Africans, yes. African-Americans, not so much

Dan Burke of Religion New Service wrote a provocative story from the Lambeth Conference that received too little attention.


CANTERBURY, England -- For five years, conservative Episcopalians eager to escape their liberal American church have been building ties with African Anglicans half a world away.

But they have few connections with black Americans in their own back yard, say black Episcopal bishops gathered here for a once-a-decade meeting of Anglican prelates.

"It's something that I like to point out," said the Bishop Eugene Sutton,the first black Episcopal bishop in Maryland, "the historical anomaly of dioceses that have nothing to do with the black community going all the way to Africa to make these relationships."

Comments (5)

It's not so hard to understand. It has nothing to do with race. But it also has nothing to do with theology. It has only to do with ideology - an "orthodoxy" of power.

Marc P Vance

This is nothing new. There are many (if perhaps apocryphal) stories of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South adopting Pidgin English, and "playing Africans" to pass, or just to see what would happen (I recall Angela Davis citing such a youthful experiment: I think her ploy was to claim being the daughter of a diplomat).

Generally, these pretend "Africans" received at least mystified, if not outright respectful, treatment from whites.

"Familiarity breeds contempt" 'n' all...

JC Fisher

While perceptive, Sutton's comment misses the point. These relationships have nothing to do with race but with belief, boundaries and purity codes.

I don't think Bishop Sutton missed the point, Paul. The American right uses the African's race as a tool in the arguments within the Anglican Communion, to portray themselves as the champions of people whom they happily disenfranchise at home. But I think you are right about the basis of the relationships.

Certainly the Diocese of Fort worth has no African American priests. We do have African priests, and at least one white priest who is canonically resident in Rwanda.

Katie Sherrod

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