Skip to comments.DON'T LOOK NOW BUT Another Liberal Movement Gains Supporters Among Episcopal, Other Anglican Bishops
Posted on 08/01/2003 10:24:36 AM PDT by NYer
"I specifically invoked Hekate and Hermes by name, and Bishop Swing was right there raising his arms in invocation with the rest of the Circle! We have, indeed, come a long way." *
SUPPORT FOR IT has been indicated by Anglican bishops like Michael Ingham of Vancouver, Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Frederick Borsch (formerly of Los Angeles), Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, and the head of his church's ecumenical office, Christopher Epting - among others.
Do we speak of same-sex unions, or gay bishops-elect, both issues at the center of controversy at the Episcopal General Convention, which opens today in Minneapolis?
Not in this case. Rather, all the bishops named have expressed support for another, but little-noticed, movement linked to the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA): the controversial United Religions Initiative (URI), which California Episcopal Bishop William Swing founded in 1996.
The URI hopes to bring together on a regular basis representatives of the major *and* minor faith systems, including those of the New Age/pagan/occult genre, to help resolve conflicts in the world. However, some of its critics believe the interfaith initiative envisions or could lead to a one-world religion.
In its Charter, the URI describes itself as "a growing global community dedicated to promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, ending religiously motivated violence and creating cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings...The URI, in time, aspires to have the visibility and stature of the United Nations."
In November 2002, URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs hailed the growth of the movement: "Since 1996, the URI has grown from a small group of 55 visionary people to a global organization engaging over 15,000 interfaith activists from 88 faith traditions and 46 countries." The URI says that over the next three years, it "fully expects to grow from 15,000 members to more than 30,000 We hope to engage 3 million people and many partner organizations in a global action research project--Visions for Peace Among Religions, designed to create peace among religions for the 21st century."
Worldwide, the URI now has 202 chapters (which they call Cooperation Circles) Moreover, a majority of URI Cooperation Circles are where one would least expect them, the largely conservative global South--Asia, Africa, Latin America--along with the Middle East, and the non-English-speaking nations of the Pacific Rim. Nineteen of the 37 members of the URI Global Council, its board of directors, are from the same regions. Thus, the URI's base has expanded well beyond Western liberals, who have been the usual backers of interfaith movements.
URI allies include the United Nations (in particular, UNESCO and the UN Environmental Program), Mikhail Gorbachev's star-studded State of the World Forum, and the Earth Charter movement, led by Maurice Strong, a wealthy Canadian advocate of world government. The URI also enjoys tacit support or active cooperation from most other interfaith organizations, including the Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions, the World Conference on Religion and Peace, the Temple of Understanding, and the North American Interfaith Network. The Vatican, the Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestants oppose the URI.
THE URI'S AGENDA goes well beyond its stated goal of ending religiously motivated violence.
URI leaders and their allies repeatedly equate evangelism with manipulative "proselytizing" and violence. If the URI vision prevails, Christian evangelism based on the unique, saving identity and acts of Christ would be ruled out.
As Bishop Swing has said, "In order for a United Religions to come about and for religions to pursue peace among each other, there will have to be a godly cease-fire, a temporary truce where the absolute exclusive claims of each will be honored, but an agreed-upon neutrality will be exercised in terms of proselytizing, condemning, murdering or dominating. These will not be tolerated in the United Religions zone" - which evidently covers the whole world. URI leaders say "proselytizing" is the work of "fundamentalists," and Paul Chafee (who was a URI board member at the time) said at a URI forum in 1997, "We can't afford fundamentalists in a world this small."
Though the URI insistently denies that it intends to mix the world's religions or to start a New Religion, URI worship ceremonies and the writings of URI leaders point in that direction.
At the 1995 interfaith service where Bishop Swing first publicly announced his desire to establish the URI, "holy water from the Ganges, the Amazon, the Red Sea, the River Jordan, and other sacred streams" was mixed in a single "bowl of unity" on the altar of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. Bishop Swing made the meaning of the ritual clear: "As these sacred waters find confluence here may the city that chartered the nations of the world bring together the religions of the world."
