Ooh, it's been AGES since we had a good religious SCHISM! And LOOK! There's one happening right now in the Church of Little England!
It's all about the FUNDAMENTALISTS: some of the Anglicans want their FUNDAMENTs placed on the FENCE; and others want to be MENTALISTS.
A group calling themselves FOCA* (Fellowship Of Confused Archimandrites) – not to be confused with the Beardy Weirdy of Canterbury and his old Fellowship of Anglican Religious Traditionalists – has decided to set up their own "church within a church"
Now, the Archpillock has replied telling them to depart in the BIBLICAL FASHION or, as Genesis puts it, "Go Forth and Multiply".
This all began with the news that a third of Anglican bishops were planning to boycott the Beardy-Weirdy's regular church fete and bun-fight, the Lambeth Conference.
Then, worse, they decided to set up a RIVAL shindig in Jerusalem, because OBVIOUSLY there's never been any question of religious differences THERE!
The Jerusalem Conference, or GAFCON (Gruesome Anglicans Find Conservative Oppression Nice), was attended by old friends like Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda. You remember them, Mr Akinola is the one who pressed for gay daddies to be banned in Nigeria, and Mr Orombi thinks that gay people in the UK are HIS business but polygamy (please note difference from polyamory) in Africa is not OURS.
Also in attendance was Britain's HOLIEST WOMAN™, Ms Anne Ratkin, and SHE says that it was wasn't about hating gay daddies AT ALL, but all about loving the Little Baby Jesus™.
"The one thing you have to realise in order to understand GAFCon… is that it is not really anything to do with sex."Well, yes and no. Or to be more specific, no.
The final statement from Gafcon spells out their objectives. It's mostly a load of the usual honk, but the key paragraphs are at 8…
We acknowledge God's creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.…and 13…
We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.To translate from the ECCLESIASTICAL: gay daddies are EEWWW, and we're not taking orders from anyone who won't say so out loud. And that means YOU Mr Beardy-Weirdy!
You can bleat all you like that REALLY it is "…about the Lordship of Christ, the sinfulness of man, the reliability of the scriptures…" (and here are some clues for nothing: he's not; you are; not even remotely) but when you choose your closing highlights it seems ODD that sex is right in there if you HAVEN'T all been worrying your heads about it.
Mr Theo Hobson disagrees with Ms Ratkin, and think there MAY be a hint of POLITICS in the conservative bishops' manoeuvrings.
And maybe he has a point. If Ms Anne is RIGHT and they don't give a hoot about sexuality, then clearly they are just using it as a WEDGE issue to try and seize power from the Archpillock in Canterbury. This means that they are not REALLY bigots. It means that they are hypocritical, traitorous and power-hungry bigots. ('Cos you don't get let off being a bigot just because you don't MEAN it when you oppress people!)
The Bishop of Southwark, Mr Tom "It's what he does" Butler says "No Compromises".
He is right! Like Marxists and Militants, you offer to meet these people halfway and they let you move, stick right where they are and make all the same demands. Then they expect you to meet them halfway again – or rather now three-quarters of the way from your original position. And so on.
As with ALL schismatics, the FOCA-ers are keen verging on DESPERATE to prove that it is the OTHER side that are the SPLITTERS. The People's Front of Judea may have deserted their principles but the Judean People's Front will remain true to the true meaning of truth!
Here is an example of one of them at work, Canon Chris Sugden, explaining how it is REALLY all the fault of the Episcopalian Church for no longer living in 1529…
Observe how he dismisses the Archpillock's actually quite reasonable questions of "how is this parallel church going to work logistically?" and "who appointed you anyway?" as having "more in common with Yes Minister than godly dialogue in the church of Christ". Subtext: we're terribly saintly and you are so grubby and political. Like most people who diss "politicians", they are actually DEEPLY political… it's just the messy compromises of DEMOCRACY that they are dissing; they prefer their politics DEMAGOGIC.
And then he puts the onus on the Archpillock to fix this, demanding that the Beardy-Weirdy should come to neutral territory – and then redefines "neutral" to mean:
"…not at the Lambeth conference, which is already a compromised gathering since those who initiated this crisis, the consecrators of Gene Robinson, will be present…"So only places where the other side of the argument AREN'T. That is an, er, INTERESTING definition of neutral.
Why should any of us CARE? Surely this is no more significant than an argument between two groups of LIVE ROLE PLAYERS. After all, THEY gather together to dress up in funny clothes and argue about the rules and who has the largest magic totems!
Well, the religious lobby with their "SPECIAL RIGHTS" already put a heavily conservative argument against our more liberal legislation. And now, in this DEEPLY UNDEMOCRATIC way, an EVEN MORE conservative faction are trying to mount a takeover so that they can wail and scream even more about taking us back to some pre-Medieval dark age based on a 4000-year old desert survival guide that has little or nothing to do with the morality of what Mr Jesus is actually supposed to have said.
And we don't give DUNGEONS & DRAGONS players seats in Parliament for FREE!
(Though it might be fun if we DID – role double-six or get eater by the Dragon Maggie!)
*"Mothers Opposed to the Occult" or "MOO" earned Joyce Summers a withering "nice acronym, mom" from her daughter, the Vampire Slayer. But this is closer to the "Clean Up National Television" slogan that Ms Mary Whitehouse was allegedly dissuaded from using according to the BBC's recent hagiography (with emphasis on the HAG).
PS:The last schism – more of a mini-schism really – was when several hundred American parishes broke away from the Anglican Communion over the ordination of lady vicars as the "Continuing Anglican Movement".
As the Controller-known-only-as-the-Controller might have said when presented with a Continuing Anglican Movement Pie: "how strangely unappetising".
Fortunately, there is no chance of a revolt over the ordination of ladies like that today… oh!