Provocative Harper’s essay on Anglican split over gays

June 2, 2008

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola (with Bishop Martyn Minns), 5 May 2007/Jonathan ErnstThe June issue of “Harper’s Magazine” has a provocative essay by Garret Keizer called “Turning Away From Jesus: Gay rights and the war for the Episcopal Church.”

The split in the global Anglican Communion over the consecration of the openly gay U.S. Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson and the broader issue of the church’s take on sexual orientation and other social issues in general has been extensively reported on.

These fault lines are partly but far from exclusively geographical, dividing more traditional churches in the developing world — especially Africa — from those in the developed world. It threatens to undermine Anglican provinces like the Episcopal Church in the United States by creating competing authorities within them, one for a more liberal majority and another for a conservative minority.

Dissecting the jargon of the conflict, Keizer sees parallels between the corporate world and the shifting currents of globalization. “What is ‘provincial realignment,’ at bottom, if not the ecclesiastical version of a corporate merger? What is ‘alternative oversight,’ if not church talk for a hostile takeover?,” he writes, seeing these comparisons in the methods rather than the motives of those involved.

He also chimes in on a theme that has been raised in different ways elsewhere by others in dicussions of America’s Religious Right: “How does a Christian population implicated in militarism, usury, sweatshop labor and environmental rape find a way to sleep at night? Apparently, by making a very big deal out of not sleeping with Gene Robinson.”

Keizer is an Episcopalian, former priest and contributing editor to Harper’s.

The Anglican split will be back in the headlines in coming weeks as Gene Robinson marries his partner, conservative Anglicans meet in Amman and Jerusalem and the Anglican Communion — minus some conservatives led by Akinola — convenes for its once-every-ten-years Lambeth Conference. What do you think the Anglican Communion will look like after this rocky patch passes?

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Once the orthodox Christians leave Canterbury, the old Anglican group will be just another ho-hum liberal social activism group. It will also experience a decline in revenue. The true believers give most of the money. Liberals are cheap. Check the studies.

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[...] per year). “…while old men argue about whether women can be bishops, or if gays should be treated like human beings, the women have been leaving in droves to faiths that are more relevant to their lives. You can all [...]