The American Gazette

Commonsense political and social commentary from "Flyover Country"

Location: Rural Michigan, United States

Sunday, November 21, 2004

On Being a Redneck

Ok, so I'm a little behind times here, I just could not think much about posting while having to consider whether I would leave my church or not. But since that is resolved it is time for me to do a bit of catching up.

So in the interest of that, thought I might explain what rednecks are all about. And no it is not what you think. The term has become one that means ignorant backwards and can it not be more obvious? Racist.

Before I explain the origin of the word redneck and just because I can, the origin of the word hillbilly, let me state that I am a redneck. You might be too, and not even realize it.

Allow me to start at the beginning, this is a somewhat long story, but one that I, at least, find fascinating. I do so because it eventually had far reaching consequences for the history of this country.

The origins of the word come from the Scottish Convenanters, who were largely from the lowlands of Scotland. Let's tell their story.

In the year of our Lord 1559 John Knox returned to Scotland from Switzerland, where he had been listening to and absorbing the theology of John Calvin. At the time Knox visited with Calvin in Geneva Knox was an ordained Roman Catholic Priest, yet Knox having had some personal experience through a friend of the political aims of kings and church (look it up) felt it necessary to think of reformation. Calvin is considered the second great reformer after Martin Luther. The thoughts and reforms that Calvin brought to what became Protestantism infuses modern America as much as it did at it's founding. If interested please take the time to look it up.

By the time Knox returned to Scotland he was determined to reform the church there. At the time Perth had become primarily Protestant already, and storm clouds were brewing with the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise who was Catholic, over it. Mary of Guise was also French, and French troops were brought into Scotland to assist her in the religious battles. In 1560 the Protestants signed a treaty with England that promised English help to rid Scotland of the French troops, and Mary of Guise was then forced into the position of having to sign a the treaty of Edinburgh in which the Queen Regent agreed to remove the French Troops.

Not too long after this occured the Queen Regent died and Mary, Queen of Scots ascended to the throne of Scotland. Mary, along with her husband Francis of France and several Scots nobles did not see the treaty as allowing the Scottish Parliment as being able to establish a national religion, but John Knox and his protestants did. Within a few months of the Queen Regent's death John Knox and his collaborators drew up the Confession of Faith. The Scottish Parliment ratified the Confession of Faith, which effectively made Scotland a reformed nation. A new Protestant faith with the face of Calvin was in place.

However that did not end the battles. When Mary and Francis were informed of the ratification, Francis sent a letter back to the parliment expressing his disappoint with what had occured and in that letter stated that he would sending delegates from France a "true" parliment with the aim of setting the matter straight. This was not good news to the Protestants who knew Francis, a Catholic, was a sworn enemy of the Protestant face. It is necessary to understand that while Mary was called Queen of Scots, she had resided in France and Francis had resided in Scotland. In the late 1560 Francis died and Mary found it necessary to return to Scotland.

In 1561 Mary returned to Scotland, she did not want to go and a good many of the Scottish people did not want her to come there either. There were constant underhanded battles that Mary fought to bring Scotland back into the Catholic religion. Knox had the support of the Burgesses and Lairds (the more common people) while the Lords and Nobles tended to support Mary. Even those Lords and Nobles who supported John Knox out of religious conviction often would not do so against the Queen fearing retaliation.

Numerous times the Queen summoned Knox because of things he said in sermons that angered her, after a sermon that was taken from Isaiah, used to demonstate that political authority was derived from God and warned those who persecuted the church of Christ misused that authority. By the time of this serman Mary had remarried Lord Darnley. They called Knox before them and the Queen forbade him to preach anymore. However the Edinburgh Burgh stepped in and issued a statement in favor of Knox and Mary wish to silence him was frustrated. In the end however, it was Mary's own actions that sealed her fate.

Her husband, Lord Darnley was murdered and Mary ran off with the suspected killer, the Earl of Bothwell. Bothwell was able to escape to the North, but Mary was forced to surrender. She was then imprisioned at Lockleven Castle and forced to abdict the throne in 1567. Her son, James, was then appointed to the crown with a James Stewart, Earl of Moray as regent. Under Moray the Scottish Parliment was called again, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland was finally made established by law. However Moray used the Protestant church as a means to continue his political ascendacy and he made enough enemies that he was assassinated in 1570. Mary also managed to escape her prison and even though she was imprisoned in England by Queen Elizabeth, her cousin, she was a constant threat to the Presbyterian Church and the stability of Scotland.

