A giant milestone in the moral revolution passed today when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down every single appeal from several states on the issue of same-sex marriage. This decision not to take at least one case under consideration stunned both sides in the same-sex marriage battle. Last weekend’s edition of USA Today featured a front-page story that declared the virtual certainty that the Court would take at least one of the cases and declared same-sex marriage to be “a cause whose time has come.”
Well, same-sex marriage may well be an issue whose time has come in the culture, due to the massive moral shift that has taken place over the last few decades, but the nation’s highest court has decided that now is not the time for it to take up such a case. Faced with the opportunity either to stop same-sex marriage in its tracks or to hand down a sweeping decision tantamount to a new Roe v. Wade, the Court took a pass.
Some will argue that the Court’s decision was a strategic choice intended to preserve its dignity and stature. Already, many defenders of natural marriage are doing their best to argue that the Court’s refusal to take a case is better for the cause of marriage than a sweeping decision in favor of same-sex marriage. The proponents of same-sex marriage had hoped for just such a decision, and attorneys were jockeying for position, wanting to be the lead counsel for the “gay marriage Roe decision.” But make no mistake, the proponents of same-sex marriage won this round, and they won big. They did not get the sweeping coast to coast ruling they wanted, but what they got was an even faster track to the same result.
Had the Court taken one of the cases, the oral arguments would not have taken place until early 2015, and the decision would not have been likely until the end of next June. Until then, same-sex marriage would be on hold to some degree. Now, the Court’s decision to allow lower court rulings to stand sends an immediate signal — it is full steam ahead for same-sex marriage coast to coast.
As of last week, 19 states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage by one means or another. The Court’s decision not to take one of the cases from the lower Federal courts means that every one of them stands. Therefore, not only will same-sex marriage be legal in the states that made a direct appeal, but in every state included within the same U.S. Circuit.
That result is that the decision made clear by the Court will lead, automatically, to the fact that 30 states will have legal same-sex marriage within weeks, if not days. The news from the Court means that the vast majority of Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal, and three fifths of the states will have legalized same-sex marriage.
But the Court’s decision also sent another even more powerful message. The remaining federal courts were put on notice that same-sex marriage is now the expectation of the Supreme Court and that no appeal on the question is likely to be successful, or even heard. You can expect the lower courts to hear that message loudly and clearly — and fast.
This day in U.S. legal history will be remembered for many years to come as a landmark day toward same-sex marriage. It was the day the nation’s highest court took one of the lowest paths of least resistance. It now seeks to maintain its prestige by avoiding the backlash the Court experienced in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade in 1973. It wants to have its victory without taking further risks to its reputation.
Given the recent remarks made by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even some of the Court’s most liberal justices wanted to avoid a backlash while achieving the same eventual result. Today’s announcement means that their hopes were achieved.
But the decision today also indicates something further — it points to the vindication of Justice Antonin Scalia. When the Court handed down the decision striking down all state sodomy statutes in 2003 in Lawrence v Texas, Justice Scalia declared that it meant the end of all morals legislation. The majority opinion in that decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose legal reasoning was ridiculed by Scalia in one of his most scathing dissents.
Kennedy, said Scalia, had created “a massive disruption of the current social order,” that could not be stopped. Further: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”
Eleven years earlier, Scalia had dissented from another Kennedy majority opinion, that time on abortion. Justice Kennedy had sustained a right to abortion, maintaining the central impact of Roe and pushing further toward a mysterious existential argument. Kennedy had written, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Scalia famously rejected that language as Kennedy’s “sweet-mystery-of-life passage,” and he saw that same reasoning behind the Lawrence decision.
But Scalia also said this about the 2003 decision: “This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.” Further: “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as a formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct … what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples?”
Indeed, the Lawrence decision did put all laws limiting marriage to opposite sex couples on shaky ground. Very shaky ground. Justice Scalia saw what now appears obvious. The Court’s decision in Lawrence in 2003 set the stage for today’s news.
Even more recently, Justice Kennedy was the author of the Court’s majority opinion in the Windsor decision striking down the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act. That decision, handed down in June of 2013, set the stage for today’s development in a big way.
