Saturday, February 17, 2018

ACNA defends Gafcon decision not to reveal existence of female bishop

From Episcopal Cafe-

Although the press in South Sudan ran the news when it occurred, it was only recently learned that the Province South Sudan consecrated the first female bishop in Gafcon. The Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor was consecrated assistant bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek in the Province of South Sudan in December 2016, breaking a Gafcon moratorium on female bishops. Once word was out, Gafcon issued a statement revealing that the Gafcon primates first learned of the consecration in April 2017. The communique from that meeting makes no mention of the consecration, nor does any subsequent Gafcon communication.

Yesterday a press release from ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) addressed why Gafcon took no initiative to make news of the consecration public. Its author is the Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations of ACNA. He has also served as Gafcon’s spokesperson.

ACNA’s press release is reproduced in full below. It has not appeared on ACNA’s website.

More here-

Why Amaechi, Fashola won’t allow Buhari fight corruption – Archbishop Chukwuma

From Nigeria-

Archbishop of the Enugu Anglican Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Reverend Emmanuel Chukwuma, has said that former governors of Rivers and Lagos States used their states’ monies to sponsor President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

According to him, that was why they were rewarded with important ministerial roles, with some of them heading three ministries in one.

Making the allegation in an interview with Punch, the cleric said Nigerians should not be surprised if former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole is given a ministerial position tomorrow.
He said the government would find it difficult fighting corruption because some state governors assisted Buhari to get there using state funds.

According to him, “In this government, some people were given three ministries; we want to know why they were given three ministries.

“Look at the two former governors that were given three ministries each, let’s be frank and sincere, Lagos and Rivers must have spent so much money (on Buhari’s election).

More here-

Pastoral care should punch us in the face

From The Living Church (reference the previous post)-

I am not entirely sure when pastoral became a synonym for nice, but it was already the case when I was in seminary a decade ago. Classes on “pastoral care” focused on things like how to run vestry meetings and how to avoid conflicts. When parishes put together profiles for the priest they want, pastoral is a word that often comes up. The expectation seems to be that a pastoral priest is someone kind and easy to talk to who is highly affirming. This pastor-as-life-coach model of ministry has become dominant in the American Church, and it is killing our congregations.

Of course, Murphy’s Ecclesiastical Law dictates that whenever something terrible catches on in the life of the Church, there is an equal if not more stupid backlash. Enter the Church Growth movement with its emphasis on transforming the work of the pastor into a series of managerial tasks.

“If pastors could figure out how to better tackle the issue of pastoral care, I’m convinced many more churches would grow,” says Carey Nieuwhof in a blog post last month that has been shared more than four thousand times. Nieuwhof says that pastors are spread too thin trying to attend to every tragedy, meet with every family, and handle every baptism or wedding. His solution? Get a team of lay people to do all that stuff while you work on management and leadership development instead.

More here-

10 Predictions About The Future Church And Shifting Attendance Patterns

From Carey Nieuwhof-

Every generation experiences change.

But sometimes you sense you’re in the midst of truly radical change, the kind that happens only every few centuries. Increasingly, I think we’re in such a moment now.

Those of us in in Western culture who are over age 30 were born into a culture that could conceivably still be called Christian. Now, as David Kinnaman at the Barna Group has shown, even in America, people who are churchless (having no church affiliation) will soon eclipse the churched.

In addition, 48% of Millennials (born between 1984-2002) can be called post-Christian in their beliefs, thinking and worldview.

More here-

From the Bishop: On the Mass Shooting in Parkland, Fl.

From New Jersey-

Once again, this nation has been visited by great evil:  the evil of a mass school shooting. 17 were killed at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida on Ash Wednesday – a day when we “acknowledge our wretchedness.”

16 year-old Carmen Schentrup was among those killed on Wednesday. She was an active member of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Hollywood, Florida where my good friend Mark Sims is Rector. She was also active in Episcopal Youth activities in the wider Church. When I heard the news of Carmen’s death, I texted my condolences to Mark. He responded by text, “Chip, Thank you.  One day this beautiful vibrant girl opens my office door to announce that she had been accepted at UF [University of Florida].  Two days later I’m sitting with the family and the FBI hearing for the first time that she been shot and killed…” It made me cry. Needless to say, all the killings this past Wednesday are devastating.

