Archive for December 20th, 2006

“Shocker! Faithful Really Do Sin Less” by Rebecca Hagelin

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

In his 1971 song “Imagine,” John Lennon asks us to envision a secular utopia. There’s no heaven, no hell. Peace and harmony reign, and a global “brotherhood of man” flourishes. Amid this blissful state of affairs, of course, we find “no religion.”

Lennon was a talented songwriter, but when it came to theology, he was 180 degrees off. A world free of religion would certainly have no heaven. But there would be plenty of hell – and right here on earth.

This isn’t simply the opinion of a lady who takes her faith seriously. A large and growing body of social science research shows what a huge difference religious faith makes in our everyday lives. It’s no overstatement, in fact, to say that religion makes civil society possible. Without it, just about every indicator of human misery would be off the charts.

For a concise yet comprehensive catalog of just how bad things could be, take a look at a startling new paper by Pat Fagan, the Heritage Foundation’s premier social-science researcher. In it, he sifts through countless studies that show the remarkable effect of religion on marriage, divorce, child-rearing, drug/alcohol abuse, out-of-wedlock births – even mental and physical health.

Start with an area near and dear to my heart – family relations. My husband and I have raised our three teenagers in a loving, religious household. Our faith in God has sustained us in good times and bad, and it has been a steady source of inspiration, comfort and encouragement. So I was particularly pleased to read the following in Fagan’s paper:

Compared with mothers who did not consider religion important, those who deemed religion to be very important rated their relationship with their child significantly higher. … When mothers and their children share the same level of religious practice, they experience better relationships with one another. For instance, when 18-year-olds attended religious services with approximately the same frequency as their mothers, the mothers reported significantly better relationships with them, even many years later. … Moreover, mothers who became more religious throughout the first 18 years of their child’s life reported a better relationship with that child, regardless of the level of their religious practice before the child was born.

The same holds true for fathers:

Compared with fathers who had no religious affiliation, those who attended religious services frequently were more likely to monitor their children, praise and hug their children, and spend time with their children. In fact, fathers’ frequency of religious attendance was a stronger predictor of paternal involvement in one-on-one activities with children than were employment and income – the factors most frequently cited in the academic literature on fatherhood.

Couples are far more likely to stay together if they’re religiously active, Fagan found. Indeed, the risk of divorce more than doubles for couples who stop practicing their religion. Religiously active couples also report greater happiness and satisfaction with their marriages. The incidence of domestic violence drops, too. Men who attended religious services at least weekly were more than 50 percent less likely to commit an act of violence against their partners than were peers who attended only once a year or less.

How about adolescent sexual behavior? Good news here, as well. Fagan notes that traditional values and religious beliefs were among the most common factors teens cite to explain why they are abstaining from sex. And religion affects out-of-wedlock childbearing: Compared with those who consider themselves “very religious,” those who were “not at all religious” are two to three times more likely to have a child outside of marriage. In addition, the use of cigarettes and the abuse of alcohol and drugs drops significantly among those who are religiously active.

Religion is also a great help to those who never marry or have children. “A review of the research shows that religion significantly affects the level of an individual’s happiness and overall sense of well-being,” Fagan writes. “In the vast majority of the studies reviewed, an increase in religious practice was associated with having greater hope and a greater sense of purpose in life.” In addition, people who are religiously active are at a much lower risk of depression and suicide. They also tend to live longer.

None of this would surprise our Founding Fathers, who knew that no people could be self-governing without religion. In his Farewell Address, George Washington referred to religion and morality as the “great pillars of human happiness” and noted: “Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

As you head to church this Christmas – and, I hope, in the weeks that follow – remember the indispensable role that religion plays in free society. We’ve been told by the highest authority, after all, that if we seek first the kingdom of God “all these things will be given to you as well.” In a way, Jesus was telling us – almost 2,000 years before John Lennon wrote a single note – how to achieve a true “brotherhood of man.” Imagine.

Original Link.

Study: More Than 9 Out of 10 Americans — Even Grandparents — Had Premarital Sex

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Guess I really am a minority. Albeit a minority not stricken by “social diseases” caused by indiscriminately having sex outside of marriage. A very proud minority, I might add.
There is always the possibility that the study is in error as well, but judging by what I see in the world today, that possibility is fairly remote.
Oh, by the way…just because “everyone” is doing it, doesn’t make it right.

NEW YORK — More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.

“This is reality-check research,” said the study’s author, Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”

Finer is a research director at the Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that studies sexual and reproductive issues and which disagrees with government-funded programs that rely primarily on abstinence-only teachings. The study, released Tuesday, appears in the new issue of Public Health Reports.

