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Bias against church
To the editor:
I realize that the Mid-county Memo is not exactly the New York Times, and should not be held to the highest standards of journalism. I realize that your contributors are probably volunteers (or are marginally compensated), and are probably not professional journalists.
But I was absolutely astonished and appalled by the blatant and unchecked bias of your coverage of the theological dispute within St. Matthew's [Episcopal] church. I am not affiliated with the Episcopal church in any way, and I have no involvement in this situation (and I don't know anybody who is involved), but I was saddened and sickened by your unabashed assault upon the majority of these parishioners who resolved (as a matter of conscience) to make the difficult decision to leave their own parish (apparently in complete accordance with the bylaws of the Episcopal church).
Even though a contributor may be plainly biased, I would hope for at least marginal editorial oversight, free from overt bias. Are there no editors at your publication? Or are the editors as biased as the contributor of this article?
Parkrose - Argay
Lack of journalistic standards
To the editor,
In regards to your recent article Schism partitions Parkrose church, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I am not a journalist, but I have had enough experiences through my professional and educational interactions with the print media to know that this article suffered from a profound lack of the most basic journalistic requirements: fairness and acquaintance with all the facts of the situation. The article's lede in bold print not only factually misrepresents the issue that led to the decision of many members including the rector, the entire vestry and myself (in the interest of honest disclosure) to leave St. Matthew's Episcopal Church to form St. Matthew's Anglican Church, but unduly prejudices the reader, especially when it is followed by editorializing on the part of the article writer who attempts to make this a political issue rather an honest theological disagreement. (Witness: The politics of the world stage play out in community . . .)
First, the statement In resistance to the Episcopal Church's acceptance of homosexuals as fellow being in Christ . . . is one that I have never heard exclaimed in the many forums that I attended at St. Matthews and that were held prior to the two votes (not one, as inaccurately reported) and the subsequent decision by many of us to leave. To deny acceptance of homosexual individuals as possible fellow beings in Christ would undermine the biblical and traditional understanding of the availability of God's grace and the redemptive power of the gospel to whomever will believe, which is a central tenet of traditional conservative Anglicanism, and more broadly traditional Orthodox Christianity. The confession of Anglicans (consult the Thirty Nine Articles as well as the Book of Common Prayer) affirms that all are sinners (regardless of sexual orientation) who are in need of divine grace and redemption, and that such redemption is available to all, gay or straight, by trusting in the finished work of Christ. I have never heard Father David or anyone in leadership at St. Matthews and more broadly, the Anglican Church North America, claim otherwise. I would be interested where the reporter received that impression and whether that is an indirect quote. (Likewise, the issue of female bishops was never a point even raised in the many discussions that I attended). The two votes and ultimate decision by many of us who left was preceded by much prayer and discussion that sought out everyone's opinions and thoughtful considerations. Those of us who did leave, did so reluctantly and with much sadness. For most of us, and this was reflected by many of the points raised in the forums, the issue was decidedly not homosexuality, but whether we could maintain our identity and confession in a denomination that was increasingly dismissive of the traditional confessions of the Anglican tradition and biblical authority.
Secondly, the article completely overlooked the broader context of turmoil within and defiance by TEC (i.e Episcopal Church USA) towards the broader Anglican Communion. Consequently, many conservative Episcopalian congregations have lost their churches and sometimes their rectors because they wished to maintain the traditional views of the Anglican Communion about the role and authority of Scripture in addressing these difficult social issues. This well documented fact, which has been widely reported in major media outlets and seemingly missed by your article, was a source of much concern for many in our congregation as we realized that we were increasingly unique and isolated in our traditional views in a very liberal diocese. It should be noted that shortly after the decision was announced to our bishop that Father David and many parishioners were leaving to re-affiliate with the ACNA and our desire to have an orderly transition to ensure proper pastoral care for those wishing to remain, the locks were quickly changed on the building (despite our concession to make no claims on the property) and Father David was asked to renounce his ordination. Such actions confirmed many of our concerns with the heavy-handedness of TEC that was on display throughout the country. If this article was truly intended as a feature story rather than an editorial, then such details would have provided a more fair and comprehensive description to allow the readers to draw their own conclusions and judgments. I think this tendency to editorialize throughout the article was perhaps best captured in the caption that pejoratively labels Father David as a schismatic rector, unfairly creating the impression that David and the rest of us who left did so because of politics and passion, rather than conviction and conscience. I would encourage your readers, if interested, to consult the Oregonian article (May 2, 2010) by Nancy Haught, who I think attempts to put this event in a proper context in a way that more fairly represents the many sides of this difficult issue that defies simplistic analysis such as the one offered by your article.
With much sadness and disappointment,
Professor of Theology, Multnomah University
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