Religious Leaders

Chicago Sun-Times Writer Cathleen Falsani Needs Sensitivity Training after Comparing Jerry Falwell to Tony Soprano

Friday, May 18th, 2007

UPDATE on this story: Chicago Sun-Times religion columnist Cathleen Falsani — author of a controversial column titled, “Sigh of Relief over Falwell’s Death” contacted Americans For Truth late Friday afternoon for the sole purpose of requesting that we remove her copyrighted photo from our website (which we did). When AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera sought to engage Falsani in a discussion about her anti-Falwell column, she curtly said she was only calling for the “legal purpose” of removing the photo. “I’m not interested in engaging in dialogue with you,” she said.

When LaBarbera countered that this was odd since Falsani is a “reporter” who talks to people for a living, Falsani replied that she is not a reporter, but a columnist. (As you can read below, she was only recently relieved of her reporting duties at the Sun-Times.)

Said LaBarbera, “This story only gets weirder: a religion columnist cruelly trashes a conservative minister days after his death, then refuses to discuss her column with a critic. It seems Cathleen Falsani can dish it out but she can’t take it. We echo Illinois Review editor Fran Eaton’s call for Falsani to be fired as a Sun-Times religion columnist. As one who is obviously bigoted against Bible-believing religious traditionalists, she should not be writing on religion for a major metropolitan daily.”

Our original article follows:


You can write Cathleen Falsani at; or write a letter to the Sun Times (phone: 312-321-3000) at

In fact, my very first thought upon hearing of the Rev. Falwell’s passing was: Good.
     And I didn’t mean “good” in a oh-good-he’s-gone-home-to-be-with-the-Lord kind of way. I meant “good” as in “Ding-dong, the witch is dead.”
— Cathleen Falsani, “Sigh of Relief over Falwell’s Death,” May 18, Chicago Sun-Times

I wrote Cathleen Falsani to say how sad it is that a religion columnist would so cruelly denounce and defame a man shortly after his death. (More of that HERE.) The Religious Left — of which one could now safely say Falsani is a member — prides itself on its compassion, but when it comes down to it, they can be quite mean and guilty of the same harshness and “hate” of which they accuse others. It reminds me of the pro-abortion-rights liberals who fancy themselves as compassionate people who look out for the downtrodden (“the little guy”) — and yet can’t face their own hypocrisy in zealously defending the “right to choose” to kill society’s most helpless people: the unborn.

Sometimes Christian-identified writers and reporters go overboard in attacking Biblical traditionalists to show their media peers that they’re not a tool of the stereotypical “religious right.” Maybe that’s what happened here. Whether or not that’s the case, it’s tragic that Falsani, a Wheaton College grad, has sunk to this level. This is an ugly and tacky piece of writing that exposes the hypocrisy of self-righteous liberals and the disdain of the media for traditionalist Christian leaders. 

Like many in the Fourth Estate, Falsani needs sensitivity training and would surely benefit from a sabbatical at Falwell’s Liberty University. She should be removed as the Sun-Times’ religion columnist (at least she is no longer a religion reporter for the paper), but that won’t happen because most of the paper’s staff probably loved her column. Nothing like beating up on the ‘fundies,’ dead or alive, to burnish your credentials in the media. (Now, writing a fair column about a man or woman who has left homosexuality behind, through the power of the same Christ that Falsani professes to follow, that’s another story….)

Congratulations, Cathleen: you scored some more points with the Left, but you did so at the price of your own dignity, your Christian testimony, and to the detriment of your once noble profession.— Peter LaBarbera 

The following is excerpted by Media Research Council’s “NewsBusters” blog, by Tim Graham (emphasis added). You can read Graham’s entire piece by clicking HERE, and Falsani’s nasty column HERE):

Chicago Sun-Times Writer: Jerry Falwell Was a Spiritual Bully, Like Tony Soprano

By Tim Graham,, May 18, 2007

It might not be surprising for liberal blog commenters or talk-radio callers to denounce Rev. Jerry Falwell upon his death, but it’s a little more surprising when it comes to a professed Christian who’s religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Cathleen Falsani reflected on her first reaction about hearing Falwell was “relief” and compared him to gangster TV character Tony Soprano:

Knowing I didn’t have a deadline to meet that day, my first thoughts were not of what to say or write.


In fact, my very first thought upon hearing of the Rev. Falwell’s passing was: Good.


