Anglicanism/Episcopal Church

The Rev. Stephen Sizer, among the most unhinged critics of Israel in the Church of England (and a go-to guy for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement, as well as various anti-Israel church groups in the American mainline), has apparently gone too far even for his superiors this week. On Monday, he posted a link on Facebook to a web page called “9/11 Israel Did It.” The page, on something called WikiSpooks, isn’t just a 9/11 Truther page, but is full of “Zionist” (read: Jewish) conspiracy theories and other anti-Semitic tropes.

Among other things, it makes use of a video conversation between Gordon Duff and Alan Sabrosky, two of the geniuses behind the 9/11 truther/Holocaust denial/anti-Semitic sewer calledVeterans Today.

We can also find sub-heads such as these, for those who don’t have time or patience to wade through the swill:

Four key Zionist Network assets

WTC Security In Zionist Hands

Airport Security In Israeli Hands

The US Military Knows Israel did it

Zionism and Treason

9/11 Investigation in Zionist Hands: All appointed chief judges were Zionist Jews

9/11 Commission: Zionist controlled

Zionist 9/11 Personalities: Zionist Jews in all the Right Positions!

Al Qaida = Mossad Playing Dress Up

You get the idea. Even someone skimming this articles and picking up only on the sub-heads would have known that it was full of anti-Semitic codswallop, the modern equivalent of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” And yet Sizer posted the link, presumably because he agrees in whole or in part with it, and wanted to share it with his fans on Facebook.

Today, through the Diocese of Guildford, Sizer issued this alleged apology:

Dr Sizer said: “I very much regret and apologise for the distress caused by the sharing on Facebook of a link to an article about 9/11 from Wikispooks.

“It was particularly insensitive in that last week coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day. I removed the link as soon as I received adverse feedback, and realised that offence had been caused.

“I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided.

“At the request of the Diocese, I will be suspending my use of all social media and blogs with immediate effect and until further notice.”

What a load of grade A horse twaddle. If he “never believed Israel…was complicit,” why post a link like this, to an article that has no other purpose than to try to demonstrate just that complicity? He apologizes for “insensitivity” for posting it on Holocaust Memorial Day, and for causing “distress” and “offence,” and only took it down because of “adverse feedback.” He considers the posting “ill-considered and misguided.”

No, it wasn’t “ill-considered and misguided,” Reverend. It was hateful, bigoted, shameless, and evidence of insanity.

It wasn’t “insensitive,” either. It was outrageous, disgusting, and unChristian, akin to accusing MI5 of carrying out the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland to try to sabotage the Good Friday accords, or accusing the Chief Rabbi of Britain of arranging for the July 7, 2005 London subway bombings in order to blame Islam. It’s repulsive. And the fact that it was posted on Holocaust Memorial Day matters not one whit. It would have been just as loathsome to have done so the week before, or the week after, because it was about the timing, Reverend. It was about the pestilential content.

And please note that he didn’t take down the post because it was to a pack of vile lies–he took it down because of “adverse feedback.” In his hatred for everything Israel, he was apparently too dense to recognize the putrescent nature of the material he was “sharing” until his readers hit him across the skull with a digital two-by-four.

And what did the high mucky-mucks in Sizer’s diocese have to say about this?

The Bishop of Dorking, The Right Revd Ian Brackley said “The Diocese of Guildford is aware of reports regarding The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer and materials linked from his social media account, which have now been deleted.

“I want to reassure everyone that we are taking this complaint extremely seriously. Immediate steps are being taken to investigate and we are in contact with Dr Sizer as well as the Board of Deputies.

“The Diocese of Guildford is committed to building cohesive communities and fostering strong interfaith relations built on trust and respect.

“In 2013, The Diocese of Guildford facilitated a process of conciliation between Dr Sizer and the Board of Deputies, and is committed to ensuring this agreement is upheld.”

“The Bishop of Dorking.” If ever a man held a job title commensurate with his apparent abilities, it would be this guy. He’s going to hop right to it and investigate the hell out of this. Thanks, Bish.

What is there to investigate? A priest under your authority read, presumably understood, and then disseminated revolting hate literature. It was right there for the world to see, and he gives no evidence even now that he understands the gravity of his offense. It may make some time to charge and depose him, but investigate?

Stephen Sizer is a fetid stain upon the Church of England. He should be charged, tried, and defrocked as soon as possible, lest the stain become indelible.

(Hat tip: Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.)