The study, examining how sexual behavior before marriage has changed over time, was based on interviews conducted with more than 38,000 people — about 33,000 of them women — in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002 for the federal National Survey of Family Growth. According to Finer’s analysis, 99 percent of the respondents had had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had done so before marriage.

Even among a subgroup of those who abstained from sex until at least age 20, four-fifths had had premarital sex by age 44, the study found.

Finer said the likelihood of Americans having sex before marriage has remained stable since the 1950s, though people now wait longer to get married and thus are sexually active as singles for extensive periods.

The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.

“The data clearly show that the majority of older teens and adults have already had sex before marriage, which calls into question the federal government’s funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for 12- to 29-year-olds,” Finer said.

Under the Bush administration, such programs have received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

“It would be more effective,” Finer said, “to provide young people with the skills and information they need to be safe once they become sexually active — which nearly everyone eventually will.”

Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defended the abstinence-only approach for teenagers.

“One of its values is to help young people delay the onset of sexual activity,” he said. “The longer one delays, the fewer lifetime sex partners they have, and the less the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.”

He insisted there was no federal mission against premarital sex among adults.

“Absolutely not,” Horn said. “The Bush administration does not believe the government should be regulating or stigmatizing the behavior of adults.”

Horn said he found the high percentages of premarital sex cited in the study to be plausible, and expressed hope that society would not look askance at the small minority that chooses to remain abstinent before marriage.

However, Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group which strongly supports abstinence-only education, said she was skeptical of the findings.

“Any time I see numbers that high, I’m a little suspicious,” she said. “The numbers are too pat.”

Leslee Unruh, who runs a South Dakota-based organization promoting abstinence-only education, contended that increasing numbers of young people were open to remaining chaste until marriage.

Original Link.

Border Agents Plead for ‘Christmas pardon’

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

If there’s something about these agents that they aren’t telling us, I wish they would, because right now this quote sums up the whole situation:

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career. Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free.”
-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R, Calif

A Border Patrol agent sentenced to prison along with his partner for shooting and wounding a man smuggling drugs into the U.S. will appear with a congressman tomorrow at a rally asking President Bush to offer a pardon.

Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas.

Compean will be joined by family; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R, Calif.; Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist; and members of other border-security groups such as Friends of the Border Patrol at the courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow.

Rohrabacher, noting the president already has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, is asking Americans to sign petitions and send e-mails and letters to the White House requesting a “Christmas pardon.”

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career,” he told WND. “Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free.”

Compean’s sister, of Huntington Beach, lives in Rohrabacher’s Southern California district.

The White House has not responded to the letter, according to Rohrabacher, and did not follow up a request from WND for comment. Press secretary Tony Snow has said he cannot comment on presidential pardons.

Gilchrist said what has happened to the two agents is “atrocious,” with “their lifes being ruined, their families being put in turmoil.”

“We would expect the president to give a full and unconditional pardon to these two wrongly arrested, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted members of law enforcement,” he told WND, “and retroactive pay and benefits they’ve lost over the past two years since they were originally arrested.”

As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.

Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos responded to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.

Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.

Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.

“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

In a move that still confuses Ramos and Compean, the U.S. government filed charges against them after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.

Andy Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol said the drug smuggler has “fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”

The letter to Bush included the signatures of Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

“We ask that a full investigation of this case be ordered immediately,” the letter said. “We are confident that during such an investigation you will find that these Border Patrol agents were acting within the scope of their duty and were unjustly prosecuted. Also, we ask that you use your power of presidential pardon, as granted by the United States Constitution in Article II, Section 2, to pardon these two Border Patrol agents. We understand these requests usually are for those that have already completed their sentences; however, we feel in this case it would be a miscarriage of justice to send these two Border Patrol agents to prison for protecting our nation’s borders from an illegal drug smuggler.”

Original Link.

Even Though on Firm Constitutional Ground, School Board Caves to ACLU Terrorist

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

In an attempt to call the quasi-deity Darwin and his half-baked theory of evolution the theory that it is, the Cobb County (Georgia) Board of Education placed stickers on text books to clarify the FACT that Darwin’s theory of evolution is just that, a theory.
They were promptly sued by the ACLU (the Anti-Christ Litigation Union) and the somewhat illiterate people at Americans United for Separation of Church and State (illiterate because they apparently don’t know how to read the Constitution of the United Sates of America and actually understand what it means).
The school board caved to the judicial terrorism tactics of these groups and has conceded to remove the stickers from the book. Of course in this “agreement”, the only thing the terrorist give up is the suite against the school board.
Has it occurred to you parents that every time these terrorist sue a school system that they are in fact suing you and your children? They are also diverting valuable funds, that came out of your hard earned money and could be used to educate our children, and lining lawyer’s pockets with them. Just thought I’d mention that.
Read my article “What Does the U.S. Constitution Actually Say About Religion?”