And I didn’t mean “good” in a oh-good-he’s-gone-home-to-be-with-the-Lord kind of way. I meant “good” as in “Ding-dong, the witch is dead.”


But that thought — good riddance, I suppose — was not meant to be cruel or malicious. [!]After all, the faith that the Rev. Falwell and I share teaches us that he was, at that moment, in a far better place, with Jesus in heaven, and not roasting on a spit in Hell’s kitchen.


By shrugging off his mortal coil, the Rev. Falwell had ceased to suffer the pain of humanity.


Still, I’m not particularly proud of my knee-jerk reaction. But there it is….


My initial reaction to the Rev. Falwell’s death was, and remains, relief — not unlike the ease I felt when a particularly nasty bully who used to spit at me on the playground and threaten to beat me up after school moved to another town.


The Rev. Falwell was a spiritual bully. He was the Tony Soprano to Pat Robertson’s Paulie Walnuts.

How on Earth can a religion columnist compare a televangelist to a malicious mob boss and killer? We could understand the typical Elmer Gantry comparisons, but Tony Soprano? Including Robertson on the list suggested clearly that was Falsani believes is that conservatism and orthodoxy are “bullying” and that liberalism and relativism brings true spirituality and harmony with God.

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If This Were an Anti-War Rally, You’d Know About it: 1.5 Million Italians Rally against Homosexual ‘Civil Unions’

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

The following is excerpted from, a must “go-to” site for pro-family advocates and citizens no matter what country you live in. Needless to say, you would have heard a lot more about this huge Italian rally had it been an “anti-Bush” protest against the war, or maybe a pro-“gay marriage” protest. The people “get it” regarding marriage and family; the secular media are obsessed with political correctness. One wonders how the political/cultural equation over homosexuality would be different if the media’s coverage were anything close to being fair rather than overwhelmingly pro-“gay”-activist as it is in most of the West today.— Peter LaBarbera  

1.5 Million Italians Turn Out in Massive Rome Protest Against Homosexual Civil Unions
Oraganizers Were Expecting Only 100,000

By Gudrun Schultz,

ROME, Italy, May 14, 2007 ( – Italians from across the country poured into Rome May 12 to join in a demonstration against a law that would give legal recognition to homosexual couples–reports showed up to 1.7 million people overflowed the St. John Lateran piazza. Organizers initially expected to draw about 100,000.

The proposed legislation would give homosexual couples–and unmarried heterosexual couples–similar rights to those of married couples, stopping just short of legalizing homosexual marriage.

“Living together is not family,” protester Anna Manara told the Associated Press.
“A commitment such as marriage cements the bond, while other models make it easier to be together and therefore end up making it less valuable.”

While the pro-family demonstration was backed by the Vatican and Italy’s Catholic bishops, it was organized by lay people independently of the Church. The “mind-blowing” success of the event is an outstanding example of the power held by ordinary citizens when sufficiently mobilized in support of traditional values, said Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a priest in Rome who is the moderator of the Catholic Online Forum (see blogsite:

“The importance of this event is not merely that when left to their own devices the Italian people will support traditional values in great numbers, giving the lie to the script presented by the intellectuals in the press. It also means in concrete terms that the traditional values laity can organize and achieve results.”

“The success of “Family Day” also highlights a now deeply entrenched trend not only in Italy, but in the West: the marginalization of the Church from the public square,” Fr. Zuhlsdorf said. “Nearly everywhere the Church’s is being denied its right to speak freely. Committed Catholic and other religious politicians and public figures are pressured never to make reference to their religious convictions. The constant mantra is that religion should be a purely private matter than has no influence on public policy. Be religious, fine. But you may never act outwardly on your interior opinions.”

Read the rest of this article »

VIDEO: Satan’s Talking Points? HRC’s Harry Knox Claims Homosexuality Is ‘Gift from God’ in MSNBC Debate with CWA’s Matt Barber

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

By Peter LaBarbera

“What’s clear from our experience and from science is that being gay or lesbian is an immutable, unchangeable gift from God, one for which I am very grateful. And it would fly in the face of my respect for God to give that gift back. It would simply be unethical and hurtful to our relationship with the Creator to give back gifts that God has given us….” — Homosexual activist Harry Knox of the “gay” lobby group Human Rights Campaign, on MSNBC debate 3-23-07

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness.– Old Testament prophet Isaiah (Is. 5:20)

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

harry_knox_2.jpg Harry Knox promotes Big Lie for HRC

Please take five minutes to watch the fascinating online YouTube video above (click the “play” button on the screen) of a March 23, 2007 MSNBC debate between homosexual activist Harry Knox and pro-family warrior Matt Barber. The first time I watched this, I was flabbergasted at the gall of Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program for Human Rights Campaign (HRC, the world’s most powerful homosexual pressure group).

