[ACI] Excluding Your Enemy: A Comment on the Present State of the Episcopal Church

By Philip Turner and Ephraim Radner
We write to bring to the attention of the Bishops, Priest, Deacons and Lay Persons of The Episcopal Church (TEC) a matter of grave concern. It is a matter that, left unaddressed in the decision-making of General Convention, now threatens the integrity and public witness of everyone who calls him or herself an Episcopalian: is our church prepared to permit in its midst clergy and lay leaders who, however much they represent a minority opinion, are committed to a traditional reading of TEC’s Prayer Book and Constitution? Or will TEC instead seek to drive such persons out, by invective, discrimination, and abuse of the disciplinary canons?
in the build-up to the General Convention this July, other matters provide a new basis for the dynamics of vituperative exclusion. Calls are being made, for instance, that newly elected bishops actually be asked “are you or have you ever been associated with the ACI?”; a positive response being seen as grounds for refusal of consent. More intricately, formal proposals are being pressed at the upcoming General Convention to change TEC’s canons so that same-gender marriage and not just blessings are permitted. Should these efforts succeed, the General Convention by simple say-so will have rendered the stated doctrine of marriage in the Book of Common Prayer without binding authority. Anticipating this outcome many claim that Bishops will have to permit same gender blessings and marriages in their diocese or face discipline, just as did those who suggested that TEC’s Constitution be read in a way contrary to the current Presiding Bishop’s. There is good reason to believe that this change in doctrine and practice will become mandatory in all dioceses. Indeed, as we write, the blogs are filled with invective and statements to the effect that “It’s time for those who disagree to leave.”

Invective aside, we do not believe that TEC’s constitution, in respect to doctrine and worship, permits making obligatory for a Diocesan Bishop anything other than the Book of Common Prayer. Obviously, this is an arguable position, but the argument in support is powerful. It is based on a careful reading of TEC’s constitution. Any contrary opinion must be based on the same sort of close reading if it is to claim a serious right to be heard. This dispute touches the ecclesial fate of all, and it deserves better than name-calling and threats of discipline and deposition for those who disagree. Sadly, patience for careful reading and discussion has evaporated. Threats of discipline and legal action against questioners, no matter the care and rigor of their questioning, are now mounting in frequency and these threats have behind them a history of being carried out.

Read it all

See also for background:
Misrepresenting ACI’s Concerns About The Constitutionality of [New] Liturgical Material (Apr 21, 2015)
The Episcopal Church and the New Episcopal Church (Apr 20, 2015)
What Then Shall We Do? A Note on the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church (April 30, 2015)


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

9 comments on “[ACI] Excluding Your Enemy: A Comment on the Present State of the Episcopal Church

  1. Dick Mitchell says:

    Well said! And the Bishops who were indicted for their support of an Amicus Brief subsequently signed a statement that they would “not do it again,” and so far as I can tell, they have complied with that submission. The PB insisted that they shut up, and they did so. The PB’s plan worked.

    A couple years ago, I criticized my diocesan bishop for his support of same-sex marriage, as not supported by Scripture, Prayer Book or tradition, and his response was to make an ad hominem attack on me, to suggest I was a bigot or a “homophobe.” (He apologized later, privately.)

    It seems to me that the non-discriminatory proviso of canon law, enacted as to apply to gender identity or expression, will soon be applied to bishops who decline to ordain (or send to seminary) those persons in same-sex relationships. The clock is ticking.

  2. CSeitz-ACI says:

    #1. Correct.

  3. tjmcmahon says:

    First and foremost, prayers for the good men of ACI. Many of us have faced something similar in recent years. In the end, denominations, and our status within them, make little difference. The Church (the real one) is made up of those who “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul and all thy mind.” That certainly applies to the good people at ACI.

    Dick Mitchell- “It seems to me that the non-discriminatory proviso of canon law, enacted as to apply to gender identity or expression, will soon be applied to bishops who decline to ordain (or send to seminary) those persons in same-sex relationships.” Correct- anyone who thinks not, should count the number of diocesan bishops in TEC who do not ordain women, or refuse to license women to function sacramentally in their dioceses. The “non-discrimination” canon on women priests dates from 1993, and by 2009, there were no traditionalist diocesan bishops. So, figure that by 2028 (16 years after the 2012 GC), the last “not fully inclusive” bishop will have been deposed- and at least 2 sitting bishops will be transgendered.

  4. CSeitz-ACI says:

    “Many of us have faced something similar in recent years.”

    We at ACI (SEAD before that) put the present ss struggle in earnest back to 1995, Hard to believe but ‘recent years’ now tallies two decades.

    But it is important we believe to continue to bear witness. Our generation has its duties, and then passes it to the next.

  5. Fr. Dale says:

    The French believed the Maginot Line was unbreachable and conservatives believed the same of Scripture. Why would one expect the BCP to be any kind of firewall either?

  6. Katherine says:

    Fr. Dale, I was confirmed in ECUSA as an adult. I thought Episcopalians believed what was in the Prayer Book. How sad I have been to discover that many of them didn’t.

  7. Pb says:

    You can tell a follower of Saul Alinsky. If you disagree with them, they attack you personally. You are by definition a bad person. It is one of the rules for radicals.

  8. Undergroundpewster says:

    #7 Pb, We must be very bad indeed.

  9. Fr. Dale says:

    “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us’ — if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election — then I think it’s going to be harder. And that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd.” POTUS