It starts by some one, say Bishop Nazir-Ali, in a Guardian article, contending that "... there’s a double jeopardy – on the one hand an aggressive secularism that seeks to undermine the traditional principles because it has its own project to foster. On the other is the extremist ideology of radical Islam, which moderate Muslims are also concerned about." He seems so, so...English. A worried cleric, an articulate and oh, so classy way about him. Worried about aggressive secularism and radical Islam. Sounds worrisome.
Very quickly the "aggressive secularism" gets identified with certain liberal forces in Anglicanism. "...he said he would continue to support them (orthodox Anglicans) as they try to stop more churches “capitulating” to modern culture by permitting homosexual clergy or blessing same-sex unions.
“We now have people in the US but not only there who believe things about God, about salvation, about marriage and about human sexuality that seem to be another religion."
So suddenly, it is not aggressive secularism, but regular paid up Anglicans who have capitulated to modern culture (i.e. secularism) and are actually "another religion."
So there we have it: liberal Anglicans are another religion, Islam is another religion. The two are identified as the dual horrors to be dealt with. (Except maybe by moderate Islam, which might be tolerated, but just). A pox on them both.
True Christians and True Anglicans are against those awful religions, Anglicans in cultural captivity and Muslims in radical captivity. Anybody alarmed by radical terrorism claiming Islam as their base can now extend their fear quotient to include liberal Anglicanism which then becomes the terrorism for the so called "orthodox."
Of course the logic is rot.
But never mind, The Rev. Canon Jullian Dobbs, member of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), has announced a new study program, "The Church and Islam." Notice it is not "Christianity and Islam," but "The Church and Islam." This project claims to "help Christians understand the religion of Islam."
The web for "The Church and Islam" states its objectives:
"The objective of these resources is to help Christians in the West [especially Anglican Churches in North America] to understand Islam and the challenge which the rise of Islam poses to the Church and her mission.
Every year, there are thousands of people converting to Islam. In the United Sates, some estimates put this as high as 100,000 per year. Of these:
•4 out of 5 white American converts to Islam are women (The World Almanac and Book of Facts)
•2 out of 3 are from a Protestant background (p. 22, Pew Report)
•Every year, there are thousands of Muslims migrating to the US.
Interfaith and intercultural dialogues are drawing countless pastors and churches into discussions on Islam and Christ. There is growing concern about the emphasis in the evangelical community regarding dialogue with Islam, while not fully comprehending the jeopardy involved."
Now the site also wants us to know that "CANA believes that while studying aspects of the Islamic faith we must show God’s love to Muslim people." And the masthead says, "Muslims are individuals created in the image of God, when Jesus said, “God so loved the world”, God’s love was not meant to exclude the Muslim population of the world." This sounds rather wonderful, and then on closer look what it means is we show God's love to Muslim People by getting them on board with Jesus.
All of which appears to be mostly about evangelical outreach to Islam here in the US as well as everywhere. Fair enough.
But the connection is not lost: CANA is True Christian opposed to Terrible Muslims and for loving not so terrible Muslims into faith in Jesus Christ, just as they are truly Anglican as opposed to those who practice the sort of cultural Christianity that promotes "Interfaith and intercultural dialogues... drawing countless pastors and churches into discussions on Islam and Christ. There is growing concern about the emphasis in the evangelical community regarding dialogue with Islam, while not fully comprehending the jeopardy involved."
Jim wrote, "Two cents on where I see the breakaway Anglicans heading: the leadership, like Minns, Dobbs, Don Armstrong, etc., will continue to play to big donors and political insiders by agreeing to gin up resentment against whomever the farthest corners of the American right dictate. Meanwhile, on the ground, these churches will present themselves as Baptists with a taste for liturgy--and keep the nature of their origins, their views on human sexuality and their leaders political activities more or less under wraps as they attempt to reach out to young people. The long term prospects of ACNA and its various branches hinges almost entirely on obscuring and growing beyond its homophobic roots as quickly as possible."
I think he is too kind. He is right about the money coming from fear mongering the far right. He is right about Baptists and Liturgy (see soon to be bishop Todd Hunter's interview in Christianity Today, HERE.) His comment concerning long term prospects of ACNA hinging "almost entirely on obscuring and growing beyond its homophobic roots as quickly as possible" is perhaps too gentle. I think ACNA will keep the homophobia and lace the fear of "them" to the fear of the other "them." Queers and Muslims... a dynamic duo of fear and loathing. Knowing the evangelical fervor for it all, we best add Jews to the crowd, and while we are at it feminists, communists, poets, and comedians.
Fear is a wonderful thing: from it the logic of linking the objects of our fears together against the truth of our own being grows and flourishes.
CANA and ACNA want to make the division between their "true" Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church's secular, heretical and culturally compromised ways, and to find a parallel to that in a division between True Christians and Terrible Muslims.
The claim will be that this is true evangelism: rooting out strange religion at home and abroad. The claim will be that to do otherwise is to deny one's faith and betray faithful communities elsewhere.
These claims will fall short of the Good News by a considerable stretch, since the Good News does not begin by suggesting fear, but with the proclamation, "Do not be afraid."