Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's all the Archbishop of Canterbury's Fault . . .

The news report below from a Wichita Falls television station is typical of the kind of information the clergy in the Diocese of Fort Worth put out about The Episcopal Church. The only source for the story is the Rev. Scott Wooten. More on Wooten below.

Here's the story from the KAUZ web site:

Following Faith: Controversy in the Episcopal Church
See the video here:


A battle is raging within the national Episcopal Church. The debate began when the Bishop of Canterbury began ordaining openly gay bishops.
Father Scott Wooten of Church of the Good Shepard in Wichita Falls says, "It's very simple. God blessed Man and Woman. If If he had wanted same sex i'm sure he would have created Adam and Adam, not Adam and Eve."
Wooten says the Regional Bishop over the Diocese of Fort Worth should have something to say about Canon law.
Wichita Falls is part of the Forth Worth [sic] Diocese. Currently, the Church's National Bishop is making the decisions.
"They want to force us to do their theology and essentially put down our holy scripture and pick up their new modern scripture that they have
written themselves," Wooten says.
This battle over authority has raged for more than ten years, and Wooten believes it will end with the Forth Worth [sic] Diocese separating from the National Church. The Diocese of Fort Worth will meet November 16th and 17th to review Canonical law. If the church decides to split, It would align with the Anglican Church.
Story Created:
Nov 5, 2007 at 4:23 PM CST
Story Updated: Nov 5, 2007 at 7:55 PM CST

Some of the worst reporting you've ever read, right? Right.

But give the reporter a break. Her ONLY source is not exactly a sterling example of accuracy.

Some of you may remember Scott Wooten from General Convention 2003 in Minneapolis. At the time, Wooten was rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Graham, Texas. Here's the blog I wrote in August of 2003 about what Wooten said happened there, and how the truth unfolded:
On August 5 at General Convention, right after the House of Bishops joined the House of Deputies in consenting to the election of Gene Robinson, I witnessed an astonished outbreak of male hysteria among privileged white bishops.

They quickly gathered their equally distraught clergy and laypeople around them and retreated to participate in very public displays of grief and drama for the benefit of the gathered media.

On August 6 the bishops were conspicuously absent, but many of the clergy and laypeople appeared wearing huge globs of ashes on their foreheads as symbols of their grief and alienation.

It was in the middle of this fraught atmosphere that the Rev. Scott Wooten of the Diocese of Fort Worth got word that some time the night of August 5, someone had vandalized his church, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Graham, Texas.

In a statement quickly posted on the Fort Worth diocesan website and then around the world via the Internet, Wooten described some writing on the wall as saying, ‘God and Jesus loves Homosexuals” and wasted no time at all calling it a “hate crime, probably; committed against orthodox Episcopalians” and laying the blame for the vandalism at the feet of “Biblical revisionists.”

He wrote, “The thought of active persecution crossed my mind when I decided to take a stand against Biblical revisionists, but it turned very personal when it hit my church.”

Wow! This is the stuff of martyrs!

Problem is, none of this is what happened.

But Wooten was reluctant to give up his martyr story, and soon he was joined in his talk of the “politics of hate” by Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker. A second, more damaging fire burned much of the Holy Spirit parish hall on the morning of a visit by Bishop Iker, described by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as “a prominent national critic of the church’s decision to affirm the election of [Robinson].”

In that August 23 story, Wooten told the paper “that he is not certain that the fires were the result of Robinson's confirmation but that ‘it's probable.’

“‘I'm not saying it's not a hate crime, I'm just saying I don't know if it's a hate crime," Wooten said. "I know it's being investigated as one and that the timing of the whole incident, with the first fire coming the day after the vote in Minneapolis, is questionable.’

“Iker, who was in Graham on Sunday when Mass was moved to the local high school auditorium, said earlier this week: ‘It has to be characterized as a religious hate crime. It's totally immoral to destroy a church, even when you don't agree with what the church teaches.’

But the Graham police weren’t so sure.

“’The fires have not been classified as a hate crimes and ‘are more like an arson,’ [Graham] Police Chief Jim Nance said.”

The closer one looked, the more Wooten and Iker’s hyperventilated claims fell apart. Turns out Wooten’s original claims that the message said, ‘God and Jesus loves Homosexuals” was based on a telephone description from a parishioner. But only the words “God Jesus” were clearly readable, according to another parishioner. Wooten told a reporter he now read the message as ‘God and Jesus love Holysexuals” – a very different message than the first one. Wooten then said that police and federal investigators had asked him not to describe the message.

Finally, Wooten said, “ I can no longer say that this was any part of backlash.”

No kidding.

What it was, was two teenagers in Graham who got bored and went on a crime spree.

The Graham Police Department and Young County’s Sheriff’s Department say Brian Reger and Sean Hadaway, both 18, admitted to setting fire, on two occasions, to the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. They also claimed credit for cutting down a power line pole and burglarizing nine storage units.

“They gave the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard for doing something like that,” said Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Randy Balderson. “They did all that because they were bored.”

“They said they didn’t have anything constructive to do and liked to tear things up,” said Young County Sheriff’s investigator Michael Davis.

Gee, that description matches that of some conservatives I know.

So, Bishop Iker, Scott Wooten and all the websites that rushed to name this a hate crime committed by “Biblical revisionists” and gay activists have rushed to apologize and correct the story, right?

Well, no.

So far, there’s been only silence, while the original story remains posted on various anti-gay websites.

I can understand speaking out in the midst of hurt and anger. I can understand jumping to conclusions. I can understand pointing fingers when faced with such crimes. I can even understand the blaming and shaming – it’s typical behavior of our bishop and his crony clergy in this diocese.

What I can’t understand is the silence when all the conclusions, all the finger pointing, all the blaming and shaming turns out to be aimed at the wrong people. What I can’t understand is letting a lie stand as truth.

This isn’t politics of hate.

This is the politics of the pathetic.
That was in 2003. It's now 2007. See how much Wooten learned from his experience?


Jean said...

This is so appalling I am nearly speechless...
How can anybody believe this stuff??
Thanks for posting.

Father Nelson said...

You're not exactly known for "excellence in getting the facts straight" either, Katie.

But, you've never been one to debate the substance of matters, either. Get a life.

Anonymous said...

All that fancy seminary education, and all Wooten+ can come up with is the line used by street preachers with a 10th grade education? (more usually, the line goes "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve")