American Anglicans blink

It seems schism in the Anglican communion has been avoided with the Anglican church in the USA agreeing to the Communion’s requests.

  • Rory

    I suspect that all we have heard is really only the blast of the half-time whistle in this match and though the conservatives may be crowing over their apparent lead at this point there will be no winners at the conclusion and relegation to a different league is inevitable for one side or the other.

  • Given that the membership of the American Episcopal Church fairly explicitly refused to back down on this issue at their last general convention, this may well not be the end of the story.

    There is excellent blogging on this subject at

  • How can two walk together if they be not agreed?

    Time for the evangelicals to split and allow the liberals to continue their drift into agnosticism.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Thw Watchman: “Time for the evangelicals to split and allow the liberals to continue their drift into agnosticism. ”

    The problem holding the ox and the ass at the plow is that the liberals hold a goodly number of the bishops and, hence, control the property of the more conservative congregations, with a few exceptions — some old churches pre-date the establishment of the local hierarchy and have control of their own assets.

  • DK

    If my invisible friend told me where I could and could not put my willy, I’d get a new invisible friend.

  • There are of course several evangelical Anglican congregations who contribute so much to the various dioceses that they can exert financial muscle. An example is the churches of St Aldate’s and St Ebbe’s in Oxford who were able to keep Jeffrey John out of Reading by threatening to take their money elsewhere.

  • Dawkins

    I agree with The Watchman: they ought to split.

    There are several thousand Christian Churches, big and small, in the USA. One or two more won’t make much difference.

    Splinters IMO are better than a couple of monolithic Churches, such as the RCC and the Church of LDS. The latter tend to fall victim to their own expansionism and power-lust.

  • Dawkins

    The Watchman,

    I was of course referencing your first post. We were both typing merrily around the same time.

  • Conor Lavelle

    “Splinters IMO are better than a couple of monolithic Churches, such as the RCC and the Church of LDS. The latter tend to fall victim to their own expansionism and power-lust.”

    Unfortunately Christ was of the opposite opinion.

    John 17:20-21

    Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

    21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    one 1st Cor 6:17, Eph 4:4, Eph 5:30

  • ulsterfan

    Whatever foolish decisions are taken the true Church will prevail.

  • joeCanuck

    I believe that it is a truism that “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle”.
    Good thing too, else we would still be burning witches who had the audacity to float.

  • Dawkins

    Conor Lavelle,

    No matter what Christ’s opinion was, I think you’ll agree that most of the faith-based mischief in the modern world is caused by the major religions.

    The Catholic Church is seldom out of the news where scandal is concerned. Islam is perhaps the greatest threat faced by civilization. Compared to them, Anglicanism is a pussycat.

    I think it has a lot to do with being too dogmatic. Smaller denominations (unless they’re nutter sects) tend not to get in other peeps’ hair.

  • Harry Flashman

    *I think you’ll agree that most of the faith-based mischief in the modern world is caused by the major religions.*

    Not half as much bother though as was caused in the last century by militant atheists whose genocides left the religious troublemakers in the ha’penny place.

  • Dawkins

    Harry Flashman,

    Try defining “atheist” before you bring up the last century. I think you’ll find there were precious few causing mischief. Don’t forget that Joe Stalin imposed atheism on much of Russia. Look at today’s Russia and the former eastbloc countries. They’re arguably more religious than we Europeans.

    However, I believe my argument stands re the main religious players du jour. You won’t find many Quaker or Methodist cabals flying jets into tall buildings.

  • Harry Flashman

    If you think the Khmer Rouge and the Chinese Peoples’s Liberation Army were massacring millions in the name of advanced Buddhism or that the KGB and the Red Guards were offshoots of the Russian Orthodox Church well there’s not much I can say to enlighten you Dawkins, however I take aboard your point about who the mischief makers are today.

  • Dawkins

    Harry Flashman,

    If I say that one set of gods was replaced with another does that make sense to you?

  • Conor Lavelle

    Under Stalin, literally tens of thousands of priests, monks and nuns were slaughtered in the Soviet Union.

  • Dawkins

    Conor Lavelle,

    Did you know that Stalin wasn’t an atheist?