What better example of Hitler’s “Big Lie” technique than to transform homosexuality from an abominable sin and perversion … to a sickness … to a condition … to an inborn “orientation” that is actually a gift from God!

Yeah, that’s it — a wonderful gift that you’d never want to give back! (Strange how so many homosexual men are getting sick and dying in the prime of their life from practicing their supposed heavenly “gift.”)

I think we’ve discovered Satan’s Talking Points on homosexuality in the swank D.C. offices of Human Rights Campaign. HRC strategists understand that to neutralize America’s religious opposition to their destructive agenda, they must co-opt Christianity and the Bible itself.

The notion that homosexual “orientation” is a “gift from God” is the biggest lie in a “gay” arsenal filled with falsehoods — so start looking for that liberal echo chamber we call “the media” to begin giving it wide play.

The MSNBC debate was instigated by Al Mohler’s column (naively ill-timed, in my view) speculating on the possibility of hormone treatments to “fix” homosexuality in the womb if a genetic component to homosexuality were to be discovered.

By the way, Knox’s able opponent on the MSNBC debate, my good friend Matt Barber, is Policy Director for Cultural Issues at Concerned Women for America. Matt is a former professional heavyweight boxer (you can watch one his knockouts online on YouTube HERE) who was fired by the insurance giant Allstate after writing an online article — on his own time — critical of homosexual “marriage.” (Ironically, it was an HRC staffer who spotted Matt’s article and reported him to the Diversity Police at Allstate, leading to his firing. Oh, but I almost forgot: it is those poor, aggrieved homosexuals who are getting fired by the thousands “just for being gay” ….)

Matt is also former Corporate Outreach Director for Americans For Truth. We’re delighted that thanks to Allstate’s intolerance and pro-homosexual corporate agenda, he’s now “in the ring” in Washington, D.C., throwing rhetorical jabs on the side of God and truth.

Our next e-mail will discuss how adult homosexual activists like Knox and Soulforce’s Mel White are corrupting impressionable youth — a spiritual “crime” for which they will one day pay dearly if they don’t repent and turn away from their evil promotion of sexual sin.

Again, here is that YouTube link for the MSNBC debate featuring Harry Knox’s Big Lie about God. And please pray that God will lead the confused and lost Mr. Knox out of homosexuality.

Gay Task Force Leader Matt Foreman’s and the Triangle Foundation’s Lies about Gary Glenn

Thursday, March 29th, 2007


Michigan pro-family leader Gary Glenn: victim of homosexual smear campaigns 

On Feb 24, 2007, Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force issued the following statement blaming Christians and specifically Gary Glenn, president of American Family Association of Michigan, for the apparent murder of homosexual Andrew Anthos — which Detroit police have now reported was not a murder:

“The hatred and loathing that led to the vicious murder of Andrew Anthos only because he was gay is not innate. Instead it is being taught every day by leaders of the so-called Christian right and their political allies. They disguise their bigotry as ‘deeply-held religious beliefs.’ They cloak themselves in ‘family values.’

“For years, Michigan has been subjected to the homophobic rants of Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan, while so many otherwise good and decent people have been silent. Just two years ago, the state endured an ugly campaign, led by Cardinal Adam Maida, to ‘protect marriage’ by writing anti-gay discrimination into its constitution. Based on that amendment, a three-judge panel of Michigan’s court of appeals voted last month to terminate medical insurance coverage for families of LGBT government workers throughout the state.

“It is appalling hypocrisy for these forces to pretend that their venomous words and organizing have no connection to the plague of hate violence against gay people, including the murder of Mr. Anthos…”

That’s right: Matt Foreman publicly (and falsely) accused Gary Glenn and Cardinal Maida as accessories to the murder [again, which we now know was probably not a murder–AFTAH editor] of a 72-year-old man, simply because these men exercise their constitutional freedom of speech to vocally uphold the Christian principles upon which our nation was founded — including God’s design for one man to wed one woman for life and His consistent condemnation of homosexual behavior.

