Doug Chaplin does a Mark Brewer …

… except that he actually managed to delete what he calls a libel, but is in fact the truth, because it was in a comment on his blog. And the alleged libel wasn’t even against himself, but against a bishop, and not even one who has authority over him.

Here is part of what I wrote, which I also posted as a comment at The Ugley Vicar:

It is all very well for Hooker to say things about how a bishop must behave, but that is empty if there are no sanctions on bishops who misbehave. And there have always been bishops and archbishops who set themselves up as mini-popes and persecute presbyters under them who are faithful to the gospel, from William Laud right up to Katharine Jefferts Schori. Hooker’s system may be an ideal one, but it is not a stable and workable one.

This was in response to this comment on Doug’s blog from “Mark B”, who I assume is not Mark Brewer:

magistra: moreover, Hooker, the father of Anglican ecclesiastical polity, says in his ‘Laws’ that bishops must not ignore the counsel of their presbyters. They must not set themselves over them, like mini-popes. No Cyprianism here! See the website of the English cleric John Richardson ‘The Ugley Vicar’ on this point.

Now I accept that this comment thread had got well off its original topic. But that is not the reason Doug deleted my comment, for he writes:

In my view it bought into rhetoric I regard as libellous to TEC’s Presiding Bishop. I’m sure you can find a way to make your point in other words.

But he doesn’t allow me to make my point in other words, by closing the thread to comments – although he had no problem with others taking the thread well off topic as long as they toed his pro-bishop line. I would have been happy to withdraw “mini-pope” as a comment about Schori, although not about Laud, if I had been given the chance, but I was given no chance to edit and re-post my comment. But I would not have withdrawn “persecute presbyters under them who are faithful to the gospel” as this is just what Schori is doing – and I could add that she is also persecuting bishops and lay people under her who seek to remain faithful to an understanding of the gospel which does not include inclusivity without repentance from sin.

There have always been many bishops of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion who have persecuted believers in the true gospel of Christ. They have consistently been supported by priests within the “Catholic” wing of this same Church. Doug has put himself well within this tradition. In John Richardson’s words, in the Church of England

You can disbelieve the fundamentals of the faith, but if you will acknowledge the bishop you can remain. But if you will not acknowledge the bishop, then the stricter your adherence to the faith the more you are a threat, rather than a benefit, to the institution. So the institution will obviously sacrifice believers who rebel rather than discipline unbelievers who conform.

But I wonder if Doug is really more upset about what I say about Laud, an Anglo-Catholic hero, than about Schori.

Doug, do you want to “sacrifice believers who rebel” by driving me out of the Church of England? I am not at all sure that I can stay in it, although I have put off making any decisions until after the Lambeth Conference. If the Church of England shows a gentleness and generosity towards those who have serious disagreements with it, in the way shown by many of its leaders, I just might be persuaded to stay. But if it displays the attitude of demanding adherence to the bishops’ party line, the line taken by Laud and Schori and now by you, then I will probably go. And I will not go quietly.

19 thoughts on “Doug Chaplin does a Mark Brewer …

  1. My response is simple.
    a) Get over yourself – neither of us are that significant.
    b) I think calling the kind of jursidictional spat our American cousins are engaging in “persecution” is a gross offence to anyone who really has been persecuted for their faith.
    c) My disapproval of yours and others’ name calling of KJS in no way expresses approval of her actions.
    d) If you can’t distinguish between refusing to insult someone and agreeing with them, you’ve got serous problems.
    e) I am not stopping you in anyway from expressing your intemperate and tediously repeated views, which I continue to think of as libellous. I deleted one comment because of its rhetoric, leaving all the many others on my/b> blog by you and others that argue for views I strongly disagree with. Your likening me to Mark Brewer is offensive to me, inaccurate as to the truth, and makes light of the seriousness of Dave Walker’s situation.

    I think that just about covers it.

  2. Peter,

    I have followed the inter-Anglican debates as a faithful (if inclusive) member of TEC. I do not understand the claim that Schori has “persecuted” presbyters who have been faithful to the gospel, or “persecuted bishops and lay people under her who seek to remain faithful to an understanding of the gospel which does not include inclusivity without repentance from sin.” Exactly how she done this?

    Neither Schori or TEC have persecuted or otherwise disciplined anyone for simply “remaining faithful” to the gospel as they understand it. There have been actions taken against bishops and presbyters who have attempted to take their dioceses and/or parishes out of the church, but that’s not the same as simply “remaining faithful.” If anything, it’s the other way around. Several TEC bishops do not permit the ordination of women (quite against the canons of the church), and no one has ever taken action to depose or punish them just for that. Neither has any church in these diocese ever been forced to call a woman priest they did not want. Conversely, conservative bishops DO prevent the parishes under them from calling women priests when they are wanted, or otherwise acting on their beliefs. Who’s doing the persecuting in that situation?