( – Four years after a Georgia school board placed stickers on its high school science books stating that evolution is “a theory, not a fact,” the district agreed on Tuesday to abandon the ensuing legal battle with liberal groups.

“We are very pleased to reach this agreement and end the lawsuit,” said Cobb County Board of Education Chair Dr. Teresa Plenge in a statement on Tuesday. “The board maintains that the stickers were constitutional, but, at the same time, the board clearly sees the need to put this divisive issue behind us.

“With this agreement, it is done, and we now have a clean slate going into the New Year,” Plenge added. “There will be no stickers in textbooks, and, as always, we will continue to provide Cobb County students a curriculum that follows national and state standards in teaching science and the theory of evolution.”

Under the settlement, the district will not attempt to place “any stickers, labels, stamps, inscriptions or other warnings or disclaimers bearing language substantially similar to that used on the sticker that is the subject of this action.”

In return, the plaintiffs – the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State – have agreed to end all legal action against the school district.

In a separate agreement, the district has agreed to pay $166,659, which represents a portion of the plaintiff’s legal fees.

“Cobb County school officials have taken the right step to ensure that their students receive a quality education,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Students should be taught sound science, and the curriculum should not be altered at the behest of aggressive religious groups.”

“Since federal courts have ruled that creationism is religion and cannot be taught in public school science courses, religious right groups have sought ways to undermine the teaching of evolution and sneak discussion of religious beliefs on the origins of life into public school science courses,” Lynn added. “Textbook disclaimers on evolution are one such tactic.”

Jeffrey Selman, the Cobb County parent who led the charge against the anti-evolution disclaimer and president of the Georgia chapter of Americans United, said the settlement put to rest a contentious struggle over religious and political agendas.

“The settlement brings to an end a long battle to keep our science classes free of political or religious agendas,” he said.

“I am very pleased that the Cobb school board has dropped its defense of the anti-evolution policy,” Selman added. “The board should be commended for taking this action.”

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the school board passed the sticker policy in 2002 after a group of parents complained that evolution was being taught to the exclusion of other theories, including the biblical story of creation..

The stickers read: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

School district parents sued, arguing that the policy promoted religion in science classrooms and therefore violated the separation of church and state. (which actually does not exist in the Constitution. -ed.)

In 2005, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper agreed and ordered the district to remove the stickers from its 35,000 biology textbooks. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court vacated Cooper’s decision and sent the case back to the lower court.

“After the 11th Circuit Court vacated the decision, we faced the distraction and expense of starting all over with more legal actions and another trial,” Plenge noted.

Original Link.

“Is There a War on Christmas? You Betcha!” By Tim Wildmon

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

(AgapePress) – Perhaps you saw the story out of the state of Washington last week, where a Jewish rabbi wanted to have a menorah (seven-branched candelabrum) put up at the Seattle-Tacoma airport alongside the “holiday” trees that are traditionally on display this time of year. Before political correctness came along, we all knew that these trees were called Christmas trees. In fact, there is a fellow selling trees near my house whose sign reads: “We don’t sell holiday trees; we sell Christmas trees.” Now there is a man after my own heart!

Those responsible for putting the trees up at the airport — the Seattle Port Authority — took them down very quickly when they got the letter from the rabbi. When the rabbi explained that he was not threatening legal action to have the trees removed — only that he was requesting a menorah be put up — the trees went back up again. Follow me here? It was a total overreaction on the part of the Port Authority, but this is the climate the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has created in our country where public officials think they may be sued because they display Christmas trees. Not Nativity scenes mind you, but trees. It’s insane.

The NBC Today show interviewed me on Monday about this story and about the general idea of a war on Christmas. They wanted to know what I thought about it. They taped a good 20 minutes of questions and answers. Ten seconds of it showed up on the program. But what I basically said was, “Yes, there is a war on Christmas. How many examples do you need?”

I went on to explain that there are forces afoot in America that want to “sanitize” our country of its Christian heritage, and one of the ways this can be accomplished is by diminishing the impact of Christ on Christmas and diminishing the impact of Christmas on the American consciousness. You do this over time. This is also accomplished under the banner of promoting “multi-culturalism,” “diversity” and “tolerance” — all of which I don’t have a problem with in their proper context. But what I resent, and a whole lot of Americans resent, is when in the name of multi-culturalism, diversity and tolerance, we began to sacrifice traditions that have made America great in the first place.

