Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bad timing or embarrassment?

UPDATE: Here is what 815's communication director Anne Rudig told Mark Harris about the change of text on the opening page of the Episcopal Church website:

"We shortened the copy so that there will be room for the Spanish translation (coming soon) below it. It is part of our effort to welcome in many languages. French will be next. We just thought the page needed freshening and perhaps some specificity for seekers. Sorry if you liked the first copy better. Don't worry - it will change again. [...]"

You can read Mark's comments on this here.

So Anne Rudig is saying it was just an update to the page to "freshen" and shorten it. But it's not significantly shorter.

However, I am reminded of a piece of wisdom one of my first city editors gave me. He said, "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by imcompetence."

In this situation, incompetence is too harsh a word. The Church Center staff for the most part is very competent. Here I think it would be more accurate to say, "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by obliviousness."

End of Update.

My friend Jan Adams alerted me to something:

"Facing criticism for withholding information from its 2.3 million members, the Episcopal Church has quietly removed from its new website assurances that the church is committed to openness and transparency in government.

For months, the site had proclaimed on its home page: “Our controversies and conversations have been public. Our governance is transparent. You are free to see our imperfections…” (See a copy of the original message here.)

If you had gone to the Church Center's web site until very recently, you would have seen this [emphasis added]:
Welcome to I am Episcopalian, launched this Ash Wednesday 2009, the beginning of Lent.
The Episcopal Church is a big, colorful, vibrant church. We hope you will see that in the wide spectrum of its members represented here on this site.
In our Church you may touch ancient traditions and experience intelligent inquiry. It is an expansive Church, a loving Church, with strong ties to our roots as a nation. We are a thoughtful, inquiring, freedom-loving and welcoming body, and we thrive not only in the U.S., but also throughout Latin America, Asia and Europe.
We invite you to see and hear the very personal reasons we choose to be Episcopalians. Our controversies and conversations have been public. Our governance is transparent. You are free to see our imperfections, as well as share our joy in that which unites us - our openness, honesty and faith.

But if you go there today, you will see this:

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.
You will hear this recurring theme in the videos by clicking on them above. We welcome you not only in the U.S., but also in parts of Latin America, Asia and Europe.
In the Episcopal Church, we may all serve as preachers, teachers, or worship leaders. Both men and women are welcomed into ordained ministry. Each and everyone of the baptized may experience God's grace at the altar, and the knowledge that God loves you and forgives is always present.
The best way to experience how the Episcopal Church welcomes you is to visit. To find a church, please click "continue" below to the main website. To share a personal story of why you are an Episcopalian, follow the directions for uploading your video here.

No reference at all to being a freedom-loving church, or to transparency, honesty, openness, or the "freedom to see our imperfections"?

Why the change? Was it just a "routine" updating of the I am Episcopalian page? Or was it to remove embarrassing statements about transparency in the wake of the refusal to identify the members of the panel of the House of Bishops' theology committee that is "studying" same sex unions?

If it is the former, the timing is really really unfortunate.

And if it is latter, well, it at least proves someone at the Church Center had the grace to be embarrassed about the hypocrisy of talking about transparency while a secret panel examines the lives of one part of the baptized.

Whichever it is, everyone should be embarrassed about the secrecy.


JayV said...

This is the explanation for the transparency deletion ("change") noted in a comment by John Chilton at Episcopal Cafe:

Pat Klemme said...

Why do I feel less welcome again? This language change does not bode well for GC2009. Thanks, Katie, for your gentleness in upgrading Ms. Rudig's intent from incompetence to obliviousness. I fear more is at work here than either.