The Times played the formal split — in the making for five years — as a mortal challenge to the mainline denomination, which represents about 2.2 million American Episcopalians. But Jim Naughton, the canon for communications and advancement of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, a critic of the breakaway faction, called the Times’ coverage a “massive overreaction.” Only about 5 percent of Episcopalians, he said, are represented in the anti-gay breakaway group.
Naughton chalked up the coverage to “a PR campaign aimed at scaring the daylights of other mainline denominations who might be considering ordination of gay clergy … [to try to] put the fear of God in them by doing as much damage to [the] Episcopal Church as possible.”
As to whether the Church believes damage has been inflicted, Naughton said, “I don’t think our long-term institutional viability has been damaged, but trying to defend ourselves against these constant attacks in the media and the courts takes a lot of energy and money that could be better spent on other aspects of our ministry … it is a drag on work we think God is calling us to do.”
Which is exactly what the religious right excels at: using a minority cacophony to suck all the oxygen out of the room.
From this week’s FundamentaList by Sarah Posner at The American Prospect.
How many times can you drop a shoe? Posner starts “Last week The New York Times broke the news that a group of conservative Episcopalians opposed to the ordination of gay bishops finally separated themselves from the Episcopal Church to form their own denomination.” It’s absolutely correct that they have finally formed their own denomination. But what’s interesting is many of them had separated from the Episcopal Church years, decades, even a century ago. And some were parishes that were never originally not Anglican/Episcopalian to begin with.