honestly with God.’ He quotes Job’s ‘If he kills me I shall still trust him’, adding ‘We can still hear people say something like it today; I don’t think we can just ignore them.’ I agree. But this is to say that we can trust God because Etty and Job think he is their maker, which is rather different from saying we can trust him because he is the maker of heaven and earth. The latter is a statement of general divinity while the former belongs to what we might call specific divinity, that of the Jewish people.

This tension between Dr Williams’ general divinity and the Jewish kind emerges very clearly in what Dr Williams has to say about answers to prayer. He prefaces his remarks with a statement of general divinity: ‘I have been trying to suggest the picture of a God whose almighty power is more of a steady swell of loving presence, always there at work in the centre of everything that is.’

Perhaps ‘steady swell’ is an unfortunate phrase in view of the reference to the tsunami a few pages earlier. Still, on the face of it, this idea of prayer as helping ‘things come together so that love can come through’ seems preferable to the view that prayer works ‘because God likes some people more than others or because some people know the right strings to pull or buttons to press, or because God can be battered into submission by a heavy campaign of praying.’

However, in chapter 1 of Tokens of Trust, Dr Williams reminds us of two stories of Jewish people praying which suggest that those three things are indeed true about the God who answers prayer. The stories of Abraham and Moses interceding with God on behalf of the Sodomites and Israelites respectively (Genesis 18 and Exodus 32) show that God can be ‘battered into submission by a heavy

campaign of praying’, and that he does like some people (Abraham and Moses) more than others (the Sodomites and other Israelites) even perhaps because ‘they know the right strings to pull or buttons to press.’ Certainly this interpretation of those stories from Jewish divinity is more faithful than the one Dr Williams offers from his general divinity perspective, in which the intercessory role of Abraham and Moses is downplayed as a mere literary device, ‘the most vivid way of expressing what [the writers of the stories] understood about God.’

This leads Dr Williams to misread the theological significance of the story. He writes: ‘what would you do faced with the wicked city, faced with the disastrous stupidity of the people of Israel in the desert? You’d be very tempted to annihilate them, wouldn’t you?’ And he continues: ‘Well, that’s the difference between you and God’. But that cannot be quite right, because in the stories God is indeed tempted – and rightly so – to destroy the Sodomites and Israelites. And in the case of Sodom he is not only tempted, he gives in to the temptation, if that is the right expression. The city is annihilated.

Pace Dr Williams the difference of character highlighted by these stories does not really lie between ‘you and God’ but between ‘you’ and Abraham and Moses. They seek God’s mercy, are blessed by him, and through their intercession others, the Sodomites, at least temporarily, and the unfaithful Israelites more permanently, are able to receive God’s mercy and blessing, despite the sins for which they are justly condemned.

The attentive reader will have noticed that Abraham and Moses in these stories are types of Christ. In next month’s New Directions I shall argue that in Dr Williams’ general divinity, the claims of Christian divinity, specifically those made in the Creeds concerning the divinity of Christ, are also diminished.

–This article appears in the July 2007 edition of New Directions

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Theology

The Independent: Audacious, thrilling – and deeply dangerous

The age of exploration on our planet, which many assumed had come to an end, seems to have found a new lease of life. Last week, a small fleet – which comprised a scientific research vessel, two mini-submarines and a nuclear ice breaker – set sail from the Russian port of Murmansk. After the ice breaker carved a 125-metre by 10-metre opening in the thick pack ice near the North Pole, the two submarines descended into the freezing waters. Yesterday, one of those submarines planted a Russian flag, in a metal capsule, on the seabed two and a half miles below the Pole. The Russians are comparing the achievement to that of man walking on the moon for the first time.

In terms of audacity and technical skill, it may bear comparison with the 1969 moon landing….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Bishop Victoria Matthews announces resignation

Some will wonder if I have new health concerns, and others will ask if I am angry at the Anglican Church. The answer to both questions is no. I am well and I love our Church. I am an Anglican and hope to always minister in accordance with the grace and mercy of Christ our Saviour.

An electoral Synod will be held at All Saints’ Cathedral, Edmonton on March 8, 2008. To begin the preparations for that Synod there will be a special Executive Council meeting on August 14th at 7:00 pm at the Cathedral. The Chancellor is writing a memorandum on what needs to be done to ready the Diocese for the electoral synod next year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Humanist Loses Case Over Voting in Churches

A judge ruled Tuesday against a Humanist who said his constitutional rights were violated when he had to vote in a Catholic church adorned with religious icons and anti-abortion posters.

