Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Church Law" Part III - We got a kinder, gentler machine gun hand*

One of the justifications for changing the clergy discipline canons is that the existing rules "are based on the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)" (Blue Book, p. 766). This is not elaborated - the "military" nature of the current canon is left hanging in the air, presumably to conjure images of firing squads or waterboarding.

Enter TEC's "theological" approach, framed as "reconciliation" but shifting quickly to "conflict resolution" and submission. More on this in Pt. IV.

Let me just say here, as a veteran who lived under the UCMJ for a few years, that the military code is designed to keep service members on duty and in action. It contains a lot of "non-judicial punishment", with penalites such as loss of rank for misconduct. And even these are not imposed until informal sanctions like scrubbing latrines have failed to modify bad behavior. Military discipline escalates slowly, only removing people from the service or imprisoning them for the most habitual or serious offenses.

By comparison, TEC under its current Presiding Bishop has removed an unprecedented number of clergy from duty while proclaiming "reconciliation" and "all is well." ( see pp. 22-26 here). The vast majority of these "inhibitions and depositions" fell on dissenters, not cases of abuse or ethical misconduct.

Clearly, there are word games going on...

Neil Young, "Rockin' in the Free World," 1989

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