More here-

Difficult But Necessary Work: A Lay Leader’s #metoo Reflection

From The House of Deputies-

My #metoo Lenten reflection begins before I became Episcopalian. My father is from Mexico and my mother is European-American. I was raised by my mother’s family, a large working class Catholic family, in the Archdiocese of Chicago in the 1980’s. My home parish was affected by the sexual abuse of priests as well as the school principal. Perhaps because of this context, from a very young age while I deeply loved the church, I also knew that it was not always a safe place. Regardless, I was committed to my church and as involved as they would allow me to be. I was an altar girl, pre-school Sunday school teacher, and I took my first paid job working in the parish office. At the age of 15, I gave birth to a baby that I placed for adoption, an open adoption that continues to this day. At the very moment he took his first breath and stretched out his tiny newborn hand, I was stuck with a powerful spiritual experience that I can only liken to Saul on the road to Damascus. Over the next several decades, until the writing of this very reflection, I would begin to hide the nature of this event by simply calling it a “spiritual awakening.”

This event, or spiritual awakening, led me to look for Jesus outside of my home church. I spent a brief few years as a born-again Evangelical Christian with a strong testimony in my pregnancy and birth story. During this time I was accepted into a prestigious Christian faith-based college where I just knew that God had amazing things planned for me. Through my unbridled excitement, I allowed myself to become naive enough to believe that I would be safe among my peers.

More here-

Friday, February 16, 2018

Judge lifts stay in federal court case

From South Carolina-

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel has lifted a stay in a lawsuit over false-advertising and related claims against the bishop of a breakaway group that left The Episcopal Church in 2012, issuing a scheduling order for the trial to begin on or after September 1.

The case, known as vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, had been set for trial in March, but the judge issued a stay in August 2017, putting the proceedings on hold while the parties entered a mediation process.

Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., Chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, said TECSC and The Episcopal Church remain hopeful that mediation efforts will be productive.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2013, a few months after Mark Lawrence and a breakaway group announced they were leaving The Episcopal Church. The suit involves a claim of false advertising under the federal Lanham Act. At that time, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg was the only bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. By continuing to represent himself as bishop of the diocese, Mark Lawrence is committing false advertising, the lawsuit says.

More here-

Oxfam scandal: Archbishop Desmond Tutu steps down as ambassador

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Dr Desmond Tutu, announced on Thursday that he would retire as an ambassador for Oxfam, because of “allegations of immorality and possible criminality” involving the charity’s aid workers.

The widening crisis over allegations of sexual abuse in the aid sector has led to the Charity Commission launching a formal inquiry and the Government threatening to remove millions of pounds of funding.

Allegations that Oxfam workers engaged prostitutes while working in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti have spread rapidly in recent days to cover other disaster zones and other agencies, calling into question the behaviour of aid workers and ability of charities to manage them.

More here-

also here-

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Episcopal High in Baton Rouge says investigation finds no evidence of alleged sexual assault

From Louisiana-

After a five-month investigation led by Baton Rouge attorney Mary Olive Pierson, Episcopal High School has been unable to corroborate a complaint that an employee had sexually assaulted a former student several years ago.

Moreover, Pierson “has found no evidence of any other allegation of sexual misconduct on a student by any current or former employee,” according to a new release issued by the school Wednesday morning.

Sgt. Don Coppola, a spokesman for Baton Rouge Police, said Wednesday that it too has closed its investigation in this allegation after it was unable to find probable cause to bring charges but could reopen the investigation if new information emerged.

More here-

Church of the Advocate reverend leads community in healing

From Philadelphia-

In October 2017, the Rev. Renee McKenzie got a call from the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia asking if she would provide sanctuary for an undocumented immigrant family whose deportation was ordered. Instinctually, she agreed.