  3. OK, Peter, I’ll bite. How has Schori persecuted the faithful? Persecute is an emotive but vague word, so let’s try and get some clarity. Tell me actions that she has done which you would find unacceptable done by any bishop/archbishop.

    I include that stipulation because if you say that an action is persecution when it’s done by someone you oppose against someone you support, but not when the same action is done by someone you support against someone you oppose, you’re not really concerned about persecution. You’re just worried that the wrong people are being ‘persecuted’. So if you think it’s OK to depose Gene Robinson, you can’t say that deposing priests counts as persecution, etc.

    I won’t insist that life and limb have to be threatened, even though that’s traditionally what persecution has meant. But if you want anyone to take your claims seriously, they’ve got to be specific and unbiased.

  4. Tom, my criticisms of KJS are by no means intended to exonerate her opponents. As in so many such conflicts there is wrong done on both sides.

    Magistra, I accept that there is a question of what exactly counts as persecution. Obviously putting people to death for their faith does. Most people would accept that branding people on the face, as apparently practised by Laud, counts as such. Does depriving people of their livelihood and confiscating their property count as persecution? Arguably that has happened to TEC priests and congregations, or will happen if law suits in progress are successful. Does sending them a “Cease and Desist” letter count? Doug wants to make much of Dave Walker’s situation, as do I, but he doesn’t seem to treat seriously the much more serious legal action being taken against TEC priests and congregations by their own bishops.

    Doug, thank you for clarifying that you don’t agree with KJS. If you had simply responded in a comment that you considered my “persecution” language over the top, and calling for an end to the comment thread, I would have left it at that. But you called my language libellous, implicitly using the same tactics as Mark Brewer to shut me up, and that I will not accept. You are also just like Mark Brewer in failing to foresee that your action would have precisely the opposite effect to that purportedly intended, that it would lead to even greater dissemination of the alleged libel.

  5. Peter, you persist in this stupendously silly claim. I stand by my view that what you said could be construed as libel. Because I see it that way, I declined to publish it, on my blog. I refuse to be responsible for publishing your wilder flights of rhetorical fancy. I have in no way stopped you saying it, or tried to stop you saying it on your own blog.
    In short, as I said before, get over yourself, find a sense of humour and stop taking yourself so seriously.

  6. Doug, I find it offensive that you write offensive things, without a trace of humour in how you write them, and then tell me to treat them with humour. Is that how you treat parishioners who have issues with what happens at your church? I note also that you have failed to respond to the last paragraph of my post. If one of your parishioners said that they were considering leaving your church and moving to a wild charismatic one, would you simply ignore their concerns, or tell them to stop taking themselves seriously?

  7. Sorry I stumbled upon this spat I have to agree with Doug that you are out of order. I as a English Catholic have ancestors and alumini of my College executed for being Catholic. If you want to know what persecution means you might want to ask Peter Enns or Rowan Williams. If you want to understand what libel means it is stating in writing an untruth you may find it among the Ten Comandments

  8. Andrew, if I have stated an untruth on Doug’s blog or elsewhere, and you can tell me what it is, I am happy to retract it. But I am not going to submit to attempts to redefine “persecute” to refer only to martyrs. Here is the definition I am working on:

    per·se·cute (pûr’sĭ-kyūt’) pronunciation
    tr.v., -cut·ed, -cut·ing, -cutes.

    1. To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.
    2. To annoy persistently; bother.

    It is an undoubted fact that Ms Schori and her associates are oppressing and harassing some clergy and lay people of TEC because of religion and beliefs. Some of these people have suffered the same fate as Peter Enns, losing their jobs and livelihoods. Others have simply been bothered like Rowan Williams.

    By the way, Doug, what the way you have publicised my alleged libel is called the Streisand effect.

  9. Does depriving people of their livelihood and confiscating their property count as persecution?

    As I said in my previous comment, and you ignored, it doesn’t to me count as persecution if it’s OK to do to someone you don’t like. Do you think it would be OK to deprive Gene Robinson of his livelihood as a priest/bishop? If so, then you’re fine with persecution, by my definition. And by your own dictionary definition there are also an awful lot of people ‘persecuting’ Gene Robinson. Why do you think he’s being ill-treated except because of his sexual orientation? Or are you going to deny that he’s being ill-treated? (And if you take persecution as simply meaning ‘annoy persistently’ I’m being persecuted myself by a remarkably large number of people).

    I would wholeheatedly condemn it if Schori is depriving anybody of their own personal property. Is she? Or she saying that property held in trust by someone on behalf of an organisation must be returned if those people leave the organisation? If the property belongs to the Episcopal Church, how can they let someone who is not part of that church retain the property? I don’t know about US charity law, but in the UK any trustee of a charity who let its assets be simply given away in such a situation would face being sued for dereliction of fiduciary duties. And again, what would you say if Gene Robinson was removed or resigned from his bishopric and tried to continue to hold onto church property?