In June 2000, 275 interfaith activists from around the world gathered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to sign the URI Charter. Rowan Fairgrove - an avowed Wiccan long active in the URI - reported that the URI conclave began with this chant: "Gathered in here in the mystery of the hour / Gathered in one strong body / Gathered here in our unity and power / Spirit draw near." At the same meeting, Bishop Swing said, "This is the spirit's property and no one owns it. Fifty years from now, people from all over the world will flock to Pittsburgh in tribute of this signing." No one named the "spirit" that they had thus invoked.
Wiccans and Neopagans are part of the religious mainstream in the URI. One Neopagan leader, Donald Frew, was elected in 2002 as a member of the URI Global Council. Frew has written that at the URI Charter-signing meeting in June 2000, he was asked to perform a "traditional Wiccan foundation blessing" at the closing ceremony. Frew said, "I specifically invoked Hekate and Hermes by name, and Bishop Swing was right there raising his arms in invocation with the rest of the Circle!"
In The Coming United Religions, Bishop Swing has written, "The time comes...when common language and a common purpose for all religions and spiritual movements must be discerned and agreed upon. Merely respecting and understanding other religions is not enough." Since the purpose of religion is the service of God, Bishop Swing's call for "all religions and spiritual movements" to have "a common purpose" is, in effect, a call for all to worship a common god.
THE URI'S DESIRE, as stated in its Charter -- to "manifest love and justice among all life in our Earth community" -- does not extend to the lives of the unborn. Bishop Swing has likened "the insane expansion of population" to exponential growth of algae in a lake. In 2000, two high-level URI executives - Canon Charles Gibbs, URI Executive Director, and the Rev. William Rankin, an Episcopal cleric who was then the URI Vice-President - signed a manifesto issued early that year by the Sexual Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS). This "Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing" opposed "unsustainable population growth" and favored "blessing...same-sex unions," the ordination of women, artificial contraception, abortion, and "lifelong, age appropriate sexuality education in schools, seminaries, and community settings."
The URI supports efforts by Catholic dissident Hans Küng and others to create a new Global Ethic, and has endorsed the push by Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev, founders of Green Cross International, for an Earth Charter. Gorbachev views the Earth Charter as "a kind of Ten Commandments, a 'Sermon on the Mount,' that provides a guide for human behavior toward the environment in the next century and beyond." The "Green Cross Earth Charter Philosophy," prepared in Moscow and Geneva in 1997 by Gorbachev's environmentalist organization, makes clear the intent of these proposed codes: "The protection of the Biosphere, as the Common Interest of Humanity, must not be subservient to the rules of state sovereignty, demands of the free market or individual rights."
Bishop Swing has said, "The United Religions will not be a rejection of ancient religion but will be found buried in the depths of these religions."
If United Religions were "buried in the depths" of Christianity, countless martyrs could have avoided death by burning incense before the statue of the Roman Emperor, and today's martyrs in Sudan and China could apostatize with a clear conscience. Maybe martyrs are passé, anyhow: former URI Vice President Rankin said in 1998, "The United Religions Initiative exists to bring people together from all the religions of the world, to create a world where no one has to die because of God, or for God, any more."
Organizations should be known by the company they keep. Enthusiastic URI supporters include New Age authors Robert Muller (former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN), Neale Donald Walsch (author of the best-selling Conversations With God books), and Barbara Marx Hubbard. They draw inspiration from Theosophy, an occult movement started in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.Theosophy has had significant influence on the New Age movement worldwide. Its teachings include praising Lucifer as the bringer of light to humanity, denouncing orthodox Christianity and Judaism as "separative" and "obsolete," and forecasting a coming age of enlightened, spiritual collectivism - after the cleansing of earth to remove those who do not accept progress. The Rudolf Steiner Foundation, which promotes theosophical schools, has made a grant to the URI, as has the New York-based Lucis Trust, which spreads the teachings of American theosophist Alice Bailey.
MEANWHILE, BISHOP SWING HAS BOASTED, "No diocese in the country is more in sync with the national Episcopal Church than the Diocese of California We have a high doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ, so we are good team players at every turn." His loyalty has been repaid. Within ECUSA and the Anglican Communion, public supporters of the URI far outnumber public opponents, largely because the URI still travels under the radar a good deal of the time. (It is unknown the extent to which the URI's Anglican supporters understand or accept the more radical aspects of the URI agenda.)
