Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt is quickly becoming this year’s Paul Zahl. When I dubbed him “another clueless man in a miter” a few days ago, I didn’t know the half of it. On BBC radio this morning, he said the Episcopal Church needed to:
“…stop oppressing a significant minority of itself, about a quarter of its bishops and dioceses, and allow them to exist and flourish in full communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion…”
Just to make sure the point was made he repeated it: “the really critical question is whether the majority of the Episcopal Church will allow space for what is something over a quarter of its bishops and dioceses, and many more than a quarter of its members to continue to hold the full beliefs of the church, both in terms of creeds, about Jesus, about God, and about marriage and Christian behaviour…”
(Thanks to Simon for the quotes.)
Talk about bearing false witness. I have never heard even the most ardent conservatives in our Church suggest that they speak for a quarter of all Episcopalians. Membership in the Network and its allied organizations doesn’t come anywhere near this figure. Perhaps the bishop assumes–recklessly and erroneously–that every Episcopal bishop who attended one of the two conferences of the so-called “Windsor compliant” gang at Camp Allen during hte last year is planning to bolt the Church at the first chance. If so, I’d like to make a large wager with him.
Falsifying numbers, troublesome as that is, isn’t as bad as insulting the faith of fellow Christians, though. The Anglican right knows that as long as the current struggle remains focused on its attitudes towards gays and lesbians, it will loose the public relations battle in the West, so it has manufactured other complaints against the Episcopal Church. This business about us not believing the same thing that other Anglicans do about creeds and Jesus and God is a transparent attempt to refocus the debate. The evidence, such as its is, consists of multiple citations from the career of James Pike, the writings of John Shelby Spong, and whatever a quick google search of Episcopal and pagan turns up. It produces a reliable portrait of our Church in the way that the Swift Boat Veterans produced a reliable portrait of the military career of John Kerrey.
The bishop’s choice of words also leaves something to be desired. No one who uses the word oppression to describe the lot of people who are primarily white, well-educated, affluent, influential and supported by a network of international allies should be allowed to use the word again. If what is happening to, say, Bishop Robert Duncan, is oppression, then we need a new word for what is happening to, well, gay people in Nigeria.
Fortunately, the BBC also featured an interview with Bishop Mark Andrus of California this morning. The Mad Priest has the audio of both interviews here.