Church politics rivals the State House

Andy Brack publishes The Statehouse Report in Columbia’s Free Times, and focused in on the conflict in South Carolina in an article called “When Church politics sinks to the level of pure pettiness”. From the article:

Over the last 10 years, some champions of Biblical literalism in the Episcopal Church in the lower part of the state got hot and bothered by gender politics. They went ballistic when the Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man, was named Bishop of New Hampshire, even though the likelihood of anyone from South Carolina worshipping in the Granite State was next to nil. More recently, the same zealots got bent out of shape over the blessings of same-sex relationships in other parts of the country, just as they surely got bent out of shape in the 1970s with the ordination of women and as their ancestors did over race during and after the Civil War.

Led by S.C. Bishop Mark Lawrence, many churches broke away from the national church and formed a new entity — “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” — with rhetoric that sounds much like what happened when conservative Democrats jumped to the Republican Party: “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me.”

It came as no surprise that since the end of last year, breakaway churches and the “new diocese” filed lawsuits to keep property and even the seal of the national church diocese they abandoned. In a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, the breakaway diocese had the gall to spin that the national church abandoned them — even though Lawrence and his minions voted to leave the national church as it appealed to them to stay inside the tent.

Although they departed with much bluster about cutting all ties, they really want (you should see this coming) to keep all of the formerly united diocese’s money, property and land, including a popular church camp. Seems to me that when you abandon something, you leave and start anew — and that means without all of the stuff that you signed over to the national church years ago. But that, I guess, is logic….

Churches are supposed to be places of sanctuary, not places for negativism and pettiness. Who knows what will happen with the Episcopal parishes in the lower part of the state? About the only thing for sure is that it looks like a lot of lawyers will get richer. And that’s not the kind of Christian charity that motivates people to give to churches.

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  1. Looking in from the outside (in ACANZP), this looks like a pretty good summary of what has been going on in South Carolina. Ever since Bishop Lawrence took over, there has been a culture of separation from TEC welling up from the leadership of the diocese.

    Schism was occasioned, in this instance, not by the actions of TEC, but by the direct action of Bishop Lawrence and his conservative backers in the diocese, who have been at work undermining the national Church from the beginning of his tenure.

    Ron Smith

  2. Ann Fontaine

    Interesting commentary by the cartoonist under the cartoon at the site here

  3. Roger Mortimer

    Seems, Ann, that a cartoonist, like the guy (has to have been a guy, hasn’t it?) who coined the term “Obamacare”, may be unaware of the truth and resonance of his creation.

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