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Episcopalians take back historic Falls Church

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This is an important victory not just for Episcopalians, but for all church goers. It says that an outside group can not infiltrate a church and grab property.

Falls Church News Press: Church Defectors Acted Immorally, Part 3

"In the family.” This was the farewell valediction that the Rev. John Yates, leader of the mass defection from the Falls Church in December 2006, penned to his flock this month, concluding his missive on the U.S. Supreme Court’s final ruling that the property of the historic church belonged not to them, but to the deed-holding Episcopal Diocese.

“In the family.” Odd: not “Yours in Christ,” or “In His Name,” far more common sign-off phrases by religious figures, but “In the family.” ...

... These efforts involved not only a sharp split by their followers in the historic, beneficent relation between a church and its surrounding community, but an even more painful split between congregants, one from another, within a church, and the theft of church property by the initiating faction against their ostensible brethren that they subsequently drove from that property.

As an eyewitness to these developments at and around The Falls Church, and chronicling them in my local newspaper, it was enormously helpful to me to when Jeff Sharlet’s painstakingly well documented book, The Family, The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, published by Harper-Collins, hit the bookshelves in 2008 and went six months on the New York Times best seller list. The fact-filled 454-page volume unlocked the mystery for me about, well, “The Family,” perhaps the same entity that that Rev. Yates apparently swore allegiance to in his letter this month.

Upon reading the book (I’ll never adapt to Kindle, because I wrote copious notes all over this volume, as is my custom), I contacted the author and trained up to New York to meet with him for over two hours at a coffee shop in Brooklyn. Since then, he’s written a sequel, C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy (Little Brown, 2010


The right has done exactly what it accuses the left of doing, infiltrating every aspect of civil society and perverting it to their purposes. The Episcopalian church has won an important victory in beating them back.

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Submitted by lambert on

However, what I'm not seeing is evidence that "the family" lowercase is The Family, the horrible institutiion. Perhaps that's in another part of the story?

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Submitted by Alexa on

is interesting--I'll wait for Mr Benson's "to be continued . . ." column, hoping that he clarifies "just what the exact relationship is between Reverend John Yates and Douglas Coe."

Don't have time to locate and post the links now, but remember the Fall Church saga from several years ago, when I heard one of its most prominent members, Fox's Fred Barnes, vent about it on Fox News.

I've not found anything to connect the two "leaders" of the conservative church/sect, but without a doubt, they share some common goals and values.

Doug Coe (who leads the Senate prayer cells that we've already discussed) recruited Senator Inhofe as "The Family's" emissary to Africa.

Here's a partial transcript of Inhofe from an YouTube Video interview:

Question, Reverend Rob Schnenck: "Tell us about the "efforts" in Africa?"

Answer, Senator Inhofe: " . . . a uy named Doug Coe--just one of the greatest guys in the world, who came to Washington over 50 years ago with Billy Bright [William R. "Bill" Bright (October 19, 1921 – July 19, 2003) was an American evangelist. The founder of Campus Crusade for Christ . . .] and Billy Graham [William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. (born November 7, 1918) is an American evangelical Christian evangelist, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister, who rose to celebrity status in 1949 reaching a core constituency of white, middle-class, moderately conservative Protestants.[2] He held large indoor and outdoor rallies; sermons were broadcast on radio and television, some still being re-broadcast today.[3]

{Added Wikipedia excerpts.}

Doug has always been behind the scenes, very quiet. He talked me into going to Africa. I had no interest in going to Africa, yet the same day, after 10 years of saying "no" to him--I said, "Alright, I will."

"I never will understand why I said that, but I did."

So, I'm not sure what Benson means, unless he knows that some of the same clergy/members participate in both sects, or he is drawing a comparison between some of their toxic values and/or beliefs.

As I've already posted, "The Family" is virulently anti-gay, anti-women clergy, anti-union, anti-New Deal--and according to Shalet, basically fascistic in nature--Coe sometimes quotes Hitler, Lenin and Mao, appears to admire strongmen like Pol Pot, etc..

And from what DCb posted of Benson's columns, it appears that the conservative (breakaway) wing of the Fall Church congregation was also virulently anti-gay and anti-women clergy.

Personally, I'd need to read more of Benson's pieces, and/or poke around a little more to be certain that the reference "in the family" in the letter, is meant to indicate that Yates, or his followers, are part of "The Family."

I "thought" that the organization "The Family" was meant for our Elite Politicians, etc. Not the likes of a Fred Barnes--conservative as he may be. But I don't claim to know, one way or the other.

From what I've read, "The Family" was founded by a Norweigan Methodist clergy--not an Anglican.

On the other hand, both groups had dealings with the anti-gay movements in Nigeria, Uganda, etc.

I keep reading that The Falls Church was "Nigerian-sponsored." I believe that this may mean that they decided to join the very conservative Nigerian Diocese--but I'm not one hundred percent certain.

Interesting columns, though. Thanks for the info. I'll "keep my eyes peeled" for pertinent information on this possible connection.

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Submitted by McDee on

A similar event recently in California. A lot of this has to do with the Episcopal Church ordaining an openly gay bishop.
The reaction was similar to when the Episcopal Church ordained women to the priesthood back in the 70's.
The conservatives couldn't accept women then, just like they can't accept gays now.
The Rector of an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles "went over" to Nigeria or Uganda or some such diocese that is rabidly anti-gay.
It wound up in court and the Diocese won....the land, the buildings belonged to the Diocese, not the dissidents.
My question about Fall's Church would be : is this about "the family" or about the issue of the ordination of a gay bishop?

Submitted by lambert on

I came in just after they'd started ordaining women, to which there seemed to me to be bizarrely intense opposition. And in the ensuing years, I remember reading the more "traditional" African congregations -- where the Episcopal Church is expanding, unlike in the UK and US -- would not ordain women, or recognize ordained women. And there were a few cases where Episcopal congregations would try to join African dioceses. And then the same dynamic for gay priests and Bishops.

So, I'm wondering how much of the African resistance was not "traditional" but funded by the likes of Coe.