2004 Outrageous Quotes of the Week

on December 31, 2004

Week of January 4 – 10

“The Christ child born in Bethlehem never said you must destroy a village in order to save it, or invade a country in order to save it. Describing such acts of violence as `missions’ does not fool the Creator.”

— The Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary of the Board of
Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, in a Christmas
commentary distributed by United Methodist News Service.


Week of January 11 – 17

“And what was God thinking . . . when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the Law to Moses?

And what was God thinking . . . when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad?

And what was God thinking . . . when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

 Were these just random acts of association and coincidence or was the Angel Gabriel who appears as the named messenger of God in the Jewish Old Testament, the Christian New Testament Gospels, and the Quran of Islam, really the same miraculous messenger of God who proclaimed to a then emerging religious, global community and to us this morning that we are ALL children of the living God?”

— Episcopal Bishop of Washington John Chane, during his
Christmas morning sermon at the Washington National Cathedral 


Week of January 18 – 24

“You can always find the fringe element, the guys making a bomb behind the mosque,” he said. “You can find the same fringe element behind a right-wing church in Texas. But if you stick to the architecture, what it says about human desire and capability is universal, the desire to extend yourself beyond this life.”

 David Macaulay,  author and Professor of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, in an interview in the 12/31 issue of the New York Times. 


Week of January 25 – 31

Concerning Episcopal Church bishops crossing traditional lines of authority and jurisdiction:

“[That] flies in the face of 1,700 years of Christian tradition.  The canons say you can’t do that.”

– Rev. Jan Nunley, Deputy Director of Episcopal News Service who nevertheless supported the consecration of Gene Robinson and the blessing of same sex unions despite their also flying in the face of Christian tradition and the scriptures.


Week of February 1 – 7

“If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. For as a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time.”

– Episcopal Bishop Peter Lee, addressing the Virginia Diocesan Council


Week of February 8 – 14

“I believe that God is present in all that exists, and is spirit, non-material (of no substance); and that therefore it is impossible to speak of one particular embodied being, however godly, as being materially (in substance) part of God. I believe that to use the word ‘persons’ – however translated – causes grievous misunderstanding. I believe we are all in God, and God in us. To me, the beautiful word ‘Trinity’ means that God and creation and humanity are interconnected. I will gladly speak of God as having three ways of being (for example, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer), but I would also speak of God as having a million ways of being.”

– Canon Hilary Wakeman, Canon Emeritus of Norwich Cathedral, and author of
the book Saving Christianity


Week of February 15 – 21

“The ‘wedding at Cana in Galilee’ was the occasion of the betrothal of Jesus to Mary Magdalene.  He was not, however, the ‘bridegroom’ of the story.  That was the title of the priest who conducted the initiations of Gentiles, expressed through marriage symbolism.  Gentiles were equated with women, both belonging to the class of the uncircumcised.  On this occasion, Jesus ‘turned water into wine’ by permitting Gentiles, previously given only baptism in water, to receive full membership, taking part in the sacred meal of bread and wine.”

– Dr. Barbara Thiering, former lecturer at the University of Sydney
School of Divinity. Dr. Thiering claims Jesus fathered two children with Mary
Magdelene, divorced, and later raised a third child with a second wife.


Week of February 22 – 28

“The death, birth and miracle narratives about Jesus of Nazareth are almost certainly confections that emerged from the collective imagination of late first-century C.E. communities of Jews and Gentiles, which had found common ground in a devotion to the ethical teachings of an itinerant street preacher from Galilee. It was apparently the radically countercultural nature of that teaching—as in “love your enemy”—that set Jesus apart from the countless other street preachers of the time, who may have been something like the first-century version of today’s pundits and talk-show hosts.”

– The Rev. Harry T. Cook, an Episcopal rector of St. Andrew’s Church in
Clawson, MI, in a 2/21 Detroit News  commentary.