    So I think so far you’re doing pretty badly on convincing me that there is persecution by Schori. I don’t insist on evidence that she’s having people branded, but I do want something more impressive than ‘she applies the official regulations of the church to people I approve of’.

  10. Counselling, Doug? That reminds me of the Soviet approach to dissidents, declare them mentally ill and use that as an excuse to lock them up! My “problem” is that I have a fundamentally different understanding of the church to you, so much so that there is not really room for us both in one organisation. I won’t call for you to leave, as I have done for John Richardson, because I recognise that you are where the majority of the Church of England is. But that very likely means I will have to leave.

    Magistra, I take the point that people rather like me are in some sense persecuting Gene Robinson. But I have not called for him to be deprived of his livelihood. In the circumstances I think the best approach would be for TEC to divert some of the vast sums they are spending on law suits to fund a special post for Gene with the salary and other benefits of a bishop but not the responsibilities. Gay priests and bishops should not have been appointed in the first place, but if they were openly gay at the time they were appointed, against the rules of the church, it is the church’s responsibility to look after them.

    I haven’t followed the details of the TEC property disputes. I know more about the similar Canadian ones. As I understand it the issues in at least some cases are with buildings which have been purchased out of funds provided by congregation members but are now being claimed by the national church. The legal ownership of this property is of course what is in dispute. I suppose if the congregation members have given the funds to TEC so that TEC could buils the building, TEC has a claim on it, but the donors can still claim that they were misled about the situation and demand their money back.

  11. Doug, I can get you a lawyer who trained with Red Army Special Forces. He is well equipped for lobbing legal grenades at the opposition. You may need him! But Dave Walker and Sam Norton may be keeping him busy. And that’s not a joke, I really do have such a friend.

  12. 1. Doug is taking a partisan line. There are non partisan positions in the dispute in TEC.

    2. My own partisan view (as a conservative priest in TEC) is that Peter is being remarkably polite. I deeply regret the folks whose parishes and dioceses are leaving. But whatever you think – I am critical – think hard about why large evangelical parishes over the last 2 years have repeatedly made the same kind of costly (in every sense) decisions. Think too about why so many retired and serving TEC bishops have become RC in the last year. Read about the reception of Ephraim Radner at the March 2007 HOB meeting. Think about clergy deposed without hearing (a process that in England would have been challenged under human rights law). Think about the threats of trial for retired clergy who have done mo more than speak to (so called) Anglican churches. The ostracism of conservative laity and clergy in some dioceses. It’s crazy situation and is almsot unimaginable for those who have only served in the relatively genteel world of the Church of England. Persecution is certainly the perception of some of those who are losing home and livelihood with no right of appeal.

  13. Apologies – my second sentence contains a typo. There are NO non-partisan position in TEC. (So to be clear my position is of a conservative priest determined to stay in TEC).

  14. Thank you, Frightened. I must say I had hoped that the reports of persecution had been hyped, as Doug seems to believe. I am glad but of course also very sad at your confirmation that things are happening that can reasonably be called persecution.

  15. There are some comments here that seem strange to me, as a newcomer. Perhaps I misunderstand, of course.

    Several people demand to know how the TEC hierarchy is persecuting anyone. That’s a truly weird comment, considering the number of lawsuits currently underway in the USA. Most people would consider bishops suing congregations to be persecution. A group of Anglicans get together, raise money to build and endow a church, suddenly find that the hierarchy have changed their religion, and are then naturally in a quandary. Reluctantly, seeing no hope of reform back to what they originally signed up for, they decide to leave. Thereupon the local bishop attempts to seize the property they built and endowed, in order to sell it off for car parking?!? This is curious behaviour, whoever engages in it. It has been copiously documented online, in repeated cases. I know that some people would deny what I have just written. But I find that all these people mean is that they agree with this course of action. The facts are as stated, as far as I know. Let’s face up to them.

    There was also a suggestion that bishops must not be criticised (do I understand this rightly?) if they do wrong. This also is a bit hard for me to understand. Is there anything of the kind in scripture or the fathers? Such a position would seem extreme to the point of absurdity. I have indeed heard of bishops making such claims, but only normally in a context where the bishops are immoral men, doing something they know to be wrong, and are engaged in persecution and using such claims as a platform for it. For instance, few bishops can have made more exaggerated claims for conformity and obedience than those of Charles II. Yet we know that appointments were in the gift of the King’s mistresses.

    The Anglican communion has been on the receiving end of a determined campaign to introduce some novelties previously considered unthinkable, which have become shibboleths of contemporary culture. Some of those supporting this campaign seem willing to utter what seem to be the most outrageous lies as confidently as possible, in the most bellicose manner possible, hoping to intimidate anyone daring to contradict them. I have seen enough atheists engage in this sort of disgusting conduct to last me a lifetime, and don’t like seeing it elsewhere.

    Am I mistaken? I would like to think so. But I have my doubts.

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