Sunday, 23 July 2017

'Loving' Christians Trade Insults Over Reforms

General Synod of the CofE, York.
Photo credit: Reuters

Leading evangelical condemns CofE General Synod: 'God's word was mocked openly' | Christian News on Christian Today.

A failing group will normally turn inwards, degenerating further into mutually recriminating factions. This is no less true of the 'loving' Anglicans currently showing brotherly and sisterly love by trading insults over the latest attempt to reform their cult to try to halt the haemorrhage of members.

The vitriol also illustrates the problems faced by a dogma-driven cult as it tries to reform to attract back the former members to whom it has become increasingly irrelevant and who have left in disgust at its abuse of minorities. The decreasing number of moderates comes up against an increasingly large proportion of vocal extremists trying to retain their traditional dogmas.

The Anglican church has been tearing itself apart for several years now over the issue of ordination of women and latterly over its stigmatisation of homosexuals and transgender individuals. It has also been finding it increasingly difficult to come to terms with having to comply with secular equality and equal opportunities laws from which it feels entitled to an exemption. Underpinning this of course is the loss of active members, the loss of moral authority and the loss of political power and influence.

The issue came to a head when the CofE General Synod debated a private members motion proposed by Jayne Ozanne describing 'gay conversion therapy' as harmful. Gay conversion therapy is based on the dogmatic assumption that homosexuality is some sort of life-style choice or mental illness that will respond to the right treatment. The 'conversion therapy' usually consists of spouting Bible-inspired dogma and making the victim feel ashamed of their sexuality. The fundamentalists' god hates gays of course because they are an 'abomination' in the same way that eating shellfish, wearing mixed-fibre clothing or being a victim of rape is - i.e. worthy of the death penalty.

Susie Leafe, Director of Reform (sic).
In a retaliatory paper dripping with vitriol, Susie Leafe, director of the ironically named conservative group Reform said:

Again and again, both the decisions made, and the manner in which they were made, showed scant regard for Scripture or the traditions of the Church. Instead, members were asked to base their decisions on emotional stories or the impact of secular headlines. More worryingly, perhaps, was the atmosphere of the chamber; God's word was mocked openly and decisions were made lightly, with arrogant laughter. As one member put it: "God is not mocked. The laughter and lack of respect for those who bravely gave the alternate case was beyond words. Bruised, battered, bullied, betrayed, bewildered... [The debate was] chaired poorly' [by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker]. At key points in the debates members were called to share stories of those who had committed suicide, but very few conservatives were called to speak...

In the space of four days, the General Synod of the Church of England have, in effect, rejected the doctrines of creation, the fall, the incarnation, and our need for conversion and sanctification. Instead we have said that we are "perfect" as we are, or as we see ourselves, and that the Church should affirm us and call on God to validate our choices. No wonder we do not want to proclaim Christ's unique identity and significance for all people.

We have chosen to understand the world through secular reports, unconscious bias training, the teaching of other religions and the results of polls and media headlines, rather than the unchanging word of God.

Well, obviously, the prejudices of the conservatives should count for at least as much as the distress caused by their hateful bigotry. Their extreme fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible is the only true one and gays should be condemned, stigmatised, persecuted and even driven to suicide because God sez so.

Jayne Ozanne hit back with what amounts to a coded accusation of lying to support a hidden agenda with:

I don't think the majority of synod members will recognise Susie's description of synod at all. It seems she and others are set on depicting synod's considered decisions in a poor light in order to suit their own purposes. Saying we are not committed to scripture and mission is just ridiculous, as are their assertions that God's word was mocked. I begin to wonder what their real objective is?

Meanwhile Bishop David Walker responded with another ipso facto accusation of lying with:

In two debates, over consecutive days, attention was turned first to the practice of "conversion therapy" and then to support for those who have transitioned. Both debates were characterised by the passion, courtesy and good humour that had been heard in February. Beyond this, Synod showed an overarching desire to hear the voices of LGBT+ people, whether expressed directly or through their stories being shared by their friends. And most important of all, we heard from a Synod that wanted decisive change and action now. Members listened to, but clearly rejected, demands that these matters required further study, be it theological or scientific, ahead of any decision... Synod has set its new tone, and begun to speak compassionately and clearly in the voice it has found. I look forward to hearing what it says next.

Clearly, the die-hard bigots can't stand the thought of the loss of another minority to victimise and the prospect of having to treat yet more people as normal humans beings with the full range of human rights enjoyed by Christians. Their self-apportioned privileges and their self-appointed guardianship of the moral high-ground is under attack and must be defended at all costs, even at the expense of truth. False witnessing is the order of the day.

The Anglican Church is in the same bind as the Catholic Church. Unless it reforms it will continue on it's path to complete irrelevance and it if does reform it will cease, at least in the eyes of it's increasingly conservative members, to be Christian. What is happening is that society is moving on without them. Their time is over.

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