Baring False Witness

In my e-mail today, I received the daily news update from Focus-on-the-Family known as Citizenlink. One of the news blurbs focused on the Bishop of Recife in Brazil being deposed from his position.
This story is yet another, and in my opinion one of the most egregious, example of the failure of Christians to be Christian in the ideological “wars!” We simply must stop this kind of blatant mischaracterization, intentional misinformation, and forthright lying. Neither theological liberals nor conservatives are innocent. I have heard as many theological liberals as conservatives castigate and defame their opponents.
As followers of the Way of Christ, we are told: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV) What are the weapons we are to use: prayer, humility, mercy, grace, peace, truth telling, care for those unable to care for themselves, selflessness, and many others. Yet, to listen to the forces theologically aligned against one another in the Church is to hear the worst of the ideological and political battles going on between Republicans and Democrats. Our way should be profoundly counter-cultural, but only if we dare to live out the call of the Gospel of Christ.
I want to say that Focus-on-the-Family just doesn’t understand Anglican structures and polity, but these people are not stupid – plus, the American Anglican Council played a large part in this news piece.
It is an example of propaganda and the intentional practice of baring false witness against the American Church, its parishioners, and its leaders. Whether we agree or not with the approval and consecration of Bishop Robinson in the Diocese of New Hampshire, or on the gay question generally, to knowingly misinform, twist the truth, and lie about people and events is completely unjustifiable and unchristian. The end does not justify the means, even if you consider this whole affair war.
If you do not recall, this bishop traveled to the U.S. to participate in illegal and irregular confirmations in the Diocese of Ohio. The four or so reactionary parishes in Ohio conducted a protest confirmation service with retired American bishops and the Bishop of Recife (and perhaps others?), without informing and receiving the permission of the Bishop of Ohio. These confirmations were done in secret in an Orthodox Church building and only later made public. The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Brazil responded by disciplining the Bishop of Recife over his illegal actions.
The news story:

Brazilian Bishop Defrocked for Standing Up for Truth
by Pete Winn, associate editor
SUMMARY: The ordination of a gay bishop in the U.S. is having repercussions worldwide.
A major Anglican bishop in Brazil has been defrocked because he opposed the installation of American homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson — and said so publicly.

This is absolutely a distortion of the truth. The bishop would not have been removed if he protested against the inclusion of homosexuals in the Church, but he illegally transgressed not only diocesan boundaries but also provincial boundaries by coming to the Diocese of Ohio to participate in secret and irregular confirmations without the knowledge of his own Archbishop or the Bishop of Ohio. I am sure there are priests and bishops in Brazil who publicly disagree with the American and Canadian Churches’ positions on homosexuals and have not been removed from office. This statement is a lie, and these people know it!

The archbishop of Brazil, Orlando Santos de Oliveira, has ousted the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti.
Cavalcanti is a solid evangelical and opposes the recognition of homosexual clergy, according to the Rev. Canon Ellis Brust of the American Anglican Council, who has been following the situation.

“Cavalcanti took a strong stand in support of the historic Anglican Christian faith,” he said, “which upholds traditional biblical morality, especially in the area of human sexuality — and has come under a significant amount of fire.”
I absolutely support the bishop’s right to take a strong stand, but within Anglicanism we function within the rule of law specified within our Canons. We have the right to rebel against established rules, but don’t cry foul when we have to pay the consequences of our rebellion. We are a church of bishops – that’s how it has always been and priests and bishops know it when they/we sign-on.

Indeed, Cavalcanti actually came to the United States and took part in a service — alongside four Episcopal bishops — supporting American churches and ministers who are opposed to Robinson’s ordination, and who are opposed to the Diocese of Ohio, which supports gay priests.

This is the true reason he was disciplined by his superior and finally disposed for continued rebellion (not because of his stance on the gay issue!).

Marcus Throup, an Episcopal missionary to Brazil currently in the U.S., said Cavalcanti is one of many clergy kicked out for opposing the ordination of homosexuals.

Again, a distortion of the truth. A number of clergy in the bishop’s former diocese where inhibited because they refused to recognize the authority of the new bishop and the authorities of the Church in Brazil.

“They have tried to excommunicate clergy . . . who have been allowed no right to trial, no hearing, nothing,” he said. “We’ve been shut out by this illegal move.”
Brust said the actions in Brazil have been protested as illegal by most of the Anglican Communion.
“In fact, there has been a very strong outcry from the orthodox in the United States and around the world,” he said.
Throup believes the American church may have influenced the defrocking. He said the Brazilian church has strong ties to ECUSA.

This is an explicit example of baring false witness. The American Church has continued to fund and offer funds to the very provinces that have broken communion with us – Uganda and Nigeria are prime examples. We continued to fund relief and missions programs because the American Church understands that there can be differences, even profound differences, in our thoughts on theology and praxis yet that does not mean we must break communion. Uganda has refused to receive the American Church’s “dirty” money – to the detriment of their people. Why then would we need to coerce the Brazilian Church to get rid of one bishop and a few clerics?

“Most of the current funding does come from the Episcopal Church in the States,” he said.
Brust said there’s no direct evidence the pro-gay U.S. church pulled strings leading to Cavalcanti’s removal. But he agreed the archdiocese of Brazil has been well-funded with U.S. dollars for decades.
Moreover, an Episcopal gay-activist group, Integrity, has actively been sending people and dollars to Brazil.
What’s very clear, Brust said, is that persecution of Anglicans who support the traditional teachings of the church on sexuality has spread worldwide from the U.S.
“It seems to be another example of the pattern which says, ‘If you don’t agree with us, we will use coercion to control you,’ ” he said.

There is no evidence of this, and plenty of evidence to counter it. It is a lie and a distortion.

“You have to keep in mind, these theological and moral ‘innovations’ that the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada thrust upon the Anglican Communion — recognizing homosexual bishops and performing gay marriage ceremonies — have really torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion.”
The Worldwide Anglican Communion, meanwhile, is about to split. Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola recently “dis-invited” the Brazilian archbishop from attending a conference.
And 22 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion — representing 50 million of the world’s Anglicans — have either broken relations with ECUSA, or have “impaired” relations.