22 November 2011

The Chapman Strategy Continues to Fail -- Georgia

Part of the assault on my church initiated by the "Institute on Religion and Democracy" a group that fits my definition of a terrorist conspiracy, is the constant attempts to steal the property of the church so that much of our time and treasure is spent on litigation. We keep winning the litigation, for some reason the courts do not think well of thieves.

Unfortunately, while it is good that we win, good that the church's leaders stand resolutely in the face of the assault, there is only a limited victory here. Yes, the Supreme Court of Georgia, in this opinion, found for the church. Yes TEC can take possession of Christ Church Savannah, a beautiful and historic place of Episcopal worship. And now the rebuilding of a vibrant congregation can begin. All of that is good.

But the church remains under assault by those who hate it. Being inclusive, Christian and yes, progressive; we draw the anger of the haters. In one sense I suppose this is an honor. If the IRD and the "Christian Right" (which is neither) does not hate you, you are doing something wrong! But none-the-less in our time the evil assault on the church does real harm.

They do not build the church. The numbers from ACNA, and the proliferating holier than God churches are small, unless of course one counts bishops. They have lots and lots of bishops.

There are lots of reasons for the membership problems TEC and other progressive churches face. But we cannot ignore a single major fact: people considering a church are put off by the image of conflict. After all, they are looking, often, for a place to pray and love, perhaps a place to bring their kids. They are not looking for a fight.

The dilemma is that we have to fight the litigation. No one could think allowing those who hate us to steal our church buildings and the associated assets would be responsible conduct. In the short term evil works. Those who do not care about the church's mission but want to silence it in the secular world have in fact diminished the voices of the church. Longer term things will change. The haters will run out of money and cases, and the attention of the secular haters will shift. In addition, evil has a hard time with unity -- cf. the issues arising in AMiA.

The voice of the church will emerge. And in spite of the difficulties we have now, we will rebound.

That future, and the victory in Georgia are worth celebrating. Thanks be to God.


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