Jerry Rabinowitz claimed he felt uncomfortable when he entered a polling place decorated with various crucifixes, a sign that read “Each of us matters to God” and a pro-life banner.

In the November 2006 suit, filed against the county supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, Florida, he testified that the religious displays amounted to the government’s unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

A district court judge disagreed, citing the plaintiff’s own claim that he “did not equate the religious icons and messages at his polling place with the defendant’s endorsement of the Catholic faith.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues

Video of the Minnesota Bridge Collapse

Words fail, so one watches in silence and prays.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

ADV Responds to the Bishop of Virginia's Announcement to Depose Former Clergy

FAIRFAX, Va. (August 2, 2007) ”“ The churches of the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia, responded to the public announcement made today by the current Episcopal Bishop of Virginia to depose the approximately twenty clergy who have transferred their canonical residency to other branches of the Anglican Communion.

“We are sorry that Bishop Lee would seek to make such a public announcement when the clergy are no longer under his jurisdiction. The clergy he seeks to depose include a bishop-elect in the Province of Uganda, as well as a number of other ordained men and women who have faithfully carried out their pastoral duties as priests in the Church,” said ADV Vice Chairman Jim Oakes.

“This announcement from the Diocese of Virginia is like an employer trying to fire someone who has already quit. Our clergy have remained steadfast in their faith, and have fully embarked on their journey with the worldwide Anglican Communion by joining ADV and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. We should remember the unanimous message that the Archbishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion made at their February meeting in Tanzania clearly expressing that it is the Episcopal Church that is out of step not only with us, but with the majority of Anglicans around the globe,” Mr. Oakes said.

After nearly a year of conversation with the bishop and his representatives in the Diocese of Virginia, the Bishop of Virginia endorsed the Diocese of Virginia Protocol for Departing Churches, providing a pastoral and charitable way for congregations to vote their conscience and remain Anglican, including the clergy.

“We were shocked when the bishop suddenly cut off negotiations following the vote and inhibited our clergy. But we must remember that he does not have the authority to depose clergy that are no longer under his jurisdiction. In spite of these continued acts of intimidation, ADV churches continue to move forward serving Christ by proclaiming His gospel, supporting and strengthening families, and serving communities at home and abroad,” Mr. Oakes said.

ADV members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with CANA, a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria. ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people. ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community. ADV is currently comprised of 19 member congregations, 15 of which are under the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop of CANA, The Right Reverend Martyn Minns, and four of which are ecclesiastical members under direct authority of other Anglican Archbishops, strongly supported by ADV members.

Update: An ENS article on the matter is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Christopher Wells: Christian Unity

Obviously Rome’s ecumenical lexicon remains a stumbling block to many Christians””presumptuously authoritative hence annoyingly authoritarian to most mainline protestants; misguided hence largely irrelevant, albeit praiseworthily “clear,” to many Orthodox and evangelical protestants; and by turns agonizingly attractive and repulsive on varying points to many catholic-minded Anglicans and Lutherans, among others. And in every case it is a struggle to listen to Rome’s soundings with at least a measure of equanimity, if not gratitude per se. For she teaches without being asked, as it were, supposing that she has a brief that extends to the whole of the Christian world, and beyond.

I would argue, however, that the Roman Catholic Church rightly adopts this posture precisely on account of its commitment to visible catholicity; whence the message is a gift, albeit at times a painful one”” not only to receive, but, we should presume, to offer. For the avowed end of Catholic teaching is communion-in-love, a goal and a vocation that is irreproachable on gospel grounds. Who, then, would fault our Roman friends for attempting to lead all of us together?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Students must remember 'God' in Texas pledge

Texas students will have four more words to remember when they head back to class this month and begin reciting the state’s pledge of allegiance.

This year’s Legislature added the phrase “one state under God” to the pledge, which is part of a required morning ritual in Texas public schools along with the pledge to the U.S. flag and a moment of silence.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, who sponsored the bill, said it had always bothered her that God was omitted in the state’s pledge.

“Personally, I felt like the Texas pledge had a big old hole in it, and it occurred to me, ‘You know what? We need to fix that,’ ” said Riddle, R-Tomball. “Our Texas pledge is perfectly OK like it is with the exception of acknowledging that just as we are one nation under God, we are one state under God as well.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, Education, Religion & Culture

From the Church of England Newspaper: American anger at Archbishop

By George Conger

POISED to fracture over the thorny issue of institutional loyalty towards the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) emerged from its annual council meeting with a degree of unanimity and confidence not seen since the aftermath of the Gene Robinson consecration in 2003.