Justin Welby 3 (2)Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, like so many others in the West, is seemingly incapable of discerning a genuine difference between terrorism and self-defense.  Anglican Ink has his statement in full, but here’s the meat of it:

For all sides to persist with their current strategy, be it threatening security by the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian areas or aerial bombing which increasingly fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, is self-defeating. The bombing of civilian areas, and their use to shelter rocket launches, are both breaches of age old customs for the conduct of war. Further political impasse, acts of terror, economic blockades or sanctions and clashes over land and settlements, all increase the alienation of those affected. Populations condemned to hopelessness or living under fear will be violent. Such actions create more conflict, more deaths and will in the end lead to an even greater disaster than the one being faced today. The road to reconciliation is hard, but ultimately the only route to security. It is the responsibility of all leaders to protect the innocent, not only in the conduct of war but in setting the circumstances for a just and sustainable peace.

What is it about so many highly placed Western leaders (Christian and political) that they are unable to make meaningful moral distinctions?

To say that Israel may not under any circumstances bomb civilian areas–even after warning the residents and urging them to evacuate–when Hamas uses those areas for command and control, staging, rocket firing and storage, and sheltering soldiers is in essence to tell Israel it may not defend itself. According to the Church of England press release, Welby “fully accepts that Israel has the same legitimate rights to peace and security as any other state and to self-defence within humanitarian law when faced with an external threat.” But that statement is meaningless when you essentially rule out the possibility of striking back at aggressors who happen to use methods that are contrary to the Geneva Conventions. It’s as if in World War II the Allies had refused to invade Germany because millions of civilians lived there, and so left the Nazi regime intact and capable of re-arming.

In fact, that’s just what Welby and other Western leaders are advocating. They would have Israel immediately stop, before achieving its objectives, giving Hamas the opportunity to re-arm before undertaking the next round of Jew-killing. They would do that to prevent casualties among the population that, you’ll recall, democratically elected a regime advocating genocide, and that continues to support the aims, if not the methods, of that regime.

I’m not advocating killing Gazan civilians because they support Hamas. What I’m suggesting is that the people of Gaza have no problem with what Hamas is doing–they knew when they elected the thugs what they were and how they operated–and so if the result is that, despite Israel’s best efforts, some are killed or wounded in the course of the battle, it is something that they have brought on themselves. Certainly Israel is showing more concern, and offering more assistance, to Gaza’s civilians than Hamas would ever show to Israel’s.

In that regard, please note that Welby’s statement (and for that matter, much of the reporting by the mainstream press) ignores the matter of the tunnels. One gets the feeling that Western leaders and journalists consider the tunnels to be a sideshow, an excuse for Israel to invade. They are not. They are, in fact, the heart of the issue. The daily rocket strikes are dangerous and meant to kill civilians, and as such are a war crime that the world doesn’t care about. They are not very effective, however, in part because of Israel’s anti-missile system called Iron Dome.

The tunnels are another matter.

Hamas has diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid meant for the building of the Gazan economy and infrastructure to build hardened tunnels, not just under Gaza, but into Israel. (Child labor was used to do so, resulting in more than 150 deaths to which the world is oblivious.) The plan was to use them to ferry hundreds of Hamas fighters into towns and cities in Israel for the purpose of killing, if possible, thousands of civilians. It would be Mumbai writ large. There 164 people died, and hundreds were injured, when ten Islamic terrorists attacked civilian targets in the Indian city. Multiply that by ten or twenty at least, and you get an idea of what Hamas was planning. It was to be the Israeli 9/11, inflicted on a population less than 3% the size of the United States.

Israel’s offensive in Gaza is meant to stop that. Justin Welby and others in the hand-wringing community want Israel to halt its efforts to prevent a bloodbath that would make London’s 7/7 attacks look like a stroll in the park. He and they should be ashamed of themselves.

There are many in the Christian world who have rushed to condemn Israel as it defends itself from savages who want to free the Levant of the stain that is Jewish presence. Those condemnations (this one, for instance) are wrong-headed and often misinformed, but they pale in comparison to the enthusiastic embrace of Islamic terrorism by some. Among the latter: Giles Fraser of the Church of England, who wrote in the Guardian:

For decades now the United Nations has been unable to agree a definition of terrorism. Even our own supreme court recently concluded that there is no internationally agreed definition. The stumbling block has been that western governments want states and state agents to be exempt from any definition. And a number of Islamic counties want some national liberation movements exempt.

