Bill Moyers asks the tough questions

bill moyersBill Moyers interviewed The Episcopal Church’s Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the other day for his show on the Public Broadcasting Service. I don’t watch Moyers because, frankly, I am not much for his style of one-sided journalism. Then again, I don’t really watch much broadcast journalism period. But enough readers pointed to this transcript of the interview that I gave it a read.

We have been able to read so many transcripts of interviews with Jefferts Schori. I love that. I wish other church leaders commanded the same amount of ink, pixels and television time. This interview is much less compelling than her previous ones, but it’s still so nice to read full answers to Moyers’ questions.

And about those questions . . . If you were able to secure an interview with the woman at the center of a major worldwide drama, wouldn’t you want to ask some questions that elicited some actual answers? Moyers’ questions are boring and friendly and as such they never help shed any light on any of the issues facing the Anglican Communion. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s still worth pointing out.

The interview focuses on three things: science vs. religion, homosexuality and women in leadership positions. I understand that these things are newsworthy and definitely need to be highlighed in an interview, but because of the narrow focus on those questions, he misses the infinitely more important things in religious life. Only an amateur would think that the divide in the Anglican Communion is over issues that only arose in the last few years. Yet the media insist on covering that way.

In general, Moyers’ questions persist in framing all the issues as the big bad meanies of traditional Christianity vs. the good and kindhearted noble people of Moyers’ liberalism. This is mostly a disservice to Jefferts Schori herself, since she keeps advocating a coexistence with those who do not share her theological views. Such a coexistence is not an acceptable theological position for those with a traditional Christian understanding, which is why her approach should be analyzed in more detail. Instead, Moyers just rams through his Us vs. Them agenda without really letting her explain or sell her plan. Even with some of his most leading and puffy questions, though, she retains her position.

One of the things I find interesting about media treatment of the religious divide over homosexuality is how it’s assumed that the defensive position must be taken by those who retain the Christian teaching that homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture. I certainly have no problem with such a media approach — so long as those who are pushing a different understanding of homosexuality are also put on the defensive. If anything, it makes more sense to pose tough questions of those advocating radical change than those who are keeping with a thousands-years-long teaching. This interview is a good example of the difficulty media types have with putting those who advocate radical change on the defensive.

Rather than focus on Jefferts Schori’s answers, take a look at Moyers’ questions and see if you think they do a good job of getting meaningful responses or uncovering any of the deeper conflict going on in the Anglican Communion right now:

BILL MOYERS: As I read about the conflict in your church, what I find is that both sides treat the Bible as their source, but they come to totally opposite conclusions as to what the Bible says. What do you make of that? As a scientist and a believer.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Our ways of reading Scripture shape the conclusions we come to. And often what we go looking for shapes the conclusions about what we read. I’ll give you a — you know, a loaded example. The story of David and Jonathan.

You know, Canonically, the traditional way of reading that has been about the friendship between two men. It says in the Scripture that David loved Jonathan with a love surpassing women. Many gay and lesbian people in our church today say, “This is a text — that says something constructive about the love between people of the same gender.” Yet our tradition has rarely been able to look at it with those eyes. I think that’s a fertile ground for some serious Biblical scholarship and some encounter from people who come to different conclusions.

BILL MOYERS: If biology, as I understand it does, tells us that homosexuality is — is a genetic given. And religion says homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, can those two perceptions ever be reconciled?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: How do we come to a conclusion that it’s a sin in the eyes of God?

BILL MOYERS: Well, you’re the –

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: What texts do we read that –

BILL MOYERS: But you know, all of your adversaries say that it is.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, I would have them go back to the very sources they find so black and white about that, and ask what’s the context of this passage? What was it written to address? What was going on underneath it that this appears to speak to? And I think we find when we do some very serious scholarship, that in almost every case, it’s speaking about a cultural context that looks nothing like the one in which we’re wrestling with homosexuality today.

BILL MOYERS: So how do you read — Jonathan and David, that story?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think it’s got some– challenging things to say to us who have said for hundreds of years, thousands of years that it’s inappropriate for two men to love each other in that way.

Now Bill Moyers went to seminary and was ordained a minister. He’s not your average religiously ignorant television reporter. And while his views in support of the liberal agenda are well-known, why not ask less puffy questions? For instance, why not ask about David’s love affair with Bathsheba? The one where she got pregnant and he ended up killing her husband Uriah so he could cover up his sin. Ask how that fits into her theory that he’s gay. Ask whether the mention of something in Scripture equates to approval for same. In other words, even if you were to accept this view that Jonathan and David were lovers, does that mean that God approved? How does that fit in with other mentions in Scripture?