Perhaps Matt Foreman took his cue from Sean Kosofsky of Triangle Foundation, a Detroit-based homosexual activist group, who once made this preposterous claim against Glenn’s group:

“We personally believe that the AFA may support the murder of gay, lesbian and bisexual people… We are also fairly certain the AFA wants all homosexuals locked up on sodomy charges and put in jail.”

AFTAH Joins Coalition Urging Parents to Pull Kids from School on April 18th, GLSEN’s ‘Day of Silence’

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Every year, the radical group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), of Massachusetts “Fistgate” notoriety, promotes a propaganda exercise in schools called the “Day of Silence,” to engender sympathy toward GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) lifestyles. Many schools now officially back this disruptive, pro-homosexual event — so we’re calling on parents to pull their children out of school that day (Wed., April 18 this year). Parents can use the day to educate their children about the homosexual activist movement and other harmful social agendas, or to pray for people and students caught up in the homosexual lifestyle.

Or, students can just read a good book at home. Time spent doing that would be far preferable to indulging in GLSEN’s pro-homosexuality groupthink. Our schools have become PC propaganda centers, and it’s way past time for parents to take a stand. Promoting unhealthy, changeable and immoral behaviors like homosexuality and bisexuality — especially to vulnerable teens (even middle schoolers!) — lacks compassion. Here is a list of schools likely to be participating in the “Day of Silence”: — Peter LaBarbera


Contact Media Coordinator – Irene Bennett (203) 926-6960

[Among the groups joining NotOurKids are: Americans For Truth, Mission America, Concerned Women for America, Culture Campaign, American Family Association of Pennsylvania, and Stephen Bennett Ministries]


WASHINGTON, March 27 / — A national pro-family coalition,, is calling upon parents to keep their children home from school on April 18 — to avoid GLSEN’s homosexual “Day of Silence,” in which students and some supportive faculty intentionally remain silent throughout the school day to protest alleged oppression of homosexuals.

“Day of Silence” (DOS) is an annual event promoted by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, and is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18 this year.  (Some schools observe DOS a few days earlier or later than the official date.) In 2006, over 4,000 junior highs, high schools, and colleges participated in DOS, according to GLSEN.

Many school district superintendents, principals, and faculty members also endorse, promote or allow DOS — subjecting traditional students to pro-“gay” activism that violates their religious beliefs and right to a non-politicized education. To find out what schools are likely participating in this year’s DOS, please visit:

According to GLSEN, on last year’s Day of Silence, over 500,000 students nationwide were confronted with mute homosexual peers and “allies” wearing stickers and passing out cards, which stated (in part):

“… My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?” is a coalition of pro-family groups who object to the disruptive political hijacking of America’s classrooms by pro-homosexual advocates. educates parents, teachers and America about the deceptive agenda behind GLSEN’s Day of Silence. The coalition seeks to protect America’s youth from being pressured to approve of homosexual, bisexual, or “transgender” behavior.

“Teenagers deserve an opportunity to study English, history, math, and science — without being subjected to pro-homosexual proselytizing sanctioned by school authorities. Students shouldn’t be forced to self-censor or adopt beliefs contrary to those of their parents and places of worship,” said Linda Harvey of Mission America, a coalition member.  “Even the strongest of our junior high and high school children are not equipped to serve as frontline soldiers in this culture war.”

For a complete list of the coalition’s sponsoring groups, please visit

Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal (It’s Not About Civil Rights)

Friday, March 9th, 2007

The deconstruction of the biblical God and biblical sexuality as a philosophical and ideological program is already deeply embedded in our collective unconscious. Some powerful leaders see the future as the brave new global world of sexual and spiritual pluralism, where liberty of self-expression in these areas is the essence of human progress. One could even imagine a society of pagan religious syncretism where bi-sexuality and homosexual androgyny would be the spiritual and social ideal, the sexuality of choice for those in power, while heterosexuality would be tolerated, considered inferior, and strictly controlled — for it has happened before. — Dr. Peter R. Jones

This is a long, but scholarly and informative, article that we encourage you to read in its entirety.


Excerpted from Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal, by Dr. Peter R. Jones, published Jan 2000 by Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society:

“…Being a gay man or lesbian entails far more than sexual behavior alone
…[it entails] a whole mode of being-in-the-world.”