The URI obtained a low-key endorsement from Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold in mid-1999. When he visited San Francisco for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the California diocese, Griswold said "determined farsightedness is a characteristic I particularly associate with this diocese and many of its bishops across the years...as well as your present bishop's vision of the potential force of the world's religions to bind up and bring together, rather than divide and turn the people of the earth against one another." (Griswold appears not to have publicly spoken about the URI since then.)
In addition to Bishops Swing and Griswold, and Bishops Borsch, Ingham, Tutu and Epting, mentioned earlier, a number of other Anglican prelates support the URI:
--- Joseph Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles - Borsch's successor
--- Celso Franco de Oliveira, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Rio de Janeiro
--- Bishop J. Clark Grew, of the Diocese of Ohio - and during 2000, one of 11 members of the "Council of Advice" for the ECUSA Presiding Bishop
--- Bob Gordon Jones, the retired Bishop of Wyoming
--- Samir Kafity, former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East
--- Robert L. Ladehoff, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon
--- The Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Kerala, India.
--- Richard Millard, retired Bishop Suffragan of Europe, and assisting Bishop of California
--- James Ottley, the Anglican Observer at the United Nations from 1995-99, and currently an Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Southeast Florida.
--- Mano K. Rumalshah, the former Bishop of Peshawar, Pakistan
--- K. H. Ting, who has served as President of the China Christian Council (CCC), the state-approved Protestant church in China, and as Chair of the Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement
--- David Young, CBE, the former bishop of Ripon and Leeds in the UK
Episcopal dioceses that have acted in support of the URI include:
--- Central Gulf Coast
--- Diocese of Los Angeles --- Western Massachusetts
Current and former Episcopal cathedral deans and rectors who publicly approve of the URI include:
--- Sanford Garner, former Dean of the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington DC
--- Alan Jones, current Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco
--- James Parks Morton, former Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City
--- H. Lawrence Whittemore Jr., the Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Members of Washington Bishop John Chane's diocesan "Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Ministries" participate in the URI in the capital city.
Numerous Episcopal parishes across the country have also supported the URI - including Trinity Cathedral Church, in Sacramento, California.
The world's Anglican bishops, meeting at the 1998 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, unanimously endorsed a URI call for a global religious cease-fire for December 31, 1999 to January 2, 2000. The Lambeth resolution matched the text that the URI had adopted at its '98 global conference, stating that the 72-hour cease-fire "will allow the world to end the old age in peace, and to begin the new millennium in the spirit of reconciliation, healing and peacemaking."
A report associated with the Lambeth resolution named the URI as the coordinator of the cease-fire project. Bishop Swing introduced the resolution, and the North American and Caribbean bishops unanimously placed the cease-fire call in a package of non-controversial "agreed resolutions." The entire Conference then adopted all the "agreed resolutions" without debate on the last day of the meeting. The URI has since used this endorsement as evidence of its own global influence.
In other respects - such as sexual morality and interpretation of Scripture - Lambeth '98 upheld traditional Christian teaching. How many of the Lambeth bishops knew that they had supported a URI initiative?
Canterbury has been silent about the URI since its birth. Neither Archbishop George Carey nor his successor, Rowan Williams, have said anything publicly about the URI, though Dr. Carey pursued or participated in other interfaith endeavors. However, the Church of England newspaper criticized the URI in October 1999 and July 2001.
One Anglican bishop - Archbishop Harry Goodhew, of Australia, who retired in 2001 - publicly criticized the URI in 2000; the retired Bishop of South Carolina, FitzSimons Allison, did the same. No other Anglican bishop recognized by Canterbury has stood publicly against the URI and Bishop Swing. But Bishop Charles Murphy of the Anglican Mission in America, consecrated in 2000 in Singapore by two conservative Anglican Archbishops, denounced the URI as part of the "crisis of faith" in ECUSA.