His question about biology is trendy but questionable science, but what I really found interesting was his belief that “religion” says homosexuality is a sin. What is religion? And why ask Jefferts Schori about “religion”? She’s not a representative of religion — she’s the leader of the Episcopal Church. Not all “religion” has the same approach to homosexuality. It’s like asking John Edwards why “politics” believes in socialized medicine, as if there is no difference among those who practice politics.

softball2More than anything, though, there are many verses in the Old and New Testaments of Scripture that condemn homosexual behavior. Some Christians — such as Jefferts Schori — interpret those to mean something less or different than the way they’ve been read for thousands of years. Why not ask her, specifically, about some of the verses? I might not recommend this for a lay reporter, but again, Moyers went to seminary.

BILL MOYERS: Well, many conservative, traditional Christians say that the homosexual life is not a holy life.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: They would say that it’s only holy if it’s celibate. And I think we’ve got more examples out of Scripture even to offer in challenge to that.

BILL MOYERS: But if it is a moral issue, is there a way somewhere between the positions on this? Or is it impossible for a church divided to agree on that way somewhere between the moral judgments?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I do believe it’s a moral issue because it’s about how we love our neighbor. It’s about how we live in relationship to God and our neighbors. When I look at other instances in church history, when we’ve been faced with something similar — the history in this country over the — over slavery. The church in the north. Much of it came to a different conclusion than the church in the south — about the morality of slavery.

What examples from Scripture does Jefferts Schori have to challenge the notion that homosexual behavior is holy? I’m sure she has them — it would be interesting to know a little bit about them and get some good follow-ups. In order to get good follow-ups, of course, Moyers would have to understand the position of Jefferts Schori’s theological opponents — something he clearly didn’t do his homework on.

And that Jefferts Schori is subtly comparing those who oppose church approval of homosexuality with those who supported slavery is profoundly interesting. A good journalist might ask some more incisive questions at just this point. We’re talking about a massive divide in the Anglican Communion. I sense that this point in the interview might be the best place to follow up and get a better understanding of where she sees her opponents. Later in the interview she compares those who support the traditional Christian view of homosexuality to those who fought Galileo. That might also have been a good place to dig deeper. Or maybe take a totally different approach here. Perhaps he could mention that while the Bible repeatedly condemns homosexual behavior, it never commands slavery. He could ask her how that fits into her understanding of which side is which in her slavery analogy. Instead, here’s how he lets the moment pass:

BILL MOYERS: It’s not my intention to hold Episcopalians up as the only arbiter of this issue because the Catholics are facing it, the Mormons are facing it, the Southern Baptist Convention is facing it. Orthodox Jews are facing it. And Islam, of course. Why are so many religious people uptight about sex?

Uptight? Uptight? So it’s not a legitimate view to oppose sex outside of marriage — it’s a hangup. Thank you, Bill Moyers, for that insightful follow-up question. This must be why you get paid the big bucks.

This puff question, part of his Us vs. Them series, isn’t designed for anything other than positioning Jefferts Schori as kind and goodhearted and the Archbishop of Uganda as evil:

BILL MOYERS: But isn’t this what liberals say? We would like to talk and have a dialogue and listen. But do you get that coming back from this? I mean, the [Archbishop] of Uganda would not meet with you. Now, you would be willing to meet and listen, but he won’t. How can there then be any kind of reconciliation?

Jefferts Schori responds by saying that the Archbishop of Uganda did meet with her and that they had a couple of conversations and agree about some things. A better reporter might — while still being friendly — ask about all the damage she is causing the church in Africa. Or somehow get both perspectives in there so she can answer from both sides.

Look at this exchange. Is this an interview? Does this illuminate anything? Does this put the subject on the spot? Is this a fair characterization of the Anglican Church in Nigeria?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. Right, and the Anglican Archbishop has been working for a similar kind of law to outlaw all kinds of — not just homosexual activity, but even having conversations about it in public.

BILL MOYERS: Your colleague?


BILL MOYERS: Peter — Peter Akinola?


BILL MOYERS: How can you ever make peace with that kind of people? Or he with you?

I really am curious how she can make peace with that kind of people. Akinola has already stated his view that peace can only come through shared doctrinal understanding. He’s a huge influence in the worldwide Anglican Communion and he’s a force to be reckoned with. Asking puff questions in a comfy American studio doesn’t do much to illuminate whether this marriage can be saved. Moyers’ questions reinforced stereotypes about Africans — and Americans.

