Leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, a federation of more than 100,000 Anglican Christians in North America, will release to the public on the evening of Dec. 3 the draft constitution of an emerging Anglican Church in North America, formally subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and affirm the GAFCON Statement on the Global Anglican Future at an evening worship celebration in suburban Chicago.
This historic event comes in the wake of GAFCON held in Israel last June with leaders from more than one-half of the world’s 77 million Anglicans. At the close of that gathering, Anglican leaders released the Jerusalem Declaration and the GAFCON Statement on the Global Anglican Future, which outlined their Christian beliefs and goals to reform, heal and revitalize the Anglican Communion worldwide.
“One conclusion of the Global Anglican Future Conference held in Jerusalem last June was that the time for the recognition of a new Anglican body in North America had arrived,” observed Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, moderator of Common Cause Partnership. “The public release of our draft constitution is an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America.”
Provinces, dioceses and parishes around the world have been making formal decisions to support the Jerusalem Declaration and the GAFCON Statement on the Global Anglican Future since its release this summer. Leading bishops and representatives of the North American Common Cause Partnership will officially subscribe to the Declaration and affirm the Statement at the public worship service at Wheaton Evangelical Free Church in Wheaton, IL at 7:30 p.m. CST on December 3. All Anglicans in attendance will also be given an opportunity to individually subscribe to the Declaration and affirm the Statement.
“We enthusiastically issue a public invitation to all fellow Christians in hopes that they will witness, participate in and celebrate our unity and common mission,” Bishop Duncan added.
Prior to the evening service, at 2 p.m. CST earlier on Dec. 3, a reception will be held at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton to give thanks and learn about the mission of Christ Awakening. Rooted among Anglicans, Christ Awakenings are quickly spreading to the larger Christian community. The first Christ Awakening was held in September 2007 in Chicago. Since then, the grassroots movement of Christ Awakenings has held events in Vancouver, Ohio and New England to call Christians to work together, in unity, partnering for mission worldwide. After the reception, a media briefing with Common Cause leaders will follow at 5:30 p.m. CST, addressing the significance of the historic worship celebration that evening.
The Common Cause Partnership is a federation of Anglican Christians that links together eight Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America, including the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and the bishops and congregations linked with Kenya, Uganda, and South America’s Southern Cone. Together they represent more than 100,000 Anglican Christians worshiping each Sunday in the United States and Canada. ]
A New Anglican Province in a Culture of Death
By Briane K. Turley Ph.D
Special to VirtueOnline
October 18, 2008
In early 1938, a prominent German physician’s wife requested a brief meeting with Adolph Hitler. After an exchange of greetings, she cut to the chase by asking the Chancellor if there was some way, discretely and legally, to have her child killed. The little boy was missing two limbs, was blind, and gave indications of possible mental retardation. Fascinated by her request, Hitler approached Karl Brandt, his closest friend and personal physician to seek his input.
Brandt and Hitler agreed to kill the unwanted child as something of a test case to determine what, if any, the public repercussions might be. After the little boy’s extermination precipitated no significant protests, Brandt began organizing a formal program of mass murder for children with disabilities, anyone the Third Reich regarded as lives unworthy to live. These children, the German leaders dubbed as “useless eaters.” Hitler appointed a team comprising politicians, military leaders, and physicians to oversee and develop what eventually became the T4 Aktion (Action) reflecting the central office’s address at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin.
Hitler and his staff incorporated an elaborate selection process within the T4 Program. When any child was born in Germany, the attending nurse was required to register the infant, record his or her health status, and, most importantly, remark on any possible abnormalities. If the baby gave any indication of a disability, T4 personnel were immediately notified.
Into the 1940s, the Nazi euthanasia program expanded to include older children and adults with disabilities. In October, 1939, Hitler issued an official directive that expanded “the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, to the end that patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy death.”
