correspondents

Zimbabwe

Mugabe attacks Anglican Archbishops

HARARE, 8 June 2008

The government of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe has denounced the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as tools of British foreign policy. In an article published on 2 June in the government-backed Harare Herald, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the Archbishops' plea for peace in Zimbabwe was an unwarranted interference in his country's sovereignty.

On 24 April, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu called upon the 'heads of Christian denominations in Zimbabwe and our brother Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, for the government of South Africa, the SADC region and the United Nations to act effectively' to help resolve the social and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

Humanitarian crisis

This plea was part of a plan to destabilize the country, Chinamasa charged, and was evidence that the Church of England was being used to further British interests in the country. Britain continues 'to regard us as their colony and debate the affairs of this country in their parliament,' he said, adding 'this unwarranted interference in our domestic affairs by the British has contributed to the problems we have,' he said.

The Herald also blamed Zimbabwe's economic woes on the British-backed economic sanctions which were designed to incite a 'revolt against the Government and President Mugabe.' 'Because of the interference in Zimbabwe, the British have contributed in a large measure to the situation facing the country' Chinamasa said.

On 28 May, Dr Williams and Archbishop Makgoba spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to express their concerns over the regime's attacks upon Anglican churchgoers in Harare. In a statement released after the teleconference, the Archbishops wrote that 'harassment and intimidation' had become the 'daily bread' of Anglicans in Harare, 'as we hear of murderous attacks on legitimate political activists and now also brutality towards men, women and children meeting for Christian worship.'

Torn from the altar rails

Over the 'last 10 days' the government had mounted a campaign of 'intimidation' against 'our Anglican brothers and sisters.' The Archbishops asked what the UN and the Southern African Development Community were 'doing to defend Mothers' Union meetings at churches and prevent people being torn away from altar rails on the orders of ruling party or state officials'

Dr Williams and Archbishop Makgoba called for 'immediate high level SADC and UN mediation and monitoring to ensure a free and fair presidential runoff' on 27 June, and the 'protection of [Zimbabweans] from state-organised violence.'

This piece, by George Conger, originally appeared on < www. religiousintelligence. co.uk>

 

 

Latvia

MPs protest gay rights

RIGA, 3 June 2008

Following efforts from a European Parliament group to silence public disapproval of homosexual behaviour, six conservative MPs from the Latvia First Party boldly challenged the gross interference of a homosexual group of European Parliament members into Latvia's internal affairs' in a recently released statement.

'Church representatives and other supporters of traditional family values stand against the forcing of the mistaken idea that homosexuality is normal upon society, against the legal equalisation of homosexual rights and the natural family model, and against the challenging demonstration of homosexuals and immoral and hooligan behaviours,' stated the six MPs.

The MPs' remarks came in response to the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights condemnation of an open letter from Archbishop of Riga Cardinal Janis Pujats and other Catholic priests opposing the legality of the 31 May pro-homosexuality Equality March.

The European group chided the Catholic clergy for 'inflicting their prejudices on others.' 'The signatories to the letter show a blatant disregard for human rights as expressed in the European Convention of Human Rights,' said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup. 'They also show an appalling and worrying ignorance of EU Treaties and legislation. They should not interfere in a democratic state which abides by the rule of law. It is up to governments to govern and up to the clergymen to preach unto those who believe as they do.'

The Latvia First Party criticized the Intergroup's attempt to silence opposition to homosexuality. 'We, members of the 9th Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, denounce the attacks by the homosexual group of European Parliament members who are trying to limit our freedom of speech and our religious convictions,' responded the six MPs.

Cardinal Pujats's late May letter against the Equality March is not the first time the prelate has spoken against the threat of pro-homosexuality activists. Last May, the Latvian newspaper Ritienda published the open letter by Cardinal Pujats, 'Defending Family Values,' where the head of Latvia's Roman Catholic Church described homosexual behaviour as 'total corruption in the sexual arena' and an 'unnatural form of prostitution.'

'One month from now, there will once again be the issue of tolerance towards homosexuality in the context of yet another attempt to organise a Pride march on June 3,' the Archbishop of Riga stated in his letter, saying that the organisers of the Pride march are 'essentially demanding that people be tolerant toward this moral corruption.

'They are demanding not just tolerance, but also that sexual corruption be protected by law and popularised on the basis of special programmes in schools and other organised events,' the Cardinal warned. "There would be no opportunity to object against legal events, because that would be seen as a manifestation of hatred. That's how corruption grows into dictatorship.' He went on to encourage peaceful counter-protests against the marchers.

The Latvia First Party recently joined in the Cardinal's warnings against pro-homosexuality marches. 'A homosexual march is not an innocent and colourful rainbow. It is a bomb explosion with poisonous gases which people will breathe long after the event itself. People will not even notice how they poison and change their minds and their bodies.'

