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WASHINGTON: IRD Rips Bishop Chane Over "Gospel Of Intolerance" Remarks


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, ripped Washington Bishop John Chane accusing him of "looking at too many conspiracy theories on religious left blog sites!" when the bishop recently blasted the IRD and Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola.

The ultra-liberal, pro-gay Washington bishop had written an op-ed article for the Washington POST and reposted in only two orthodox diocesan newspapers - Albany and Pittsburgh headlined; 'A Gospel of Intolerance': The "Gospel" according to John Chane in which he publicly berated and declaimed against the Nigerian Primate 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."

Chane not only attacked the Nigerian archbishop, he also attacked the IRD for sponsoring "so-called 'renewal' movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians" within the churches. IRD's policy aims to see the churches return to biblical and historic Christian teachings.

But Bishop Chane 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 bishop seems to believe that our stated mission of working to reform the churches' social witness is merely a cover for a more insidious agenda," wrote IRD writer Faith McDonnell in an article titled 'Bishop Chane Versus the Unfettered Gospel".

In her response to Chane's charges, McDonnell wrote in Episcopal Action, a magazine of IRD renewal, that what is at issue is what the church teaches. "Churches for 2,000 years have acknowledged the authority of Holy Scripture and taught that sex is set apart for marriage between a man and a woman. Churches have also taught that the same Jesus, who healed the sick and transformed the lives of broken people when he walked on earth, will come into the brokenness of our lives today, set us free, and transform us."

Most of the Primates of the Anglican Communion are rooted and grounded in this liberating truth, writes McDonnell. "This is what informs their pastoral concern for their flocks, and for those outside their flocks. Bishop Chane and others like him find it inconsistent that the Primates of the Anglican Communion could declare 'their pastoral concern for gays and lesbians,' but then prohibit them from ordination as clergy or from same-sex unions. Their concept of pastoral concern is to deny the destructiveness of sinful behavior."

McDonnell also blasted Chane over his lack of transparency regarding the agenda of "inclusion" in the Episcopal Church. "He speaks of gays and lesbians, same-sex unions, and the controversial consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. He doesn't mention that step by step has been taken to exclude those bishops and priests in the church who do not agree that such innovations are a "new move of 'the Spirit.'" Nor does he reveal that the goal, which he advocates, in today's Episcopal Church is the total deconstruction of traditional mores so as to bless and affirm gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, omnigender and other manifestations of broken sexuality."

McDonnell then said that Chane's warnings that what happened in Nigeria could happen in the U.S. was a fiction. "Bishop Chane can calm down. IRD is an advocate of religious liberty and human rights and does not favor, nor lobby on behalf of, restrictions such as those now being promoted in Nigeria. We believe and defend freedom of speech for all people. A large portion of our work in renewing the churches is devoted to mobilizing Christians across the country to speak out on behalf of their persecuted brothers and sisters in Nigerian, and Sudan, Pakistan, Indonesia, North Korea, China, and elsewhere."

McDonnell said that the work of IRD necessitated this because mainline church leaders have failed to speak out on behalf of the suffering church.

"In that respect, we find Bishop Chane's silence on the severe persecution and, at times downright slaughter, of our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria quite disturbing. We also find it misleading that Chane has chosen not to mention the influence of and challenges presented by Islamic shari'a law in Nigeria.

McDonnell wrote that the "Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act" would charge violators with penalties of up to five years in prison. "The proposed federal legislation is onerous to us. But our society is not yet living in constant fear of the rule of Islamism."

McDonnell said Archbishop Akinola and others walk a tightrope when Christians who live under or alongside Islam face the duel challenge of rebutting the charge while also opposing the imposition of shari'a.

Islamists, she said, often accuse Christians in the Islamic world of supporting Western immorality. The policies of liberal-led churches in the West, such as the U.S. Episcopal Church, often feed this accusation.

"Thousands of people were killed in the past five years in the Anglican dioceses of Kaduna, Jos, and Katsina in the north/central Nigeria for resisting the imposition of shari'a, or, in some cases, for merely being Christians. Following the murderous reaction of Islamists worldwide to the Danish "Mohammed" cartoons, Christians have faced yet another onslaught in Nigeria.

On February 18, 2006 in Borno State, a Catholic priest and 15 parishioners were killed inside the church Islamists. Reports indicate that another 50 were murdered in the town. The same day in another Northern Nigerian state, Islamist thugs broke into the home of one of Bishop Chane's fellow bishops in the Anglican Communion.

Their plans to kill the bishop were thwarted because he was out of the country. Instead they brutally attacked the bishop's family and staff. It would be nice if Bishop Chane would sometimes use his bully pulpit to speak out against this intolerance."


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