Paiens unt tort e Chrestianes unt dreit
— Chanson de Roland

1 Introduction

Like the ancient pagan Sodomites pounding on the door of Lot’s house millennia ago, the modern gay movement is gathering at the doors of our churches, our academies and our once traditionally “Christian” culture, demanding entrance and full recognition. Notable scholar, David A. J. Clines, professor of Old Testament at Sheffield University, for one, appears ready to lay down the welcome mat. He wrote in 1998: “…[though] queer theory has yet to show its face at the SBL [Society of Biblical Literature], gayness is challenging…all that we hold dear. When we begin to redraw the alterity map, the boundaries between same and different…we find ourselves having to think through everything, and not just sexuality, from scratch.” Clines, who not long ago was known for his conservative theological position, illustrates how far acceptance of the gay movement has come in recent years, even among those from strongly biblical backgrounds.

This movement has come a long way fast. It will not go away soon, I believe, because it is so intimately tied to deep changes in modern society, in particular, those associated philosophical Postmodernism. Because in the Postmodern hermeneutic all meaning is socially generated, queer commentary has little methodological difficulty finding a place in the contemporary religious and theological debate. In cooperation with feminist biblical interpretation, which has “destabilized normative heterosexuality” by alleging “sexist” bias, queer readings merely seek to take one more step in the hermeneutics of suspicion and expose the “heterosexist bias” of the Bible and Bible interpreters. Identifying exegesis as an exercise in social power, queer theorists reject the oppressive narrowness of the Bible’s male/female binary vision, and boldly generate textual meaning on the basis of the “inner erotic power” of the gay interpreter. What could be more Postmodern? Employing such a widely accepted methodology, and with “straight” Bible scholars now ready “to redraw the alterity map,” gay theology appears to have a bright future everywhere.

The theoretical progress is mirrored in popular society where resistance to the gay life-style is more and more impugned as anti-democratic and un-American. But the urgency of the situation for Bible-believing scholars is not merely the pressing need for a scholarly ethical response to an unfortunate moral aberration. The contemporary appearance of a homosexual movement says something about the particular times in which we live, granted both that pagan spirituality is enjoying a popular revival, and that throughout the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah have always served as the symbol for endtime pagan idolatry, ultimate moral disintegration and eschatological divine judgment. The subject, in its spiritual, religious and even eschatological dimensions, needs to be treated and debated among us, not simply as an unfortunate social deviation or ephemeral social fad, but as a cutting-edge component of a rising, all-encompassing, religious world view that is diametrically opposed to the world view of Christian theism.

One fruitful way to approach this pressing issue is to consider the religious roots of homosexuality. The recent radical changes in our society, include, simultaneously, both the liberation of sex and the rediscovery of pagan mystical spirituality. Is such a pairing pure coincidence or is it the result of a necessary organic relationship? Has there always existed an ineluctable connection between pagan religion and pagan sex? divinity-of-sex.gifFor instance, while radical pagan feminists speak of the need of a “change of [religious] consciousness,” such spiritual transformation is always proposed by way of a radical recalibration of our perceptions of sexuality. In other words, sexuality appears central not peripheral to the spiritual quest. This, I believe, will become more and more evident in the homosexual movement, namely, that this particular sexual life style will be the promoter of a particular kind of religion. Thus, while sexual liberation in its popular, successful, government-financed versions, strategically associates itself with “civil rights,” with pro-choice civic values and with politically-correct tolerance, often studiously avoiding any obvious religious dimension, its ultimate legitimization [since all human beings are religious] proceeds from the age-old dogmas of paganism, which, unlike their modern equivalent, never tried to hide behind a thin veil of temple/state separation. If everything is indeed political, as the radicals often proclaim, everything is also spiritual, and thus the spiritual is also sexual. Charles Pickstone, a pagan believer in Anglican orders, affirms this in his recent book The Divinity of Sex: “…sex is the spirituality that reveals the sacramental richness of matter.”

The thesis of this paper is that to understand the contemporary sexual revolution, we need to see the “new sexuality,” [particularly in this paper in its homosexual expression], as an integral expression of age-old religious paganism. In our response, we cannot follow Lot, who would have sacrificed his daughters to placate the aggressors. Nor can we claim personal moral superiority. We must always hear, in the clamor for acceptance and recognition, the cry of divine image-bearers, however marred and broken. However, we must not shrink back from seeking to do justice to the whole Christian, biblical dimension of the problem. In a time of moral confusion and politically correct intimidating “tolerance,” we owe such clarity to our culture, to our sons and daughters, and to God, Creator and Redeemer, for whom all things exist.