This piece first appeared on < www. Hfesitenews. com>

 

Nigeria              | |

Akinola attacks inclusiveness

The Archbishop of Nigeria has denounced 'multiculturalism' and 'inclusiveness' as tenets of a false gospel that have sapped the missionary imperative of the Church.

In his commencement address to the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry outside of Pittsburgh on 17 May, Archbishop Akinola warned the new graduates from The Episcopal Church's sole remaining Evangelical theological college that the world outside their seminary's walls would not be welcoming.

'Here, you live in a community of faith. But out there, secularisation of society has led to the consignment of the Christian faith and practice to the background. What is left of the Church is infested by such new phenomena as 'inclusiveness' here in the USA, and in the UK we hear of multiculturalism,' the Nigerian primate said.

These worldviews were a form of political correctness that sought to 'accommodate all shades of opinion and practice in the Church.' However, the 'consequences' of multiculturalism were grave. We end up with what looks like Church but in reality is not.'

'The authority of Scripture is put to doubt and denied. The uniqueness and Lordship of Jesus the Christ is jettisoned and our Lord is categorised as no more than one of the great men of his time. The fatherhood of God is questioned and a new vocabulary of father/mother introduced to please those of feminist persuasion.

We learn that some even deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. When you take away these cardinal teachings

and beliefs of the church, what is left is certainly not the church of Jesus Christ called out of the world but stationed in the world to bring the erring world to God,' he said.

The situation for Anglicanism in the West was grim. The church was full of 'heretics and apostates' and was 'declining so fast' that its 'cathedrals are becoming mere tourist attractions'. Of The Episcopal Church's 'two hundred bishops, I doubt if you can count on forty Bible-believing orthodox leaders,' he said. The situation in Europe was that the continent had gone apostate', leaving a 'huge religious vacuum which is now being aggressively filled by Islam.'

Archbishop Akinola called upon the new clergy to rise up and 'overthrow all the ungodliness and apostasy we see in our Church and society' and challenge the 'extreme revisionist liberalism of The Episcopal Church.'

He denied the disputes dividing the Anglican Communion were manifestations of power politics, but were salvation issues. For 'to deny the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct is to remove the ground from the feet of theology,' he said, and would lead to damnation.

This piece originally appeared in <geoconger.wordpress.com >

 

 

Canada            

Pastor prosecuted

OTTAWA, 9 June 2008

On Friday, the Alberta Human Rights Commission ordered Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin to desist from expressing his views on homosexuality in any sort of public forum. He was also commanded to pay damages equivalent to $7,000 as a result of the tribunal's November decision to side with complainant and homosexual activist Dr Darren Lund. The tribunal has also called for Boissoin to apologize personally to Lund via a public statement in the local newspaper.

The remedy order demands that the pastor pay $5,000 to Lund personally for the 'time and energy' he has expended and for the 'ridicule and harassment' he has faced. Combined with that financial burden, Boissoin must also pay up to $2,000 in expenses to one of Lund's witnesses, provided she produces records of such costs.

Boissoin was first hauled before the Human Rights Commission to answer a complaint filed by Lund, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary. Lund

made his complaint after Boissoin published a letter to the editor in the Red Deer Advocate, in which he denounced homosexuality as immoral and dangerous, and called into question new gay-rights curricula permeating the province's educational system.

'Children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights,' wrote Boissoin in the letter.

In an interview, Boissoin told LifeS-iteNews that he is under attack not only for his letter, but more significantly for his beliefs. 'The point I am trying to make here is what's being attacked at the core is what I believe, according to my personal beliefs and my religious beliefs.'

Most disturbingly, says Boissoin, is that the ruling calls for him to cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.' Boissoin wondered to what extent the right to freedom of expression in Canada will be deteriorated, stating, T am not allowed to hold on to my views.'

The pastor also maintained that his beliefs are founded not on hate or malice, but derive from a personal concern for the family and society rooted not only in faith, but also in science. T am not allowed to hold my views, but the Lunds of the world are allowed to bring gay ministers into schools, they are allowed to present scientifically baseless teachings to kids that people are born gay'

'I am all for tolerance. I don't want to see anyone who calls themselves homosexual be discriminated against,' added Boissoin. 'At the same time I believe it is a behaviour, there is no scientific proof that anyone is born gay, but these teens are taught in our school systems that that is the way it is, that people are born homosexual.'

Boissoin then addressed the potential implications of what he called a scientifically baseless pro-homosexual curriculum being taught in schools. 'When you deem something acceptable, you increase the likelihood that they will participate in that, and that's a great concern to me,' he said. Boissoin also accused Lund of defaming him in another local newspaper, which either refused to publish Lund's rebuts or edited them severely.