At the Episcopal General Conventions in 1997 and 2000, there were no resolutions, favorable or negative, about the URI. No press reports on either convention indicated that either the URI or Bishop Swing have suffered any public criticism from Episcopalians, other than from Bishop Allison.
In the October 2001 Pacific Church News, Swing wrote that he saw a positive change in the attitude of the ECUSA House of Bishops, who met in Burlington, Vermont a week after the 9/11 attack. "The profound change that took place at this meeting was the full arrival of interfaith awareness...For the first time in the history of [ECUSA], we have an interfaith officer, Bishop Christopher Epting, working daily at the national office. By popular request, I was asked to teach a class on the work of the [URI]. Last year I volunteered for the same task, but not one bishop showed up."
In recent years, most conservative Episcopal laity have been occupied by the gay issue, and the URI movement continues to enjoy surprising anonymity. But even some who are aware of the URI prefer not to hear about it. As one observer wrote on a large, conservative Anglican listserve: "I would prefer you not send any more of this stuff to me We at [snip] can't even keep our parish together There are many more wolves closer to the shed. What Swing does is also seen by God, and He will judge. If URI is the instrument by which the Revelation come true [sic], I say, Come Lord Jesus!"
The Catholic Church speaks for all orthodox Christians in rejecting the Utopian fantasies fostered by the URI: "The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can be only realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment...." ----
The foregoing is based on a chapter in a book-length analysis of the United Religions Initiative and the New Age movement, to be published later this year by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a research organization that monitors international organizations' activities from a pro-life, Catholic perspective. Sources used for the article are available upon request.
---- Permission to circulate the foregoing electronically, or reprint it, is granted, provided that there are no changes in the headings or text and the story includes this notice. To learn more about THE CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE magazine, which has covered Anglican affairs since 1962, write to CHRISTIAN.CHALLENGE@ecunet.org
It seems there is enough madness out there to keep all christian freepers on their toes!
While they are making their one-world, essentially pagan pseudo-religion aimed at destroying Christianity (and at any independent religious, political, or cultural centers of power that can oppose the NWO), what will REALLY move to take over the world is militant islam. A "nice" prospect, isn't it?
As for me, I will remain Christian, despite all the ways in which my corner of Christianity is being eaten away right now. But Christ has promised that "the gates of Hell will not prevail" against his people!!!!
Lucifer brings a light all right.
THAT is laughably absurd. Apparently, they are rather woefully unfamiliar with current research on population trends within Western civilization. Just about ALL of the major countries will be unable to take care of the elderly because of a failure to reproduce in adequate numbers. Foreign populations will have to be imported just to sustain social and economic stability. What utter morons!!! A truly amazing display of sheer stupidity. Thr irony of course is that Anglicans and Episcopalians have been exterminating themselves in one of the most absurd cases of self-genocide in human history.
IT's ludicrous that any literate sane adult is still bandying around this population control rhetoric.
The Republicans should deliver school choice for everyone, pro-family tax cuts across the board, and living wages to support strong healthy Christian families.
The problem is embeded much deeper than can be handled by even the most assertive of christians.
Consider that GLSEN has successfully mandated that ALL public (=gov't) schools must teach homosexuality as part of their Health Program. That wasn't enough, they have now successfully incorporated that teaching into the Health Program of Kindergarteners.
Children who are taught that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality from such a young age, will view homosexuality as perfectly normal when they reach the tender years of pubescence. For them there is no difference between the two. This has raised the stakes for the Homosexual Agenda by "increasing" the number of 'homosexual' youth (I am thinking of the new public school in NYC for GLBT kids).
We, as a nation, have lost our moral compass! The GLBT have broken through the barriers and succeeded where religion has failed, by using 'the system' to their advantage.
Any historian, worth his salt, can easily point to every great civilization that has collapsed. The collapse begins with the rise of feminism, then homosexuality, and culminates with the eradication of religion from the country's charter. We are teetering on the edge.
Thanks for keeping this post here NYer. In researching background information on a website called URI for Kid-it was supposed to be used as a resource for homework-I discovered the Charter to be more of a religious oath that is to be recited repetitively pledging environmental protection, peace and justice and women’s rights gobbly-goop. The site is here:http://www.uri.org/kids/index.htm
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