Archive for October, 2011

Freedom to submit to religious oppression — the western achievement in Libya!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

By Melanie Phillips

Well that didn’t take long, did it?
From the moment the British, French and Americans went to war in Libya to depose Col Gaddafy in order to ‘liberate’ the Libyans from a tyrannical and oppressive regime, I warned that Messrs Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama were all too likely to bring to power something that would be even worse – an Islamist regime that would not only even more oppressively enslave the Libyans but would also be hostile to the west.
After the killing of Gaddafy, President Barack Obama rushed to congratulate Libya.
‘After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise,’ he said.
Is that so.
Yesterday the leader of Libya’s transitional government, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil – who has reportedly so impressed western leaders by his, er, statesmanship, declared his country’s liberation — and in the next breath declared the imposition of sharia law. The Daily Telegraph reported this morning:

God knows why Dawkins won’t show

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Richard DawkinsBy Paul Vallely, Independent

Our leading atheists prefer abuse to argument when faced with a tough-talking Christian opponent

There will be an empty chair in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Tuesday, unless Richard Dawkins turns up to occupy it. The high priest of atheism has been invited there to debate with America’s leading Christian apologist, the analytic philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig. But the evolutionary biologist has declined the invitation. In response, the promoters of the event have placed adverts on the city’s coaches which sarcastically echo those splashed on London buses a couple of years back announcing: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The new version says: “There is probably no Dawkins. Now stop worrying and enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre.”

The erstwhile Professor for Public Understanding of Science was stung into a response, in a newspaper article. Craig, he said, was a “deplorable apologist for genocide” with whom he would not share a platform. The genocide in question is that of the Canaanites in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, which you might have expected our top atheist to point out is of dubious historical accuracy. But then any stick will do to beat a dogma.

In any case, there is another side to the story. William Lane Craig is a formidable debater. He has done battle with celebrity academic atheists including Lawrence Krauss, Lewis Wolpert, Peter Atkins, and Sam Harris. Not long after his exchange with the philosopher Anthony Flew, perhaps the leading atheist thinker of the late 20th century, Flew converted, if not to Christianity, to deism. Harris described Craig as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”.

Read here

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Latest Statistics Show Continued Denominational Decline

Monday, October 24th, 2011


TEC will be out of business in 26 years figures reveal

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

2010 attendance figures for the Episcopal Church reveal a denomination in steep decline.

Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in 2009 was 682,963. In 2010, ASA was 657,831, a decrease of 25,132.

The 10-year change in attendance has seen a decrease of 23%.

57% of all churches have lost more than 10% of their attendees in the last 5 years.

Median attendance per church has gone from 72 in 2006 to 65 in 2010, pushing many more churches below the threshold of the required number of attendees to support running a parish and to pay clergy.

54% of churches had fewer people attending in 2010 vs. 2009. Annual attendance declines are accelerating across the board.

The decline was 3% in 2006, 2008, and 2009. It was 5% in 2007 and is now back at 4% for 2010. This points to a widespread decline across the whole church.

The decline cannot be blamed on a few churches/dioceses leaving the denomination.

The gospel of lawsuits doesn’t seem to be winning any converts and is slowly hemorrhaging viable dioceses. Active homosexual laity, priests and two bishops have failed to draw in anticipated crowds.

Among the biggest losers are churches in Province 3 (-6.3%) Diocese of Bethlehem
Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
Diocese of Delaware
Diocese of Easton
Diocese of Maryland
Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Diocese of Pennsylvania
Diocese of Pittsburgh
Diocese of Southern Virginia
Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
Diocese of Virginia
Diocese of Washington
Diocese of West Virginia

and Province 1 (-5.4%).

Diocese of Connecticut
Diocese of Maine
Diocese of Massachusetts
Diocese of New Hampshire
Diocese of Rhode Island
Diocese of Vermont
Diocese of Western Massachusetts

Current overall attendance stands at 657,831.

If the trend, of an average of 25,798 fewer attendees per year that we have seen over the last 5 years, continues, in 26 years there will no longer be anyone attending an Episcopal church.

Latest charts can be seen here:

http://www.dfms.org/research/109378_ENG_HTM.htm
and here:
http://www.dfms.org/documents Episcopal_Overview_FACT_2010.pdf

Demoted for not backing gay marriage

Monday, October 24th, 2011

By Jonathan Petre, Mailonline

A housing manager has been demoted, and his salary slashed, after he criticised a controversial new gay rights law.

Adrian Smith, a Christian, was found guilty of gross misconduct by his publicly funded housing association for saying that allowing gay weddings in churches was ‘an equality too far’.

He posted the comment in his own time, on his personal page on the Facebook website, which could not be read by the general public.

But after a disciplinary hearing, he was downgraded from his £35,000-a-year managerial job to a much less senior £21,000 post – and avoided the sack only because of his long service.

Mr Smith, 54, is now taking the association to court, arguing that his punishment was out of proportion and his right to free speech was ignored.

Friends said last night the father of two had been ‘shocked and distressed’ by his treatment and would now face financial hardship.

Read here

The Deteriorating World of Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011


International diplomacy efforts fail to unite Anglican Communion

“The Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Unity have become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the Communion together” — Global South Primates

News Analysis

David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams is losing the fight to keep the Anglican Communion together.