Once again, Justice Scalia saw it coming. He called the Court’s decision to strike down DOMA “jaw-dropping” in both its audacity and its reasoning. Then he offered these memorable words: “As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.”
That “other shoe” was the inevitability of same-sex marriage as a national reality.
What happened today at the Court — or perhaps what didn’t happen — is a direct vindication of Scalia’s warnings. He saw it coming and he warned us.
What the Court’s majority has now decided, evidently, is to allow shoes to fall at the hands of lower courts that will follow its reasoning and obey its signals.
The news from the Court today means a sad vindication for Justice Antonin Scalia. It means an even sadder day for marriage in America.
And it means, no matter what you think you heard or didn’t hear from Washington, that the other shoe has dropped.
By Laura Perrins, Conservative Woman:
Goodness is there no end to Emma Watson’s talents? She has taken time out of her career to save men from themselves. Yes, all 24 years of her. She gave a speech at the UN – she is UN Women Goodwill Ambassador – to tell us all, that despite reality, gender is a “spectrum.” Something tells me she minored in that ever-popular subject ‘gender studies’ while at Brown University.
Ms Watson believes that feminism – for some strange reason – now has reputation for being ‘anti-men.’ How could that be? Is it because feminist Queen Jessica Valenti likes to ‘bathe in male tears?’ Is it because terms such a ‘campus rape culture,’ now so widespread in the US, implicate all men in the heinous crimes of a few? Is it because feminists have told fathers for the last 30 years that they are surplus to requirements? Perhaps so.
Ms Watson is unhappy that her ‘father’s role as a parent (is) being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.’
Why is Ms Watson surprised by this when feminist Overlord Harriet Harman co-authored a 1990 IPPR report “The Family Way” which stated “it cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social cohesion”. Why are we surprised that fathers have been diminished when some view them as ‘sperm donors’ and nothing more. This is why feminists are seen as anti-men – because all the prominent ones that decide social policy are.
Official ‘well-being’ index shows those who do not work because they are caring for children or loved-ones have strongest belief that their life is ‘worthwhile’
By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor
Mothers who have put their career aside to care for their children have a stronger sense that their lives are “worthwhile” than the rest of society, official figures suggest.
New findings from the UK’s national “well-being” index show that those classed as economically inactive because they are caring for a family or home are also among the happiest people in Britain.
The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, also show that people across the UK have got progressively happier, less anxious and more satisfied with their lives in the past year.
The improvement is thought to be linked to the economic recovery and falling unemployment – even if people are not necessarily better off than a year ago.
The ONS said the improvement appeared to be linked to optimism and improvements in people’s personal situations even though typical household incomes are lower in real terms.
The latest figures also suggest that the 70s are the golden decade of life, with the highest proportion of people rating their personal happiness at the top of the scale.
Meanwhile, they confirm Northern Ireland as the happiest place in the UK topping the national league tables both on a regional and local level.
Four of the five happiest local authority areas in the UK are located in the province – Antrim, Fermanagh, Omagh and Dungannon – with Babergh in Suffolk the only place in mainland Britain making it into the top five.
As part of a programme backed by David Cameron to measure the nation’s well-being, people were asked to rate their lives on a scale of nought to 10.
They were asked to do this in relation to four separate questions: how satisfied they are with their lives overall; whether they feel that what they do is worthwhile; how happy they were the previous day and how anxious they were the previous day.
The average rating for life satisfaction across the UK was 7.5 out of 10 – up 0.06 points on last year while the typical rating for feeling worthwhile also edged upwards to 7.7.
Average scores for how happy people felt the previous day also rose steadily to 7.4 while anxiety ratings fell to 2.9 on average.
The ONS also analysed the findings on the basis of personal characteristics such as people’s marital status, health, or employment situation.
When the results are broken down by work status pensioners emerged as the happiest overall, with a rating of 7.73 out of 10, but students and stay-at-home mothers or carers also scored noticeably higher than average.
But when responses to the question on how “worthwhile” people consider what they do in life to be were analysed, those looking after home or family emerged well ahead of other groups, scoring 8.03 out of 10 on average.