“I have to be honest, I hadn’t really thought it through carefully before I said yes,” she said. “My instinct was to say yes because there’s no way I could not support this family. There’s no way we could not provide sanctuary if we had the ability to do so, and we did. So I said yes.”

McKenzie has been a clergy member at the Church of the Advocate on Diamond Street near 18th for six years and has consistently fought for social justice issues. She believes she has a responsibility to be an advocate for change — even when faced with significant risks.

Carmela Apolonio Hernandez, who is taking sanctuary in the Church of the Advocate with her four children, was ordered to leave the country by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency by Dec. 15, 2017. Hernandez said she fled an unsafe environment in Mexico in 2015 after her brother and two nephews were killed by organized drug traffickers.

More here-

God’s Message on ‘Ash Valentine’s Day’: True Love Dies

From Christianity Today-

Today, on Valentine’s Day, while the world is bedecked with schmaltzy red and pink hearts, I will stand before kneeling members of my congregation and tell them that they are going to die. This, without a doubt, is among the most punk rock things I have ever done.

For the first time in 45 years, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, a liturgical feast day commemorating not one but two martyrdoms. The holiday—in old English, hāligdæg, or “holy day”—has been scrubbed of its bloody beginnings and now finds its chief significance in market share and revenue generation. (Houston Asset Management tracked 2017’s Valentine sales as just over $18 billion in their yearly “Cost of Loving” index.)

With its declaration of human finitude and mortality, Ash Wednesday is always counter-cultural, but when it falls on the very day that chalky candy hearts proclaim “Be Mine,” “Wink Wink,” and (my favorite) “U R A 10,” the contrast is particularly stark.

More here-

The SCLM Report on Prayer Book Revision: Welcome to the Conversation!

From Liturgy and Music-

As the Blue Book report and resolutions proposed by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music become available online, the SCLM will present essays about its work at the rate of no more than one essay per week to allow for focused conversation. We invite your comments and hope that our discussion here will be beneficial to the legislative committees of General Convention.

Through resolution A169, the 2015 General Convention directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music “to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the current Book of Common Prayer and present that plan to the 79th General Convention.”

At the outset, it’s important to remember that General Convention did not ask the SCLM to begin revising the Book of Common Prayer! Rather, it asked for the construction of a plan for revision for the 79th General Convention to consider. The request was for a thorough and linear process. No efforts to revise the Book of Common Prayer took place this triennium, because that was not what the SCLM was asked to do. The Episcopal Church, through General Convention, has yet to decide whether to revise the prayer book. It will have that conversation this summer at the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas (July 5-13, 2018). To convey your opinions about prayer book revision, it will be important for you to speak directly with the elected deputies from your diocese, and your bishops.

More here-

Love, Ash Wednesday, and Living Into Lent

From Pittsburgh-

Dear Friends in Christ,

I was raised Episcopalian and, as a youth, I loved Ash Wednesday. What could be cooler than having a huge black cross smeared on your forehead? If I thought the priest hadn't done a decent job, I'd touch it up, while looking in a mirror to make it more emphatic. Of course the thing it stood for — the universe of conviction, grace, repentance and amendment of life — was completely foreign to me. Though I had said them nearly every Sunday while growing up, I never really understood those weighty lines in the old general confession at Morning Prayer about "our manifold sins and wickedness" and that "the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable." I didn't know who they were talking about; through my teenage years and into my early twenties I felt fine. The only burden I found intolerable was other people, particularly those who would challenge my pride, or who had the temerity to suggest that I wasn't running my world very well.

More here-

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Catholic priest pens the Anglican Archbishop’s prayer book

From Crux-

For those that have followed the close collaboration and friendship between Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, it will come as no surprise that the spiritual head of the Church of England selected a Roman Catholic priest’s manuscript for his 2018 Lenten prayer book.

Luigi Gioia, a Benedictine priest and academic scholar, has spent the past two decades bringing together ecumenical thought and spirituality in both the Church and the classroom.

Gioia is a professor of Systematic Theology at the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome and also a research associate at the Von Hügel Institute in Cambridge, England. Along with his academic work, he has also given retreats around the world. His new book, Say it to God: In Search of Prayer, was just released last month and offers practical reflections particularly designed for the Lenten season.

