The ACI Numbers Game.

Having just posted a note that roughly 2/3 of the primates are attending the Primates Meeting, I was surprised to find that the Anglican Communion Institute is playing a different numbers game.

I pointed out that 2/3 of the Primates are there. If the listing given by the Anglican Communion Office is true that's about right.

The Anglican Communion Institute seems interested in a different sort of number, namely the number of people represented by various heads of churches. So they have written a little report, The Dublin ‘Meeting’ in which they point out with greater force than I obliquely suggested that, 

"Of the fourteen Primates who made this representation, it appears that only one will be attending any part of the meeting. In this light, the defensive explanations of why Primates are not attending offered by the Secretary General and the Communion Office (e.g. visa problems, diary conflicts, etc.) must raise eyebrows. Why should we think that those who publicly stated two months ago why they were not planning to attend now really wanted to come, but forgot they had another appointment? A little candor by those in attendance would be nice."

I couldn't agree more, although my sense is that political niceties take many forms, and in the cases of those who were not part of the group of fourteen (although how that number is derived is open to some interpretation) it of course does not apply. Still, there seems to have been some passive resistance going on.

But then the ACI moves into high gear:  First there is the magic analysis of the Church of England statistics in which 25 million members becomes 1 million Sunday worshipers, and the 30 million souls assigned to Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. I suppose this number is assumed by ACI to be Sunday worshipers. So they whack away at the 80 million rough guess for the Anglican Communion, replace it with a lesser number - 65 million, of which the number of persons in churches opposed to the doings of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, and perhaps the leadership of the Archbishop, turns out to be, about 2/3 of all Anglicans.  

Now this numerology is both impossible to confirm. It relies on the statistics of churches who count their membership in very different ways. More, it assumes that Primates carry in their pockets the proxy ballots of all their members - that they come as representatives of the mind of their whole churches rather than as persons who head churches with quite different powers and authority one from another.

ACI doesn't seem to let this bother them. So they close with this remarkable statement:

"Assuming a Communion membership of around 65 million, the following chart shows the proportion of Anglicans who are represented at the Primates’ current meeting (about 21 million) and those whose Primates are absent (45 million). By and large, the breakdown goes along Anglo vs. Global South lines. It is beyond time for questioning why Primates are not present or whether they should attend. At issue is the health of the Communion and the restoration of trust. Those present, if they wish to proceed as if this was a representative meeting of the Communion, need to ask what has gone wrong and determine how can it be righted.”

ACI believes that 2/3 of the Anglican Communion has boycotted the meeting.  The count of Primates in attendance gives another view, that 2/3 of the Primates attended.  ACI misunderstands the role of the Primates Meeting as some sort of representative body. It is not.  It is a meeting of cognate persons - heads of churches - for mutual sharing, of which there seems to be less going on now than before. 

But it is not a "representative meeting of the Communion."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I admit I haven't read the actual ACI doc, but are they claiming that the primates who are listed as having "visa problems" and so on are in fact boycotting the meeting but allowed themselves to be pressured by the ABC into not admitting it? Accusing them, in essence, of being too weak to stand up and say "I had no visa problems, I'm boycotting"? That seems a rather high stakes way to invite your wavering allies back into the fold. (Sorry if I'm misreading what you said.)


  3. Truthfulness and journalistic integrity is just as absent from this Anglican Communion "Institute" article as it is from most of their propaganda.

  4. Sir, I am not sure I believe that you would not be tempted to make the point that 2/3 of Anglicans were represented in Dublin - IF it were true.

    And, as for the CofE representing 20m or whatever - that is a tragic joke in England today. Surely, Sunday attendance is much more credible as a guide - for anything.

  5. Obviously how many warm bodies you represent is critically important. Just ask the ACI, who I believe consist of four guys and a computer with an Internet connection.

  6. ACI needs to make up its mind whether it's a question of primatial authority, as per Mouneer Anis's recent Charleston presentation (wonder who's hand guided that pen), or of posteriors on the pews. Not to mention an objective accounting for the membership claims made for some provinces - or, while we're playing the numbers game, the question of the number of communicants in three of the seven "boycotting" provinces - Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and Southern Cone.

  7. well - if those provinces not represented in Dublin and the ACI's 4 guys and a PC form a new communion without Rowan forcing them to recognie Katie, I guess that wouldn't matter, right? It wouldn't be that important to the Primates who have not attended....or they would have attended despite their reservations....just like TEC bishops attended Lmabeth 08 even though one of their no was disgracefully scapegoated...... congratulations to your PB - she has won in terms of keeping TEC in the councils of the AC (that most of the AC will form a new communion is neither here nor there...is it?)

  8. The hearty "AMENs" of 100 billion people and their bishops will never make David Kato's murder right, or deny the truth for which he died.

    "Moral relativists." Who's the moral relativist here? Moral relativists don't pursue law suits against newspapers that put them on a list under the headline "Hang Them!" in the face of death threats, threats that were finally carried out yesterday. Apparently doctrinal purity and sectarian identity count for far more than human rights and dignity, or the lives of a few in a despised and inconvenient minority.

  9. And a hearty AMEN to you, Counterlight.

    Despite all the lovely little moralizing and Bible quoting and history spinning, the fact is, your associates tell others who you are - I have long accepted that where it has been inconvenient for my "side."

    Time for the reactionary/conservative side to own up:

    What has been happening in these leading Global South dioceses, those associated with and funded by American and British special interests claiming Anglican heritage, demonstrates that the ACI is touting something that is not so much a communion of like belief and devotion, but a murderous mob of backwards homophobes, divided into two tiers; the first world financiers, the "dons," who keep their hands clean while paying the second, the global south "hitmen," to do the dirty work.

    The "orthodox" concerns are clear, when devoting much ink to keeping property, manipulating and aggrandizing their titles and standing, vilifying those who do not accept their unconvincing arguments, and simply ignoring the cold-blooded, brutal murder of someone - because, as we are aware, they were openly gay and somehow "deserved" it - as irrelevant, only giving lip service to their transparent "shock" when cornered.

    It's shameful, and it's the simple facts of the so-called "orthodox" movement in the Anglican Communion.

  10. Short of a government census, and sometimes even then, counting people can be rather difficult. The primary need for accurate numbers of people is to plan services for them such as government representation, school buildings, roads and such.

    Church counting is subject to all kinds of prevarication, both well and ill intended. So, the only numbers that can actually be relied upon are financial.

    People will talk in detail about their sexual habits before talking openly and honestly about money (see “corporate financial disclosure” if you have any doubts) unless there is a crisis. Even individual parishes can have a hard time with this one.

    Absent open and honest disclosure about sources and uses of cash, we can only assume that the ability to feed the sheep is the only way to gauge the size of an organization. Don’t consider the effect of endowment unless the income is being used for mission work and count only what is spent on mission. Then talk about size.

    Yes, this is both crude and unfair, but unless organizations are willing to submit to a common and honest recording of (take your pick) communicants, pledge units, or Sunday attendance, no one knows how big anything is. All we know otherwise is who is best at manipulating the data the best effect.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.