Ruth Gledhill with some scoops:
This is a rare photograph of the millionaire Howard Ahmanson, pictured here at Gafcon in Jerusalem. He has made a name as a funder of the conservative Anglican cause in the US, as revealed by Jim Naughton in Following the Money. He has a delegate's badge around his neck, but has to my knowledge played no public role in the conference. I can't help but feel that his presence here is significant however. He is a friend andRead it all.
prayer partner of the chief executive of the American Anglican Council, David Anderson, and has a history of funding Christian right missions with an anti-gay objective.
The final commique has yet to come out but, with the exception of a few increasingly-desperate Americans, there is less and less talk of schism. It is clear that, with Common Causes's Bob Duncan not even here, but celebrating his 60th birthday in Italy instead, and with threats and actual litigation hanging heavy over the US conservatives, the mantle of leadership is moving to Australia.
Gafcon's chairman is Nigeria's Peter Akinola but after his opening address his profile is surprisingly low. Kenya's Archbishop Nzimbi and Uganda's Archbishop Orombi are as impressive and deep as always. They seem happy to work with Sydney's Dr Peter Jensen. There is a new mood of hope among the Africans, who have been distressed to learn how many of the US conservative bishops are in the end going to Lambeth when their own Martyn Minns has not been invited. Most of them really do not want to walk away.
Where this leaves the US conservatives is uncertain. And quite what I am going to write for the newspaper, now the schism story is receding, is also not yet clear. I make a note to try and find Greg Venables, who is rumoured to have just flown in and to have been spotted in the dining room, from which the press is barred. But it seems there was true, if perhaps unintended, symbolism in our pilgrimage to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and to the Garden of Gethsemane, the place of Jesus' betrayal by his friends.
I sit here, typing this article, pondering all this taking place in an extraordinarily beautiful city, subsisting in an unearthly realm where the sky meets Land and nothing in between. Another email pops into my box: 'Hear the sound of the saw cutting off the limb on which all these faithful folk are sitting.'
In 2004 Peter Larsen did a series of interviews with the Ahmansons. This may tell you all you need to know:
The late Rev. R. J. Rushdoony - will likely remain the albatross around the Ahmansons' reputation...
A prolific writer, Rushdoony advocated ideas seen as extreme by many. "The Institutes of Biblical Law" is the one most often singled out for criticism and censure. In it, Rushdoony talks of the need to return to biblical law, using such examples as the death penalty by stoning for homosexuals and adulterers.
Howard Ahmanson first read Rushdoony in the 1970s, eventually served on the board of [Rushdoony's] foundation's board and donated more than $700,000, he says.
In a 1985 interview with the Register, Ahmanson described his goal as "total integration of biblical law into our lives," a statement that has clung to him ever since.
The Ahmansons say their views are misunderstood.
Yet at times, the way they explain their views - the fine lines they draw, the hypotheticals they consider - can leave questions about just where they stand.
"I think what upsets people is that Rushdoony seemed to think - and I'm not sure about this - that a godly society would stone people for the same thing that people in ancient Israel were stoned," [Ahmanson] said. "I no longer consider that essential.
"It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things," Ahmanson said. "But I don't think it's at all a necessity."
Emphasis added. The Ahmansons decided to sit for lengthy interviews because his reputation was so toxic political candidates were returning his donations. So this was his attempt to improve his image by taking a more moderate stance on this issue.
Much more here.
So here's a question for Archbishop Akinola. It's said that you "raised $1.2 million in three weeks for the conference [and your] church even subsidized the attendance of a number of Americans." Where did you get that money?