Overall 83 per cent of full-time parents and carers rated their sense of worth as high or very high.
Laura Perrin, a barrister turned full-time mother who campaigns from the group Mothers At Home Matter said the figures showed that government policies designed to encourage more parents to work full time could be doing more harm than good.
“This just goes to show that the idea that we are all at home depressed and unhappy looking after our own children – which a lot of politicians would like to believe – is simply wrong,” she said.
“It is clearly a worthwhile vocation, should you choose to do it.”
The group campaigns for greater recognition of marriage and traditional family life in the tax system. It argues that the Coalition’s childcare tax breaks for couples in which both parents work, penalises families in which one parent has given up work to care for the children.
“David Cameron has set his face against the more traditional set-up with a mother at home caring for her children but his own figures show that not only are they happy but they recognise their lives are worthwhile,” she said.
“They are not only making their own family happy but also making a contribution to society as a whole.
“They should stop their constant campaign against the more traditional set-up”.
Dawn Snape, co-author of the report, said the consistently high happiness and life satisfaction ratings from people in Northern Ireland could not be explained in purely economic terms.
“Aren’t they great?” she said.
“They’re a real conundrum for us.
“Unemployment is high yet they really buck the trend – at the moment we don’t know the answer to this.
“It may be down to social connectivity, a great sense of community, maybe it is down to how life is going there now compared with 15 years ago.”
“It is not clear to us yet, we need to do more (research). But it seems quite consistent that people in Northern Ireland rate their wellbeing at a very high level. They have a positive outlook.”
For some time now — ever since ECUSA’s unilateral decision to consecrate V. Gene Robinson as a bishop — the Anglican Communion has been unraveling, but since it was such a loosely based agglomeration of churches to begin with, hardly no one has noticed. And yet, there were warnings aplenty.
From the October 2003 statement of the Primates who gathered specially in London before the consecration scheduled for November:
If [V. Gene Robinson's] consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level …
From the Windsor Report of a year later:
In terms of the wider Communion, and our wider relationships with a number of key ecumenical partners, the consecration [of V. Gene Robinson] has had very prejudicial consequences. In our view, those involved did not pay due regard, in the way they might and, in our view, should have done, to the wider implications of the decisions they were making and the actions they were taking….
There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart.
From the statement issued by the Primates meeting at Dromantine in February 2005:
Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.
From the statement issued by the Primates meeting at Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) in February 2007:
The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships… We are deeply concerned that so great has been the estrangement between some of the faithful and The Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in the civil courts….
The strained attempts by the collected Primates to hold on to unity took two directions after the Tanzania gathering: on the one hand, they placed their hopes in a new Anglican Covenant; and on the other, they tried to establish arrangements for alternative pastoral oversight within the divided churches of Canada and the United States. Both attempts came to naught.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was unable and unwilling to do what was necessary to save either of the two initiatives. Consequently, the bishops of ECUSA (who received their invitations to Lambeth as though nothing had happened) had no motivation to change course. Indeed, the latter were only too willing to see the Primates’ efforts fail, without their having to do anything overt to torpedo them. And Lambeth itself was both a collegial dud (thanks to the imposed but phony indaba gimmick) and a financial disaster.
By 2008 the hostility and disputes inside ECUSA spilled over into the uncanonical depositions of four orthodox bishops — three of them diocesan (+Schofield, +Duncan and +Iker). The lawsuits picked up in earnest, and largely remain unabated to this day. These blatantly illegal actions by the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA directly brought about the formation of what in time became the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). The division of ECUSA was now formal — even if most of those whose actions had led to it refused to recognize what had happened.
Dr. Williams’ dithering over Lambeth, ECUSA’s thumbing its nose at him over pastoral oversight, and its continued actions against dissident bishops and clergy, greatly widened the fractures in the Anglican Communion. Over three hundred bishops from African denominations refused to attend Lambeth, and a number of the Global South primates announced GAFCON’s first gathering, timed to take place before Lambeth 2008 even convened. The division within the Anglican Communion was now formal, even though again most refused to recognize what was happening.
