The propaganda department of the Convocation of Anglican Cardinals has today published what it disingenuously calls a "Study guide of the Anglican Communion Covenant." Of course, it is not a study guide as it comes complete with another document, entitled "Questions and Answers" that sets out plainly exactly what we are expected to conclude after we have studied the first document.

This duplicity is only to be expected as the gradual, but unyielding, imposition of the Covenant upon the Communion has been one prolonged exercise in doublespeak. The new documents continue this process of deception through meaningless statements which you can tell are extremely dubious by the over the top confidence and authority they are exclaimed with. For example, take "Question 9" on the "Questions and Answers" document:

Will the Covenant strengthen central control within the Anglican Communion?

To which we are given this answer:

It is sometimes said that the Covenant will increase central control within the Anglican Communion. However, it must be stressed that the Covenant continually emphasises the autonomy of the provinces of the Communion. This helps to ensure that local and regional churches will not be swamped by any central power. Here are some examples of the way in which the Covenant expresses the importance of local and regional churches.

Although the Covenant does not in any way suggest the creation of a centralised authoritarian structure, it does affirm the importance of our interdependence and mutual responsibility. A common life means that each Church of the Communion should be mindful that its life and decisions impact positively and negatively on the lives of other Churches. Therefore, the Covenant commits us ‘to have regard for the common good of the Communion in the exercise of autonomy’ while ‘upholding our mutual responsibility and interdependence.’ (3.2.2)

This is waffle and meaningless waffle at that. It sounds like an intelligent statement but it is the Church Political version of an optical illusion. The truth is that if the local can be vetoed by an outside body then the local does not have autonomy. Delegated and restricted autonomy is not autonomy, it is patronising condescension.

The truth of the matter is that the proposed Anglican Covenant has been constructed upon the shifting sands of doublespeak from the word "go." The primary deceit is that it is a democratic initiative. But it can never be a democratic instrument of unity as it is being imposed without any reference to a democratic process.

I have a friend who is constantly telling me that "the Church is not a democracy" and how right he is. The Anglican Covenant will insist that all Anglicans, including those who signed up for Anglicanism before the Covenant had even been conceived, agree to believe in the ethical and religious beliefs of a very small number of powerful people within the Communion. Almost all of the people who will be subject to the rules of the Covenant will not get to vote "yes" or "no" to it. So we are being sold the Covenant as a democratic and fair "instrument of unity" whilst democracy, because "the Church is not a democracy," is completely absent from the process other than within the phoney democratic processes of some provinces which are themselves an expression of ecclesiastical doublespeak.

My question is simple. Is it morally right for an organisation to insist its members change their beliefs from what they were allowed to believe when they joined the organisation without those members being allowed to personally vote on the issue?

And, in homage to the question posing style of the Covenanters, I will answer the question for you.

No, it bloody well isn't!



  1. No, it bloody well isn’t!

    Right. I skimmed the document, and it’s nothing more than a deceptive sales pitch for the covenant. Further, there is no acknowledgement of disagreement from any corner of the Anglican Communion.

  2. Double Speak? Oh shit – I used the same phrase in the title of my post here . Am I getting as rude as you????

    I did want to use the word bollocks in my post but thought better of it…. I like the punchline in your post.

  3. Ditto. “No, it bloody well isn’t!” I will not bow to any but Jesus, and Jesus ain’t in one scrap of the paper on which this document is written.

    And of course, being a woman, and only a priest, I will be ignored and forced to accept this abomination or give up my orders and the only truly open expression of Christianity on the face of the earth. No. I will not.

  4. I thought that the Episcopal Church was fairly democratic. Am I mistaken? In fact, it is our democratic tendencies that get us into trouble with the bishopricks of other churches who don’t get why our bishops can’t just “make it so.” Of course I could be wrong…

  5. The texts of these – the study guide and the Qs and As – are their own evidence of doublespeak and one sidedness, and it is amazing that just a little bit of the forensic is all that is needed to demonstrate such.

  6. We need to make the church into a democracy. The idea didn’t really exist a couple of thousand years ago. It modelled itself on the stuructures of the late Roman empire, and was authoritarian and patriarchal because such things were taken for granted back then. The fact that they’ve got away with it all these centuries doesn’t mean bishops etc are there by the will of God!

    If we honestly believe God creates us all equally, and calls us all equally to his service, shouldn’t the church be the one place above all others where that equality is celebrated in every concievable way? We should be trailblazers for democracy, not a dictatorship by any other name.