His forays to Africa (Kenya and Congo), following the disastrous Dublin Primates gathering which saw a third of his archbishops (mostly African) refusing to show up, reveal a communion in tatters with his ability to hold it all together now permanently impaired. On a recent trip to Kenya he was accepted as primus inter pares, but not as the leader of the Anglican Communion, a mild slap in the face.

His more recent foray to Zimbabwe proved only a partial success. Dr. Williams was able to paint President Mugabe and Bishop Kunonga as part of the evil empire of homophobia, but he took some serious hits when he was painted as a man who could not make up his mind about what he thought about homosexuality and had therefore betrayed the Communion. British Anglican columnist Charles Raven noted Williams’ strategic abilities and suggested that his confrontation with Mugabe “looks like an exercise in Lambeth Palace’s African ‘realpolitik’ which orthodox Anglicans ignore at their peril.”

The irony should not be missed. An Archbishop says to an audience in Africa “You know very well, dear brothers and sisters, what it means to have doors locked in your faces by those who claim the name of Christians and Anglicans” while he stood to the side as thousands of orthodox Anglicans in North America had the same experience. He tells his audience in Harare that “Day by day, you have to face injustice and the arrogance of ‘false brethren’ as St Paul would call them”, but would St. Paul find any difference between those who lock doors in Harare and those who lock doors in TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada? Are the Zimbabweans false brethren simply because they intimidate with a fist rather than a writ?

It would be a great tragedy if the reframing of Anglicanism that we are seeing take hold in Africa and the Global South was to be subverted by Lambeth rebranding, wrote Raven.

A recent gathering of eleven orthodox Anglican archbishops in China to which Dr. Williams was not invited reveals again how deep the growing divide is between Canterbury and the ever-expanding Global South.

A communiqué released by the archbishops at the end of their China visit in September spoke volumes. It roundly repudiated both Dr. Williams’ own theology and the Anglican Communion’s “Instruments of Unity” insisting that secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality is wrong.

They further blasted what they said was “the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage.”

Without mentioning names, it was clear they had bishops Katharine Jefferts Schori, Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool in mind.

Read more

Conflicts Galore on the Kangaroo Court

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Bishop Mark LawrenceBy A S Haley

In a series of five posts earlier this month (links to the first, second, third, fourth and fifth), I have examined the patent procedural irregularities and bias which attend the deliberations of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops as it looks into vague and vacuous claims that Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has “abandoned the Episcopal Church” — by refusing to go along with the latter’s theological and canonical excursions into a metaphysical Wonderland. In particular, we saw first how the Board’s original “Church Attorney”, and then its Chair and one other member, were hopelessly conflicted by the public stances they had taken earlier on issues which are in total disagreement with — indeed, are the exact opposite of — the stances of Bishop Lawrence and his Diocese on those issues.

This is not a recipe for impartiality, or for cool and calm judgments at the highest level. Like the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Wonderland, the people who are sitting in judgment on Mark Lawrencehave already announced their predilections well beforehand. That they have not yet voluntarily recused themselves from these proceedings is a scandal. Indeed: their failure to do so is what allows the resulting proceedings to be dubbed, in the provincial vernacular, “a kangaroo court.”

Anger as ‘anti-gay’ bishop leads carol service for MPs

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Leading Anglican who fought ordination of gay ministers to host annual Whitehall event

By Tom Peck

Sandy Millar is best known as Vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton Rex Features

Sandy Millar is best known as Vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton

 

 

Dozens of government ministers and thousands of civil servants will attend the Whitehall Carol Service at Westminster Abbey this Christmas.

As well as readings from Cabinet members, they will also hear from the Right Reverend Sandy Millar, who is leading the service, a man who has previously referred to a “speciously sophisticated manifestation of evil” that threatens the church, widely interpreted as the acceptance of homosexual ministers.

Bishop Millar, a now retired Anglican bishop, is best known for his time as Vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton, where the Alpha Course, a 10-week introduction to Christianity, began. It is now taught all over the world.

The gay Labour MP Chris Bryant criticised the decision to let him lead the service. “It’s a shame that someone with such narrow views should be leading the carol service this year,” he said. “I respect him, he’s entitled to have his own views but it’s an odd choice. This sort of event is to bring people together not create divisions. It’s depressing that so much of the church of England is obsessed with homosexuality. Jesus, that we aware of, never said a word about the matter.”

Bishop Millar made his famous remarks in 2007 to a congregation at Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia. The church was one of 11 to vote to leave the Episcopal Church in protracted arguments that followed the ordination of an openly gay bishop. Conservative congregations at the time claimed the church had abandoned traditional teachings, not just on homosexuality but other theological issues.

“I don’t need to remind you that there is a war on for the very soul of the Church,” he told them. “But your courage, if I may say this, humbly, and your steadfastness in the face of a new and speciously sophisticated manifestation of evil has won you many admirers all over the world.”

The Whitehall Carol Service is organised by Christians in Government, a voluntary network of civil servants. Neither the group nor the service receive taxpayer funding. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, and the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, both gave readings last year, as did Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary.

A Christians in Government spokesperson defended the decision: “Sandy Millar is know to us as a loving, saintly pastor who welcomes all in church regardless of sexual orientation or any other irrelevant factor,” he said.

Bishop Millar, 71, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Independent.