Don’t do the (Episcopal) time warp, again

timewarpYou know, it really isn’t hard to get the Anglican-wars timeline right or to, at least, craft one or two short, editor-friendly sentences that do not mangle the facts. There’s no need to warp time in this story.

To see how not to handle the past three decades of Episcopal Church struggles over sexuality, simply click here.

To see a simple way of getting things right (or at least, not getting them wrong) then check out this passage from a 2009 General Convention update from the Los Angeles Times:

Episcopalians have been debating the roles of gays and lesbians in the church for years, but the issue escalated in 2003 when a gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire.

That decision disturbed Anglican leaders, who issued a report the next year calling for all churches in the communion to refrain from electing bishops living in same-sex unions, and from authorizing the development of blessing rites for such relationships.

Now, personally, I still think it would be MORE accurate if the first sentence in that passage read like this: “Episcopalians have been debating the roles of gays and lesbians in the church for decades.”

That wording would be accurate, of course, since the battle truly escalated in 1979 during the General Convention held in Denver. Doctrinal traditionalists won that round, but insiders could see the true size of the liberal revolt when some very influential bishops openly backed the gay-rights cause. One of them, the Rt. Rev. Edmond Browning, would be elected as the church’s presiding bishop a few years later.

The key is that, when you study an accurate timeline, it’s clear that this war is not over the consecration of one openly gay and noncelibate bishop in New Hampshire. And if you look at the real issues over basic doctrines — from the Virgin Birth of Jesus to the Resurrection and many points in between — the timeline stretches back much further. There’s more to the story than hangups about sex, in other words.

It’s not that hard to get the timeline right.

It’s even easier to avoid printing inaccurate information and, thus, to avoid getting the timeline wrong.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Larry “the grump” Rasczak

    “It’s not that hard to get the timeline right.

    It’s even easier to avoid printing inaccurate information and, thus, to avoid getting the timeline wrong.”

    It’s not the timeline that is wrong… YOU are wrong.

    We have ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia, don’t you know that? We have ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia, and anyone who says differently is wrong.

  • dalea

    Back in the early 1970′s there was a flare up over Gay rights in the Episcopal Church. A prominent local congregation had services in which pets were blessed. There would be a service in which people brought their pets. Part of the service would involve people bringing their pet to the alter for blessing. Dogs went along in good spirits, but the cats were a disaster.

    Gay activists joined the throng, with their partners as ‘pets’ asking for blessings. Figuring that if the priest would bless a hamster, he should be able to bless gay people. Don’t recall the outcome, but it got a good bit of publicity.