Get Religion Covers The Hindu Interfaith Service Wherein Hindus Were Given Communion

Read it all. A snippit:

Last week I noted that stories fail to explain why the Episcopal Church is so aggressive about property issues but not doctrinal issues. And with this story we have yet another example of why this needs to be explained by reporters.

For instance, Canon I.17.7 of the Episcopal Church (.pdf link here — see page 55) explicitly prohibits administering Holy Communion to unbaptized persons:

Sec. 7. No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.

And yet this service, hosted by none other than the Los Angeles Diocese, clearly offered communion to unbaptized people. Now let’s go to property disputes. The Episcopal Church’s argument for why it should retain the property in the disputes with the departed parishes is on the basis of another canon (Canon I.7.4 — page 40 of the previous link):

All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons.

Wouldn’t a story examining the disparity between which canons are enforced and which canons are not enforced be interesting? Put another way, why are some bishops free to violate some canons while other bishops are threatened with punishment if they permit their dioceses to even vote about whether to realign? I’m sure the Episcopal authorities have their reasons, but we need to hear what those are. Why aren’t reporters asking them to explain how this works?

As I told my Bishop, I feel the Episcopal Church has ethically and philosophically forfeited its right to enforce the Constitution and Canons against its people due to the fact that the church has consistently violated its own Constitution and Canons – doctrinally, in faith, in order, and just about every which way but loose. It is a shame that this doesn’t translate legally. BLD

12 Responses to “Get Religion Covers The Hindu Interfaith Service Wherein Hindus Were Given Communion”

  1. 1 Mark McCall January 23, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Have any lawyers presented the argument that ECUSA is a “sham” hierarchy to which courts should not defer? There is considerable precedent on this issue in analogous areas of the law. The most obvious, of course, is corporate law, which “pierces the corporate veil” if corporate formalities are not observed. Similarly, the securities laws defer to “self regulatory organizations” like stock exchanges but require such organizations to follow their own rules. Ditto for the antitrust laws and trade associations.

    Open communion proves that ECUSA ignores its own canons on its most fundamental religious rite. The consent process for the Virginia bishop coadjutor demonstrates that the canons are ignored when selecting the principal leaders of the “Episcopal” church. Bp. Sauls recently claimed that SSBs violate the canons. I hope some lawyers put these together to challenge the very existence of any coherent hierarchy to which deference should be paid by the courts.

  2. 2 Mark McCall January 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    ps The argument above will not prevail in any court I am familiar with, but it would be a powerful stimulus toward embracing a “neutral principles” analysis of church property disputes.

  3. 3 John in the Middle January 23, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    A story examining the disparity between which canons are enforced and which canons are not enforced would only be interesting to a few geeks like me who follow such things. Wouldn’t sell a lot of papers and it would require a lot of time to research, so the innefficiencies inherent would kill it.

    Reporters aren’t going to ask those sorts of questions because they simply aren’t obvious and they don’t have time to do the research and meet their deadline. Secondly, those sorts of tough questions can be considered “attack journalism” and one can wind up less effective as a reporter if subjects are fearful of being badgered or hounded.

    That’s where blogs like this one can fill in the blanks.

  4. 4 pendennis88 January 23, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Though I doubt I would recommend it as a legal strategy, I’ve never been convinced that this issue does not have legal implications. If you look at many of the court cases, particularly recent ones, deferring to hierarchical church structures, it is often noted as a fact that the church was operating in good faith under its canons. And, indeed, in many of the cases I may not have agreed with what the bishop did, but it really couldn’t be alleged that the bishop wasn’t trying to do things under the cover of canon law. So if it can be shown that canon law is applied in bad faith, I think there is an argument that precedent not require it be deferred to.