For example, news services across the country reported this earlier in the week: “Zogby polling shows an overwhelming majority (95 percent) say they are not offended by being greeted with a ‘Merry Christmas’ while shopping, including 98 percent for weekly Wal-Mart shoppers. But greet them with a ‘Happy Holidays,’ and 46 percent say they take offense.”

The reason that 46 percent of those surveyed take offense is because they are Christmas shopping, not holiday shopping, and everyone knows this. Families don’t give each other presents on Thanksgiving Day. Kids don’t run downstairs on New Year’s morning seeing what awaits them under the holiday tree. The Christmas-gift buying season is what keeps the American retail business in business.

These numbers also mean that most citizens want Christmas to maintain the special place it has long held in the American heart. We don’t want to see Christmas melt into a generic “holiday season” or “winter celebration” some hard-core secularists and atheists want to see happen.

Now I am about to give you an example of how the political correctness / multi-culturalism movement seeks to remove the Christian message about Christmas from the scene. One of the things it has done recently is attempt to elevate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as if they were equal to Christmas in American cultural relevance. They are not, but because we have been brainwashed with political correctness for a number of years now — and because we are fearful of being labeled racist or as anti-Jewish — many people in our country feel compelled to mention Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in the same sentence with Christmas. In America, Christmas — as a holiday — has always been in a league of its own. It points to the message of Christ and to our Christian heritage, and that is what the multi-culturalists and the politically-correct crowd want to change.

Hanukkah is actually a minor Jewish holiday. Passover and Yom Kippur are much more important to practicing Jews. As for Kwanzaa — which is a celebration of African culture observed from Dec. 26 – Jan. 1 — very few people had ever even heard of it before 10 years ago. The majority of African-Americans don’t even celebrate it. Compare that to the fact that the vast majority of black people do celebrate Christmas.

Another interesting fact here is that Christians do not consider the tree to have any spiritual significance. Especially in the same way a Jew looks at a menorah for instance. A Nativity scene would be the equivalent to the Christian. The tree is simply a traditional decoration that many Americans use to mark the Christmas season. Most people consider them just something nice to look at.

As a Christian I don’t have a particular problem with the menorah being up at an airport. After all, Christianity does have its roots in Judaism. But putting the Christmas trees back up was the right thing to do. We can’t give in to those who are on a mission to rewrite the history of America and remove any vestige of Christianity from the public square.

Original Link.

Pro-Family Advocate Blasts Wal-Mart’s Online Ad Gimmick Targeting Children

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Wal-Mart just can’t seem to keep out of trouble this year. I guess this is what happens when a company completely rejects the core beliefs of it’s founder.

(AgapePress) – The direct targeting of children by advertisers and the encouragement of greed and materialism in young people through advertising media are two of the complaints a pro-family children’s advocacy coalition has lodged with regard to a Wal-Mart-sponsored website that helps children build Christmas lists of what they want their parents to buy for them.

The Wal-Mart wish list game at features two elves, named “Wally and Marty,” who stand near a conveyor belt of toys and ask children whether they want to have the toys for Christmas. From their responses, a list is generated for them that ultimately can be e-mailed to their parents if the children provide the address.

Members of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) are not pleased with this marketing approach. According to the group’s co-founder, Dr. Susan Linn, the online game is another attempt by advertisers to get around parents and their efforts to curb materialism in their children.

“This is another example of the way that corporate America is undermining parental authority, bypassing parents and targeting children directly,” Linn says. This website, she asserts, features “the world’s largest retailer, manipulating kids to nag their parents for products for sale at Wal-Mart — but also [for products] that Wal-Mart is being paid to advertise.”

Also, the CCFC spokeswoman points out, children are being encouraged to get more toys than necessary. She feels the online game uses an insidious, though not terribly subtle kind of pressure on young players when it presents them with a toy that is available for purchase: “If kids say they don’t want it,” Linn notes, “there is dead silence, and then one elf saying to the other that that elf is going to lose their job because of kids’ decision.”

Parents should be able to decide on Christmas gifts for their children without being bombarded by companies manipulative advertising, Linn insists — and without having their children targeted by aggressive ads designed to bypass the parents altogether.

Original Link.

Virginia Churches Commended for Leaving ECUSA

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

More self-destruction of the Episcopal Church. For those of this denomination who are remaining faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible as a whole, you have our prayers. You are inviting problems on yourself because of your faith in the truth of the Bible. Good for You. We are praying for you.
If you are not one of the congregations who is rejecting the non-Biblical teachings of your national leadership, I suggest you pick up the Bible and actually read it. It might surprise you what it says.