He spoke with Crux about what monastics offer the modern age and how “the more we grow in authentic prayer, the greater our compassion grows.”

More here-

When Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, what’s a clergyperson to do?

From RNS-

It’s Valentine’s Day, a time for chocolate, roses and perhaps a dinner date. But it’s also Ash Wednesday, which for many Christians is the start of Lent, a period of penitence that precedes Easter Sunday.

How do clergy reconcile this calendar clash, the first of its kind since 1945? Approaches abound:

An Oregon clergy couple celebrated Valentine’s Day early on a recent road trip because they knew they’d be busy at a United Methodist church’s Ash Wednesday service on Feb. 14.
An Episcopal priest in Maryland has prepared a “Lovesong” service for Ash Wednesday that emphasizes various kinds of love that can be celebrated on Valentine’s Day.
An upstate New York Catholic bishop suggested Mardi Gras might be a good time for romance this year.

More here-

Diocese of South Carolina petitions U.S. Supreme Court

From South Carolina-

The disassociated Diocese of South Carolina, which left The Episcopal Church in 2012 and sued to retain its name and property, lost its battle in the state courts in August last year when the Supreme Court issued a set of five opinions that, overall, favored The Episcopal Church and its remaining diocese.

According to that ruling, the disassociated diocese would have to relinquish 29 church buildings. (A separate federal case will determine the fate of intellectual property.)

But Diocese of South Carolina officials soon indicated they would petition the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the state court decision, and on Friday, Feb. 9, that’s just what they did.

The petition for writ of certiorari asks the nation’s highest court to consider the case and apply “neutral principles of law.”

More here-

I bring my kids to Ash Wednesday worship. Here’s why.

From Grow Christians-

As a child, I was somewhat confused about death. I blame Star Wars.

The original Star Wars movie came out when I was three; seeing it with my family remains one of my earliest memories. My meditation on the movie continued over a comic-book adaptation of the story that I read over and over until it finally fell apart from over-reading a couple of years later. My first conscious experience of “death” was Obi Wan Kenobi cut down by Darth Vader in a dramatic lightsaber duel—and his subsequent disappearance.

Thus, I thought that’s what everybody did when they died: their body just vanished like Ben Kenobi’s.

Around that time, my maternal grandfather passed away. I was so puzzled when my mom and dad told me that they were going to the viewing; I distinctly remember wondering, “Since he disappeared, what is it that they are going to go see…?”

Parents might be reluctant to take their children to a service like Ash Wednesday because of its thematic content; the two big things on tap are death and sin. If they’re anything like me at that age, your kids have already been exposed to the concept of death, if only in movies. Indeed, if your kids have seen the virtually obligatory Disney canon, they’ve seen death used as a plot device that turns on them understanding something about it. Think of the shooting of Bambi’s mom or the crushing of Ray the Cajun firefly in The Princess and the Frog.

More here-

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

C of E raises serious concerns about Christian Freemasons

From The Guardian-

The Church of England has reiterated “significant concerns” about Christians becoming Freemasons amid renewed controversy about the presence of the secretive organisation at the heart of the British establishment. Christopher Cocksworth, the bishop of Coventry, flagged up a 1987 report issued by the church that highlighted a “number of very fundamental reasons to question the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity”.

The bishop was responding to a question tabled at the church’s General Synod, meeting this week in London, which sought information on services celebrating last year’s 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) held in “a number” of Anglican cathedrals.

Cocksworth said such data was not collected or monitored centrally, but added that cathedral services were required under canon law not to contravene church doctrine.

More here-

Youth Leader Stole Donations From Glen Rock Church

From New Jersey-

The youth director at All Saints Episcopal Church and Preschool was arrested Sunday after he allegedly stole nearly $600 in donations from the church.

Church officials went to police headquarters Sunday afternoon with surveillance footage of a man, later identified as Sean M. Massaro, 24, of New Milford, stealing donation envelopes from the church's Sunday collection, said Chief Dean Ackermann.

Massaro, who used to live in Glen Rock, began working for the church part time in September, police said.