That’s false, of course. Most if not all Western governments are agreed that Iran and Syria are state sponsors of terrorism. To the extent that they shy away from putting that label on some countries (such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar), it is not because they don’t know what state terrorism is, or because they object to the idea, but because of political considerations, whether good or bad.

I am eating aubergines and flatbread with Dr Samah Jabr in a cool Palestinian cafe in Stoke Newington. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist who works out of East Jerusalem, Dr Jabr is quietly spoken, modest, and perhaps just a little bit shocked by my lapses into overly colourful language. She is an educated, middle-class Palestinian (in no way a rabble-rouser) but she insists that the word terrorist has become a powerful – though often un-thought-through – political pejorative employed to discredit legitimate resistance to the violence of occupation.

What some would call terrorism, she would call a moral duty. She gives me her paper on the subject. “Why is the word ‘terrorist’ so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?” she asks. She insists that violent resistance must be used in defence and as a last resort. And that it is important to distinguish between civilian and military targets. “The American media call our search for freedom ‘terrorism’,” she complains, “despite the fact that the right to self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, concerning self-defence.”

“The right to self-determination” is a fine phrase, one that is joyfully extended by people like Fraser to pretty much every self-identified racial and ethnic group in the world…except Jews. They alone of all the world’s people groups must be required to wander the world, homeless and at the mercy of whoever owns whatever plot of real estate they have been temporarily allowed to settle in. Fraser should know all about the changeable nature of that mercy, given his own country’s history.

Anyway, to the point of Jabr’s diatribe: terrorism is not defined by its use by oppressor or oppressed, nor is it defined by the sophistication of lack thereof of the weapons used. Terrorism is defined by its use against civilian populations. It is used by those who don’t have the means to stand up to military power, so they instead target those who cannot defend themselves. It is the classic weapon of the fanatic, the bully, the coward, and incipient totalitarian, whose use of terror as a weapon illustrates well the kind of rule under which others would live if the terrorist triumphs. Indeed, the reports out of Gaza that indicate that millions of tons of concrete that were given for humanitarian purposes have been diverted from a needy Palestinian civilian population to build tunnels that can be used to facilitate the further slaughter of Israeli civilians. Hamas is an equal opportunity terrorist organization in that regard–as long as it is around, everyone, Jew and Arab, will suffer.

The “right to self-determination” that Jabr trumpets has its limits. It ends where it demands that, for the sake of one’s sick fantasies, another people must die. Hamas has declared in no uncertain terms that if it has its way, what is now Israel will cease to exist and all Jews will be expelled or die. Israel has no more obligation to lay down its arms in the face of such evil than any other nation.

But these aren’t just the ravings of a deranged shrink. Fraser agrees:

I took part in the Moral Maze recently on Radio 4 and was howled at for suggesting that there could be a moral right of resistance to oppression. And the suggestion was made that, as a priest, I ought to take no such line. The weird thing about this is that Christianity has thought a great deal about the idea of just resistance. The Reformation, for instance, saw a flurry of moral justifications for resistance to the state, when that state is seeking to impose on its subjects its own particular understanding of religious faith. In 1574, for example, Theodore Beza published his The Right of Magistrates in which he affirmed the right of resistance – and violent resistance in the final instance – to state tyranny. This sort of thing was hardly a one-off.

Apparently Fraser got lost in the moral maze. He seems unable to understand the difference between resistance to tyranny in the form of military or police forces (in other words, the uniformed representatives of a government) and the deliberate targeting of civilians. The Elector of Saxony taking the field against the Holy Roman Empire, Islamic fundamentalists blowing up teenagers in pizza parlors. You say potato, I say patattah. In the words of an unaccountably famous woman, what real difference does it make?

It is nonsense to think that being a state grants some sort of blanket immunity from the charge of terrorism – and certainly not from the moral opprobrium we attach to that term. We talk of asymmetric warfare. This is asymmetric morality: one that, in terms of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, loads the dice in favour of the occupation. This is just not right.

I’ll tell you what’s not right. What’s not right is that the Church of England numbers among its ordained clergy a man so morally obtuse that he can’t tell the difference between national self-defense imperfectly carried out and plain, purposeful, pre-meditated murder.

Everybody knows that it is well-nigh impossible for schools to deal in any way with sick children, because they have to have parental permission to administer pretty much any kind of treatment. As a result, the school nurse is going the way of the dodo, because they is simply nothing that she or he can do except send kids home.

