I just love "Father Jake" ... not only because he CLEARLY stops the world with his kick-butt blog but because he consistently finds answers to the very questions I find myself asking.
Case in point was the media flurry around the recent defection of a couple of parishes in Viriginia. "What's up with that?" I wondered.
OK ... they're historic churches and all but come on, I thought as I was fielding media calls for comment on a Sunday night and the local news folks wanted to send the news van over NOW to get a live stand up for the 11:00 news ... I mean, really -- with Darfur, Iraq and Global Warming in the queue FALLS CHURCH deciding to enmasse to sign up for a Berlitz course in Nigerian is actually big news? Two parishes out of 195 in a diocese defect and it's "breaking news?" What about the other 2.3 million of us getting ready for the good news of great joy that will be to all people?
But life moves on ... Christmas happened and New Year's looms and my pondering turned away from things media strategy to things, well, if not more heavenly at least more churchy! And then today's post over at Fr. Jake: FOX News, the Falls Church and the IRD ...
Some of you may have been wondering why there was so much press generated by two previously unknown Episcopal congregations voting to align with Nigeria. In the big picture, it is hardly a newsworthy event.Beth Adams of The Cassandra Pages suggests at least one reason for the big media splash:
The announcement about the Virginia parishes has been directed by the skillful spokespeople at the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), a neo-conservative Washington think-tank that has innumerable connections, through its board of directors and officers, to the conservative Washington area parishes that have recently left the Episcopal Church. These parishes have been home to prominent conservatives such as Oliver North and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as top-level IRD Episcopalians. For instance, Fox News commentator Fred Barnes is a member of the Falls Church congregation, and serves on the Board of the IRD; Fox has covered this story extensively and sympathetically, interviewing Barnes as part of a roundtable discussion, but never mentioning his IRD connection...
What do Fox News, The Falls Church and the IRD have in common? None other than our old friend Fred Barnes, who launched the smear campaign against Bp. Robinson the day before the House of Bishops was to vote on giving consent to his election at GC 2003. Imagine that.
Imagine that, indeed. And now, inquiring minds want to know now that we know about it, what are we going to do about it?
I do not know what an HTML tag is, but I have a comment. My comment is that what we should do is expose the conservative political connections and funding that are part and parcel of all of this manufactured uproar, an uproar that the far right-wing press is eager to exploit.
Trinity Episcopal Church
There's a very good report that has been released by Jim Naughton of the diocese of Washington. It puts most of the pieces together;
Oh, and thanks for the kind words, Susan!
1: Gene Robinson was a founder of Outright. True or False?
2: Gene Robinson stated as such in his CV, and did not deny it in an interview. True or False?
3: There was a link to a gay porn site on the Outright website, with no age verification, and GR denied any knowledge of the link. True or False?
4: There was an email charge of sexual harrasment against Gene Robinson made public at the Convention. True or False?
5: Conservatives have threatened to leave the church before and backed off then, and are likely to do so now. True or False?
6: Some conservatives are exploring aligning themselves with foreign Bishops. True or False?
If these statements are all false, then the article is a smear campaign; much like the smear campaign launched against "polygamous African Bishops."
If, OTOH all the statements are true, then what is the problem?
1 - 4 ... FALSE
(see below from 2003 CNN Report -- http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/08/05/bishop/):
David Lewis of Vermont accused Robinson of touching him inappropriately at a convocation and an activist opposed to Robinson's candidacy told bishops an organization Robinson was connected to offered a link on its Web site that could lead to erotica.
Investigators questioned Lewis and determined Robinson touched his arm and back momentarily during conversation in a public room with more than 300 people present.
On the second allegation, involving a Web site brought to bishops' attention by a member of the American Anglican Council, which opposes Robinson's ratification, Bishop Gordon Scruton, who oversaw the investigation, said Robinson helped found a chapter of the organization Outright in 1995, and ended his involvement with the group in 1998.
In 2002, the group established a Web site that linked to another site, which in turn linked to a site that included what Scruton called "graphic sexual materials."
Robinson "was not aware that the organization has a Web site until this convention," Scruton said, noting that Outright's response to investigators "emphasized to me" that Robinson had no part in the creation of the Web site.
Outright was founded to provide support and counseling for young people concerned about their sexuality, Scruton said.
5 - Some have left, some have threatened to leave and stayed, some have left and come back.
6 - Aligning oneself with a "foreign" bishop is one's prerogative. Taking the building, silver and linens with you and leaving those left behind whoe faithful to the doctrine and discipline of the historic Episcopal Church high and dry is not.
Far from a "smear" campaign this article exposes the IRD/et al "spin" campaign meant to blow the very real differences challenging the church into divisions that will split the church -- serving the end game of those who are unwilling to stay in communion with those with whom they disagree.
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