“A letter, written within the past fortnight by a senior American dissident pastor to like-minded parishes, details how the dismantling of the US Episcopal church can be achieved. Marked ‘confidential, share it in hard copy only with people you fully trust, do not pass it on electronically to anyone under any circumstances’, the document was passed – electronically – to this newspaper.
Written by Geoff Chapman, rector of St Stephen’s church, Sewickley, Pennsylvania, one of the leaders of the breakaway movement, it openly boasts that while the current tactic is to seek oversight by conservative bishops for parishes that cannot accept the authority of the two-thirds of American bishops who supported the consecration of the gay bishop Gene Robinson last November, the ultimate goal is much more radical.
It is nothing less than a realignment of the US and Canadian churches for ‘biblical faith and values’ – code for a much more conservative, even fundamentalist, church to replace the liberal Episcopal church. Traditionalists have threatened a break-up before, over the ordination of women in the 70s, over the consecration of the first woman bishop in the 80s and over gay clergy in the 90s, but Bishop Robinson’s ordination has given the movement new momentum.
[. . .]
Its break-up would be enormously welcome to the religious right, including wealthy and fundamentalist supporters of the Republican party who would like to see a more militant Bible-based Christianity spreading across all areas of public life. “
Those pesky Republicans — everywhere there’s trouble and divisiveness, there they are.