A group of Anglican bishops has today declared it’s decision to form an independent alliance, seperate from the Church’s traditional authority, as part of the ongoing row over the Church’s continual tolerance of conservatives.
The group, called the Furthering Anglicanism General Conference – or FAGCon – comprises clergy who support a progressive interpretation of the Bible, and as such are gay, or in some cases, well gay. The real impetus for the split appears to have be the ordination of the first openly conservative bishop, in 1534.
The split comes only days after traditionalists broke off ties with the more liberal wings of the Church over a long-standing dispute over its teaching of a “false gospel” based around tolerance and equality. There are a number of areas, conservatives Anglicans feel are misrepresented in the modern Church. Most attention, however, has focused on the Biblical teachings about homosexuality, especially where this homosexuality is gay, or even well gay. Conservatives believe the Bible rules out active homosexuality, though its position on passive homosexuality – such as wearing a sports top with your own name on it or using the word “banter” as a noun – is unclear.
They are keen to stress they are not orthodoxaphobic, but rather are concerned with the conservative agenda the Church has recently taken since the abolition of the monastries. Among some of the points causing the rift is the conservative belief that Anglicans should follow a universal doctrine. Gay and well gay Anglicans reject this notion, and hope to restore an acceptance of differing personal worship to all followers without exception. Conservative Anglicans believe that to be an Anglican involves sharing a single common doctrine, as no follower has the right to take unilateral decisions seperate from that consensus, and are willing to split the church in two to achieve it.
The two schisms this week could mean the Anglican Communion now has a much smaller body of clergy – indeed, if it were to comprise all the non-gay, non-conservative members, it would be exactly the size of Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, much like the traditionalists, the group insist they are not leaving the Anglican Communion, but that they will no longer recognise the authority of the Dr Williams, who they have criticised for failing to discipline churches for not being women, or even well women.