From this point forward, anyone living anywhere under the Third Reich who suffered from epilepsy, blindness, deafness, any form of senility, muscular spasticity or paralysis-including even moderate cerebral palsy-, or from retardation, encephalitis, or any significant neurological conditions was subject to execution. Eventually, six killing centers were established including the notorious Hadamar clinic. Estimates of the total number or people with disabilities executed between 1938 and 1945 hover around the quarter million mark, but given the paucity of records the actual figure is likely much higher.
Here in North America, since the 1970s, we have discovered a far more efficient means of weeding out those with disabilities. In addition, discourse about the benefits of euthanasia is thriving and gaining adherents. While the practice remains illegal in Canada, Oregon has nowlegalized physician assisted suicide, and other states have moved swiftly to decriminalize it.
Moreover, here in the US, we legally abort more than 1,000,000 infants each year (nearly 25% of all pregnancies) a large percentage of whom are selected on the basis of their perceived ability or disability. In Canada, the abortion rate is slightly higher. If one abides the “fetus as non-human tissue” argument as morally justified, then in a sense we very well might feel a sense of pride for our tremendous accomplishments.
For example, were God’s design for us left unhindered, we could naturally expect to welcome 40,000 or more newborn infants with Down Syndrome each year in the US. And yet thanks to widespread prenatal screening (in some states now required by law) and abortion, we have reduced that number to just under 5500. These data strongly indicate that, in North America, we have already discovered a new, “final solution” for these unusual children and need only to adapt our public policies to, as it were, “cure” all down syndrome cases. You see, we have already eliminated nearly 90% of these children, leave off those children with spina bifida and other detectable anomalies.
A number of solid, objective studies (see especially Judy Sutherland, “Avoiding Disability: Prenatal screening and abortion” at http://www.chumirethicsfoundation.ca/files/pdf/Jody_Lyn_Sutherland_Chumir_Essay_2007.pdf) indicate that our increased use of prenatal screening for certain medical disorders such as Down Syndrome is being intemperately promoted by state governments and medical facilities as a form of cost-saving eugenics, the reduction in the cases of labile or “weaker offspring” made possible by weeding out those children deemed as in any sense “inferior.”
And while no state currently requires that a mother abort her child with disabilities, studies indicate that the great majority of prenatal care facilities do little or nothing to encourage an expectant mother to carry a child who tests positive for disabilities to term. To the contrary, most encourage abortion almost immediately following screening, some scheduling the abortion before the medical staff actually receive permission from the prospective parent.
Of equal concern, outwardly beneficent groups, such as the March of Dimes, not only encourage the widespread practice of prenatal screening leading to abortion, but prominent members of their executive committees such as Henry Foster, whom President Clinton tried in vain to appoint as the American Surgeon General, are themselves practicing abortionists.
Many well-intentioned Anglicans are unaware that prenatal testing precipitated a drastic reduction in the number of people with disabilities before they drew their first breath. For example, some genetic scientists in the US have without compunction urged that cystic fibrosis might be eliminated entirely if we institute a compulsory program of selective abortion, not only those children who will have the disease, but also those who carry the genetic marker that would eventually be passed on to their progeny. Meanwhile, imperious bioethicists like Princeton University’s Peter Singer shove society ever downward along the slippery slope when they assure us that “killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person.” (“Taking Life: Humans” in Practical Ethics)
While arguments about the benefits of abortion in cases where there is a high likelihood of disability almost always center on “quality of life” issues, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that, among health care practitioners and systems, the central motivation behind legally-enforced or high pressure prenatal screenings is economics. In simplest terms, children and adults with disabilities are widely viewed as an intractable burden on society and medical systems. Eliminate those with disabilities in the womb and cut out a lot of expenditure later.
