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The Jesus Movement, Michael Curry, Racism, Guilt and White Privilege

The Jesus Movement, Michael Curry, Racism, Guilt and White Privilege


By David W. Virtue, DD
September 20, 2017

When Michael Curry took over as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2012 at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, he announced amidst much fanfare, that the Episcopal Church would be the (Episcopal branch) of the Jesus Movement.

It came as quite a shock to his predecessor, Katharine Jefferts Schori whose face, at a press conference, was worth the price of admission. Jesus had not been much on her lips in her nine years, except to expel from the church bishops and priests who actually did believe in Jesus and the salvation he offered. Jefferts Schori had excoriated the notion of personal salvation as a modern-day heresy, preferring to dance to the sounds of Indaba, inclusivity, diversity and let's make nice with Islam.

Now a Black Presiding Bishop rode into town announcing that the Episcopal Church would henceforth move in a different direction with the Jesus Movement, causing bewilderment amongst his theologically liberal bishops, who were now being told they had to evangelize (yep that's the word), so people would hear the Good News with revivals he planned to hold around the country. (The Good News was not initially defined; that would come later.) The Presiding Bishop actually used the word revival, a well-documented word, but alien to the thinking of most stiff upper lip Episcopalians more concerned with a fifth of Scotch than a spiritual fit of the Holy Spirit.

Now you should know that words like "evangelize" and "evangelism" have a particular meaning which are anathema to most Episcopal bishops. When they hear these words, they think of Aimee Semple McPherson or a Billy Graham and Trinity School for Ministry, and they do their best to make sure their ordinands never end up there for fear they might contaminate their dioceses with such narrow views of the gospel excluding various groups that now occupy center stage, like LGBTQII and transgender types for whom hearts must now bleed in open wounds of contrition over what public toilets they can use.

The bewilderment did not last long when it became clear that what Michael Curry meant by the Jesus Movement was not quite the evangelism of say a John Wesley, Billy Graham or that preached by thousands of black American preachers who weekly rail against sin, calling folk to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Full disclosure. I once worked in a black Baptist church for two years and each week the preacher made an altar call, so I know whereof I speak).

No, that was taking evangelism further than what Curry wanted to go, a step beyond where he wanted to take the Church. Words would have to be defined. If he had meant what evangelism really meant then he would have been called homophobic because he would have had to say that homosexual behavior (like adultery and fornication) is sexually impermissible and demanded repentance. Curry had no intention of going down that road.

As it slowly transpired, Curry's understanding and agenda of the Jesus Movement was really about racism and its attendant "sin" -- White Privilege. Racism lay at the heart of his call to evangelize and he had a built-in audience of 98 percent whites in The Episcopal Church. With less than 600,000 whites, he could rail at them and charge them with white privilege, hoping that, loaded down with guilt, they would atone with large gifts for their hidden racism. (The topic was center stage at the last HOB meeting, where, according to Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, the gathering felt like one "anti-racism training" center, which translates into "white privilege" guilt.)

VOL has repeatedly asked over time about who exactly are the racists in TEC, but we have never gotten a reply. Would the Presiding Bishop please rise and name actual racists. It would be very helpful if the press could identify who these racists are. The truth is, the only very public racist of recent memory was John Shelby Spong, former Bishop of Newark, who was publicly humiliated following racist comments he made about African Anglicans at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. He was forced to apologize. Since then there has not been a public (or private) identifiable racist in TEC. Of course, there are plenty of racists in society like the Klan, White Supremacist, neo Nazis etc., but not anyone that Curry could identify in TEC.

When the penny finally dropped for this writer, it became apparent that what Curry is saying is that everybody who is white in TEC is de facto a racist just because they are white; born to white privilege and for that they must repent and atone with large checks to the Church as reparations for being white.

Of course, this kind of guilt plays right into the hands of pansexualists who believe that heterosexuals are mostly homophobic if they don't accept that sodomy is good and right in the eyes of God, and the linking of the two gives Curry a two-edged sword to wield against both whites in TEC and African Anglicans who eschew homosexuality as sinful and unacceptable.

NOTE: Black evangelicals in the US do not accept homosexuality and they say to people like Curry, "Don't confuse your sin with my skin". This is apparently lost on the Presiding Bishop.

Wielding this two-edged sword has given Curry enormous clout and made him the darling of Justin Welby, toffee nosed Anglican bishops, liberal and revisionist Episcopal bishops of one stripe or another, even evangelicals like Bishop Greg Brewer (Central Florida) and the Bishop of Dallas, George R. Sumner, who now compete for his attention. Nashotah House has also become a believer in The Black One and has invited him to give a lecture on their premises, causing much consternation among ACNA bishops, who have hitherto tacitly supported the Anglo-Catholic seminary.

For all this talk of racism and white privilege you would think that this would be a real church planting moment, an opportunity for tens of thousands of whites to pour into Episcopal churches, declare their inner racism and white privilege, feel their guilt while listening to sermons blaming them for all of America's ills, then repent and atone with reparation checks.

Sadly, it is not working. When Gene Robinson was proclaimed queen of the sodomites (Bishop of New Hampshire) and a miter was laid upon his head, it was presumed that American homosexuals, no longer under the threat of being told their behavior was sinful, would suddenly flood TEC churches. It never happened. The reverse happened. Churches began to empty, families fled and out of that schismatic act, the Anglican Church in America was born.

Curry's attempt to guilt aging Episcopalians with cries of racism and white privilege is going unheeded, and we suspect by most of his bishops as well. The only reason aging Episcopalians stay in the Episcopal Church is to be buried in the parish graveyard or columbarium, alongside ancient relatives who are rolling in their graves and asking what the hell went wrong with the Church they once knew, loved and worshipped in.

Curry's attempt to jump start the Episcopal Church with the Jesus Movement is not, and will not work. As Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison (SC ret.) noted in an interview I did with him, "Bishop Curry could not turn the Episcopal Church away from its accommodation to the culture if he wanted to and he's given no sign that he would want to."

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is sowing to the wind and he is reaping the whirlwind.

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