I mention that by way of reminder. Schools–those supposedly in loco parentis institutions to which we hand our children–have to have parents’ say-so to give out aspirin. But according to the president of an Episcopal seminary, she has the right, even the religious obligation, to take other people’s kids without parental knowledge much less permission to have a surgical procedure. I’ll bet you can guess which one. From CNS News:

Were Congress to outlaw the transporting of a minor without her parents’ permission across state lines to get an abortion, an abortion- and gay-rights activist testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday she would break the law to continue to help girls end their pregnancies.

Appearing as a Democratic Party witness at a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. recalled the time she took a 15-year-old girl she had never met before to get an abortion.

“Although New Hampshire was closer to that girl’s home than Boston, as it happened, I did not take her across state lines,” Ragsdale said. “Nor did I, to my knowledge, break any laws.

“But if either of those things had been necessary in order to help her, I would have done them,” she continued. “And if helping young women like her should be made illegal I will, nonetheless, continue to do it.”

Ragsdale is a high priestess of the Moloch cult, one who famously maintains that abortion is a blessing. The “right” that she asserts is an extraordinary one: the right to take other’s people children, without their permission, across state lines for the purpose of undergoing a surgical procedure that, while generally safe (at least physically), nevertheless occasionally results in serious physical problems and can even be fatal. Given that we are talking about minor children here, this is about people who cannot legally give consent, so essentially Ragsdale is claiming that kidnapping should be legal if an abortion is performed rather than a ransom demanded. Amazingly enough, she isn’t alone:

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said a bill introduced in the House last summer – the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 2299) – would make it an offense to “circumvent parental consent laws in a state by, without the parents’ knowledge, taking a minor girl across state lines for an abortion.”

He said he found it difficult to believe opposition to the law, like that expressed by the subcommittee’s ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who called it an “assault to the reproductive rights of women.”

In general parlance, female children are not “women”–they are girls, who are still under considered under parental authority for virtually all purposes, including the above mentioned administration of aspirin. But for Nadler, as for Ragsdale and the rest of the culture of death, nothing–absolutely nothing–is of higher existential, much less constitutional,  significance than the right to kill one’s own children.

It is a measure of how obsessed the pro-abortion left is that it is willing to say, essentially, that everything else that we as a society believe is important must step aside when the sacramental rite of abortion is being performed. One rather wonders why they don’t just set up a church, and claim the right to abortion under the freedom of religion. They could even make Katherine Ragsdale their Presiding Bishop.

(Via MCJ.)

While I haven’t been able to find any official Episcopal Church response to the Komen-Planned Parenthood dustup, the head of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus took to the Intertubes yesterday in a piece published by the Episcopal News Service. The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton sees this as part of a “war on women”:

There is an undeclared war on women in this country and around the world.

That war would have to do with the fact that girls are far more likely to be chosen for abortions than boys, right? Fat chance.

No one from the Komen Foundation is talking, but from the buzz on the Internet, hundreds of thousands of people – men and women – are pledging not to support the efforts of the organization that made pink ribbons an outward and visible sign of the “race for the cure” to end breast cancer.

So the war on women has to do with people withdrawing their support from the foremost private supplier of funds for breast cancer research, right? Guess again:

That battle was won but the war is far from over. The reproductive rights of women are under sharp attack from the religious and political forces of the evangelical right, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. The battle plan is patently clear: limit women’s access to abortion, birth control, and services after rape and sexual assault by changing laws, state by state, and ensure that government funding is not delivered to any agency that supports reproductive rights in any way.  Do this with a ballot in one hand and a Bible in the other. And when you don’t get what you want, cry “religious intolerance.”

So in Kaeton’s world, the “war on women” has to do pretty much exclusively with any conceivable limitation that could be put on the sacrament of abortion. Got it.

On another front, human trafficking is a mega-billion dollar global industry unregulated by any country or international body. It is a criminal activity ignored and/or tolerated with devastating consequences for the person involved. Trafficking ranks just behind drug and arms trading as the most lucrative forms of commerce. It is no surprise that the vast majority of trafficked persons are women and children. Nor is it any shock that most of those who do the trafficking are men.

What this has to do with the other is mystifying. I am in complete accord, I expect, with Kaeton regarding the horrors of human trafficking, but it is hardly the case that it is “unregulated by any country or international body.” Internationally, there is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which went into force in December 2003 and has been ratified by 117 countries, including the United States (November 2005). And human trafficking is illegal in most of the world (though the Episcopal Church can be heard speaking out in favor of it–or at least opposed to doing anything much to stop it–when it involves bringing immigrants illegally into the United States from Mexico). That human trafficking is frequently “ignored and/or tolerated” is certainly true, but that doesn’t mean the international community–with some notable exceptions, such as Thailand, a center of the sex trade, which has yet to ratify the accord–hasn’t acted.