  5. 5 Alice C. Linsley January 24, 2008 at 2:09 am

    The same spirit (demonic) that motivates this sort of abomination, seeks to undermine GAFCON. Why? Because the last thing people liek Bruno and Swing want is for Anglican Primates to meet in Jerusalem and have their Faith renewed by visiting the sacred places where Jesus was born, walked, suffered and died. Renewal of Anglicans means the heretics’ efforts are aborted.

  6. 6 R. Scott Purdy January 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I wonder what words were used to administer the elements to the Hindi?

    I use the 1928 “The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful!”

    I would be surprised a Hindu would be comfortable receiving if thus administered. Of course, if you use lesser words (and of course exclude the Exhortation and the Prayer of Humble Access) the sacraments are more easily viewed as having a much diminished significance.

  7. 7 Alice C. Linsley January 24, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    BTW, Brad, have you been following the news about the leaked minutes of the meetings between Archbishop Akinola and the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem? It turns out the minutes were not only leaked, they were also doctored, leaving out certain remarks by the Bishop of Jerusalem as to how he would like to see GAFCON use various of his churches. This from Canon Tunde, who was present at the meeting.

  8. 8 Susan January 25, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Hey, Brad … rainy-day-blog surfing today and see you must have missed the updated information on the service in question.

    From the LA Times “For the Record” section: Hindu-Episcopal service: An article in Sunday’s California section about a joint religious service involving Hindus and Episcopalians
    said that all those attending the service at St. John’s Cathedral in Los Angeles were invited to Holy Communion. Although attendees walked toward the Communion table, only Christians were encouraged to partake of Communion. Out of respect for Hindu beliefs, the Hindus were invited to take a flower. Also, the article described Hindus consuming
    bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.


    Have a great weekend!

  9. 9 Sarah January 27, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Wow, desperation from the left, with a faux correction from the Times, trying to tamp down the news that Hindus took Eucharist in LA.

    From the original story:

    “All were invited to Holy Communion, after the Episcopal celebrant elevated a tray of consecrated Indian bread, and deacons raised wine-filled chalices.

    In respect to Hindu tradition, a tray of flowers was also presented. Christians and Hindus lined up for communion, but since Orthodox Hindus shun alcohol, they consumed only the bread.

    Like the story said, the Hindus don’t do alcohol so they didn’t consume the wine—they consumed the bread.

    And the “correction” states: “Also, the article described Hindus consuming bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.”

    So . . . where’s the correction? What we learn from the “correction” is that . . . the Hindus consumed the communion bread, although some of the folks in “traditional Indian dress” were not Hindus, but Christians.

    Again . . . where’s the correction?

    The good news is . . . the need to try to get some sort of faux correction out there in the media means they know what they did is in violation of the canons, not to mention not a very good story to have out there.

  10. 10 Alice C. Linsley January 27, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Just as Moslem clerics denounced the Moslem lady priest in Seattle, so true Hindus are denouncing this effort to co-opt them by TEC’s heretic Bishop Bruno, heir to the heresy of another (retired) TEC Bishop of California.

    BTW, Brad, was my expose on the United Religons Initiative lost when CaNNet was nuked?

  11. 11 Rebecca Shah February 4, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    As a grandchild of a Hindu convert, I am outraged, as are many other Indian Christians that Bishop Bruno had he audacity to conduct this service.

    Indian Christians have for centuries suffered persecution and violence not just because many of them converted from Hinduism, but also, because they belonged for the most part to the lowest caste groups in India. Mass movements like the ones that began early last century in India became successful partly because people realized that Christianity gave them dignity that they lacked under Hinduism.

    How dare Bishop Bruno apologize for conversions? How dare he apologize for emancipating people from a life of indignity and shame? How dare he apologize for giving people their dignity back? How dare he apologize for the countless lives of missionaries, foreign and indigenous who lost their lives bringing the gospel to Indians.

    Indian Christians all over the world are outraged at his actions.

  12. 12 Alice C. Linsley February 5, 2008 at 1:19 am

    As well they should be, Rebecca. Now if only more “Christians” were equally outraged.

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