What questions would you have liked to see Moyers or other reporters ask Jefferts Schori, specifically pertaining to the African church? Or any other questions, for that matter? And what questions might you like to see asked of Archbishop Peter Akinola and his supporters in Africa and here in the United States?

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  • Hal Duston


    It looks like your 9th paragraph (not counting the transcripts) got a bit mangled in posting. I can’t quite make out what you are saying.

  • Mollie

    I think I fixed it — thanks!

  • Stephen A.

    This is a lot to chew on. I totally agree with Mollie’s take on Moyers. My favorite line here is “Well, you’re the-”

    You’re THE, indeed. She shouldn’t have dodged these questions…softballs that they were.

    As for conservative churches being “uptight” about sex, and sex outside of marriage, a little anecdote here. Bishop V. Gene Robinson (yes, that one) whom I interviewed in 2003 before his elevation as bishop for a small newspaper I was working for – quite a “get”, I believe – told me in no uncertain terms that he favors sexual relations ONLY within the bounds of the commitment of marriage, and that “unless that commitment is there to one another it’s a very dangerous thing to be in an intimate physical relationship.”

    This turns out to be one of the underlying reasons for him seeking gay marriage, because he told me he wants to hold gays to that high standard, too. I’ve not heard this argument for gay marriage anywhere else – or at anytime since my interview. But maybe I’ve missed it. In short, we need some tough questioning of people on BOTH sides of this issue.

    Then there was this question, which seems relevent to this discussion –
    Question: Can you cite passages that support gay relationships?
    Robinson: “Scripture does not address what we are dealing with today. The whole notion of sexual orientation is only about 100 years old. You can¹t take a modern-day construct and read it back into ancient text.”

  • Martha

    “BILL MOYERS: It’s not my intention to hold Episcopalians up as the only arbiter of this issue because the Catholics are facing it, the Mormons are facing it, the Southern Baptist Convention is facing it. Orthodox Jews are facing it. And Islam, of course. Why are so many religious people uptight about sex?”

    Beautiful, Bill, just beautiful. Are we to take it that you are not uptight about sex, not religious, or not religious and not uptight about sex?

    Yeah, and what about necrophilia? There’s absolutely nothing in the Scriptures about that, so why are folks so uptight about it? “Yuck – it’s icky” isn’t an argument, y’know!

    Nice analogy with Galileo: Science proved Galilo right, and Science will prove us right, you ignorant literalists. In fact, Science has already proved us right, since as Bill says, “biology tells us homosexuality is a genetic given”.

    Can somebody straighten something out for me? I see references all the time to Archbishop Akinola working for – not just not saying anything about, or not just supporting, but actively working for – the criminalisation of homosexuality in Nigeria. The way I see it reported by (let us call them side A in the debate), he’s just waiting for the happy day when squads of stormtroopers will break down the doors and drag all those even suspected of being gay off to the dungeons.

    Is this true? Or is it that, given the Nigerian government seems to be wavering between a law making it a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment, and a law making it a criminal offence punishable by execution, Archbishop Akinola is saying “Go for the imprisonment option” as the lesser of two evils? I would like some clarification on this, since I see it routinely trotted out (along with the ‘power grab’ line and the ‘ambition’, ‘scheming’, ‘unelected prelates’, ‘plotting to overthrow the liberties won by the American Revolution’ and other such billet-doux).

  • Martha

    Um – this is probably unfair of me, something like shooting fish in a barrel, but I just had to share this with you all since it is germane to the topic, viz. Bill Moyers’s interview with the Presiding Bishop, in which one of the questions was:

    “BILL MOYERS: So you would concede that as people like you want to modernize the Canon, the tradition and the Scripture, the traditionalists who look back and say, “This is our sacred tradition,” would not want to come along on that journey.

    BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. But, I would take them back into that tradition to see within it far more complexity than they’ve been willing to admit.”

    and this extremely pertinent observation:

    “BILL MOYERS: Did you recognize that? I mean, was there any sense of—kinship? Can you say communion with somebody who believes so differently from you on this issue?


    BILL MOYERS: Can he? Would he? Will he?”

    It’s from the current issue of “EpiscopalLife Online” ‘Readers’ Responses’ page


    Looking beyond traditional Scriptures
    By David Bradwell • Pinole, California, Jun 01, 2007
    I find it strange that the church has ignored the Nag Hammadi library and Dead Sea Scrolls for so long (“What are Gnostic Gospels?” April). One might also add to this list the findings of Elizabeth Claire Prophet in respect to Jesus’ journeys to India and Tibet prior to his Palestinian ministry.