When James was crowned King of Scotland he was but 13 months old. The sermon at his coronation was preached by John Knox. His father dead and his mother imprisoned he never knew either. He was raised by tutors, the most influential of which was George Buchanan, a staunch Calvinist. In this manner James was brought up a Protestant.

At the age of 19 James began to rule Scotland, Mary had been executed two years prior in 1587 by England's Queen Elizabeth for her part in an assassination plot to kill Elizabeth. In 1603 James became King James the first in England as the closest relative of Elizabeth, and remained King James VI of Scotland. This is when Scotland and England became united.

It is also necessary to understand that Scotland itself was nearly two different nations, at least in terms of culture. The highlanders clung to their Jacobite (Catholic) faith despite an ongoing attempt by James to convert them to the Protestant faith. The highlanders also clung to their Gaelic language. The lowlanders were by this time strongly Presbyterians and used the English language. Perhaps it was the battles to have their faith that caused the Prebyterians to be very unyielding in their religion, as Calvin was, they were bible literalists, felt graven images such as the cruxifix were an abomination, were suspicious of Christmas and refused to celebrate Easter. The Prebyterians of today's America have little in common with the Presbyterians of Scotland of 1603.

James often came into conflict with the Scottish Kirks (heads of the Presbyterian church) as he asserted what he considered his divine right of kings which he believed superseded the civil authority of the Kirks. The Kirks believed that to be untrue. In 1581, under Queen Elizabeth Roman Catholicism was outlawed, the church of England established under Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII was not only now the national church, but no one was allowed to practice the Catholic religion in England. This was made complete when Protestantism was adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by James in 1637. Though James had been the King of Scotland before King of England he did not care for Scotland and only visited there once in the years he was King of both countries between 1603 and 1625. He wished to bring the culture of Scotland as well as the divine rule of Kings into line with that of England. In this he was not successful.

When James died in 1625 his son Charles ascended to the throne. He adopted the policies of his father and much more. Charles disliked Prebyterianism for both it's denial in the Divine Rights of Kings as well as their austure and strict form of Protestantism. He made a very controversial move by proposing that the Scots Church come in line with the Anglican church and attempted to force the issue by demanding the Scots church adopt Episcopacy and the Book of Common Prayer. This outraged the lowland Scots, and when King Charles ordered the new liturgy to be read July 23rd 1637 at St. Giles Church in Edinburgh, many were already spoiling for a fight. The Prebyterians saw the liturgy as more Catholic than Protestant, something the Prebyterians were not going to allow.

Tradition has it that as the liturgy began a woman named Jenny Geddes stood up and threw her stool at the Dean's head, this act then erupting into a general melee. Though some believe it was a spontaneous act, evidence points to it being planned well in advance. The service ended up having to be cancelled.

On Feb. 28th 1638 The National Convenant was produced on behalf of the Church of Scotland. This was essentially an anti-papist declaration and a reaffirmation of the Confession of Faith done by John Knox in 1560. Thousands showed up in Edinburgh to sign it, some in their own blood with many then putting bits or neckerchiefs of red around their necks to signify they were willing to lose their "necks" over their faith. The declaration was placed on public display in Greyfriers Church, Edinburgh. The declaration was also circulated throughout the country with thousands more signing on, it was supported by not only the Kirks but also by the Scottish nobility, putting them and the country of Scotland in direct opposition and conflict with King Charles. Those who wore the red around their necks became known as rednecks. This however is not the end of the story, for these people had yet to come to America.

In 1639 Charles went to war against Scotland. The war was not well supported by the English nobles and Charles ended up with no money to fight his war. This led to the Pacification of Berwick-which granted the Scots parlimentary and ecclesiatical freedoms.

In 1640 what became to be called the Second Bishops war commenced, as Charles once again attacked Scotland. Ill prepared and again underfunded Charles ended up having to flee and the Scots overran the whole of Northumberland and the county Newburn. A very large amount of Northern England, and an area of which some of my own ancestors came from. Charles had to leave the two areas in the Scots hands as a pledge for the payment for the Scots expenses when he agreed to the Peace and signed the Treaty of Ripon in Oct. 1640.

