OK -- I'll admit it. We've been having some fun with the "Gafcon 8" story Ruth Gledhill broke yesterday: the list of folks, pictured below, who ended up on the Gafcon "no entry" equivalent of the Homeland Security "no fly list."
I got dozens of emails yesterday congratulating me on the high honor of being banned from this conference I had no intention of attending anyway. Before you could sing the refrain of "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" there was a "Ban Me, Gafcon!" t-shirt designed and an "I want to be banned by Gafcon" Facebook group. (with 232 members the last time I checked.)
This morning, though, I've been thinking about it all from a slightly different perspective. I'm wondering what it was about this particular group of eight very disparate folks that ended them up on the "no entry" list in Jerusalem?
What is it about a priest from Pasadena, a professor from Newark, a New England blogger, a bishop from Colorado and a clergy couple who -- as far as I know -- have been singularly absent from these conversations up until now, that combine to make them such a collective threat? And what actually IS going on at Gafcon that we're lumped together with Colin & Davis -- those fearsome Changing Attitude activists -- and "banned"?
David Virtue (who I admittedly rarely read but checked in with this morning) tried this: This conference, like nearly every conference ever held, is by invitation only, unless you want to attend a Billy Graham crusade. Would the LGBT pansexual Episcopal organization possibly invite an orthodox journalist to listen in on their plans? Of course not.
Sorry, David. The answer is "Of course, yes!" David knows better, actually, having never been turned down credentials for any of the conferences we've organized over the years and Ralph Webb of IRD fame is a regular observer of all things Episcopal.
So I'm wondering if the key words are "listen in on their plans." And I'm thinking that paranoia is just a grown-up version of the little-boy game of putting up a "No Girls Allowed" sign outside their clubhouse and posting a sentry to make sure none of them sneak up and listen in on them. (AKA: The Girl Cootie Syndrome)
Besides, I thought we'd just spent a lot of energy spinning this gathering in Jerusalem as a pilgrimage of faithful Anglicans seeking God's will for themselves and the Anglican Communion? +Akinola sure spent a lot of time in his opening remarks making sure it was clear there were "no plans to break away" from the Anglican Communion.
If that is indeed the case, then what "plans" are being hatched that must be protected from Rob O'Neill ... or Deborah Edmunds? And, at the end of the day, what kind of "global future" is there for a Communion committed to excluding those with whom they disagree?
And so, as we countdown to Lambeth Conference and our work and witness there, here's Integrity's answer to the question, Who Would Jesus Ban:
He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.