Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition. This is an international movement and in provinces such as the USA and New Zealand the campaigners have much to be optimistic about. But the truth is, in England, the dioceses appear to be overwhelmingly going for the idea of giving up their independence in favour of being told how to think and what they can do by the most reactionary and bigoted factions in the Anglican Communion. Furthermore, and this is most tragic, the laity of the Church of England and its parish clergy seem to be content to hand over all their previously hard won rights of participation in the management of their church to the bishops, and more so to the primates, which is, of course, the unstated, but primary, aim of the Covenant's episcopal backers.
The Coalition is up against a hierarchy that is determined to rig the debate in its own favour. The bishops are using all the official means and resources at their disposal to propagate the propaganda of the pro-Covenant argument whilst suppressing, through inaction, the arguments of those against it. At the official meetings bishops are making sure they get to speak last and they are speaking, not as individuals, but on behalf of the Church as if the Covenant had already been accepted as writ by General Synod and just needs the approval of the rank of file.
But I think there is another influence on the way the voting is going. For years I have been saying that the best way to get the laity of the Church of England to reject the Covenant is to make them understand that accepting it will result in them giving up their provincial independence. The thing is, although this fact is being stated, I don't think the laity are taking it into account. I think this is because they really don't believe that foreigners will want to contradict the English and, so, everything will just continue as it always has done. Our laity are still living as if the other provinces of the Anglican Communion are part of a British Empire in which its subjects all believe in the natural superiority of the English and that the English always know best. I am pretty certain that the reason so many Church of England bishops, including the archbishops, got so upset about the US Episcopal Church's decision to treat gay people as human beings and children of God, was nothing to do with TEC's rejection of institutionalised bigotry and everything to do with the fact that "a bunch of foreigners" had dared to do something without the permission of the English.
That the Church of England is run by arrogant people who care little for the beliefs and ideals of the masses has been well proven by what's been going down at St. Paul's Cathedral recently. I can imagine certain participants in this embarrassing revelation of the Anglican hierarchy's priorities going home to their partners and crying, "Why don't they just do as we tell them anymore?"
It's a new world. It's an old church. Irrelevancy for the Church not only beckons, it may well be here already.