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WASHINGTON DC: Gospel of Intolerance:The "Gospel" according to Bishop John Chane

A Gospel of Intolerance: The "Gospel" according to John Chane Bishop of Washington

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
2/26/2006

John Bryson Chane, Bishop of the Diocese of Washington wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post recently in which he publicly berates and declaims against the Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola for taking a stand against same-sex marriages, accusing him of taking money from wealthy conservative foundations, fomenting schism leading to the formation of "his own purified [Anglican] communion" with himself at the head and much more.

Writing in the Post, Chane said this: "Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government."

"The archbishop's support for this law violates numerous Anglican Communion documents that call for a "listening process" involving gay Christians and their leaders. But his contempt for international agreements also extends to Articles 18-20 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which articulates the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, association and assembly."

Bishop Chane has willfully distorted and twisted the facts to suit his diocese' and The Episcopal Church's own homoerotic ends.

Homosexual activity is a crime throughout most of the continent [of Africa], and childbearing is regarded as the essential function of marriage.

The Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Episcopal Church a cardinal parish in the Diocese of Virginia and a close personal friend of Archbishop Akinola said, on reading Chane's diatribe; "The money thing is absolutely not true -- as far as I know the Church of Nigeria does NOT get funding from any conservative foundations nor do they victimize homosexuals -- they love them and pray for them." He said the rest of the article was nothing more than a personal attack on Akinola at a time when he and the Church of Nigeria are engaged in a life and death struggle [with Islam] ... It is tragic ..."

A closer look at what Chane writes, reveals lies, half truths and embittered anger at a man who leads 18 million Anglicans (and who will double his province to 36 million in three years with aggressive evangelism), while the Diocese of Washington shrinks.

The diocese claims 42,000 baptized members but actual weekly Sunday attendance is less than 17,000 spread across 93 parishes and, like most dioceses, it has more funerals (578) than marriages (311). It is a diocese sustained by its closeness to secular power, the rich and powerful, many of whom have Episcopal DNA written into them, not by a coherent gospel.

Furthermore most of the funding for the diocese comes from the Soper Fund - the endowment of a rich Episcopal lady - which the bishop will raid this year to the tune of $1.26 million while the diocesan budget for 2006 appears headed for a deficit - the very model of financial stress.

And this while Chane accuses Akinola of accepting Foundation "gifts" of money from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundation to allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ." All the while he is soaking the Soper fund just to keep his diocese afloat!

If it is inherently evil to accept money from conservative foundations then it is also wrong to accept money from a liberal left-wing billionaire like George Soros, whose far-left 527 Website MoveOn.org, funded anti-Bush ads during the last election. Soros has also been extremely critical of the distinguished Evangelical Episcopal pollster George Gallup.

Writes Chane: "It's no secret that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are engaged in a bitter internal struggle over the role of gay and lesbian people within the church. But despite this struggle, the leaders of our global communion of 77 million members have consistently reiterated their pastoral concern for gays and lesbians. Meeting last February, the primates who lead our 38 member provinces issued a unanimous statement that said in part: "The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We now have reason to doubt those words."

Nowhere, in any of his utterances, has Akinola "victimized or diminished" homosexuals. He has described homosexuality as an "abomination" which contradicts the Bible and African values. That is a statement of fact about what the Bible proscribes about a behavior that the Apostle Paul himself says can exclude you from the Kingdom of God. Many North American and European evangelicals would agree with Akinola, and many have also described homosexual behavior as an "abomination," with 26 known sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS resulting from anal sex. It is hard to imagine how one can uphold this behavior as good and right in the eyes of God.

Akinola has also said that homosexual activity is a reflection of human brokenness. He cites I Cor. 6:9, 10 "...Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." His commentary on that is that this shows that Paul is using the word "arsenokoites" translated "homosexual offenders" to stress the traditional Jewish understanding condemning all homosexual activity, not just rape or prostitution.

Chane says that Akinola threw his prestige behind the law that infringed upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria's government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.

There is no verifiable evidence that Akinola has said that newspaper editors should be prosecuted for writing pro-gay stories. This writer has searched the Internet in vain for such a story. A recent alleged gathering of 800 Nigerian Anglican homosexuals supported by the British organization Changing Attitudes turned out not to have taken place and Akinola condemned it. All the while the American Episcopal Church is pushing its Integrity organization in Uganda, Nigeria and wherever it can gain a foothold on African soil.

The unwavering stance of the African Anglican bishops on homosexuality has won praise from the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, himself a born-again Christian. He lauded the African bishops for standing for biblical values rather than heeding to the financial pressures of the Western world, during a speech to the premier African Anglican Bishops Conference

But Akinola has also not been afraid to come down hard on his own government and recently got in the face of the President over corruption in his own government.

And why shouldn't Akinola support the government on the homosexual issue? Americans regularly shout their support or otherwise on a whole of host of issues raised by their government. Every single state is or will be embroiled in legislation over same-sex unions, and not all will agree on how it should be handled or the outcome.

And what would Chane say about the French Government which, at the request of the President of the French National Assembly has concluded that homosexual 'marriage' and adoption by homosexual couples, and medically assisted procreation for homosexual couples should not be permitted by law. The decisive factor to the report's conclusions, after an investigation of more than a year, was the commission's decision to act "to affirm and protect children's rights and the primacy of those rights over adults' aspirations."

