Rick Warren to the Rescue of Anti-Gay Anglicans

Timothy Kincaid

January 11th, 2009

We have previously discussed how President-Elect Obama’s selection for his inaugural invocation, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, has sought to meddle in the current internal affairs of the Anglican fellowship in Africa. He has, on the international stage, sided with those who are anti-gay.

Well now it seems that Warren wants to meddle on a local scale.

Last week, the California Supreme Court found that the current leadership and congregation at St. James Parish in Newport Beach could not just walk away from the Episcopal Church and take the buildings and property with them. This left those discontented with the Episcopal denomination without a physical home.

The Episcopal Church is hoping that the physical ownership of the site will remove leverage from the local anti-gay activists and will allow for this congregation to be again a part of the fold.

But it seems that this does not fit with Warren’s agenda. He is encouraging the congregation to stay in discord and is offering the assets of Saddleback to keep the pot bubbling. Christianity Today has extractions from letters written by Warren:

… [The Episcopal Church has] already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the TIME bio on Akinola.

But since last summer… I’ve been on Gene Robinson and other’s attack list for my position on gay marriage. ….[Our] brothers and sisters here at St. James in Newport Beach lost their California State Supreme Court case to keep their property.

We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.

Rick Warren has, in so many words, declared war on the Episcopal Church.

It is one thing to take an anti-gay position based on one’s theology. It is quite another to encourage schism in another denomination. It is now time for the Episcopal Church to make a formal protest to the President Elect. Rick Warren cannot invoke blessing on a nation if he is seeking to divide a denomination of which he is not even a part.

Further, the ECUSA should be joined by every church body sharing the belief that those who seek discord should not be given a place of prestige. I do not doubt for a moment that Rick Warren will endeavor to bring about splits in the Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist denominations if he is left unchecked.

Jonathan Justice

January 11th, 2009

What a loon!

The breathlessly positive framing in the CT posting makes it even funnier. As I have suggested elsewhere, Warren has an affiliation problem where the people he affiliates with perform so badly that it raises questions about the doctrinal positions his writing and home church work would seem to be trying to advance. In this case he is in deep with a bunch of folks whose scandals would inspire Mark Twain more than St. Paul. Here he is, egging on a civil war in a denomination that is a lot better at advancing its purposes than he would appear to be at advancing his. I mean, what could be more unexceptional than an invocation at the Inauguration delivered by an Episcopal Bishop? Gene, Katherine, and Desmond are all such nice people, and so good at what they do. Meanwhile, Rick Warren is not holding up well under scrutiny, and the Team Obama invite is looking less and less like a favor. The Feast of The Epiphany has come and gone, and the guy is still twisting in the wrong wind.


January 12th, 2009

Whilst I disagree with Mr Warren and the anti-gay congregation on the schismatic issue, and I suspect his motives may more expansionism than charity, I do not see that his offer is unethical in principle. He may be encouraging a schism, but that just might be what the Anglican church needs. Open separation could be better than lasting, repressed conflict. And the anti-gay faction will be with like-minded people (problematic, but a church is not the best place for debate over a bitterly divisive issue). The congregation should not be forced to compromise its bigotry to keep its place of worship.

Richard W. Fitch

January 12th, 2009

Duncan: The matter is not as simple as you seem to believe. Unlike Baptist or Methodist or other congregational denominational forms, the EC-USA is a hierarchical structure with certain similarities to RC. When a parish/diocese becomes a part of the national church it accepts the canons of the church which state that the local level holds its property and assets in trust for the greater church. It is somewhat like turning your finances over to a stockbroker. You trust him to manage your money. If he goes to another profession, he must return your assets to you.


January 12th, 2009

Contrary to Fitch’s implication, United Methodist Church assets are held in trust by local congregations on behalf of the United Methodist Church.
Mainline protestant denominations are under attack by well-funded neoconservative groups, created and governed by people who are often not even members of these churches. The Institute for Religion and Democracy coordinates such attacks, attempting to silence the liberal or progressive voices of the churches on a variety of social issues. Read about IRD at:
http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v20n1/clarkson_battle.html and at http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/1496.html.


January 12th, 2009

Warren’s nauseating ‘bio’ of Akinola in TIME is available. The distorted presentation of the ‘Muslim-Christian clashes’ barely describes the violence that has killed hundreds, if not thousands. Far from confronting such a tribal mindset, Akinola is the perfect example of fundamentalism; ‘Third World’ or otherwise.

Of course, one might wonder what the heck TIME was thinking in having a Southern Baptist minister write a bio for Akinola in the first place. (Perhaps Richard Dawkins could write the one about Warren? Just a thought…)

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