Tuesday, April 1, 2008

O, say, can I write my Senators after the Episcopal Church changes its discipline rules in 2009?

Canon law is dry and dense. It is hard to get lay people all worked up about it.

But when the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets in the summer of '09, it will likely pass sweeping revisions to "Title IV", the Canon law dealing with discipline of clergy (and being expanded to include lay people in some cases - yes, "excommunication" will come to a church near you.)

I recommed revisiting this editorial, and following its links to the changes that are proposed.

Having just written to my South Dakota Senators (see the post below) with comments critical of Episcopal leadership and denominational performance, I wonder how the church might respond to such a letter after the Title IV changes are in place?

For example, the revisions say that

Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy shall mean any disorder or neglect that
prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the Church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the Church or the Holy Orders conferred by the Church. (Canon 2)

The revisions are full of this kind of slippery, subjective language. How about this one:

Injured Person shall mean a person, group or Community who has been, is, or may be affected by an Offense.

May be?

Check out some good analysis at Still On Patrol. A taste:

Mr. Drell, trained in the law as am I, sees the inherent and unjust flaw in any disciplinary system which would allow the presiding bishop to initiate deposition or other forms of punishment simply for disagreement, well before any substantive action to "abandon communion" has occurred. PB Schori seems to be well on her way to forming an ecclesiastical KGB to sniff out dissent and to eventually rid herself of Bishops who decline to ordain women or LGBT's, who do not believe in same-sex blessings, who continue to see the basic conflict between Islamic beliefs and Christianity, or who continue to believe that Jesus Christ is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Yet PB Schori seems inexorably headed down the path of creating a TEC thought police and instituting a 21st-century Inquisition to test whether laity and clergy hold to their official liberal beliefs.

Sound far-fetched? Then visit here for more evidence (hat tip to TitusOneNine).


Anonymous said...

Could be interesting, conduct unbecoming I remember those days when that was a last resort for military justice. I think KJS may learn a hard lesson when one of these cases goes to secular court and some judge trumps Canon Law with secular labor law. TEC doesn't constitute a union arrangement as that requires a collective agreement. Neither of the last two words is on the mind of the folks at 815

DennyT said...

I wonder if 815 believes that these changes will help fill the pews each Sunday--Oh I forgot--the best church is one having few members.

DennyT said...

On further thought wasn't it in Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland that any time anyone disagreed with the Red Queen the verdict was "off with _____ head! (You fill in the missing pronoun.

TLF+ said...

Welcome, prairiewords. Right now, most of the TEC litigation is in state courts, which are a patchwork across the country. It'll be a case of win some, lose some (although I Corinthians 6 says that all such litigation among Christians is a "defeat"). But I think you are right - at some point all this arbitrary action by TEC poobahs is going to cross over into some kind of federal law and result in some ugly penalties.

You got it, denny - shrinkage is growth. Uniformity is diversity. Punishment is tolerance. Etc. etc. etc.