The violence continues unabated. A report released in late December 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one in four women in the United States suffers “severe physical violence,” and one in five is raped at some time in their life. Millions of women are suffering serious violence quietly at any time.

According to another CDC survey, four women die because of domestic violence every day in the United States of America. For every woman who dies, hundreds keep suffering without any recourse, without any letup in violence. They remain alive, but are not “living” by any dignified definition of the word.

See, to Kaeton opposition to abortion isn’t a valid moral perspective. It’s more like rape, or spousal abuse, or human trafficking.

The recent battle between Komen vs. Planned Parenthood gives us many insights on how women and men of quality can fight back for equality. The fatal flaw in the Komen battle plan was to consider Planned Parenthood just another organization. It is not. It is what it always has been: a movement. Organizations are fine. Movements are better.

Yes sir, Komen surely has learned a lesson, as have the rest of us: oppose Planned Parenthood and the Church of Abortion, as served by the likes of Elizabeth Kaeton, and you will be libeled, slandered, misrepresented, and delegitimized no matter how good anything else you do is.



When I spoke with openly gay bishop Gene Robinson about following him through a particularly harrowing period that he was about to enter, I told him that talking to him was like talking to Joan of Arc, in a time when a doc crew could capture the drama of the church/state firestorm he had found himself in. He laughed but said that it was true – he was caught in the crosshairs of cultural change and it was important to record it along the way, so he invited me to follow him for the next four years.

Macky Alston, director of the film Love Free or Die, a documentary about Joan of Arc Bishop Robinson that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week; what “church/state firestorm” Robinson was supposedly caught up in is a mystery to me, but I suppose it does enhance the Joan/Gene analogy

(Via Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm.)

There is big news out of Virginia this morning that has to do with the Anglican churches in the state, but which could have an impact on any PCUSA churches that seek to leave that denomination in the future. Even if it doesn’t, there are a lot of Anglican brothers and sisters that need our prayers. From BabyBlue Online:

Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that the property should be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese.

The Circuit Court heard the case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. The congregations previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

“Although we are profoundly disappointed by today’s decision, we offer our gratitude to Judge Bellows for his review of this case. As we prayerfully consider our legal options, we above all remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith. Regardless of today’s ruling, we are confident that God is in control, and that He will continue to guide our path,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

Among the seven are two of the best known evangelical Anglican congregations in the United States, the Falls Church and Truro Church, as well as one in the town I live in, St. Margaret’s Church in Woodbridge.

The full ruling is here, but this is a summary from the opinion:

1. TEC and the Diocese have a contractual and proprietary interest in each of the seven Episcopal churches that are the subjects of this litigation. Specifically, the Court finds for TEC and the Diocese in their Declaratory Judgment actions and, among other relief, orders that all real property conveyed by the 41 deeds, as well as all personal property acquired by the churches up to the filing date of the Declaratory Judgment actions (on or about January 31, 2007 or February 1, 2007) are to be promptly conveyed to the Diocese. (Additional instructions are provided at the conclusion of this Letter Opinion.)

2. The CANA Congregations‟ Amended Counterclaims are denied in their entirety. Specifically, the Court finds that the CANA Congregations, in that they are notEpiscopal Congregations, do not possess either contractual or proprietary interests in the property of the seven Episcopal Churches at issue. They are, therefore, enjoined from further use or control of these properties and must promptly relinquish them to the Diocese. Moreover, the Court finds no merit in the CANA Congregations‟ claims for unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and constructive trust and grants TEC‟s and the Diocese‟s motions to strike these claims.

3. The vestry empowered to elect directors to the Falls Church Endowment Fund is the vestry recognized by the Diocese as the Episcopal vestry of The Falls Church, that is to say, the Continuing Congregation.

This is from the Fairfax County Circuit Court, which means that if the congregations want to pursue appeals, there are ways to go. BabyBlue doesn’t indicate whether it will be appealed, and I’m sure it will take some time for them to decide whether to do so. I would expect that at the least they’ll ask for a temporary stay that would prevent their immediate eviction from the properties. Regardless of how they decide to proceed, you can be sure that their priorities are straight. The Rev. John Yates, rector of the Falls Church, said:

The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, ‘Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.’

Please be praying for these seven churches and the decisions they have to make.

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