Christianity Today has an article on religious syncretism, focusing particularly on multi-faith clergy. We have blogged about the Muslim-Episcopalian priest (see below) and the Buddhist-Episcopalian bishop, both of which the article treats in more detail and with revealing quotations. Here is a case I hadn’t heard about:
In 2004, two suburban Philadelphia Episcopal priests, the Rev. William Melnyk and his wife, the Rev. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk, were investigated by their bishop for being “practicing druids.”
The two were found to have been authors of a “Eucharist to our Mother Goddess” published on a Wicca website (and, for a while, on the Episcopal Church’s Office of Women’s Ministries site). Writing under the Druid and Wiccan names Oakwyse, Raven, Druis, and Glipsa, the liturgy evoked the Babylonian deity “Bel” and offered prayers to the “Queen of Heaven”: a reference not to the Virgin Mary but to Ishtar, the consort of Baal.
In an internet chatroom writing under the pseudonym “Druis,” Melnyk stated he had been a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids since 1998. “My spouse and I are both Druid graduates of the training course. We are also both priests in the Episcopal Church. Between us, we lead two groves, some call them ‘congregations,’ of Christians learning about Druidry numbering about 1200.”
The Melnyks “recanted and repudiated” their connection with Druidism, but explained to their bishop that they had become involved in the occult “to help others who had lost connection to the Church to find a way to reconnect.”
Apparently the husband-and-wife priests were disciplined, though I would think that would have been awkward since the titular head of the Anglican communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev. Rowan Williams, is also a Druid. But here we have overt worship of Bel (aka “Baal”) and Ishtar (aka “Asherah”), the specific deities the children of Israel were warned not to get syncretic with! Don’t Episcopalian seminarian study the Old Testament? Even if they don’t fully believe it, I’d think the warnings against these particular deities would be rather inhibiting.