July 6, 2009
Today marks the launch in England of the Fellowship of Confessing
Anglicans, championed by the bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali. Some of the usual crowd of ‘internationals’ reportedly will be at Westminster Hall including the Archbishop of Uganda. Nazir-Ali who has announced his resignation as of September has published a newspaper article this weekend and preached a sermon making it clear that the main ‘issue’ that shows tha the church has gone off the rails as far as he is concerned is homosexuality and he calls on gay and lesbian people to repent and be changed.
All in all this is tiresomely out of the American playbook and will no doubt lead to some sort of split within or from the Church of England. There are some crucial differences in England however. First the Church is established. The FCA has received ‘supportive’ letters acknowledging the launch from both the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury (both of whom are declining to comment to the press on ‘private correspondence’.)
Second there is a long and healthy tradition of Evangelicalism within the C of E that has no real counterpart in the US. While it has sometimes found itself on the conservative end of the social and political spectrum, at other times it has most decidedly championed ‘liberal’ causes. Samuel Wilberforce who fought against slavery is the best of this tradition. Many, such as the Bishop of Durham, are hold deeply felt beliefs that homosexuality is morally wrong but were also in the vanguard of opposition to the war in Iraq. Some of these ‘moderates’ are part of an organization called Fulcrum, whose founder, Dr. Graham Kings has been appointed Bishop of Sherborne. (http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/index.cfm)
Third, along with a state church there is still a vigorous national newspaper industry and both The Independent and a conservative columnist in The Daily Telegraph have articles critical of the Bishop of Rochester and suggesting that fighting against homosexual rights is a lost cause in England.
Fourth, the traditions of philanthropy are somewhat different in ways hard to define, but in general would not include pouring huge sums of money into this negative political movement of questionable relevance to the country. This last one may be balanced by the general tendency of evangelicals to be more faithful than other Christians about tithing their incomes.