Week of February 29 – March 6

“I’m also perhaps Pollyannaish enough to believe that we may, in fact, help move the state perspective on marriage by virtue of our inclusion towards a much broader, much more capacious view. I’m thinking even of the fact of monogamy, which is both one of the pillars of heterosexual marriage and perhaps its key source of trauma. Could it be that the inclusion of lesbian and gay same-sex marriage may, in fact, sort of de-center the notion of monogamy and allow the prospect that marriage need not be an exclusive sexual relationship among people? I think it’s possible….I would never five years ago have defined myself as an advocate of marriage. In fact, the very institution smacked of precisely that which I lived my life in opposition to. But because it has cohered as perhaps the litmus test of civil rights now, because it carries real social benefits, and because I think it perhaps furthers the uncoupling of the state and the church in this country, which I thought was promised in our Constitution, then I’m all for it.”

– Jonathan Katz, Executive Coordinator, Larry Kramer Initiative & Lesbian & Gay Studies, Yale University


Week of March 7 – 13

“The church can be criticized for being out of touch with the under-40s. We hope that this will be a way of finding out some of the things that matter to them. This isn’t about ‘bums on pews’ – there’ll be no pressure to get further involved.”

– Jonathan Kerry, co-ordinating secretary for worship and learning of the Methodist Church in England.  The teetotaling Methodist Church is seeking suggestions for an “11th Commandment” by use of placemats distributed to pubs throughout England.  Among the suggestions proposed on the placemats are “Stop war,” “Reduce emissions,” “Remove all packaging,” “Eat more doughnuts,” and “Never give out your password.”


Week of March 14 – 20

“So what would the pilgrims make of this, were their ghosts to land once more at Provincetown (MA)? Interestingly, they didn’t consider marriage a sacred affair, and in their communities’ magistrates, not church ministers, presided over weddings. The two main reasons for marriage were procreation (which gays can now accomplish) and to avoid the sin of adultery (which gays can also accomplish). So, while they might look askance at Reverend Nude [a former town councilman in Provincetown who often performs nude weddings] , they might not be so averse to sedate gays being spliced.” 

– Columnist David Aaronvitch for the Guardian (U.K.), in an article titled “The Pilgrims Wouldn’t Mind Gay Marriage”


Week of March 21 – 27

“Through spiritual development, that lasts many lives, we get closer to God.  As God’s representative, Jesus helps us, but he doesn’t take away our sins. We are ourselves responsible for our deeds.” 

– Steen Ribers, a verger in a Lutheran church in Denmark.  Ribers was expelled in 1994 from Denmark’s Lutheran church because he–as a member of a church parish council and as a church official–said he believed in reincarnation, and wrote and talked about it in public. He is suing the Danish Ministry of Church Affairs for reinstatement.


Week of March 28 – April 3

“Here we have Christianity reduced to 12 hours–the least interesting 12 hours of Jesus’ life, religiously speaking.” 

– William Schweiker, professor of theological ethics at the University of Chicago, criticizing the narrow focus of the movie The Passion of the Christ.


Week of April 4 – 10

“The only possible way war could be sold to the American people was to allege that Saddam’s regime represented an imminent threat to a frightened United States.  We now know that plans to invade Iraq were afoot more than a decade ago by a far right band of Washington insiders known as neoconservatives.  Their plans were not to remake the Middle East into a bunch of democracies-they really have no objection to several of the royal autocracies and dictatorships in the region-but to ensure Israel could continue to act with impunity against the Palestinian people.” 

– Jim Winkler, chief staff executive of the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, addressing students at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA on February 5, 2004.


Week of April 11 – 17

Certainly, none of us had anticipated the effect of the ordination in New Hampshire. It was telecast around the world. Possibly naively, we thought it was a local event.”

– The Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, on the “unexpected” consequences of ordaining the openly gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.


Week of April 18 – 24

“It has been calculated nearly $13 trillion was spent by the United States in military spending during the Cold War from 1948-1991.  This great fortune has largely been squandered.  You can’t live in a missile silo or wear a tank.  It is the equivalent of burying money in the ground.  Imagine the paradise we would live in today had that money been spent to bring the world adequate food, clothing, and shelter.  Everyone in the world could have adequate health care and free education.  The environment could be clean.  That is the world in which we wish to live.”

– Jim Winkler, chief staff executive of the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, in an address during Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC.


Week of May 2 – 8

“I have to march because my mother could not have an abortion.” 

–US Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) at Pro-Abortion “March for Women’s Lives” Rally Sunday, April 25, 2004. The rally received support from various mainline church bodies, including the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.


Week of May 9 – 15

“[O]n Saturday, the General Conference added these words to the Social Principles: ‘We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.’

