Sunday, November 18, 2007


A few weeks ago, the progressive blogosphere was abuzz about the violent language coming from the "right" – with folks on the StandFirm blog threatening to pick up their guns, and one woman saying that our Presiding Bishop "wasn't worth the bullet" it would take to kill her. Even English reporter Stephen Bates was disgusted by those "Christians." I was mightily dismayed by those comments. Father Jake has done a fine job tracking that dialogue in his Who Is Worth Killing?

Now an even more chilling report has been circulating, from an Episcopalian who attended the Fort Worth diocesan convention. She reports:

I'm sorry there wasn't a live webcast for the opening Eucharist this afternoon. Maybe it would have shown the presence of the uniformed police officer in the hallway next to the choir, within a few feet of the altar. Secured in his belt was a loaded gun and a taser. I know this because I asked him after the service, as he stood in the doorway to St. Anne's bookstore. I told him these weapons were meant for me and my friends. What must they think of us?
When I read that story, I was appalled. And I wondered whether it was really true. But the story was soon verified by a person in Fort Worth, who confirmed that he was the one who had suggested that armed guards be at the altar in Fort Worth's Eucharist. And what was the cause of his panic? It's because Bishop Iker received this e-mail message on November 13:
[snipped addresses]
Subject: Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori's letter to you

Dear Mr. Iker:

I hope that Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori takes you out behind the woodpile and beats the sh*t out of pompous asshole. Your arrogance is beyond the pale and a disgrace to what's left of the Christian Church. Why don't you give the Episcopal Church a gift this holiday season and get the f*ck out of it.

- A pissed off and disgusted gay Episcopal priest...who you can't touch because I don't live in your fascist diocese.
Let me hasten to say I find that person's language thoroughly disgusting. I'm doubly disgusted that he would use such language while claiming to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. And I completely disagree with his wish that anyone would leave the Episcopal Church.

But I must ask: Given that all his language was passive – wishing someone else [namely ++KJS] would take action or that Bishop Iker et al would just leave – what in the world made the people in Fort Worth think he was posing an active, violent threat?

To me, it appears that many of the folks in the "Network" are actively cultivating a kind of hysteria among their adherents. It looks to me like they are seeking to whip up a kind of frenzied martyrdom of "True Believers under assault" that gave us Jim Jones and David Koresch. It's frightening to me to see leaders of our church cultivate the kind of victim-under-assault language that urges its adherents to take up arms. We have read the homicidal, violent words on StandFirm, and now we have seen it manifested in the Fort Worth Eucharist. When will this end? Where will it end?

A few folks have argued that Fort Worth's armed guards around the altar are just like Bishop Robinson's kevlar vest. I have now learned that it wasn't just Bishop Robinson in a bulletproof vest. There were also undercover law enforcement agents in the procession and altar party. The reason law enforcement took actions at Bishop Robinson's consecration was because there were death threats. Real, confirmed, credible death threats. Not e-mails wishing Bishop Robinson would leave the church. In New Hampshire, law enforcement officials perceived a credible threat. There's a very large difference.

By contrast, Bishop Iker and his minions remind me of lunatics like Jim Jones and David Koresch. I suppose they think they will whip up the faithful with rumors of violence.

I must agree with those who are beginning to say that the leadership in Fort Worth is sick. Very, very sick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's sick is the rest of the Episcopal Church in America that has broken with 2000 years of Christianity in favor of liberalism. Fort Worth and other diocese like it are standing up to this and keeping the Faith.

11/19/2007 6:54 AM  
Blogger Barbi Click said...

No, what is sick is not having the courage of your faith to sign your name at the end of a derisive posting. What faith are you attempting to maintain? What kind of witness are you?

Re: finally beginning to believe how sick FW is...I don't know how to take that, actually. Nonetheless, I am heartened by your new belief. Thank you from one who has been crying out from the wilderness for a long time now.

11/19/2007 11:46 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Barbi, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I knew Fort Worth was weird and dysfunctional. I just didn't realize how profoundly sick it was 'til now.

11/19/2007 9:50 PM  
Blogger Suzer said...

I have to wonder if the e-mail from the supposed "gay Episcopal priest" was legit. However, whether it was or wasn't, such language is disheartening.

I tried to engage with a commenter on another blog recently who said TEC is trying to "shove it down our throats" (re acceptance of GLBT persons) to the point he is "choking on it." I was disturbed by such violent imagery being used. And it struck me this guy really believes this -- his dislike for GLBT people is so strong, and he has bought into so much of the rhetoric, that he literally feels a violent reaction to the suggestion of GLBT equality within the church.

And I don't know what to do about that, other than wish him well and hope he finds a place to worship that is less appalling to him. I don't understand the use of violent language, much less real physical violence, between members of TEC or any other Christian denomination. There is no place for it, and it truly saddens me.

All I can do, I guess, is take care that my own language does not become that way. Many times I have been sorely tempted to make a snarky or disparaging comment against a bishop or some other leader of the schismatic groups, but I do realize that such comments only widen the divide. I'm sure I have fallen short sometimes and left a comment I should not have. I will try to follow Christ's example more closely from now on.

May God forgive us our shortcomings and unChristian behavior, no matter what "side" we are on in this debate.

11/20/2007 3:10 PM  
Blogger Barbi Click said...

Dearest Lisa, you have never disappointed me. and yes, sadly it is profoundly sick. Even one clergy member noted that many of them are in "exile". There is no other place for them to go...

11/21/2007 9:57 AM  

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