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This page last updated 4 October 2007  

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters. We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to Canadian orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from 18 to 30 September 2007

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

The Compass Rose seems to be covering Easter Island

Interesting map [link] of the Anglican Communion. It looks as though it could hang on the wall of a Sunday School classroom in the United States. Appropriate, since we seem to think we are the center of the Anglican Universe.

Neal Michell
Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
Dallas, Texas, USA
24 September 2007

(Ed: That would be centre, if you please. But it seems to us as though it's not the US that thinks it is at the centre of the Anglican universe, but its critics in countries half a planet away who worry so much about what takes place in the US Episcopal Church).

Of course we have to control it: it exists

The claims for novel authority from central church bodies in the various provinces seem to me to be another manifestation of a general attempt by a variety of central authorities, such as governments and corporations, to impose themselves and their uniformity on the populace. We see it in the USA and UK in the spurious name of security, where governments talk of diversity while imposing their own views.

What seems to be happening in the Anglican Communion with claims for a covenant and other disagreeable innovations, is that conservative and dictatorial elements in the national churches, including the Church of England, are using very conservative church leaders in the third world as an excuse or surrogate for imposing their own agendas on more diverse and evolving forms of church.

Of course, the "covenant" is all part of a climate of fear and despair, opposing itself to hope and imagination.

Fortunately, the authorities in the churches in the UK and USA have little or no power over their members. I'm more worried about the governments, who have too much power and are grabbing more, exploiting that same groundswell of fear as an excuse for uniformity.

What the church really needs, like our governments, is more democracy and binding guarantees of freedom and rights for all.

Revd Canon John Smith
Bredgar with Bicknor and Frinsted with Milstead and Wormshill (Diocese of Canterbury)
Bredgar, Kent, UK
26 September 2007

(Ed: we love the name of your united parish and trust you saw our letter on that topic a couple of weeks ago. When you get a website, please do tell us about it.)

Immortal, immutable, God only wise?

Thank you for your response to the the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting. While I am saddened by the acrimony, I too think that part of the disagreement is a power grab, as well as a difference of interpretation of scripture. I trust that the Anglican/Episcopal Church will survive. It may well be different but then, only God is unchanging as far as I know.

Fr. Steven Carroll
Trinity Episcopal Church
Newark, Ohio, USA
26 September 2007

Minor indeed and historical indeed, but thank you

“The troublesome Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States … could not be established.”

A minor historical quibble, which you will perhaps forgive a lawyer, a pedant and firm partisan of the Anglican Communion.

It is a latter-day revisionism by the Warren Supreme Court, although beloved by the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher and others, that the framers of the US Constitution categorically ruled out religion in American public life. (And isn’t it wonderful to live in English common law countries with their constitutionally protected freedom of expression, where the likes of me and thee can enjoy — as I vastly do — the commentary of such people while disagreeing with much of what they say.)

“The troublesome Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States … could not be established,” you write. Not quite entirely so, legally, at least, though doubtless so in practical terms, it having had an embarrassing association in the immediate post-American Revolution environment with the discredited colonial regime. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution in fact says this (and no more): “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” Federally, that is. And the Framers of the US Constitution had no issue at all with the continuing establishment of the Churches of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which in fact persisted well into the nineteenth century and were ultimately disestablished for quite different reasons. (The official Church of Massachusetts, in fact, had wandered off in liberal directions far ahead of the folk in the pews, leaving its flock way behind, a pattern and an outcome which our current Anglican bishops might perhaps take under consideration.)

Indeed, it was only a very recent development, with the decisions of the US Supreme Court in the 1940s, 50s and 60s which evolved the “incorporation” doctrine, that it was established that constitutional jurisprudence affecting the federal government of the USA also extended to the several States. For my part, it is not a wholly unhappy outcome that the religious views of the mainstream in, say, Alabama or Arkansas must be conformed to a cosmopolitan consensus: those of, say, New York or California are similarly brought to heel.

Is it not indeed a happy result of the English revolution of 1688 that the courts in English common law countries have a tempering jurisdiction as to occasional fancies of the executive and legislative branches of government? Would that the Anglican Communion had a similar mechanism.

Mac Robb
Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley (occasionally)
29 September 2007

Must I choose a side?

I've been reading a lot of messages and news items on Anglican websites in recent weeks. It's very confusing. A lot of messages seem to assume that, if you have a concern, you will belong on one side or the other. If you're worried about a person having left his wife to live with a same-sex person being a good candidate for bishop, well, you must belong to Archbishop Akinola's side. If you're worried about the wisdom of parishes in the United States placing themselves under African bishops, you must belong to the "liberal" side. I must confess that I have both worries, but that doesn't mean I will join one side or the other - what do I do?

Johannes Huber
St. John the Baptist, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
29 September 2007

(Ed: Wait, and keep attending church. By the way, Gene Robinson's ex-wife (Isabella) had already re-married before he ever met his partner Mark Andrew.)

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We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.


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