Now the French are regarded as bastions of post-Christian Enlightenment, and they have been the object of US hatred to the point that some idiots in congress renamed French Fries, Freedom Fries, none of which merited a word from the enlightened Mr. Chane.

Chane continues: "Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head."

Now this writer has gotten into personal trouble with Archbishop Akinola over suggesting that a split might occur in the Anglican Communion and a Third Province formed. The Nigerian Primate has firmly denied that he has any interest in splitting the communion and he affirmed this at the recent South to South Anglican leaders meeting in Egypt. What he has done is to form the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America (CANA) in response to hundreds of thousands of Nigerian Anglicans who found they could not worship at revisionist ECUSA parishes that preached 'another gospel'. That's has nothing to do with forming a "purified communion" with him as its head.

Chane then excoriates Anglicans for not raising any opposition to the archbishop. "When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?"

The truth of the matter is that the Anglican Communion is torn and divided over homosexuality to the point that the Episcopal Church has been asked to "walk apart" from the rest of the Communion, while tens of thousands of Episcopalians are publicly and privately leaving the ECUSA with dozens of parishes and their priests either fighting for their properties or walking away from them.

Chane invokes the archbishop's support for this law which, he says, violates numerous Anglican Communion documents that call for a "listening process" involving gay Christians and their leaders.

Anyone who has watched and "listened" to the whine of gays wanting their behavior brokered into the church first at Lambeth '98 with Resolution 1:10 and subsequently with the setting up of the "Listening" post by the AAC knows what this is really all about. It is not about seeking the truth about homosexual practice, it is about wearing down the orthodox so they will eventually cave in.

While the homosexual debate has evangelicals hemming and hawing and trying to make their timid objections friendly, all the while knowing that no matter how many qualifications are made, they will still be portrayed as back woods fundamentalists. Akinola, on the other hand, is immune to these concerns. He writes, "I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don't hear of such things."

Chane: "I also feel compelled to ask the archbishop's many high-profile supporters in this country why they have not publicly dissociated themselves from his attack on the human rights of a vulnerable population. Is it because they support this sort of legislation, or because the rights of gay men and women are not worth the risk of tangling with an important alliance?"

They have not, and will not, because the issue is not about human rights but human behavior and no orthodox Episcopalian will support what the bishop asks for.

Says Akinola: This is "a new imperialism." It's "colonialism" all over again. It is a white, European agenda being forced onto the African Church. Akinola noted that ". . . the rich Churches in Europe, America and Canada . . . have long used their wealth to intimidate the financially weak Churches in Africa."

Chane touts the Robinson consecration as a model of Episcopal tolerance, but recent events in that bishop's life reveal deep duplicity over his self-acknowledged alcoholism and withdrawal from public and ecclesiastical life embarrassing his followers and the Episcopal Church House of Bishops.

The truth is Chane is petulantly behaving like a Buddhist with an anger management problem. His pluriform understanding of truth and sex is emptying the Episcopal Church and making a mockery of Christianity to Islam and isolating us from the great Orthodox churches of the East, Roman Catholicism and millions of Evangelicals around the world.

It is not Archbishop Akinola who has got it wrong, it is Bishop Chane. With no gospel but inclusion to proclaim, his diocese will, over time, wither and die, a portent of the national church itself. Akinola the man, and his province, will only go from strength to strength.

"I'm happy that he's shouted. Someone has to shout," said a Nigerian woman leader who has studied and lived in New York City. "Otherwise America will drag the whole world into hell."

END


A Gospel of Intolerance

By John Bryson Chane
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington
Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's no secret that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are engaged in a bitter internal struggle over the role of gay and lesbian people within the church. But despite this struggle, the leaders of our global communion of 77 million members have consistently reiterated their pastoral concern for gays and lesbians. Meeting last February, the primates who lead our 38 member provinces issued a unanimous statement that said in part: "The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us."

We now have reason to doubt those words.

Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria's government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.

Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head.

Because the conflict over homosexuality is not unique to Anglicanism, civil libertarians in this country, and other people as well, should also be aware of the archbishop and his movement. Gifts from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundations, allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ. Should the institute succeed in "renewing" these churches, what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow.

Many countries have laws restricting marriage on any number of grounds. Some of these, such as age, kinship and marital status, for instance, are prudent, while most of us believe other sorts of restrictions, including race and religion, are oppressive and indefensible. Our global community has certainly achieved no consensus on the issue of same-sex marriage or the related issues of civil unions.

But the Nigerian law has crossed the line in several important respects. Its most outrageous provision deals not with marriage but with "same-sex relationships" and prohibits essentially any public or private activity in any way related to homosexuality. It reads in part: "Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria."

Any person involved in the "sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly" is subject to five years' imprisonment.

The archbishop's support for this law violates numerous Anglican Communion documents that call for a "listening process" involving gay Christians and their leaders. But his contempt for international agreements also extends to Articles 18-20 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which articulates the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, association and assembly.

Surprisingly, few voices -- Anglican or otherwise -- have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?

I also feel compelled to ask the archbishop's many high-profile supporters in this country why they have not publicly dissociated themselves from his attack on the human rights of a vulnerable population. Is it because they support this sort of legislation, or because the rights of gay men and women are not worth the risk of tangling with an important alliance?

As a matter of logic, it must be one or the other, and it is urgent that members of our church, and citizens of our country, know your mind.

The writer is Episcopal bishop of Washington.

Copyright 2006
The Washington Post Company

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