(AgapePress) – Evangelical activists are voicing their support for the Episcopal churches in Virginia who, over the weekend, voted strongly in favor of leaving the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. And even though the combined average attendance of the eight churches exceeds that of many entire Episcopal dioceses, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA says the congregations’ departure doesn’t threaten the denomination’s survival.

It was August 2003 when ECUSA leaders consecrated V. Gene Robinson as bishop of Diocese of New Hampshire, making him the denomination’s first openly homosexual bishop. His ascension to that position was preceded by warnings from many leaders in the Anglican world that it would “tear the very fabric” of the worldwide Communion and likely cause local churches and dioceses to break away from the Episcopal Church.

Sunday’s action by eight churches in the Diocese of Virginia — including two of the most prominent Episcopal churches in the state — is evidence that those warnings were nigh unto prophetic, as those congregations voted to affiliate themselves with conservative Anglican groups in Africa and to join the newly established Convocation of Anglicans in North America. (See earlier article)

Out of Options
Rev. Rob Schenck is president of the Washington, DC-based National Clergy Council (NCC) and a member of Christ the Redeemer parish in Centreville, Virginia, one of the congregations that voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Schenck says the move was necessary, and that several of the churches that voted to severe ties with the denomination were out of options.

“The Episcopal Church as a whole departed long ago from biblical doctrine and biblical teaching,” says Schenck. “In recent days, their leadership have made pronouncements even suggesting that there are ways outside of Christ that one can be saved.” (See earlier article reflecting comments by ECUSA’s presiding bishop)

The NCC leader says the denomination’s “radical departure from accepted Christian doctrine” reflects the fact that the Episcopal Church has not only left worldwide Anglicanism, but also historic Christianity. “The new Episcopal religion,” he says, “should be more accurately called New Age spiritualism.” And those churches that are leaving ECUSA, he says, will be blessed.

“God bless these leaders and churches for their bold move,” says Schenck. “They’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk …. [T]hat’s the kind of brave Christ-like leadership our nation and the church needs.”

Homosexual Bishop ‘Tip of the Iceberg,’ Says IRD Spokesman
Another observer in the Washington, DC, area echoes that support — but says consecration of a homosexual bishop is but one reason for the current schism in the Episcopal Church. Ralph Webb, director of Anglican Action at the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), says election of V. Gene Robinson to oversee the New Hampshire Diocese provides just one example of how ECUSA has “drifted away” from it scriptural foundations.

“Beyond wanting to be faithful to scripture, the churches [that voted to leave ECUSA] felt that their mission work was impaired by remaining within the Episcopal Church,” says Webb. “Perhaps most importantly of all, they felt that they could not be faithful Anglicans while remaining in the Episcopal Church.” Robinson’s consecration, he believes, merely “heightened” the issues within the denomination.

Still, Webb acknowledges that the churches’ decisions were not easy. “We recognize that their decisions were made soberly and only after much prayer and deliberation. They face a new day before them; a day full of many challenges, but also many opportunities.” And the departure of eight churches within a single dioceses, he adds, should cause the Episcopal Church to ask itself some tough questions.

But it is unclear if Sunday’s actions in the Diocese of Virginia will result in such self-examination. According to Associated Press, Katharine Jefferts Schori — the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church — says her denomination’s survival is not threatened by those congregations’ vote to join a rival Anglican group.

Presiding Bishop: ECUSA Will Remain Healthy, Engaged
Jefferts Schori dismisses the notion that the Convocation of Anglicans in North America might replace the Episcopal Church as the American branch of Anglicanism. “I think some people hold that fantasy,” she says, but added, “I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.”

The presiding bishop does not seem to be deterred by the departure of almost ten percent of the roughly 90,000 congregants that make up the Virginia Diocese. Those eight congregations, she tells Episcopal News Service, make up “a very, very small percentage of the church” that consists of some 7,200 congregations across the nation. And the “vast bulk” of the church, she insists, “is healthy [and] engaged in mission and ministry — and that is going to continue.”

Both Jefferts Schori and Virginia Bishop Peter Lee have expressed their concern for those in the departing parishes who wish to remain with the Episcopal Church. In some of those churches where membership has been significantly reduced, says Lee, there are “faithful Episcopalians who need to be given every encouragement to establish structures necessary for their continuity as the Episcopal Church.”

Lee had stated earlier that the diocese intends to “assert the church’s canonical and legal rights” over the property holdings of the eight Virginia churches. But the potential battle over the property has been delayed for now. Representatives from both sides of the debate — the Diocese of Virginia, and the two largest churches that are leaving (Truro and Falls Church) — have agreed not to proceed with either litigation or property transfer for 30 days. The buildings and land at both of those churches has been valued at about $25 million.

Original Link.