    The religion of Jesus, as found in the “sayings” and parables, differs significantly from the religion about Jesus that emphasizes a virgin birth, crucifixion and resurrection — matters entirely irrelevant to the religion of Jesus but with vast ramifications for social control and maintenance of a sense of guilt and resultant dependence on the institutional church.

    The four Gospels of the canon and the hallucinations of St. Paul that constitute much of the New Testament are the documents of the victors in an intense political conflict culminating in the Councils of Nicea but vigorously promoted earlier by the bishop of Marseilles, Eusibius and others. The result of this suppression has been to invoke the name of Jesus in countless wars, crusades, inquisitions and tyranny, continuing to the present day.

    The George W. Bush phenomenon with its fundamentalist backing is the most graphic contemporary testimony to the evil lurking in the traditional canon. Hopefully, Elaine Pagels (Princeton), Karen King (Harvard) and other scholars of the so-called Gnostic Gospels will eventually get the recognition they deserve for helping to liberate mankind from the yoke of an historically distorted account.”

    Now, I think we can all agree that this gentleman’s understanding of the Canon of Scripture is still a minority position even within the present Episcopal Church, but still – can the Presiding Bishop recognize that? has she any sense of kinship? can she come along on the journey with someone who thinks the Canon, the tradition and the Scripure should be modernized?

    And if not, why not? Remember Galileo!

  • Kathy

    Great expose’ of Moyer’s fawning “interview.”

    Schori is being really smart here. She apparently understands that a lot of people have specifically doctrinal issues with the liberal American Episcopal agenda regarding homosexuality. It’s necessary to dismiss a lot of scripture to join in that particular chorus.

    So first she brings in the rather tired but still interesting enough David and Jonathan story. Ultimately it’s a red herring, but still it’s brokeback mountain/ brideshead revisted enough to raise a question in the minds of people who might be on the fence. So that’s presumably her best example of a positive instance of homosexuality in scripture–and involving David, whom scripture calls “a man after God’s own heart.”

    Then she tries to establish a scriptural basis for non-gay Christians to adopt a pro-homosexual sympathy: using the biblically (esp. but not exclusively NT) significant word “neighbor.” Probably the Good Samaritan story is one she has in mind.

    Then she brings in the other hugely useful but hugely erroneous analogy of racial civil rights = gay rights. That is the main argument that makes homosexual rights “seem religious.”

    It’s smart, but really thin. However, you don’t need a robust argument to impress most people in the US that it’s ethically and morally acceptable to live a homosexual argument.

    On the other hand, perhaps the African bishops and faithful have in mind a much different analogy: the Ugandan martyrs. Twenty years after our civil war ended, thirty-two young Christian men, converted by Catholic and Anglican missionaries, died rather than engage in homosexual activity. A century and a half is not a long time for people who are remembering their martyrs.

    I’m pretty sure neither side is planning to change.

  • Kathy

    (“homosexual lifestyle”.)

  • Maureen

    You know, it’s interesting that once, Dorothy L. Sayers had to defend the notion that women could be friends. And now, neither Schori nor Moyers is willing to advance the idea that men can be “just” friends.

    So I hope they had that interview with the door propped open. If men can’t be friends, how can anyone assume that interviewing is a platonic relationship?

  • Huw Raphael

    The question to ask is about making the weaker brethren stumble. The weaker brethren are never in the first person – only second or third. This is the same question I’d ask Akinola.

    I’ve posted my off-topic comments on my blog.

  • Pingback: Sarx » Why is this news?

  • Kathy

    Then the comments go off topic and start to sound like Self Promotion Central with no moderation. But that’s okay…

  • Dan

    My question would have been:

    “For over 1900 years Christianity unanimously taught that homosexuality is immoral. Doesn’t teaching the contrary now mean that for over 1900 years Christianity has taught error? Given that that the teaching you advocate implies that Christianity has taught error, why should we trust anything that Christianity teaches?”

  • Martial Artist


    … Moyers went to seminary.

    Based on Moyers’ demonstrated lack of theological perspicacity, and I specifically mean to include both systematic and moral varieties, why would you expect his journalistic perspicacity to be significantly different. Throughout his reportorial career he has consistently spoken with the voice of the moral (and self-identified morally superior) pontificator. In addition to having unrealistic expectations, you are about 40 years late in your observations about Mr. Moyers.

    Blessings and kind regards,
    Martial Artist

  • tmatt

    Moyers is a graduate of Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, if I am not mistaken. He was a Baptist pastor in Texas before heading to DC and the LBJ era.