The area of the borders of England and Scotland did not just suffer from the consequences of religous wars either. For years prior to the two wars that Charles provoked the Border Rievers (Robbers) had the area in a constant state of upheaval and raiding. It is a mistake to think of clans just in the Highlands of Scotland. They existed in the lowlands as well. The clans raided into England, sometimes into Scotland and frequently against one another. They raided for cattle and for sheep as well as what other things they could get their hands on. Many of the Border Rievers were not Scottish, but also English, while nominally from either country their loyalites were that of a clan, and the families were on both sides of the borders.

When James became King of both England and Scotland he determined that he was going to put an end to the Rievers. Between 1610 and the 1630's he made a diligent effort, hanging many of the leaders but shipping many more off to Northern Ireland. The premise being that he could take care of his border problems as well as establishing a Protestant bulkhead into Catholic Northern Ireland. The Border areas tended to be poor and hunger was not an uncommon occurance, the raiding was as much as survival tactic as it was a clan activity. Ireland had become part of English Lands under Henry VIII, and the movement of people from the lowlands of Scotland to Northern Ireland became known as the Plantation of Ireland.

The opportunity for James to "plant" Ireland came when the Irish Earls fled Ireland leaving the whole of Tyrone and Donegal and half of Fernanagh liable to seizure. The confiscation of virtually all non-church lands in counties Tyrone, Armagh(where another branch of my family immigrated from) Fermanagh, Donegal, Cavan and Coleroine meant much of the province of Ulster was available to the crown. More information on the particulars of this are available by a search on the plantation of Ireland.

Even though the Plantation idea was not new, a small planting done by Queen Elizabeth prior, James is the one who made it happen in large amounts and it is to James the Plantation of Ireland is given to.

So when King Charles was defeated in 1640 in the Second Bishops war there was already a large amount of Scots Prebyterians who had already been moved into Northern Ireland. The conditions on the borders had driven many into raiding, but with more good farm land in Ireland most became more settled yet the close knit clannish behavior continued as well as a firm belief in not simply Protestantism but in the Scots Prebyterian form.

In 1643 Charles was ousted in a horrid bloody civil war in which he was beheaded. The forces of Oliver Cromwell and the Parlimentarins the winners. Cromwell agreed to Prebyterianism to be the religion of both England and Scotland, anxious to make allies of the Convenanters, against the still dangerous forces of the crown. Essentially a marriage of convenience a treaty of "Solemn League and Convenant" was formed. Though the Church of Scotland became supreme, England was basicly an occupied country under the severe rule of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell died in 1658 and in 1660, Charles II was fully restored to the throne. Prior to the death of Cromwell he advanced Scottish and English Protestant immigration into Northern Ireland by offering land there to those who had fought in lieu of pay. Many took him up on the offer.

Shortly after Charles II, Charles I son, regained the throne, he passed an act that forced the people to recognize him as the supreme authority of civil and Ecclesiastical matters. The church of Scotland rejected this and entered into a period of severe persecution for twenty eight long years, until 1688.

In 1661 the National Convenant was reputiated. The following year Charles own Bishops and curates were appointed to Scottish Churches. 400 nonconforming ministers were ejected from their parishes. At first it was tolerated by authorities for the ministers to preach in private homes, barns and open area arenas, however it soon became clear that the Scottish people were resolved to do this and refuse to attend Episcopal services. The first attempt to limit attendence of these services came in 1663 and by 1670 attendence was a treasonable act, and preaching at one a capitol offense. At this time it is worth noting that because of the pressures put on the Presbyterian Church at this time, the Kirks began putting a premium on congregation members who could read. It was felt to be of the utmost importance that they could then be able to read the bible so they could attend to their Christian duties even if a minister were not available, and because it was felt the common people did not need a Priest to interpert the words of God to them. Because of this Scots Kirks policy by the late 1600's nearly 70% of the Scottish people were literate, well beyond the literacy of England or any continential European country.