This sentence was submitted by Mark Tooley, staff of the anti-gay Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) whose aim is to destroy the United Methodist Church’s traditional theological openness (which originated with John Wesley) and undermine our denomination’s ministry, mission, and structure.”

– A May 4 report from Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Concerns


Week of May 16 – 22

“The question is not what does the Bible say, but what do you believe the Bible is saying.”

– Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, expressing his view on Biblical interpretation in the April 23, 2004 edition of the Los Angeles Times


Week of May 23 – 29

“It makes the relationship between humanity and God exclusively dependent on what Jesus does on our behalf.”

– Rev. Christopher Leighton, a Presbyterian minister and director of the Institute on Christian and Jewish Studies, objecting to the perceived lack of a “call to action” in the film   The Passion of the Christ


Week of June 6 – 12

The official publishing house of the Church of England is scheduling the release of a book of prayers entitled The Pocket Prayers for Peace and Justice for October 2004.  Included in the book is a re-working of the Lord’s Prayer that re-interprets the line “Give us this day our daily bread,” suggesting that God grant this once “we manage to get back our lands or to get a fairer wage.”


Week of June 13 – 19

“Church attendance is not the only indicator of living out your faith.  The vast majority of people of faith in this country are center to left, politically.  But if you only measure religious commitment by butts in the pews, that’s what you get.”

– Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson, executive director of the Clergy Leadership Network, disputing claims that religious liberals are a “small minority” in the United States.


Week of June 27 – July 3

On Father’s Day, many parents were serving overseas, well within harm’s reach. Despite triumphalist claims, they don’t serve so that the world will be receptive to Christian values. They serve so that the prideful, angry and religious back home are free to say hateful things.”

– Episcopal priest and syndicated columnist Tom Ehrich, explaining the purpose of U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Week of July 11 – 17

“Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from one another. I think that is more likely to lead to sexual offenses. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner.”

-I Cor. 7:8-9, as interpreted in Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures by retired Baptist minister John Henson.  The modern, paraprhased version of the Bible also renames several characters and places for modern audiences (e.g., Simon Peter is named “Rocky,” Barnabas is named “Cheery,” Thessalonika is named “Tessatown).  The new translation received a “warm commendation” from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.


Week of July 18 – 24

“We think this could be a very divisive election.  We’re saying to people, ‘If you’re fed up with all the divisions, you might want to take a look at us, because we’re in the business of inclusion, not division.’ “

– Daniel B. England, director of communications for the Episcopal Church, speaking on the church’s upcoming national television ad campaign, which is scheduled to begin airing on election day.  The quote originally appeared in the July, 11 edition of the Washington Post.


Week of July 25 – 31

“…we corrected Paul; we know that Paul was wrong now…. Paul is not to be trusted anyway: Paul sent a slave back to his master! If you’ll send a slave back to his master, you can’t be trusted to talk to me about sex.

– Rev. Ronald Hopson, addressing the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality.


Week of August 1 – 7

Are [Protestant teenagers] likely to be in teen Bible study groups? Well, you are if you’re a Southern Baptist. You’re probably not if you’re an Episcopalian.   The Bible is very much present in our tradition, but it’s not the only thing we look to as authoritative. And that’s what distinguishes us from many Protestant traditions where the Bible is paramount in ethics, in everything, really.”

Rev. Mary June Nestler, dean of the Episcopal Theological School in Claremont, CA, explaining a recent survey noting that while one in three Protestant youth read the Bible weekly, only eight percent of Episcopal youth do the same.


Week of August 8 – 14

“Real religion isn’t how often you pray but how deeply you care.”

– Rev. Albert Pennybacker, former director of the National Council of Churches Washington, DC office, and former president of the Interfaith Alliance. Pennybacker now serves on the national board of the Clergy Leadership Network, an organization created to provide a voice to liberal clergy on various political issues.


Week of August 15 – 21

“Think about it: A conservative Christian is a contradiction in terms. Christ wasn’t a conservative. He fed the hungry simply because they were hungry. He didn’t require that they go to work first. He healed the sick, simply because they were sick. He didn’t push them into an insurance company, or let the drug companies gouge them on prices. Jesus was a liberal; Herod was the conservative.”

