The future of Anglican conservatism is radical

The Guardian asks the question “What is the future of Anglican Conservatism” and this week is publishing essays in response.

In the first essay, Savi Hensman reflects on the future of Anglican Conservatism, which she says is becoming more radical and more tolerant of violence, especially against Muslims. She says that the habit of attributing evil to an outside group is both easy and hard to break. It is not a great leap from vilifying gays to preaching hatred against Muslims.


She notes that the Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria is both vocally anti-gay and “appears to believe that, in the Muslim-Christian conflict in Nigeria, communal violence can sometimes be justified.”

..Many Anglicans horrified by abuses against Christians by Muslim fanatics in Pakistan, Sudan and elsewhere were also revolted by the expulsion and mass murder of Muslims in Bosnia by fighters inspired by a distorted version of Christianity.

It is all too easy to project evil on to another group, harder to acknowledge that it may be found in one’s own community and self. In the Gospels Jesus urges his followers not to be so fixed on the speck in someone’s else’s eye that they do not notice the log in their own, and warns of evil thoughts in the human heart which, if unchecked, may result in harming others. This does not mean that injustice should not be resisted, but regarding people as good or bad simply on the basis of religion or ideology is risky.

Many Anglicans, including moderate conservatives, are too conscious of their own need to be delivered “from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness” (in the words of the Litany) to be attracted by the simplistic approach of the radical reformers who misleadingly call themselves “conservatives” or “traditionalists”. Their campaigning has to some extent paid off. Yet, in the longer term, many Anglicans in the UK and elsewhere will hold on to values which are at odds with those of the conservatives striving to reshape the communion.

H/T to Thinking Anglicans.

Category : The Lead

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2 Comments
  1. Michael Russell

    Cass Sunstein in “Going to Extremes” describes the phenomenon of “Ideological amplification” which affects groups of like minded people, tending to push them to extreme positions.

    The developing extremism of conservative anglicans is a perfect example of this phenomenon as they explicitly seek to for like minded people. But the same can happen to progressives.

    Net result is that groups where diversity of opinion is maintained tend towards tolerance and moderating positions.

    Our actual Anglican ancestors understood this and wisely worked to dissuade the formation of secretive like minded assemblies.

  2. tgflux

    Does anyone else thing that Akinola and Nazir-Ali are (together) playing dueling games of “The Enemy of My Enemy”, depending on WHICH audience they’re with?

    Building common cause with (or at least, citing as rationalization) Muslims to justify oppressing gays, but then trying to build common cause w/ masses of Anglicans, to fight Islam?

    If TEC stands for (the traditional Anglican) Via Media—taking the BEST of the Catholic and Protestant traditions—then the Akinola/Nazir-Ali stands for a (per Michael Russell above) a Via Extremis, wherein they take the WORST of Sharia-type legalism, and Christian anti-Muslim chauvinism. Feh!

    JC Fisher

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