He concluded by commenting on the Remedy order and the entire ordeal, which over the last six years has consumed tremendous time, energy and money - both from the pockets of taxpayers and Boissoin. 'Absurd - beyond absurd. I will never make a public apology; I stand by what I said. My context has never been taken into consideration. Lund's context has always been taken into consideration.'

Boissoin's is the latest in the string of actions by Human Rights Commissions at both the national and provincial levels which have the nation in an uproar over the threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religion posed by the Human Rights Commissions.

This piece first appeared in < www. lifesitenews. com>

 

America 1

Gay bishop'weds'

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE

V. Gene Robinson, New Hampshire's Episcopal bishop, entered into a civil union yesterday with his partner of twenty years, Mark Andrew, according to WMUR-TV. The ceremony, held at St Paul Church, coincided with the fifth anniversary of Robinson's election as the nation's first openly gay Episcopal bishop. The state Legislature passed a law last year allowing gay couples to enter civil unions; the law took effect on 1 January.

In an interview last month on NBC's Today Show, Robinson said the decision to enter into a civil union came after he received death threats about his decision to attend the Lambeth Conference of

Anglican bishops this summer, despite a decision by church leaders not to invite him to participate.

T am simply not going to put my life in jeopardy without putting into place the protections for my beloved partner and my children and my grandchildren that are offered to me in a civil union,' Robinson told Lauer.

According to a report by Religion News Service, Robinson and Andrew had planned to hold their civil union ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol, but 'security concerns' prompted them to move it indoors.

Ths piece originally appeared on www. unionleader. com

 

America 2

Both'in'and'out'?

The rectors of 17 large Episcopal parishes have formed Communion Partner Rectors (CPR), the clerical counterpart to similar organizations for bishops and primates.

'We are a group of rectors who share a common commitment to the authority and traditional interpretation of holy Scripture, the credal and historic faith, orthodox theology with an evangelical fervour to faithfully live and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ,' the group said in a release. 'We are also firmly committed to remain in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, respecting and honouring the proper authority of our bishops and working in concert with them to strengthen our voice within the church.'

The Revd Russell J. Levenson, rector of St Martin's Church, Houston, a spokesperson for the group, said the organization will provide traditionalist-minded clergy with a way to differentiate from the 'revisionist' drift of the national church without actually leaving it.

'I've never signed any of these kinds of statements before,' Fr Levenson said. At the same time, I've become increasingly frustrated by two sides: orthodox Anglicans who say the only solution is to leave The Episcopal Church, and revisionists who insist on pushing their position to the point where it becomes almost a form of liberal fundamentalism.

'The use of the word 'revisionist' is not meant in a pejorative way,' he said. T mean it in the literal sense to refer to those who seek to revise what the Church has taught and believed.'

St Martin's is the largest parish to be led by a Communion Partner rector. It reports average Sunday attendance of

1,925 and 6,756 communicants. Together, the 17 parishes represented have nearly 25,000 communicants.

This piece originally appeared in The Living Church, 10 June 2008

 

America 3

Catching up with the times

EL CAMINO REAL, CALIFORNIA

Same-gender couples may have a civil marriage in an Episcopal church in the Diocese of El Camino Real provided that an Episcopal priest does not officiate and the Book of Common Prayer is not used. Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves issued the guidelines to clergy late last week.

The guidelines, which also permit an Episcopal priest to celebrate Holy Eucharist and bless the union after the civil ceremony, are similar to those developed by Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, ssje, of Massachusetts, the only other state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized. Bishop Shaw was among a number of people with whom Bishop Gray-Reeves reported consulting prior to announcing the change in policy.

'These guidelines are not a tremendous change from our previous guidelines, but rather an addition that helps us live into a new reality,' Bishop Gray-Reeves wrote. As the national church proceeds toward full sacramental inclusion, so shall our diocese. As with all couples, your discernment and discretion is integral to the process of determining the suitability of blessing the marriage.'

While rejoicing in the California Supreme Court decision declaring unconstitutional laws limiting marriage to heterosexuals, Bishop Gray-Reeves said she would be appointing a task force as a way of shifting the current focus of public debate.

'It would seem that the deeper conversation about covenant relationships - no matter the gender - has been of less importance in a very political conversation about human sexuality focused on the specificity of gender,' she said. 'Please know that I have decided upon the new guidelines in light of the current climate in our diocese and the national church as a whole, and looking ahead to the upcoming Lambeth Conference. They will be too liberal for some and not permissive enough for others. I welcome your feedback as we move through these historic times'

This piece originally appeared in The Living Church, 15 June 2008

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