As things progressed even attending a service was a capital offense. The history of these times are laden with wanton bloodshed and horrific killings. I will not dwell on them. Suffice it to say if caught away from home with a bible in your hand was enough for authorities to believe that one was attending the forbidden services, then death came where you stood. Thousands of Catholic Highlander soldiers were brought in by the crown in the attempt to pacify the lowland Prebyterians, again the stories are horrific. Little did the highlanders know that in less than a century the clearances would come to them.

By 1680 Charles II had died. He was succeeded by his brother James II. Raised in France he was a ardent Catholic, as well as an ardent supporter of the Divine Rights of Kings. He was determined to eradicate the Prebyterians. By the time James II ascended the throne more lowland Prebyterians had immigrated to Ireland, a place that meant more safety than their homes in Scotland. Though occasional flareups of violence between Catholic and Protestant occured there, it was nothing in comparison to what was happening in the lowland moors of Scotland.

Under James II the Killing Times occured. I cannot be positive yet, but it is near these times that my own Scots family immigrated from Scotland to county Armagh in Ireland. In time James II Catholicism became a problem for even those in England, as he placed Catholic officials into government and attempted to take England back to Catholicism, in the spring of 1688 he ordered for his Declaration of Indulgence read from every Anglican pulpit, suspending the penal code for Catholics. The birth of an heir fueled fears of a new English Catholic dynasty, those fears confirmed when the heir was baptised into the Catholic faith.

At the end of June 1688, a group of peers made a fateful decision. They invited James II son in law, William Prince of Orange, to "defend the liberties of England" William, married to Mary daughter of James II, was a Dutch born Prince. He was also a Protestant. In November he landed at Torbay, at the head of an army of some 15,000. He cleverly did not make any pronouncements regarding the crown, he simply said he was coming to England to make it save for Protestantism. With massive desertions James II was forced to flee.

In the bid though to keep his crown James II raised an Irish army. They meant at the Battle of the Boyne, perhaps the most famous Irish battle. When James was forced to flee England he took refuge with his old ally, Louis XIV of France, who was also an old enemy of William III, Prince of Orange. Louis saw an opportunity to strike at his enemy through Ireland, and provided James with French officers and arms. James landed at Kinsale in March 1689. With Irish Catholic allies James quickly called a Parliment and repealed the legislation that had allowed Protestant settlers to aquire land in Northern Ireland. It goes nearly without saying that the Scots and English Protestants rallied to William, not only for the sake of their lands, but because in the case of the Scots, so many of either themselves or their families had badly persectued at the hands of James II. As James moved across Ireland only in the North were the Protestants able to hold out. Londonderry suffered a three month long seige before being relieved by help from the sea.

William could not ignore the threat in Ireland and landing in the north he began his campaign. The entire account need not be recounted here, the armies fully engaged at the river Boyne. The battle began July 1, 1690,by mid afternoon the Jacobite army was in retreat, and James himself back in France within a month. On July 6th William entered Dublin and gave thanks at Christ Church. While the terms of the treaty ending this affair were not ungenerous to Catholics, they wer soon to suffer from the penal laws that were designed to ensure Protestant ascendancy in Irish life.

For William the battle in Ireland was a small battle in the larger battle against the French Catholic Louis XIV. However for the Scots and English Protestants it was and still is, the defining battle for their homes and their religion. Those who supported William in Ireland were termed Billy boys or alternately Orangeman. William was supported strongest by the Scots Prebyterians who had immigrated to Northern Ireland.

After William left Ireland it cannot be said that the Catholics were pacified, but because he did not see it as a strategic battle he needed to fight he did not return. The penal laws against the Catholics caused much friction and frequent uprising by the Catholic Irish took place. By the early 1700's the constant battles, some pitched, some not were taking their toll. Many of those Scots Prebyterians opted to leave Northern Ireland and come to America, away from the religious wars.

Between 1715 and 1776, some 250,000 Scots Irish immigrated to America from Ireland. By far the largest group of Scottish colonists that came to America. They tended to settle in the Chesapeake Bay, and from Pennsylvania and on south. Looked down upon by frequently by the British, Dutch and German immigrants as poor and less civilized the terms of derision often employed in England were again used in America. One of those was the old term used when these people had signed the National Covenant in Scotland nearly a century before. Redneck. They were called that as a symbol of their unwillingness to be a "good" citizen of the crown. They tended to congregrate together and be clannish. Often settling in the frontiers where a man had a chance to make something of himself if he worked hard enough they were often used by the more properous as the front line defense against Indian attacks. At one time the Scots Irish of Pennsylvania threatened attack against Philadelphia because of the Quakers refusal to assist them against Indian attack. One can find an account of that incident by Ben Franklin.

