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Suffer the Little Bigots and Closeted Gays to Come Unto Him

The Vatican Trolls to Bring Down the Anglican Church

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 21, 2009.

You can’t escape your first impressions and imprints. I was born in the Episcopal church, baptized in it, and went to Sunday school – where we had coloring books, I recall - and I still have vague but fond memories of those years. The community I grew up in was almost entirely Roman Catholic, however, and unavoidably we had, sigh, Catholic relatives whose distinctions from our own religion made no sense to me, and still do not.

My charmless history with religion is, agreed, unimportant, but recently the Roman Catholic Church has made a power play of sorts to reabsorb disaffected elements of the Episcopal Church - which is the Anglican Church, the Church of England, under the Archbishop of Canterbury - back in. Thus, the Vatican would finally have its victory over the Tudor monarchs who took wealthy England from their accounts receivable ledgers centuries ago. Various military reconquests were denied them by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and by extension, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, and other pirates in Catholic eyes, but childhood heroes to those of us brought up in Protestant victory. It’s often forgotten, but movies and television shows for children through the 1950’s had no problem depicting the Spanish Catholics as evil incarnate. So, revenge is sweet.

The basis for this opportunity is that the Anglican Church now allows female and gay priests and is edging close to gay marriage. As a result, many congregations of Anglicans have divested themselves of contact with their hierarchy over these issues, and are swimming free, so to speak. To hear the Catholics tell it, these Christians – well, near Christians – are hungering for the traditions and the capitalized Truth of the “… visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” To sweep them back in, the Catholic church is willing to allow them to keep many of the aspects of their current church, like the King James Bible, and even perhaps allow currently married Episcopal ministers and Anglican priests to become Catholic priests and still keep their wives, becoming a sort of church within a church. That remains to be seen, but it’s discussed, red meat dragged before the heterosexual heretics.

The Vatican’s swing back to full reactionary mode of late has included the reintroduction of the Latin Mass, that all the world may remain ignorant of what is said in a language virtually nobody speaks outside of Jesuit seminaries. And this blatant attempt to subsume a once powerful religious enemy back into the fold for political and not religious reasons makes me, an atheist, feel just as creepy as those mouth breathing adults in my childhood. They are willing to have a church within a church just to keep the coffers – seriously depleted by priestly predation lawsuits – full. Rather materialistic.

Anglicans, like various hybrid Baptist groupings before, have divided over race, gender, homosexuality, and the limits of Christian compassion. Many want their Daddy’s religion forever, ignoring mom and keeping the gays stashed in mothballs deep in the closet. What’s so entirely creepy about this is the numerical predominance of gays in the Catholic Clergy from top to bottom, guaranteed by mandated abstinence but also because of its institutional misogyny from the beginning, and this thrills the hypocritical Anglican bigots who can continue to pretend to a nonexistent world under a different team jersey.

Episcopalians, relatively liberal compared to the Mormons or Baptists or Moonies, have brought this on themselves by obeying their religious beliefs and inclinations against the mere institutions of their church, of doing unto others what they’d like to have done to them. Like many Americans, they assumed for years that Christianity brings the Enlightenment and Democracy – all the good of western civilization - to places like Africa, when in reality it brought a convenient, guilt inducing template to firm up patriarchal and totalitarian dictators. Bishops in the Catholic Church enabled and participated in the Rwandan slaughters, and the most reactionary Cardinals of all come from the Third World.

Anglicans are both less and more than just Catholics without the Pope and with a more beautiful Bible. After all, you can’t escape your first impressions and these imprints present later in life. When I was five, I was leaving belief. When some Rwandans were five, they were sliced by machete. When the current Pope was five, he was a Hitler Youth. That he heads a church run by gay men and is attempting to seduce those who fear gays and women in power - and may partially succeed - speaks badly of all concerned.