The Anglican Response
I have painted what I hope fellow Anglicans will perceive as an uninviting picture of where abortion-on-demand in North America is dragging us. I freely admit my intention to describe the abortion industry found on this continent as I believe it really is: an enterprise that is as bad as, and perhaps worse than, the Third Reich’s T4 system of extermination. While I fully appreciate the gravity of the Episcopal Church’s decision to certify Gene Robinson’s election as a bishop in the Church, I am far more disturbed by the fact that for too many years, the majority of us who cut our teeth on Episcopal Church altar rails failed to speak out against a far more insidious evil, the sin of pre-partum homicide.
While Anglicans for Life President, Georgette Forney, and her dedicated circle of advocates prophetically spoke to us about the sanctity of all human life, most of us had already succumbed to the culture of death’s captivity, had come to terms with the slaughter of innocents as simply a matter of “choice”-one who is out of sight, out of mind-, and awoke to defend the “faith once delivered” only when confronted with a more visceral specter of a practicing homosexual church leader. While the latter sin-that of disordered human sexuality-cannot be excised from the former, the reality of more than one million intrauterine homicides in the US alone each year should have stirred us to action long before 2003. It is time that we consider the gravity of our situation, fall on our faces before God, and repent.
It is within this context that I ask our Common Cause leaders, in concert with the GAFCON Primates Council, to begin drafting a clear, unambiguous statement on the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until the article of death. Not surprisingly, the bishops and standing committee of the Diocese of Pittsburgh pioneered a way forward in April 2006 when they disassociated themselves from the decision of Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to finalize the church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a radical religious organization that advocates unrestricted abortion. Yet their thoughtful statement was but a preliminary step. A declaration on what North American Anglicans actually affirm regarding the sanctity of life, in concert with a plan of action aimed at alleviating societal stress upon women facing untenable circumstances, must follow.
I and a handful of other Anglicans have already expressed concern that the GAFCON leaders eschewed our request to acknowledge the plight of the preborn in the Jerusalem Statement. The statement we proposed during the final vetting stage would have fit succinctly within paragraph 10 of the Jerusalem Declaration. I remain hopeful that the group’s failure to admit a pro-life comment reflects Global South unawareness of how heinous (and economically profitable) the abortion industry in the West truly is.
In 1972 when the General Conference of the United Methodist Church gave its imprimatur to the legalization of abortion in the US, the great theologian, Albert C. Outler, remarked: “Without radical reform of the consultative process by which the United Methodist Church pretends to determine serious moral and political questions, we shall go on becoming more and more a part of the problem (namely, the literal demoralization of modern society) and less a part of its Christian solution.”
A few years later, Outler warned, “And as for my prophetic forebodings, it seems certain that in America alone, over the next few years, millions of fetal lives will be snuffed out-with little public outcry.” (The Beginnings of Personhood: Theological Considerations) Nearly twenty years following his death, the objects of Outler’s sober concern are bearing unholy fruit, as the culture of death has ripened and flourished in America to encompass the trivialization of abortion, acceptance of euthanasia and the normalization of physician assisted suicide.
After scanning the Life Coordinators Affiliate list at the Anglicans for Life Web site, one cannot help but express concern that more “biblically-centered” Anglican churches have yet to take their stand with this fine organization, a group that has for many years faithfully proclaimed good news to women trapped in darkness. I conclude this rather protracted essay with a simple question (or two.). Why are so many of our churches apparently looking the other way at this critical juncture in our history?
Why are we not seeing more of our Virginia churches stand with us? What about many in Texas, Colorado, or Illinois? While United Methodism, which has wallowed in the mire of fetal homicide for decades, struggles at each quadrennial conference to recover from its pro-abortion rights stand, it is my hope that Methodism’s mother church will heed Outler’s warnings and that Anglicanism in North America will honor life, life that only God can give.
With all my being, I urge my Anglican brothers and sisters carefully to examine the evidence before them and then join their voices with ours in proclaiming the sanctity of all human life, of becoming a vital part of a “Christian solution” even as we minister to a culture of death.
—-The Rev. Dr. Briane K. Turley, Ph.D. is Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican in Tulsa, OK