After the events of 2008 within ECUSA, there was no longer any reason for the revisionists in ECUSA to hold back in the slightest. The 2009 refusal by bishops in ECUSA to honor a moratorium on further confirmations to the episcopate of priests in same-sex partnerships wrote finis to the career of Dr. Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had made a personal plea to General Convention not to proceed with the approval of the elections of two lesbian-partnered women to the episcopate, which that body spurned (one could say: contemptuously).
The broken Communion limped along, with all pretenses of unity ringing hollow. The seventh and last meeting of the Primates was a total failure to heal the splits within the Communion in January 2011. The paper on the “purpose of the Primates Meeting” adopted at its conclusion now reads rather plaintively in light of the widening fissures. The new Archbishop has not even bothered to try to resurrect the body, which is now irrevocably sundered.
General Convention 2012 completed the dismantling of the Windsor Report by formally (and again, uncanonically) licensing bishops to authorize same-sex blessings within their jurisdictions. Rowan Williams resigned as Archbishop as of the end of the year. His replacement, while listening to the alienated primates, has been unable to reverse the causes of their alienation, and indeed, has only added to them with the recent moves by the Church of England to authorize same-sex (but theoretically celibate) partnerships between clergy.
In short, the Windsor Report’s much-touted “Instruments of Unity” have failed to fulfill their calling. The Lambeth Conference, after the precedent set in 2008, has no further Communion-wide purpose, and the Church of England will probably not agree to finance it again. The Archbishop of Canterbury has lost all his stature within the Communion, and is now having trouble even keeping the Church of England together. The Primates Meeting is dead. And the crevasses that have opened wide in the Communion have rendered the Anglican Consultative Council into a meaningless gathering for futile debates and pursuits — much like Jonathan Swift’s Academy of Lagado.
From 2003 to 2013 — it took just ten years for ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada to unravel the Anglican Communion. Which fact goes to show how loosely knit it was in the first place: the rebellion against papal authority which began the movement replaced that authority with the English monarchy — but its Erastianism could not be imposed upon the branches which the Church began to found in other countries. Those branches came to view themselves as autonomous, and none more so than the Americans, who had to fight the English for their freedom.
Yes, Americans had to fight the English, but not for their religious freedom as Anglicans. England instead fully cooperated in establishing apostolic succession in the branch that would bring about the Communion’s unraveling, just 225 years later. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York who ordained the first American bishops did so on the latter’s promise that “We are unanimous and explicit in assuring your Lordships, that we neither have departed, nor propose to depart from the doctrines of your Church. . . .” (see this post for more details).
So much for promises. ECUSA is now part of only one-fourth of a Communion, while the vast majority of persons who call themselves “Anglicans” are part of the other three-quarters. The Archbishop of Canterbury has cast his lot with ECUSA, as have those denominations which depend on ECUSA for financial support.
Money, however, cannot a Communion make. Instead, as ECUSA’s wealth grew exponentially from the 19th to the 20th century, we must now conclude that with greater wealth came greater irresponsibility — just as it did with all the great and wealthy families of the world. Money, indeed, has unmade a Communion.
Meanwhile, ECUSA continues blithely along, acting as though nothing of moment has happened.
And of course, since in its own collective mind it is not responsible for anything, then of course nothing has happened.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.
A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a BBC producer discussing faith schools and their admissions policies. We talked about the possibility of my appearance on BBC1′s Sunday Morning Live to debate the subject.
In the end it didn’t happen, but I wish I’d had the chance to take on the British Humanist Association’s chief executive, Andrew Copson, as he repeatedly made claims that there was factual evidence that faith schools select wealthy pupils by the backdoor, are divisive and basically have nothing good to offer. He didn’t mention that the ‘factual evidence’ was drawn from the BHA’s own research which only suggests that these might be the case if you join a few dots and squint a bit.
Faith-school bashing continues to be a popular pastime for the BHA and their friends but given that they employ someone full-time to campaign for their abolition, it’s not entirely surprising; they’ve got to do something to keep themselves busy after all. It also doesn’t help that the Accord Coalition, which includes the BHA alongside the NUT and ATL teachers’ unions, campaigns against faith school admission policies with the support of an eclectic bunch of religious individuals.