  • Harry Flashman

    What you seem to be saying is that anybody who murders someone because of a political ideal then religion is to blame, a bit weak Dawkins I think.

  • Stiofán de Buit


    If I can offer my twopenny’s worth, I think Dawkins point (and I apologise if I’m misinterpreting) is that blind devotion to an ideology (particularly a Utopian ideology), whether religious (like Islam or Christianity) or secular (like Communism or Nazism) is pretty much the same thing, and tends to have similar consequences.

    If you’ve ever had conversations with fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Marxists, it’s quite spooky how similar they sound. Different beliefs perhaps, but the mentalities are almost identical.

  • Correct Dawkins – Stalin had his confession taken on numerous occasions when experiencing self-doubts or turbulent times. Indeed when he became involved in revolutionary politics he was training to become a priest.

  • Dawkins

    Thank you, Stiofán and Ziznivy.

    I think it’s true to say that peeps like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other megalomaniacs had a lot in common with the Roman Caesars: their people imagined them to be gods.

    And it wasn’t too long ago that the Japanese emperors were so regarded. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the Nepalese “royal” family also fancy themselves as divine or semidivine?

  • Conor Lavelle

    From “Landmarks in the life of Stalin” published in Moscow 1940:

    G. Gludjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin’s relates: “I began to speak of God. Joseph heard me out, and after a moment’s silence said: ‘You know, they are fooling us, there is no God….’”

    Gludjidze reported: “I was astonished at these words. I had never heard anything like it before. How can you say such things, Soso?” he asked Stalin, who replied:

    “I will lend you a book to read: it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense.”

    “What book is that?” his friend inquired.

    “Darwin. You must read it,’ Joseph impressed on me.”

    A few pages later, another person who was in school with Stalin, said of what they were taught:

    “…in order to disabuse [i.e., free from deception or error] the minds of our seminary students of the myth that the world was created in six days, we had to acquaint ourselves with the geological origin and age of the earth, and be able to prove them in argument; we had to familiarize ourselves with Darwin’s teachings.”

  • Dawkins


    I quote:

    Stalin (1879-1953) was the product of a seminary, and learned its lessons of manipulation and mind control well. He knew that the best way to stifle dissent and to break the will of the people was to deprive them of that which they value the most. Religion, being so important to the lives of the Russian people, was the perfect target. By depriving the people of the crutch of religion, he knew he could crush their spirit.

    There are no elements of freethought (the foundation of atheism) in Soviet philosophy. Stalin most certainly was unfamiliar with the humanistic underpinnings of atheism; they contradicted his goal, which was to create a totalitarian state in which he became the new god, whose dictates were not to be questioned. Individual rights, so central to freethought, were unknown in Soviet Russia.

    The massacres of Stalin’s reign were committed in the name of statism, not atheism, and statism is a by-product of the fundamentalist religious mindset.

    Every government since time immemorial has recognized the role religion plays in stifling dissent and keeping people quiet and submissive. Charles I of England, for example, once said “religion is the only firm foundation of power.”

    Stalin did not want to share his power with anyone. Recognizing the church as the only significant rival to his supremacy, he attacked it. His attacks had nothing to do with ideological differences; it was a simple question of his stamping out a perceived threat.

    Final proof that Stalin was not acting on atheistic principles could be seen during the opening salvos of the Barbarossa campaign during World War II. Things were not going well for the Russian armies at that point and Stalin, facing a possible revolution on the home front was searching for ways to amass a broad base of support for the war effort. To achieve this, he reinstated the Orthodox Church hierarchy to serve ‘Mother Russia.’ This shows that Stalin was by no means averse to promoting religion if it suited his purposes to do so. Clearly, Stalin’s tyranny was based on the totalitarian premises that he learned from religion: Unquestioning obedience, reverence for a deity-figure (in human form) as well as a pie-in-the-sky utopian vision. His government never tolerated freedom of thought. Stalin’s policies were the antithesis of atheist philosophy.

    In fact, one can make a much more convincing historical case for equating Christianity with fascism than atheism with communism.

    Read the full article by Jon Nelson here.