As above, so below. Or at least, as in the Church, so in Freemasonry.
Volunteer organizations based on metaphysical belief systems have a long and rich history of splitting off from one another when core beliefs among members clash. Martin Luther made breaking away from the mother church trendy when he nailed those theses to a door, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation, taking Christians down the road to centuries of divisiveness. Later, those Protestant churches further divided themselves into Lutherans, Southern Baptists, Anabaptists, Methodists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Calvinists, Congregationalists, Amish, Quakers, and later still, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. By one count, there are over 30,000 various sects and denominations all calling themselves Christians.
I found today's announcement of the California Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin secession from the American Episcopal Church noteworthy because of how similar it is to recent events in American Freemasonry.
The diocese, which consists of 47 congregations, voted to separate from their mother church, and to affiliate with a foreign Anglican province, the conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America, headed by Archbishop Gregory Venables of Argentina. It is estimated that another six or seven major U.S. dioceses will follow suit in the coming months (two others have already held their first vote; a second vote by each diocese is required to secede). These dioceses would together form a new Anglican Diocese of North America.
Thirty-two congregations have already quietly left the Episcopalian fold in the past four years. Another 23 have voted to do so, but haven't taken the final step yet.
Why are these congregations and entire dioceses turning their backs on their mother church? Why are they becoming renegades? Because they see the U.S. Episcopal Church as having betrayed their core Christian beliefs. They believe the Episcopal Church no longer is holding true to their original values and purpose.
The presiding bishop and chief pastor of the U.S. Episcopal Church has written to bishops warning them to stop and to be aware of "potential consequences."
"The Episcopal Church has said that people can depart, but they must leave their property, which, it contends, is held in trust for the church. The church and loyalist dioceses are already involved in several lawsuits against breakaway congregations that have insisted on keeping their property," the New York Times reported.
San Joaquin diocese spokesman Rev. Van McCalister said, "We have leadership in the Episcopal Church that has drastically and radically changed directions. They have pulled the rug out from under us. They've started teaching something very different, something very new and novel, and it's impossible for us to follow a leadership that has so drastically reinvented itself."
As an interesting footnote, one article on this subject mentions six historically prominent Episcopalians, three of them founding fathers of the United States (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson), and the other three 20th century presidents (Franklin Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush). Four of those six were also Freemasons.
Image: Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, openly homosexual Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. His appointment as bishop in 2003 is the primary cause of the division within the U.S. Episcopal Church.
Thanks to Burning Taper reader Diogenes for the heads-up on this story.
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