“Look!” they say, “It’s not just humanists who don’t like faith schools; there are plenty of religious leaders who have a problem with them too.” Even though the majority of these ‘leaders’ represent a miniscule number of people. Still, it adds enough credence to their message for the media to take notice and sow a few more seeds of doubt as to whether faith schools should be allowed to carry on as they are despite their continuing success and popularity.
The Accord Coalition might want to dump admission policies based on belief and collective worship, but they do at least admit that Religious Education serves a useful purpose. Apparently not all of their public supporters agree with this, though. The Philosopher AC Grayling, who has been referred to as the ‘Fifth Horseman of New Atheism’, may have his face on the Accord website, but he has written a stinging attack in this week’s Times Education Supplement on not just faith schools but the entire subject of RE, which he sees as being no more than a sad and pathetic branch of philosophy.
AC Grayling is a clever man who has held a number of high-profile positions and now appears to want to take over the role of arch-antagonist-towards-all-things-religious from Richard Dawkins. He has plenty of form when it comes to this matter, having described religious indoctrination of small children as “child abuse” in the past. In his five-page feature that will be sitting on the coffee tables of staff rooms across the country right now, he continues the dogged bombardment, setting out to undermine Religious Education legitimacy as a subject within the school curriculum. He writes:
Suppose that instead of RE, schools taught the history of humanity’s attempts to make sense of itself and the world around it. In this system, it would be seen that religions are just part – and truth be told, a rather primitive part – of a much larger and more complex adventure of thought…
Placing religion in this much larger context dramatically changes how it is viewed by students. How would our schoolchildren react to the Christian story, for example, if they knew that it was an iteration of commonplace tales abounding in Egyptian and Greek mythology? One could show how every feature of the Christian story is lifted from earlier mythologies.
Moreover, the “answers to the deepest questions in life” offered by religions are often very bad ones, and it needs to be made clear that much better answers exist in the secular traditions of thought.
RE should be replaced with a far more general history of ideas, in which the various beliefs of the world are merely one strand. Knowing something about religions is good; it is often remarked that otherwise one could not make sense of paintings in a public art gallery, and this is true.
Religion is organised superstition, and setting an example for children to respect superstition is wrong… The stories are silly, the promises vague and the concepts largely undefined.
Grayling is right when he says that philosophy should be an established part of children’s education, but his view of religion as a feeble-minded strand of it exposes how little he understands about the nature of religion. If all religions were like Buddhism, which requires no belief in the supernatural, then he might have a point. But reducing religious faith to a set of ideas and fairytales that can be fully explained away at a purely rational level completely misunderstands what it means to believe in the existence of a God or gods. Grayling reveals that his atheistic mind is unable to make sense of this and it leaves him little option but to dismiss it all, lock, stock and barrel. To him, religion is little more than an outdated curiosity.
Perhaps AC Grayling could do with a gentle reminder that, as an atheist, he is in a small minority in this country and even more so globally. Atheists make up 2 per cent of the world’s population and the non-religious another 16 per cent. That leaves 5.9 billion supposedly deluded people he and his comrades in atheism have to convince that religion is of no real significance.
It would be an interesting experiment to put Grayling’s proposals into practice and allow him to do the teaching. Would he be able to teach all aspects of philosophy and a neutered version of religion in a way that genuinely allowed pupils to make up their own minds entirely without prejudice? Given his inability to give the New Testament account of Jesus’ life a fair hearing, would he be able to find a way to impart to his students what he has been unable to do himself?
Grayling, in his own disgust, appears to have missed a basic truth. As soon as you begin to teach children, you start to impart your values and understanding of the world on to them. Encouraging independent thinking is not the same as passing on knowledge, and this is always under the control of the teacher. If the whole concept of God is a load of rubbish, then Grayling may potentially have a point about child abuse, but if God is real in any form, then surely Grayling’s staunch atheistic approach is actually the one that is potentially more abusive to children.
We are painfully aware in these times that religious belief can lead to suffering, division and bloodshed. But it is also capable of producing far more good than evil. Deliberately reducing a generation’s already-slender grasp of religion and belief is not going to do anything to increase community cohesion in our multicultural society or make sense of the role of religion in the politics and conflicts we are witnessing daily further afield. Ignorance is certainly not bliss in this case.
