In an amazingly thoughtful post over at The New Republic, it is showing that the mainline Protestant Christian churches are splitting, figuratively and literally, over political issues and not necessarily over doctrinal issues.
Firstly, I like the fact that the poster, Damon Linker, refers to those as traditionalists and modernists. As I do because it takes the politics out of serious discussions of faith.
Secondly, he states the obvious.
That opposing the modernist social and political trends puts one in a traditionalist camp in any given denomination. But, unlike many mainline protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church has painfully avoided outright schism. Until now.
When several traditionalist bishops announced they were leaving the Episcopal Church, they did not say that they were aligning with another part of the Anglican Communion. No, they said that they are going to form a separate denomination. And that it would be known as the Anglican Church in North America. And, as many as 100,000 will leave the Episcopal Church and join this new denomination. And, Mr. Linker points out that this will not stop at this number as more and more traditionalists look to a reformed, more traditional Episcopal Church for their spiritual needs. And, unfortunately for political needs as well.
As a member of the Episcopal Church, there is no way that anyone in the sclerotic leadership can ignore this. The traditionalist final straw may have been the ordination of the first openly gay bishop in Vicky Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. That may have gone over with a little ripple. However, the Rt. Rev. Robinson is not just openly gay but living with his partner. That is the bridge too far for many.
But, this schism has been a long time coming, going back to the changes in The Book of Common Prayer that took effect in 1979. It took the loved 1928 Book of Common Prayer and added modern language and kept the Elizabethan language. It was a traditional Episcopal/Anglican compromise. But, many modernists want to replace the traditional language rites with politically correct language. That is just part of that struggle.
But, attend a diocesan convention and one can see that it is not far from a sanctioned Democrat party event.
All the fringe groups have been front and center at the Los Angeles diocesan convention the past couple of years because traditionalist churches have left. Thus, the pro-life faction-gone. Traditionalist booths-gone. But take any left-wing issue, and it has it's own booth and propaganda.
It appears that the modernists keep winning at the Episcopal Church. But their victories may be Pyrrhic as this schism will be one that tops any other within the Church.
But, the end of this New Republic post is very, very disheartening.
Mr. Linker cites President-elect Obama's election garnering 53% of the popular vote. One would think that it would put some of the culture war in remission. But, it has not and may have made it worse. And, a current casualty is the Episcopal Church. And, more are on the way.