– Rev. Jesse Jackson


Week of August 22 – 28

In case you haven’t noticed, we are now almost as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis were.  With good reason. 

“In case you haven’t noticed, our unelected leaders have dehumanized millions and millions of human beings simply because of their religion and race. We wound and kill ‘em and torture ‘em and imprison ‘em all we want….

“Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler.”

– Author Kurt Vonnegut


Week of August 29 – September 4

Continuing on a theme…

“If ever there were a bleeding-heart liberal, it was Jesus Christ.  I think the carpenter from Galilee was the original Democrat.”

James C. Moore, co-author of Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George Bush Presidential, addressing a gathering of the Texas Faith Network 


Week of September 12 – 18

“It’s a particular kind of religiosity. It’s the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, describing President Bush’s Christian faith.  He is quoted in the September 13 issue of New Yorker magazine.


Week of September 19 – 25

And it is only the compassion of Christ worked in us by the Spirit that can give us the expansiveness of heart which will allow us to extend our arms with the courageous and unwavering and all-embracing mercy of Christ himself. It is a mercy that can embrace even the demons and reptiles, the enemies of truth and those who do us evil.”

-Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (emphasis added).


Week of September 26 – October 2

Resurrection! He’s just like Jesus, and he’s back, and now it’s time for Ward 8 to be resurrected.”

– Desiree Walker of Washington, celebrating the election of former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry to the D.C. Council as a representative of Ward 8. She was quoted by The Washington Post.


Week of October 3 – 9

Is it not possible that what may be perceived by many as sexual otherness is in some way revelatory of the fullness of Christ in us-the hope of glory? This is a question we are presently living-a question that contains within itself many other questions, each of which contributes to an answer that has yet to be revealed.

– Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, preaching at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington, during a meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.


Week of October 10 – 16

Otherness, therefore, is the medium of my crucifixion. But, it is also the way to my resurrection: that expansion of consciousness that allows me to see with undistorted sight.”

– Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, preaching at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington, during a meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.


Week of October 17 – 23

If the other is, on occasion, the agent of our dying and rising – the one who sets fire to our storehouses in order that we may see the moon and be liberated from our own self-regulated reality and enter into the open space of God’s desire – there may be some dying we must undergo as a church, not in terms of decisions made but in terms of our stance toward the other in our midst, at our borders and in other parts of the world.”

– Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, preaching at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington, during a meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.


Week of October 24 – 30

“We treasure the precious words of Hezbollah and your expression of goodwill toward the American people.  Also we praise your initiative for dialogue and mutual understanding. We cherish these statements that bring us closer to you. As an elder of our church, I’d like to say that according to my recent experience, relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders.”

– Ronald H. Stone, a PCUSA elder, and former professor of Christian ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  The statement was made during a meeting in Lebanon of Hezbollah leaders with a delegation of PCUSA’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP).


Week of November 7 – 13

“I am a Christian.  The historicity of Jesus is an open question…. I don’t discount the historicity; it’s just not a question I’m particularly interested in.”

– Larry Marshall, a former United Church of Canada minister.  Marshall is the founder of The Community of Inner Spirituality in Toronto.  The organization promotes itself as a community for those “who want spirituality without religion.”


Week of November 14 – 20

“The closest analogy to America’s bureaucratized evangelical movement is Hamas, which draws in poverty-stricken Palestinians through its own miniature welfare state.”

– Political commentator Barbara Ehrenreich, comparing the social projects of evangelical “megachurches” to those of the Palestinian terrorism organization, in the November 29, 2004 issue of The Nation.


Week of December 12 – 18

“[Bush’s re-election was a result of] religious zealots who say they are voting on morals. I think we should all buy AK-47s and shoot them all.”

– John McTighe, part-time sociology professor at the University of Louisville.  He is quoted in the Louisville Patriot, an independently-owned student publication.   Mr. McTighe ‘s teaching contract with the university has been withdrawn pending further investigation.


Week of December 19 – 25

“I am now the chairman of a national campaign to pass a constitutional amendment to take the right to vote away from born-again Christians. [enthusiastic audience applause] Just a little project of mine. My feeling is that born-again people are citizens of heaven, that is where there citizenship is, [laughter] is in heaven, it’s not here among us in America. …If born-again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?”

– Garrison Keillor (Prairie Home Companion, 11/6)

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