Even at that time there were seen by many as ignorant and overly religious. Moving into the hills of Appalachia, the term used for them in Northern Ireland when supporting William in his war with James, Billy boys-became corrupted into Hillbillies.

A people who had fought and died for the ability to keep and practice their own religion, a people who repeatedly fought the authority of the crown who used the theory of the Divine Rights of Kings became a leading people for the war of Independence. As George Washington noted at Valley Forge-"If all else fails, I will retreat up the Valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scots Irish of that region, and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to the British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger."
A people who had a strong military tradition going back before the religious wars, in the Border Rievers. Many English from Northern England settled among the Scots Irish, closer in culture with them than with the British of Southern England, a unique character imaged that became the frontiesman of this country.

Constantly seeking more and better land they settled Kentucky and Tennessee, crossing the Cumberland with Daniel Boone and fighting at Boonesborough. They left there and headed west for Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma. Along the way they brought their military hertiage, their bibles and their willingness to battle any and all who would attempt to take from them what they believed where their God given rights. Not rights given by a government, but rights given to them by God.

They have been referred to as God's frontiersmen. Read the words of Teddy Roosevelt as he describes these hardy God fearing people. "the kernel of the distinctively and intensely American stock who were the pioneers of our people in their march westward."

It is also interesting to note that the traditional song of the Glasgow Rangers, a Scots football (soccer) team has these words-"Hurray, Hurray, we are the Billy Boys" and shares its tune with the famous Civil War song "Marching through Georgia"

The term Scots Irish is a uniquely American term, used to distingish those of Scots descent that are Protestant and came from Ireland, though are not Irish from those who are Irish Catholics. This group of people brought us the fiddle, bluegrass and country music. After coming to this country their religion became the Baptists, and later other sects one associates with Evangelical Christianity. That is why the current Presbyterian church in America seems so far removed from the people who originally fought so hard for it. Ultimately it was not the church they fought for, but for a particular way of worship. It is the Calvinist form of Protestantism that one still finds in Evangelical churches.

I am proud to be a Redneck. I come from that stock of people. While it is a term universally used to denigrat a person, if the true origins of the meaning were to become widely known it would be a term worn with pride. The American character so many in this country and abroad associate with this country is almost universally the traits that are Scots Irish. Then and now.

Approximately 30 million Americans are descents of those Scots Irish who came to this country. How have we faired when compared to other immigrant groups? Some statistics for you.

This is from an Associated Press newspaper article which appeared in 1980:
"Americans of Scottish descent tend to be better educated and have higher incomes than other European based ethnic groups, according to a new Census Bureau study.
"Based on a survey taken in late 1979, the study said Americans who traced their ancestry to Scotland had median family incomes of $20,018, highest of eight single ancestry groups studied.
"Second in family income were those of German background, at $17,531, while those of Spanish background had the lowest median income at $10,607.
"The Scots were the only group to record no illiteracy in the survey, had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.1%, and the highest rate of high school graduates, 81.2%.
"The study looked at characteristics of Americans of English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Polish, Scottish and Spanish descent.
"Among them, those of Spanish descent, 30.3% were most likely to have been born outside the United States. The Italians were a distant second at 13.1%, while only 2.7% of the Irish were born outside the United States.
"Scots recorded the highest proportion of married men, at 79.6%, followed by 75.5% for those of French extraction. The lowest male marriage rate was 62.8% among the Spanish.
Among women, the French were most likely to be wed, at 68.6%, with Germans second at 64.3%. Polish women were the least likely to be married, at 60.6%. The highest divorce rates were 4.8% among Irish men and 6.6% for Spanish women. At 3.5%, Polish men had the fewest divorces, as did Polish women at 4.3%.
Here are how the various groups fared statistically in some other social characteristics:
"Male high school graduates: Scottish, 81.2%; English, 74.6%; German, 72.4%; Irish, 68.8%; French, 67%; Polish, 64.4%; Italian, 62.7%; Spanish, 42.5%.
"Female high school graduates: Scottish, 78.1%; English, 76.7%; German, 72%; Irish, 70%; French, 65.7%; Italian, 60.4%; Polish, 59.1%; Spanish, 40.5%.
"Unemployment: Scottish, 2.1%; German, 3.1%; English, 3.6%; Italian, 4.7%; Irish, 5%; Polish, 5.4%; French, 5.6%; Spanish, 9%.
"Median family income: Scottish, $20.018 ; German, $17,531; Italian, $16,993; Polish, $16,977; English, $16,891; Irish, $16,092; French, $15,571; Spanish, $10,607"
So, you see, we Scots are the richest, best-educated, hardest-working and make the best lovers of all Americans. "Here's tae us! Wha's like us? Damn few, and their all deid! More's the pity."