The church suspected that money was being taken since the beginning of the year when one collection had no cash donations at all, which was very unusual, Ackermann said.

More here-

What did Jesus wear?

From The Conversation-

Over the past few decades, the question of what Jesus looked like has cropped up again and again. Much has been made of a digital reconstruction of a Judaean man created for a BBC documentary, Son of God, in 2001. This was based on an ancient skull and, using the latest technology (as it was), shows the head of a stocky fellow with a somewhat worried expression.

Rightly, the skin tone is olive, and the hair and beard black and shortish, but the nose, lips, neck, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, fat cover and expression are all totally conjectural. Putting flesh on ancient skulls is not an exact science, because the soft tissue and cartilage are unknown.

Nevertheless, for me as a historian, trying to visualise Jesus accurately is a way to understand Jesus more accurately, too.

The Jesus we’ve inherited from centuries of Christian art is not accurate, but it is a powerful brand. A man with long hair parted in the middle and a long beard – often with fair skin, light brown hair and blue eyes – has become the widely accepted likeness. We imagine Jesus in long robes with baggy sleeves, as he is most often depicted in artworks over the centuries. In contemporary films, from Zefirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977) onwards, this styling prevails, even when Jesus’ clothing is considered poorly made.

More here-

Atlanta bishop rallies opposition to death penalty with book of articles by faith, legal leaders

From ENS-

The death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976. Since then, 1,468 convicts have been executed across the country.

And, according to records kept by the Death Penalty Information Center, more than 80 percent of those executions have been carried out in the South, which Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright sees as a “terrible irony” for a region known as the Bible Belt.

“People want the love of Jesus for themselves, in terms of redemption, but they want the Old Testament ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ for the people who do these terrible murders,” Wright told Episcopal News Service. “Do we serve a God who can have compassion for the victim and the perpetrator?”

For Wright, the answer is an unequivocal “yes,” and he is heartened by the Episcopal Church’s decades of speaking out against the death penalty while also providing pastoral care to victims’ families.

The Supreme Court’s 1976 decision outlined how states can craft constitutional death penalty laws. Thirty-one states have such laws, and eight of those states carried out executions in 2017, including one in Wright’s state of Georgia. In an effort to renew public attention to the issue and encourage greater advocacy toward abolishing the death penalty, Wright has collected five articles by faith and legal leaders in a book to be released Feb. 15 by the Diocese of Atlanta.

More here-

Megachurch Pastor William Curtis Draws Criticism Over $230K Bentley Bentayga

From Pittsburgh-

Leader of the 10,000-member Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, William H. Curtis, has sparked a vigorous debate online after his $230,000 Bentley Bentayga, which costs nearly twice as much as the median home in the church's Larimer neighborhood, was photographed outside the church.

The photograph of the pastor's Bentayga, which Bentley boasts is the fastest SUV in the world with a top speed of 187 mph, was posted to Facebook Monday by Jarrell Taylor who criticized the pastor's opulent display.

"If ya pastor driving a Bentley truck ... he's sucking ur community dry with hope and tithes," Taylor wrote.

The Christian Post reached out to Curtis for comment about his choice of transportation Thursday and his assistant said she did not believe he would respond to questions about his car but promised to deliver our message to him. She also acknowledged that the church had been getting direct reactions to the vehicle as well but would not confirm the sources of the criticism.

More here-

Vicar sparks row with parishioners over 'undignified' church toilet plan

From The Telegraph-

Many a churchgoer will be familiar with the long wait for a comfort break during a service in a church with no convenient facilities.

But it seems younger worshippers are less willing to hang on.

And one vicar's efforts to attract more of them to services by installing a convenient loo has been opposed by his parishioners as "undignified". 

Plans to install unisex toilets as part of a refurbishment of St Mary the Virgin in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, met with ire from opponents who said that toilets in churches were a "current fad".

Currently those in need must travel 30 metres to a nearby building which is not accessible to disabled people, said Alicia Collinson, deputy chancellor of the diocese of Gloucester in a court judgment.

