Cover image for A church at war : Anglicans and homosexuality
A church at war : Anglicans and homosexuality
Bates, Stephen, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : I.B. Tauris, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 248 pages ; 24 cm
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BR115.H6 B38 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The consecration of V. Gene Robinson as an openly gay bishop of New Hampshire has divided the Anglican Community, a historic pillar of Christianity embraced by seventy million people in 164 countries. Most Anglican groups outside the United States oppose the ordination of gay clergy. After Robinson's consecration, overseas bishops jointly announced that they were in a ""state of impaired communion"" with the 2.3 million-member US Branch of the Episcopal Church--a step short of declaring a full schism.

In A Church at War , journalist Stephen Bates assesses the current state and historical context of this fight. Including personal interviews with all chief players in the struggle, this is the only book to offer the full story of the Church's vicious row over homosexuality. Showing the strengths and weaknesses of the different positions, Bates takes the details of church politics and creates an engrossing and exciting narrative. As the threat of schism looms ever closer, this book, with its controversial yet fair look at the fight will be both illuminating and essential to all with an interest in the Church and its relationship with homosexuality.

Author Notes

Stephen Bates is The Guardian 's religious affairs and royal correspondent. He is a regular broadcaster as well as writer, and has contributed to a wide range of publications, both at home and abroad.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Few issues are as divisive today as homosexuality and religion. Journalist Bates is balanced and measured in his report on how the November 2, 2003, consecration as an Episcopal bishop of openly gay V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire has divided the larger Anglican community. There are more than 77 million Anglicans in 164 countries, ranging from the church's historic home in England to the U.S., where the Anglican Episcopal Church wields influence disproportionate to its 2.3 million members, to such far-flung corners as Nigeria, where the church is flourishing. Describing the Church of England's position on homosexuality as inconsistent and confused, Bates points out the hypocrisy surrounding much of the argument against fully accepting gays in the church. While presenting both traditional and alternative interpretations, he pointedly comments on biblical references to homosexuality and, with wit, insight, compassion, and common sense, surveys homosexuality and religion through the ages. His own opinion is that the debate is ultimately about not sexuality but control and authority, power and politics. Strong stuff. --June Sawyers Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Gene Robinson, an openly gay Episcopal priest, was elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, his election sparked ongoing debate and potential schism in the Anglican Church, both in America and around the world. Bates, religion correspondent for the Guardian (U.K.), pens a thoughtful guide to the current controversy. Focusing on England and (to a lesser extent) the U.S., Bates casts the current dispute in the context of the church's grappling with social change since the 1960s-the ordination of women, the acknowledgment of high divorce rates-and explores how different Anglicans interpret the Bible and come to divergent conclusions about homosexuality. But this is no dry survey of scriptural hermeneutics. It is also a work of first-rate journalism, introducing readers to many principal figures in the Anglican scene-the archbishop of Canterbury, conservative ministers, liberal bishops. Bates is unfailingly generous to liberal Anglicans, taking seriously and sympathetically the arguments in favor of full-fledged acceptance of homosexuality. Unfortunately, he is not so magnanimous to evangelicals, chiding them for refusing to consider that scriptural imperatives about sexuality might be outdated and inapplicable to "today's society." The book would be stronger, and would find a larger audience, if it were more evenhanded. But biases notwithstanding, Bates has given us a valuable, informative account of a timely issue. (Oct. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Bates (correspondent, UK's The Guardian) offers an engaging, journalistic presentation of recent tensions within the worldwide Anglican communion concerning homosexuality and the church. The book is well argued and basically fair, but Bates is not a disinterested observer. He is supportive of the broadening of the church in matters of gender orientation. Bates's main point is that this supposed crisis is at least partly manufactured rather than real, being incited by evangelical party leaders who insist that there be clear winners and losers and no fuzzy compromise in this dispute. Bates is especially irritated by evangelical leaders who seem to be using this issue, somewhat disingenuously, to elevate their own influence and status within the church. When it comes to evangelicals in the pews, however, Bates is more sympathetic. The book is dedicated to his wife, whom he identifies as a devout evangelical/charismatic Anglican. Bates himself is Catholic. Recent American developments are given their due, but this volume focuses on the Church of England proper. Thus, for example, the book pays considerably more attention to Rowan Williams than to Gene Robinson. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. D. Jacobsen Messiah College

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Paperback Editionp. ix
Prefacep. xi
1 The Sorrow and the Pityp. 1
2 The Word Made Fleshp. 15
3 In the Beginning Was the Wordp. 45
4 Queer as Folkp. 74
5 Old as the Hillsp. 88
6 The Day Before Yesterdayp. 107
7 The Dignity of Differencep. 137
8 Doing the Lambeth Walkp. 158
9 Then Came Rowanp. 179
10 Doctor Johnp. 196
11 Gene Geniep. 229
12 Paved with Good Intentionsp. 241
13 The Road to Dromantinep. 276
14 Who Bears the Cost?p. 295
Notesp. 310
Bibliographyp. 320
Indexp. 326