  • Steven in Falls Church

    Mollie–While the Moyers interview is an obvious puff-piece, it is helpful at least in revealing (unwittingly) how vapid ++Schori’s theology is. I am glad to know that I have “membership in a faith tradition,” as she calls both Christianity and Islam, making it sound as if being in one camp or the other is no more eventful than happening to be a Cubs or a White Sox fan.

    I also like this exchange from the interview:

    BILL MOYERS: What can you and Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, your counterpart, what can you all collaborate on?

    BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think with the help of our colleagues, we can collaborate on more than either of us might expect. He has said quite clearly that he doesn’t want the help of the Episcopal Church in any kind of mission work in Nigeria, which is incredibly sad. It also removes us from being able to learn about his context– to learn about Christian evangelism in a culture where Islam is so present and vocal. It- prevents both of us from being converted by the conversation.

    Well, according to another gauzy puff-piece, this time in the newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, there is an Episcopal priest who who is also a practicing Muslim (see page 9), worshipping in a Seattle mosque. Moreover, this priest until very recently was the Director of Faith Outreach at the cathedral in Seattle (maybe the position involved more “inreach” than “outreach”). As a modest first step to avoid confusing the Muslim friends we seek to evangelize, may I suggest making an unambiguous statement by defrocking Episcopal priests who convert to Islam?

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    What else should any of you expect from someone who maligned Barry Goldwater as Bill Moyers did? For all of those who complain about Karl Rove or Clinton’s War Room; Moyer’s operation with LBJ has them beat hands down. Also, remember Barry Goldwater’s favorite quote on Mr. Moyer’s
    “Every time I see him, I get sick to my stomach and want to throw up.”

  • Raider51

    Maureen, above, mentions Dorothy L. Sayers — oh how I wish she were alive and could interview Bp. Jefferts Schori. Since she is not, here are a few of her thoughts:

    The Church names the sixth deadly Sin Acedia or Sloth. In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in Hell it is called Despair. . . It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin which believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for.

    – Dorothy L. Sayers, “The Other Six Deadly Sins,” republished in a collection titled Creed or Chaos?

    Few things are more striking than the change which has taken place during my own lifetime in the attitude of the intelligentsia towards the spokesmen of Christian opinion. When I was a child, bishops expressed doubts about the Resurrection, and were called courageous. When I was a girl, G. K. Chesterton professed belief in the Resurrection, and was called whimsical. When I was at college, thoughtful people expressed belief in the Resurrection “in a spiritual sense”, and were called advanced; (any other kind of belief was called obsolete, and its professors were held to be simpleminded). When I was middle-aged, a number of lay persons, including some poets and writers of popular fiction, put forward rational arguments for the Resurrection, and were called courageous. Today, any lay apologist for Christianity… whose works are sold and read, is liable to be abused in no uncertain terms as a mountebank, a reactionary, a tool of the Inquisition, a spiritual snob, an intellectual bully, an escapist, an obstructionist, a psychopathic introvert, an insensitive extrovert, and an enemy of society. The charges are not always mutually compatible, but the common animus behind them is unmistakable, and its name is fear. Writers who attack these domineering Christians are called courageous.

    Of course, I must close with the following:

    I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.
    — Dorothy L. Sayers

  • Terry A. Ward

    Back in November, I noticed that Jefferts Schori was only asked softballl questions. I composed a list of questions that are, for the most part, still unanswered to this day.

    In your papers and press releases prior to your election as Presiding Bishop, you made a big point of “el buen Samaritano” and your deanship of the “Good Samaritan School of Theology.” Yet, you have admitted both of these were inflated terms. They have also disappeared from any post-election materials (such as the Episcopal page ‘Who is the Presiding Bishop?’). Why did you lie on your resume?

    Why were you elected? On paper, even with your inflated claims, you were clearly the least qualified candidate. Were you elected solely because of your gender?

    During your tenure as Bishop of Nevada, you used the Kairos Prison Ministry materials inappropriately. This organization considers the breaches significant enough that they are suing the Nevada Diocese for copyright violations. Would you care to comment?

    The Kairos organization feels that their approach of gender-specific ministers for prison populations is both sound Biblically and practically? Would you care to comment.

    What happened to “el buen Samaritano?”

    Reporters seem to be very impressed by your experience as an oceanographer and as a pilot. Why are these relevant?

    During you tenure as Bishop of Nevada, how much did the diocese grow? In that same period how much did the state of Nevada grow? Why do you think the Episcopal percentage is so much lower?

    Jesus said, “No one comes to the father except through me.” What does that mean?

    The Episcopal Church has been losing members for many years, why?

