All it takes...
The idea of any political action group setting up shop within my church is anathema to me. It doesn't matter which side they're on--conservative, liberal, pro- this or anti-that. I don't like them. They're divisive by their very nature. They want you to think your choice is limited to either them or their opposite number, which is, of course, they tell you, evil incarnate. They don't want you to recognize that you can choose neither them nor what they decry; you can choose a third, fourth, fifth, sixth alternative.
There's a group like this in my diocese that I don't like one little bit. They've been sniffing around my parish, in fact, they've got a foot in the door and their fingers clenched around the door frame. I'm resisting them with all my might, along with some other people, but this is a battle I will probably lose because of their clout in the diocese.
This group is the American Anglican Council, or AAC. If you're a member of the United Methodist Church or the Presbyterian Church, read on, though. The same people backing the AAC in the Episcopal Church are backing political groups in these churches, too.
The AAC grew out of a small group of Episcopal bishops who were just plain mad over the ordination of women and all these other newfangled social changes of the last 40 or 50 years. They want to go back to an "orthodox and traditional church" without any of these innovations. They especially don't want any homosexual priests or bishops. That really makes them grind their teeth. And they want to run the show.
By "orthodox and traditional," they mean the (heterosexual) men in charge. Some will allow that women can be deaconesses but not priests, while others feel that all these Godly women deserve to be put out to pasture in ... say the kitchen, or some such other place befitting the fairer sex.
They say they believe in biblical law. I'm not sure which law that is. Is it the Ten Commandments? Hmmm. That didn't say anything to the effect, "There shall be no female priests among you, nor homosexual ones either." Okay. Check out the Great Commandment. Whups. That doesn't address these thorny issues either, in fact it tells you to love these people as you love yourselves. Fine, then, let's look at the part in red in the New Testament, what Jesus said. Uh-oh. Why, could it be that Jesus was a gay-lover? He didn't say one thing against them! And he was always talking with women, even some o' them furrin ones. Dang.
Okay, let's do it this way. Let's go all through the Bible, especially chapters like Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Numbers and such, and pick and choose some biblical laws we want to uphold. We can't deal with them all, cause there's like over 600 of 'em, and some we don't care about, like wearing clothes woven of two different fabrics or eating dairy products and meat at the same meal. But we're gonna enforce the laws we like!
Now, anybody who disagrees with us is the Anti-Christ, pure and simple, against families and marriage and the American Way and the War in...er...I mean, the current peacekeeping stabilization mission in Iraq. Heretics and apostates, all of you. You know what the law says to do with you! We can have a BIG bonfire in the church parking lot.
I know, I know. I've taken poetic license. They don't all talk like this. Many are very well-spoken and subtle.
I oppose any political action group trying to flex its muscles in the church, whether it's the AAC or its opposite numbers. Groups with an axe to grind serve the forces of divisiveness. There's just no middle ground, they say.
The truth is, of course, that there is middle ground. There are acres of ground in between. And guess what. You can oppose the ordination of actively or otherwise gay clergy and NOT EVEN BE A MEMBER OF THE AAC!!!! But this is the nature of extreme political groups. You're either a card-carrying member of their camp or you're supporting the enemy. There's no toleration of dialogue, no desire to even attempt any kind of reconciliation or to come to the table together. The AAC position is, "The opposition isn't fit to sit at the table with us. They've already kicked themselves out of the union," and the ever-popular, "The bishops who voted to ratify Gene Robinson should be punished."
The AAC has ties to ultra-right-wing political action groups. In fact, it shares an address and office space with one called the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD). This little group of chummy people has strong connections to right-wing military/governmental/industrial interests (and has had, at least since the Reagan era when it was involved in activities in South America), with people like Diane Knippers in charge. Yes, that's the same Diane Knippers who wrote a position paper on just religious causes for war in preparation of our recent excursions into the Middle East.
Then there's Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., who just a very short time ago espoused the kind of biblical law I was talking about above, including the death penalty for apostasy and disobedient children and all sorts of other things. Of course,
now that he's a big contributor to the AAC and his wife (ever so coincidentally) sits on the board of the IRD, he says he doesn't really believe this any more; after all, they don't want to scare off the more moderate people! Howard F. Ahmanson also has interests in companies that make the majority of computerized voting machines in the country, ES&S and Diebold. Guess who they plan to keep in office next presidential election? Guess which voting machines seem to get funny results and these results can't be validated?
Why would we want all this mess in our churches? Most of don't, I believe.
Why do they want in our churches? These are the mainline protestant churches, the churches from which a large number of our national leaders come. The voice from the pulpits in these churches is respected in this country, even by the majority non-churchgoers. What a political coup to control this voice. Find a divisive wedge like the sexuality issue, then divide and conquer. They plan to do it parish-by-parish in the Episcopal Church, since they've found out they can't break away from the national church and take the real estate with them--it really does belong to the national church. They have similar plans for the Presbyterian and United Methodist Churches.
Do we want to let them do it?