Religious Education is far from perfect as it stands. The Church of England revealed last week that more than half of its primary schools are delivering poor quality RE lessons which give pupils little more than a “superficial” grounding in the subject. This serious failure to deliver acceptable levels of understanding is not going to be fixed by abandonment. Instead, there needs to be a move away from the observation and study of religious paraphernalia to the understanding of core theologies and the impact of faith on the lives of individuals and groups.
AC Grayling’s views on this matter are both blinkered and dangerously ignorant. Those who oversee the delivery of Religious Education would do well to look elsewhere for wise advice on the subject’s future.
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council
September 23, 2014
‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who if of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite.’ Isaiah 57:15
My dear brothers and sisters,
Greetings in the precious name of our Risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
Here in Nairobi, we have just concluded our Divine Conference. We have enjoyed four wonderful days of fellowship, worship and teaching as hundreds of people have been drawn daily to hear God’s Word at All Saints Cathedral. We have come to the Lord in repentance and we have experienced the truth of the great promise we have in Isaiah 57:15, that the God who dwells in the splendour of holiness also dwells with the contrite and lowly. God has indeed drawn near. He has saved the lost, brought back the wanderers, lifted our burdens and given us a new joy in Jesus the Son of God, in whom all His promises are fulfilled.
Many of us were also present last October for GAFCON 2013 and I have encouraged people to think of the Divine Conference as ‘Continuing GAFCON’. In the Nairobi Commitment and Communiqué, we stated our intention to become much more than a big conference every five years. As long as the Great Commission is at risk through the promotion and toleration of false teaching and immorality in the Anglican Communion, we must have ‘Continuing GAFCON’.
Our Divine Conference reflected the partnership we have with other Confessing Anglicans as we welcomed international guests and speakers from other nations, including Uganda, the UK and the Anglican Church of North America. My brother Archbishop Stanley Ntagali reminded us that true unity comes when Christ is at the centre of the Church and urged us to see that ‘GAFCON is a revival movement to revive the Anglican Communion’.
We were also delighted to receive greetings from Archbishop Foley Beach through his special representative, Canon Alan Hawkins, and a mission team of church planters from the Anglican Church of North America’s Greenhouse Movement came alongside parishes in Nairobi and joined us for the conference. All Saints Cathedral and Greenhouse have now committed to reciprocal mission visits and I rejoice to see the GAFCON vision for faithful global mission being put into practice in this very practical way between the great cities of Nairobi and Chicago. I hope this will be the first of many similar initiatives.
In the twenty first century, it is becoming clear that we must see the once missionary nations of the West as now themselves mission fields. The fact that the United Kingdom came close to breaking up last week is a symptom of the disintegration that follows when a once common Christian faith has been lost and I want to appreciate the work of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) who are sharing with other mission minded Anglicans in England as they meet for the ‘ReNew’ Conference this week.
AMiE is authorised by the GAFCON Primates to work within and, where necessary, outside the structures of the Church of England as a missionary society. In my message of greeting to the conference I said ‘We understand the challenges that faithful Anglicans face in England. At GAFCON 2013 here in Nairobi we recognised that the focus of the struggle for biblical faithfulness has shifted from North America to England. The temptation to dilute the message of Jesus Christ and compromise with the surrounding culture is strong, so it is vital for the gospel in England, and also for the world, that you continue as a beacon to the revealed truth of the Scriptures. The salvation of people from hell is at stake. So nothing could be more important.’
As Chairman of GAFCON I give thanks to God as I see brothers an sisters in Christ round the world standing firm and partnering together to make known the good news of our Lord Jesus in season and out of season.
Finally, let us not forget those who are suffering. The terrible barbarities of ISIL have focussed our minds on the evil that has befallen many believers in the Middle East and those facing similar threats in other parts of the world. Let us be steadfast in prayer for them and trust God that the ancient Churches of their lands will, by God’s grace and power, rise from the ashes. And may their suffering strengthen our resolve to be faithful soldiers and servants of Jesus Christ wherever we are, knowing that nothing can separate is from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.