    Do you really think, as you said in a New York Times Magazine interview, that the conservatives (such as Catholics) are “outbreeding” the Episcopalians?

    Is it not possible that the liberal social gospel and ordination and promotion of gay ministers bears some responsibility for the membership loss?

    In recent memory, two ministers confessed to breaking their wedding vows, one left his marriage and one did not. Why has one been made an Episcopal bishop and the other has resigned his position in disgrace. Compare and contrast – Vicki Gene Robinson’s marital breakup and Ted Haggard’s fall.

    You state in the New York Times Magazine interview that we “are all hypocrites.” Isn’t the Christian belief that “we are all sinners?”

    What is sin?

    The Episcopal Church in America was at one time named the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States. With this Protestant background, how is “deeds-based evangelism” consistent with the Protestant principle of “faith alone?”

    Why was one of your first acts as Presiding Bishop the formation of a committee to make sure property does not leave the TEC when parishioners leave the TEC?

    Why does all material related to the issue of gay sexuality refuse to include references to Dr. Gagnon’s work. For example, the study guide prepared by the association of Episcopal Seminary Librarians has expressly excluded Gagnon’s work. This is so, even though Biblical scholars consider it a masterful treatment of the Biblical issues.

    If the Millennium Development Goals are so important, why is the TEC allocating only seven-tenths of one percent of its budget to them?

    If the MDGs are a sign of our deeds-based evangelism, how do you justify the buildings, salaries, and budget of the TEC bureaucracy?

    Why have you singled out eight dioceses as “problem dioceses?” What exactly is the problem?

    Has the Dennis Canon ever been tested and upheld in a court of law?

    You and your supporters often criticize the African Bishops for turning a blind eye to polygamy. Where is the evidence of this?

    You have an “honorary” doctorate from CDSP. The African Bishops, as a group, have a significant number of earned doctorates from major Western theological schools. Why should we listen to your theology rather than theirs?

    Why is the Episcopal Church in Nigeria one of the fastest growing churches anywhere on earth?

    Who is Jesus?

    In what way is threatening churches consistent with deeds-based evangelism?

    Two churches in Virginia have just proposed leaving the TEC. Their Average Sunday Attendance exceeds that of the entire Nevada Diocese. Shouldn’t their concerns be taken seriously?

    In your New York Times interview, you discuss the relative childlessness of Episcopalians in terms of stewardship of the Earth’s resources. In light of this stewardship, what percentage of the TEC budget could be reduced if the offices at 815 were moved to say, Topeka or Omaha? In this day of instant communications and the Internet, surely a less expensive and wasteful location could be found for the headquarters of such an environmentally responsible church.

    Why should I be Episcopalian rather than sleep in on Sunday morning?

    I understand your mother became an Orthodox Christian in the 1970’s. What was that like?

    You have criticised some for placing God in a “little box.” Jesus speaks of the “eye of the needle” and the “narrow way.” Compare and contrast your and Jesus’ viewpoints.

    Why has the outreach to LGBT individuals been such a failure in terms of growing the Episcopal Church?

    A significant portion of Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) does not allow women to be priests. What is your response to this fact?

    At your investiture, I noticed that none of the major celebrants nor you had any cross symbols on their vestments. Was this intentional?

    What is the Resurrection?

  • Martha

    Whee! I could pass for Baptist! Not only Baptist, but a Baptist lady, no less!

    Oh, Sr. Rosario would be so proud – she spent five years drilling it into us that we were “young ladies, not a herd of elephants” as she tried to make us walk (not run) down corridors and walk (not stampede) down stairs.

  • danr

    Schori said, “And I think we find when we do some very serious scholarship, that in almost every case, it’s speaking about a cultural context that looks nothing like the one in which we’re wrestling with homosexuality today.”

    A responsible, even semi-unbiased journalist/interviewer might have asked, “You just said ‘almost’ every case – so you might concede that your detractors, who might also be capable of ‘serious scholarship’, might have at least some Scriptural basis for having their particular views – which can’t be explained away by ‘cultural context’?”

  • Larry Rasczak


    BILL MOYERS: Can he? Would he? Will he?”

    Green Eggs and Ham comes to mind at this point.

  • Kevin P. Edgecomb

    Terry, I would add this one to your list:

    When your mother, who was a convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church, died, why did you not respect her wishes for an Eastern Orthodox funeral and instead officiate at her funeral service yourself?