More here-

Monday, February 12, 2018

Racist Bullying? Religious School In Texas Argues Courts Can’t Intervene.

From Texas-

A teenage student and his family have sued a religious private school in Texas after the teen allegedly experienced bullying of a racist nature. The student claims the school did next to nothing to stop the bullying. But the school says its religious doctrine makes it immune from legal repercussions.

Legal experts told HuffPost the school’s argument is highly unusual in this context.

The school’s counsel filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on these grounds in August. A judge is expected to decide whether to move forward with the lawsuit later this month, per public documents obtained by HuffPost.

Maureen Beans and her son, C.R., had a horrible experience at Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston, Texas, according to the lawsuit filed in May.

C.R., who attended Trinity for sixth and seventh grade, starting in 2014, was a black student at the overwhelmingly white private school. He claims he was relentlessly bullied, sometimes in ways that appeared racially motivated.

More here-

Greenville First Baptist Senior Pastor Jim Dant says the Bible can’t be credibly used as an argument against same-sex relationships

From South Carolina-

The Bible tells me so.

Those who are against homosexuality often quote Bible verses — Leviticus 18:22, Deuteronomy 22:5, and Genesis 18-19, among others — to “prove” that it is a sin. But Dr. Jim Dant, senior minister at Greenville First Baptist Church, says there is no valid, Christian, biblical argument against same-sex relationships between consenting adults.

“People may argue against homosexuality and LGBTQ identities, relationships, and rights on political, economic, or personal morals, but the Bible cannot credibly be used as a weapon in these fights,” he said. “The minute you bring the Bible into it, there’s no valid argument.”

The impetus for Dant’s recently released book, “This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians,” was that some members of Greenville First Baptist Church, which generated headlines in 2015 for how it addressed the LGBTQ community within its walls, asked for a simple-to-understand defense against those Bible verses that had become weapons against them.

More here-

Diocese of South Carolina Asks US Supreme Court for Review

From Anglican Ink-

Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, along with a number of member parishes, having lost a confusing, non-definitive and divided decision in that State's Supreme Court, have filed a petition for writ of certiorari (review) in the United States Supreme Court. The petition (fifty pages, downloadable from this link) asks the Court to bring harmony to the multiple lower court decisions that diverge over the meaning of "neutral principles of law" as used by the Court in its seminal case of Jones v. Wolf, 445 U.S. 595 (1979).

As the petition lays out with masterful clarity, both state and federal courts apply differing standards of "neutral principles" in approaching the resolution of disputes over the ownership of church property:

Nearly 40 years after this Court last addressed the neutral-principles approach in Jones, the courts are deeply divided about what “neutral” means. For many courts, “neutral” means just that—“neutral”: the high courts of seven States, plus the Eighth Circuit and three intermediate state courts, follow Jones’ clear guidance and resolve property disputes between religious organizations by applying well-established state trust and property law. These jurisdictions hold that a disassociating local church’s property is held in trust for the national church only if the alleged trust satisfies ordinary state law requirements for the creation of trusts. Courts and commentators call this the “strict approach” to Jones, because it blinds judges to the religious nature of the parties to the dispute, requiring them to apply the same ordinary state law that would apply to property disputes between any other parties.

More here-


From First Things-

Europe’s wholesale abandonment of its Christian faith is often explained as the inevitable by-product of modern social, economic, and political life. But there is far more to the story of Euro-secularization than that, as three ecclesiastics—a Presbyterian minister and two Italian priests—demonstrated this past Christmas.

The minister in question was the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Derek Browning. In his Yuletide message to his disappearing flock, Dr. Browning confessed that in his “darker moments,” he sometimes wondered whether “the world [would] have been a better place without [Jesus]. If there was no Jesus, and therefore no Christianity, would there have been no Crusades? Would there have been no Spanish Inquisition?” (Dr. Browning didn’t contemplate the possibility that, without Jesus, there would have been no iconoclastic destruction of Scotland’s ancient and beautiful Catholic churches, or no mass burnings of “witches” by his forebears in the kirk; but that, perhaps, would have been cutting a bit too close to the bone.)

More here-