There’s a saying attributed variously to Robert Conquest or John O’Sullivan that “any institution that is not explicitly right-wing will become left-wing over time.” A good case in point is the Episcopal Church, which was once known as “the Republican Party at prayer,” but which has for the last several decades fallen in line behind every politically correct enthusiasm of the left.
We imagine the conversation in the Episcopal clergy must go something like this:
Bishop: Father Smith, I see that a few parishioners are still showing up for the liturgy on Sundays. Isn’t there something else we can do about this to drive the remaining people away?
Father Smith: Well, I suppose we could double down on the “Star Trek” prayer and use it in every Sunday service until everyone stops coming: “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.”*
Bishop: Not sure that will do the trick. ‘The Force’ is great and all, but ironically it just might be too close to the Holy Spirit to be effective.
Father Smith: That’s Star WARS, your excellence, not Star TREK.
Bishop: Well whatever. In either case, their General Conventions are way more intelligent than ours.
Father Smith: I’ve got it! Let’s throw out the honors for George Washington in his old parish in Alexandria!
Bishop: Genius! What didn’t we think of this before?
[*Actual words of Rite II, Eucharistic Prayer C.]
By Stephen Dinan
George Washington was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, buying pew No. 5 when the church first opened in 1773, and attending for more than two decades.
This week the church announced it was pulling down a memorial to its one-time vestryman and the country’s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become too controversial and are chasing away would-be parishioners.
While acknowledging “friction” over the decision, the church’s leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as “All are welcome — no exceptions.”
“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,” the church leaders said.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
—President George Washington, Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, August 21, 1790. Unfortunately this understanding is nowadays lost on the leadership of the Episcopal Church (among many others).