Monday, June 20, 2005

Bishop Spong Bullies Kentucky Priest

In his role as an associate for adult Christian education at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Harrods Creek, Kentucky, the Rev. J.D. Brown once cautioned a reading group at his church to not overemphasize the work of controversial authors such as . . . John Shelby Spong and Elaine Pagels. He recommended in a letter that they balance the reading of those works with those written by authors who favor the traditional creeds of faith.

Rev. Brown's letter eventually ended up in the hands of retired Episcopal Bishop Spong, who went on to use its contents to attack the priest and his church in his latest book, The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love.

In an article from VirtueOnline carried by Religion Journal, Rev. Brown describes his reaction when he read the passage from Spong's book:

"When I read it, I was stunned. Bishop Spong maligned a community of faith he has never visited and accused me, someone with whom he's never even spoken, of violating the freedom of speech of my parishioners. He referred to my priestly oath to uphold the doctrine of the church espoused in the creeds as 'breathtaking in its naiveté,' and characterized me as quote: 'the holy man from the office of the heavenly sheriff.'

"I was really intrigued", Brown said, "that Bishop Spong speaks so dismissively of such respected authors -- but carefully leaves their names out of his piece because it would weaken his argument. In much the same way he was eager to take shots at my actions, referring to my letter, but was careful to do so without sharing any of its content or context. It's typical of the revisionism he is known for."

"It's also somewhat ironic" Brown added, "that Bishop Spong chides me for being lax about guarding the freedom of speech, when I spent 25 years in the uniform of this country defending the bishop's right to be wrong."

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