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The Latest Bakker Scandal

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007


jay_bakker_small1.jpg“It sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin.'”

–Jay Bakker, son of disgraced televangelists Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker, and co-founder of “Revolution Church” as quoted in Punk Pastor Preaches Tolerance, Compassion,
by Rebecca Lee, published Dec 8, 2006, by ABC News

Spiritual hubris? Yes. A new “truth”? Sorry, Jay. Thankfully, we have a bit more reliable divine revelation and church tradition upon which to base our moral beliefs than the young Bakker’s alleged private revelation, which would cause us to re-write the Bible. We recommend to Jay Bakker and to everyone the excellent website of Rob Gagnon (, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, for a bit more thorough analysis of God’s attitude toward homosexual sin. More on this latest Bakker scandal later. — Peter LaBarbera

Episcopalians Reach Point of Revolt over Homosexuality

Monday, December 18th, 2006

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in an e-mail response to a request for an interview that such splits reflect a polarized society, as well as the “anxiety” and “discomfort” that many people feel when they are asked to live with diversity. “The quick fix embraced in drawing lines or in departing is not going to be an ultimate solution for our discomfort,” she said.

How ridiculous — and deceptive — it is that Ms. Schori characterizes the attitude of Episcopalians who are outraged at the denomination’s embrace of homosexuality as being uncomfortable with “diversity.” After all, we are talking about at least 10 percent of her congregants from the state of Virginia (home of the capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War and birthplace to General Robert E. Lee) refusing her leadership, and instead freely placing themselves under submission to a Black African leader. We are talking about other American Episcopal congregations considering affiliation under the spiritual leadership of bishops from Rwanda and Bolivia.

No, it is not resistance to “diversity” that evokes Episcopalian anxiety. It is Ms. Schori’s false teaching, her determination to embrace and approve of homosexuality, that they find intolerable. And well they should. — Sonja Dalton


From Episcopalians Reach Point of Revolt, by Laurie Goodstein, published Dec 17, 2006, by The New York Times:

For about 30 years, the Episcopal Church has been one big unhappy family. Under one roof there were female bishops and male bishops who would not ordain women. There were parishes that celebrated gay weddings and parishes that denounced them; theologians sure that Jesus was the only route to salvation, and theologians who disagreed.

Now, after years of threats, the family is breaking up.

As many as eight conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia are expected to announce today that their parishioners have voted to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. Two are large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property.

In a twist, these wealthy American congregations are essentially putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishops in poorer dioceses in Africa, Asia and Latin America who share conservative theological views about homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture with the breakaway Americans.

“The Episcopalian ship is in trouble,” said the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, one of the two large Virginia congregations, where George Washington served on the vestry. “So we’re climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There’s a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria. Their desire is to help us build a new ship in North America, and design it and get it sailing.”

…The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is now struggling to hold the communion together while facing a revolt on many fronts from emboldened conservatives. Last week, conservative priests in the Church of England warned him that they would depart if he did not allow them to sidestep liberal bishops and report instead to sympathetic conservatives.

nigeria-akinola.jpgIn Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for [“gay”] men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant. Archbishop Akinola presides over the largest province in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion; it has more than 17 million members, dwarfing the Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million.

If all eight Virginia churches vote to separate, the Diocese of Virginia, the largest Episcopal diocese in the country, will lose about 10 percent of its 90,000 members. In addition, four churches in Virginia have already voted to secede, and two more are expected to vote soon, said Patrick N. Getlein, secretary of the diocese.

Two weeks ago, the entire diocese in San Joaquin, Calif., voted to sever its ties with the Episcopal Church, a decision it would have to confirm in a second vote next year. Six or more American dioceses say they are considering such a move.

In the last three years, since the Episcopal Church consecrated V. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives with his partner, as bishop of New Hampshire, about three dozen American churches have voted to secede and affiliate with provinces overseas, according to The Episcopal News Service…

At one of the four Virginia parishes that has already voted to secede, All Saints Church in Dale City, the tally was 402 to 6.

Continue reading in The New York Times…

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