As the Sept 30 deadline for the US House of Bishops to respond to the Dar es Salaam communiqué approaches, the ACN voted not to take precipitous action and to wait upon the direction of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables challenged the delegates ”˜not to hold back’ challenging them to choose between a ”˜Christian church or a comfortable church.’

He said he had ”˜dealt eyeball to eyeball’ with the leaders of the American church and had ”˜no illusions’ left. But encouraged their resolve saying, “It ain’t us who left it. We are the Anglicans.”

While the conservative group’s financial position remains precarious and its members face increasing legal and canonical pressure from hostile dioceses and the national church in New York, the factional differences that seemed ready to split the coalition were overcome and a late night compromise reached between those seeking to stay and those seeking to quit the Episcopal Church.

The meeting opened with a somber presentation from the ACN’s moderator, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan on the state of the Episcopal Church. Seventeen ACN leaders, including four bishops, had quit the Episcopal Church in the past year he said.

Speaking at times directly to the video cameras broadcasting the proceedings to viewers watching on the internet, Bishop Duncan argued that the Episcopal Church was bound for Hell.

He also chided the Archbishop of Canterbury, saying Dr Williams’ efforts had been ineffectual.

The crisis of faith and order within the Church had ”˜tested’ the Anglican Communion, he said.

Some had concluded the Anglican Communion was ”˜finished’, but he believed the ”˜vision of the Anglican Reformation’ was still possible but ”˜requires new ecclesiastical structures.’

The ”˜American Province’ of the Anglican Communion “is lost, and something will have to replace it,” the Pittsburgh Bishop said. The Episcopal Church’s property litigation campaign showed ”˜they were taking their stuff to Hell.’

“Never ever had Dr Williams spoken on behalf of the orthodox,” Bishop Duncan said, adding that his ”˜voice has not been used for the things of the Communion.’

A ”˜cost of this ecclesiastical revolution’ could very well be ”˜his historic office,’ he concluded.

Bishop Duncan acknowledged the bishops of the ACN were divided, saying the ”˜principal disagreement is a tactical disagreement’ of how and when to proceed.

During the afternoon business session Dallas Bishop James Stanton expressed unease with proposals before the meeting to form a “Common Cause Partnership” with groups outside the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Stanton argued it was ”˜problematic’ to proceed with changes to the language of the ACN charter that could be interpreted as placing the Network outside of the Episcopal Church. The meeting agreed to postpone debate to the next day, and to address structural changes and the proposal for formal alliances with non-Episcopal groups at the same time.

While the public proceedings were cordial, behind the scenes the ACN’s various factions pushed their agendas. Those who had quit the Episcopal Church sought an immediate pull out, arguing that there was no likelihood the US House of Bishops would comply with the Primates’ demands.

Against this, representatives from the dioceses lobbied to work with the Primates’ time line and take no action until after the Primates’ deadline. Proposals for a precipitous withdrawal from the Episcopal Church prompted Dallas to suggest it could be forced to withdraw from the ACN if it adopted a secessionist agenda at the meeting.

However, a compromise was proposed that the ACN would retain language pledging to ”˜operate in good faith within the Constitution of the Episcopal Church’ while adopting a bylaw that affirmed that Network affiliates outside the Church were not required to submit to its constitution.

The compromise was accepted unanimously, and the meeting went on to adopt the partnership agreement and to elect Bishop Duncan to a second term as moderator.

–The Church of England Newspaper, August 3, 2007, edition, page 5

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network

From the Christian Science Monitor: Faith-based initiative backfires

Bush wanted to fund social services whose key ingredient is faith, either in the program itself or as part of the treatment. Congress never signed off. So federal officials reached out to church groups and explained how to apply and win federal funding by keeping their services “faith neutral” or free of proselytizing.

And that’s the hitch. If a program promotes one faith to its clients, the government cannot fund it given the First Amendment ban on congressional “establishment of religion.” But if such a program sheds its religious character to qualify for public money, how important was that faith in the first place?

There is a solution. Addiction and mental-health programs can assess new clients for their spiritual and religious histories and interests and then tailor treatment accordingly. Courts have ruled that so long as a program offers a client “a genuinely independent choice,” religious freedom is preserved. In March, the federal Bureau of Prisons recognized this distinction when it revised a proposal for private operators of “life skills” training programs. Those that offer a religious track would now have to provide a secular one as well.

Read it all..

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