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    At one point in the interview Bishopess Schori maligns Third World Christians by claiming that their traditional stands on moral issues are because they are responding to Moslem pressure or Moslem arguments on these issues because of the many Moslems living in Third World areas.
    I only wish Bill Moyers had asked Schori if maybe her radicalization on moral issues had been caused by her being brainwashed by Western secular culture. She seemed totally oblivious to this possibility–it would have been interesting to see how she handled a direct inquiry on this point. But, as usual, tough questions rarely get thrown at liberals because so many of the questioners share their liberal mindset and contrarian questions never even come to their minds.

    Conservatives in politics have had to endure pointed and probing (and frequently nasty with a liberal spin) questions from the liberal press honchos (like Dan Rather)for decades. Now that a slightly conservative news organization is on the scene (FOX) look at the liberal cowards who won’t even allow a fairly organized debate to occur on that network. But where is the coverage of this gross political cowardice???? In the same liberal Orwellian maze as religious coverage

  • Jerry

    Martha asked about the Akinola’s stand on outlawing gay relationships. So here’s the reference for her and any others who wonder:

    The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality.


    I have to wonder about your avoidance of broadcast journalism. You’re missing quite a bit of interesting material by avoiding radio and TV, some of it quite good. Perhaps some who love print media just don’t “get” such new fangled communication methods? :-)

  • Martha

    Jerry, thanks for that. I found it extremely informative, since during a brief search to track down this infamous outrage on all that is good and true, I discovered the name of this disgraceful piece of legislation being put before the Nigerian Parliament to be passed.

    It’s called the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill.

    Now, going on the reactions it evoked, I had thought it would be titled something along the lines of the Burn The Perverts Alive Bill or the Exterminate These Un-Nigerian Activities Bill or the Crush The Unclean Bill or the like.

    Granted, I haven’t (yet) found the text of the proposed bill so I don’t know exactly what it covers. But, as I said, this does clarify a lot of things for me. If – and you are free to disagree with me here – we can take the title of the Bill at face value, then Archbishop Akinola is supporting a bill that will not permit same-sex marriage. It might even – who knows? – define marriage as ‘between a man and a woman only’.

    (Kind of like some of those proposed American pieces of legislation in various states? Oh – who knew the insidious tentacles of the megalomaniac Akinola reached so far – into the very heart of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!)

    But of course, I know that in the fine print, they have included the burning, the stoning, the tarring and feathering, etc. etc. that the bloodthirsty prelate insists upon. And never mind interpreting things ‘in context’, since I note that the other matters raised in that Communique cover education, anti-corruption measures, law, ensuring money to treat HIV/AIDS is not siphoned off for other purposes, and so on – no, it’s all about the extermination of homosexuality and nothing else.

  • Martha

    Here’s the text (or a text) of the proposed Bill. Now, I do agree that the proposal that anyone organising same-sex clubs, organisations or the like should be liable to a five year prison sentence is harsh, but judge for yourself:

    BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows—
    1 1. This Act may be cited as Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2006. Short Title.
    2 2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires — Interpretation.
    3 “Marriage” means a legally binding union between a man and a woman
    4 be it performed under the authority of the State, Islamic Law or Customary
    5 Law;
    6 “Minister” means the Minister responsible for Internal Affairs;
    7 “Same Sex Marriage” means the coming together of two persons of the
    8 same gender or sex in a civil union, marriage, domestic partnership or other
    9 form of same sex relationship for the purposes of cohabitation as husband and
    10 wife.
    11 3. For the avoidance of doubt only marriage entered into between a man validity and
    Recognition of
    12 and a woman under the marriage Act or under the Islamic and Customary Laws Marriage
    13 are valid and recognized in Nigeria.
    14 4.—(1) Marriage between persons of the same sex and adoption of children Prohibition of
    Same Sex
    15 by them in or out of a same sex marriage or relationship is prohibited in the Marriage,
    16 Federal Republic of Nigeria.
    17 (2) Any marriage entered into by persons of same sex pursuant to a license
    18 issued by another State, country, foreign jurisdiction or otherwise shall be void
    19 in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
    20 (3) Marriages between persons of the same sex are invalid and shall not be
    21 recognized as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage.
    22 (4) Any contractual or other rights granted to persons involved in same sex

