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JERUSALEM: Former Guardian Religion Writer Rips GAFCON Gathering of Anglicans

JERUSALEM: Former Guardian Religion Writer Rips GAFCON Gathering of Orthodox Anglicans

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

In an article titled "Vicious hot air currents: Homosexuality is a useful unifier for the conservative flocks who agree on very little else", former Religion beat writer for the Guardian, Stephen Bates (who can't seem to leave religion alone now that a Muslim woman has taken over his old job) has come out blasting a gathering of Global South Anglican leaders meeting in Jerusalem.

In a ruthless assault on the 1,200 Evangelical Anglicans attending GAFCON, including 303 bishops from 38 countries, Bates launched into a blistering ad hominum attack on the primates of Nigeria and Uganda, as well as the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali.

He writes: "The rhetoric of the gathering of conservative churchmen in Jerusalem seeking to wrest control of worldwide Anglicanism from Dr Rowan Williams, is already spiralling upwards on a vicious current of hot air."

He said the archbishops of Nigeria and Uganda are denying that gays are ever persecuted in their countries - and have failed to find the words to condemn the violence if they are. He said these voices are calling for biblically lethal punishment for homosexuals; and lip-smacking assertions that the old church has fallen prey to apostasy, brokenness and turmoil, in its attempt to "acquiesce to destructive modern, cultural and political dictates.

"Homosexuality is a useful unifier for conservative flocks. The little-noticed irony is that those meeting in Jerusalem agree on very little else."

Bates blames it on US money and "power" as well as conservatives. "What is happening is a power struggle in which the conservatives of the US church - and, to a lesser extent, English evangelicals - have summoned up the developing world to seize the church from the forces of liberalism and relativism. If the battle over gays is lost, they say, everything is lost. The visit of many African bishops to the conference has been facilitated by US money."

In a final cynical outburst, Bates writes, "The trouble with the coalition of interests is they have Got Religion. Theirs is an insurgency united in what they don't like - homosexuality - and elevating it to a litmus test of orthodoxy in a way that other divisive theological issues - divorce, say, or women's ordination - have not been. They don't know gay people, and what they think they know of them is viscerally distasteful."

The lies and half- truths of Bates' blast must not go unanswered. Just as the new Guardian religion writer, Riazat Butt has tried time and again at every press conference to turn this conference into a gay-bashing, homophobic event (the rest of the press just roll their eyes), forcing African bishops to make statements about homosexuality that she can turn into screaming headlines, Bates' rip goes even further.

The truth is this conference has NEVER addressed homosexuality, either in private or public plenary sessions. It is not a "unifier". They recognize that the consecration of an openly homoerotic bishop to the episcopacy in 2003 was a communion-breaking event, with the Episcopal Church continually defying and flouting Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1:10, ignoring the findings of the Windsor Report, defying its own canons and constitutions and twisting its canons to inhibit and depose orthodox bishops, all of which Mr. Bates dutifully ignores.

African archbishops have never said there were not homosexuals in their countries. An African Archbishop here publicly acknowledged that there were, but he also said that the behavior is unacceptable to their public life of the state. Furthermore, the two occasions where Changing Attitude leader Colin Coward and his homoerotic Nigerian side-kick Davis Mac-Iyall accused the Nigerian church of violence towards homosexuals, have turned out to be totally false. The ABC who joined in the condemnation never apologized!

As far as money is concerned, Archbishop Peter Akinola publicly stated here that his church raised $1.2 million in the three weeks before coming to GAFCON. "We paid for some Americans to come." His statement was greeted with wild applause. The "chicken dinner" argument, by Massachusetts Suffragan Bishop Barbara Harris that African bishops were bought off at Lambeth 1998 by Americans with deep pockets, was a lie then and is a lie today though it is constantly repeated by liberals and pansexualist Episcopal bloggers.

As far as power is concerned, no church in the history of Christendom has used its power and money to sue, excoriate, and ruthlessly rip and tear orthodox priests from their parishes than the revisionist leadership of The Episcopal Church.

They are spending millions of dollars from coast to coast going after parish priests and their properties, threatening bishops who might want to compromise and giving liberal bishops money to litigate wherever they can to keep empty properties from falling into orthodox Anglican hands. In fact, Mrs. Jefferts Schori said, at the trial of a dozen properties in Virginia who have left TEC, that she would sooner see parishes sold for "saloons" than allow them to fall into the hands of Anglican Church plants in the U.S.

And they are doing it to the very people who believe the gospel, want to uphold the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and can make churches grow. Furthermore, when the diocese do get the properties, they are forced to close them because they cannot be kept open with a handful of parishioners. Bates writes that despite the huffing, the Africans don't want to leave Anglicanism: in the old evangelical phrase, it's a convenient boat to fish from. Many other Anglicans would like to see them go.

Really. The ABC is desperately trying to hold the Communion together. He has pled time and again that every bishop should show up for Lambeth (except of course for the ones he won't and refuses to invite). VOL has learned that he hopes San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield won't show up at all. He has now invited Jerry Lamb, the wannabe faux Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin who Mrs. Jefferts Schori parachuted into the diocese. She has said he will come.

The battle being fought here for the soul of the Anglican Communion is about the authority of Scripture, recognizing the creeds, the 39 Articles, the Articles of Religion and the Lambeth Quadrilateral as binding on Anglicans. Sodomy is a symptom of the problem, not the disease itself.

The Church of England, which Bates says he no longer attends because he has lost his faith over the church's failure to actively promote sodomy from its pulpits, is in free fall with 500 plus Anglo-Catholic priests threatening to split from the church if women priests are consecrated bishops. The CofE's evangelicals are threatening to no longer financially support liberal bishops.

Bates' rip and tear is a pathetic, xenophobic response to a church which has lost its spiritual way, is laughably no bigger than one Nigerian diocese, has no authority worth talking about, and may well find itself totally out of business in the next 30 years, run over by a galloping, strident Islam and increasing societal secularism. Bates is welcome to it. The evangelicals are triumphing precisely because they have a gospel to proclaim - a gospel that Mr. Bates doesn't believe in. The "vicious hot air currents" are all coming out of The Guardian and Mr. Bates' laptop.


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