So much of what has been driving the machinations of international Anglicanism over the past 15 years or so has been rooted in fear—fear of women, fear of LGBTQTS, fear of modernity, fear of post-modernity, fear of the loss of privilege, fear of the loss of power and influence.
People who are fearful do funny things.
As often, they will do scary things.
But the one thing that fearful people will consistently do is attempt to assert control.
For the fearful, every discussion inevitably degenerates into a metaphorical (and sometimes not so metaphorical) street fight.
Eventually, right and wrong become an irrelevance. The only thing that matters is how something affects the street fight, and whether or not it is good for “my side.”
Sadly, that is the point we’ve now reached in international Anglicanism, and in the deliberations on the proposed Anglican Covenant. Full and fair debate is no longer on the table—at least at the Anglican Communion Office, Lambeth Palace, or Church House in Westminster.
For those who surround the Archbishop of Canterbury, no quarter can be shown to those of us who dare to question the ineffable perfection of the arbitrarily “final” draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Today’s news release (warning—.pdf) describes several ways in which those at “the centre” have conspired to ensure that the majority of General Synod and diocesan synod delegates in the Church of England never have the opportunity to hear the legitimate concerns that have been raised about the proposed Covenant.
- In November 2010, Church of England officials distributed background material on the proposed Anglican Covenant to General Synod members consisting entirely of pro-Covenant material and with no acknowledgement that there even might be contrary viewpoints.
- When Modern Church and Inclusive Church used paid advertisements in the church press to raise their concerns, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself used the bully pulpit of his presidential address to synod to condemn Covenant sceptics for “campaigning.”
- Throughout December and January, Church House officials stood firm in refusing to allow any prepared material to be distributed through official channels that was not 100 percent supportive of the Covenant. Indeed, the only concerns ever referenced were part of a document that used vapid “arguments” to suggest that any concerns were completely illegitimate and undeserving of a fair hearing. The one (arguable) exception to this was the distribution of the entire transcript of the Covenant debate at the November sitting of General Synod—and we all know how people love to pour over dry transcripts of debates and proceedings.
- More recently, the Anglican Communion Office has published a “Study Guide” which is nothing more than an intellectually barren puff piece, again with no serious engagement with any arguments against the Covenant.
Real leaders are not afraid of open debate.
Real leaders are not afraid of being contradicted.
Real leaders do not seek to be surrounded by yes-men and sycophants.
The Anglican Communion is dying for real leadership.
Archbishop Williams, I beg you: show real leadership on this. Call off the sycophants who serve you so ill and tell them you want a full, free, and fair debate on the merits of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
To win the debate any other way will discredit both the proposed Covenant and your legacy.