    C868 2006 No.
    Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition)
    1 marriage or accruing to such persons by virtue of a license shall be unenforceable
    of Same Sex Marriage.
    Prohibition of celebration of same sex marriage in a place of worship.
    Prohibition of Registration of Gay Clubs and Societies and Publicity of same sex sexual relationship.
    2 in any Court of law in Nigeria.
    3 (5) The Courts in Nigeria shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce,
    4 separation and maintenance orders with regard to such same sex marriage,
    5 consider or rule on any of their rights arising from or in connection with such
    6 marriage.
    7 5.—(1) Marriage between persons of same sex entered into in any jurisdiction
    8 whether within or outside Nigeria, any other state or country or otherwise or
    9 any other location or relationships between persons of the same sex which are
    10 treated as marriage in any jurisdiction, whether within or out side Nigeria are
    11 not recognized in Nigeria.
    12 (2) All arms of government and agencies in the Federal Republic of Nigeria
    13 shall not give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding within or
    14 outside Nigeria, with regard to same sex marriage or relationship or a claim
    15 arising from such marriage or relationship.
    16 6.—(1) Same sex marriage shall not be celebrated in any place of worship
    17 by any recognized cleric of a Mosque, Church, denomination or body to which
    18 such place of worship belongs.
    19 (2) No marriage license shall be issued to parties of the same sex in the
    20 Federal Republic of Nigeria.
    21 7.—(1) Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations by whatever
    22 name they are called in institutions from Secondary to the tertiary level or other
    23 institutions in particular and, in Nigeria generally, by government agencies is
    24 hereby prohibited.
    25 (2) Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship
    26 through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise
    27 are prohibited in Nigeria.
    28 (3) Any person who is invoved in the registration of gay clubs, societies

    29 and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show
    30 of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private
    31 is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
    _______ Same Sex Marriage {Prohibition)__________________2006 No. C869
    1 8.—(1) Any person goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person Offences and
    2 of the same sex is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5
    3 years imprisonment.
    4 (2) Any person performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same
    5 sex marriage is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years
    6 imprisonment.
    7 9. The High Court in the States and the Federal Capital Territory shall Jurisdiction.
    8 have jurisdiction to entertain all matters, causes and proceedings arising from
    9 same sex marriages and relationships.
    This Act shall prohibit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria the relationship between persons of the same sex, celebration of marriage by them and other matters connected therewith.”

  • Mollie

    Much to respond to here but just two quick thoughts.

    1) A very interesting point-counterpoint on homosexuality in Commonweal this morning. These are the types of things reporters should find easy to read before interviewing someone on the topic.

    2) Jerry, I still listen to all of my music on vinyl. I think we should consider how far I’ve come to even be on the internet. But you’re right — broadcast media should be covered more.

  • Nick Dupree

    Mollie, your link to the NT scripture is broken….

  • Kathy

    The legislation is very interesting, particularly as the archbishop is ultimately supporting governmental regulation of mosques and churches (6.1). That’s a pandora’s box, I should think.

  • Chris Bolinger

    I’m impressed that Moyers found the time in his busy schedule to go to night school and obtain a degree in biology.

  • Pingback: “What Are You…High?” (a potentially offensive Rant) « Inside Larry’s Head 2.0

  • Martial Artist

    #18, Terry Ward,

    I respectfully request your permission to make a copy of your list of questions for future reference and use in discussions with other Christians who consider themselves “progressive”. It is a marvelous list, particularly in some of the more general questions.

    Blessings and regards,
    Martial Artist

  • Undergroundpewster

    Terry Ward (#18) asks the “hardball” questions we will never see addressed. I would not add Kevin’s (#22) question because it sounds mean spirited. Here’s one more psoosible question: “Would you ever consider stepping down or asking Gene Robinson to step down if it were in the best interest of TEC?”

  • Terry A. Ward

    My list of questions has been out on various websites since last November. Feel free to propagate it in any way you wish.

  • Rev.Dr. Willis E. Elliott

    When I was a rough-and-tumble child, I used to revel in a game we called “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re a dirty rascal.” Any slight rise of ground would do. The point was to occupy and hold the high ground.

    I thought of that game while reading your material on Bill Moyers’ interview of the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop. As the pretty-boy king of the liberal-media castle, he makes his opponents look like dirty rascals without ever having to be confronted by them.

    Since I’m a preacher, it couldn’t surprise anyone that I believe in sermons. But I believe also in real, truth-pursuing, public-enlightening, fair-minded journalism
    as stimulus to public discourse, the verbal lifeblood of democracy. And fundamentalisms on the right or left do not further such discourse.
    Will somebody, please, interview Bill Moyers? Ask him why he let his Southern Baptist religion collapse into leftish social moralism? How he can call journalism his propaganda for the causes he espouses? How he can consider moral his manipulation of interviewees to preach his sociopolitical sermons?

  • Jonathan

    What was it Chesterton said in his reflections on why he was a Catholic? Ahh…here it is:

    This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.