So the next time some far left liberal sneers and derides you for being a "redneck" smile and tell them "Yes, yes indeed I am" Take pride in coming from a people who will not be bowed by either Priest or King or in today's world by the leftist elite. We will fight for our freedoms, we will fight for our families and ultimately we will fight for our religion where our morals and values have been derived from.

From a recently published book-Born Fighting, How the Scots Irish Shaped America by James Webb.
In his first work of nonfiction, bestselling novelist James Webb tells the epic story of the Scots-Irish, a people whose lives and worldview were dictated by resistance, conflict, and struggle, and who, in turn, profoundly influenced the social, political, and cultural landscape of America from its beginnings through the present day. More than 27 million Americans today can trace their lineage to the Scots, whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England’s Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. Between 250,000 and 400,000 Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, traveling in groups of families and bringing with them not only long experience as rebels and outcasts but also unparalleled skills as frontiersmen and guerrilla fighters. Their cultural identity reflected acute individualism, dislike of aristocracy and a military tradition, and, over time, the Scots-Irish defined the attitudes and values of the military, of working class America, and even of the peculiarly populist form of American democracy itself. Born Fighting is the first book to chronicle the full journey of this remarkable cultural group, and the profound, but unrecognized, role it has played in the shaping of America. Written with the storytelling verve that has earned his works such acclaim as “captivating . . . unforgettable” (the Wall Street Journal on Lost Soliders), Scots-Irishman James Webb, Vietnam combat veteran and former Naval Secretary, traces the history of his people, beginning nearly two thousand years ago at Hadrian’s Wall, when the nation of Scotland was formed north of the Wall through armed conflict in contrast to England’s formation to the south through commerce and trade. Webb recounts the Scots’ odyssey—their clashes with the English in Scotland and then in Ulster, their retreat from one war-ravaged land to another. Through engrossing chronicles of the challenges the Scots-Irish faced, Webb vividly portrays how they developed the qualities that helped settle the American frontier and define the American character. Born Fighting shows that the Scots-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army; they included the pioneers Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston; they were the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain; and they have given America numerous great military leaders, including Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Audie Murphy, and George S. Patton, as well as most of the soldiers of the Confederacy (only 5 percent of whom owned slaves, and who fought against what they viewed as an invading army). It illustrates how the Scots-Irish redefined American politics, creating the populist movement and giving the country a dozen presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. And it explores how the Scots-Irish culture of isolation, hard luck, stubbornness, and mistrust of the nation’s elite formed and still dominates blue-collar America, the military services, the Bible Belt, and country music. Both a distinguished work of cultural history and a human drama that speaks straight to the heart of contemporary America, Born Fighting reintroduces America to its most powerful, patriotic, and individualistic cultural group—one too often ignored or taken for granted.

Yes Sir, I am a Redneck and very proud of it.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Druidic Priests masquerading as Episcopal Priests

From This is chapter two to my post Episcopal church, weep for thee. I will continue to post on issues regarding the church as it impacts not only myself and my family but the behavior of the ECUSA leadership is also impacting American society.


By David W. Virtue

MALVERN, PA (10/29/2004)--A husband and wife clergy couple in the Diocese of Pennsylvania practice pagan Wiccan worship with the woman priest affirming a rite called "A Women’s Eucharist" - A Celebration of the Divine Feminine, that can be found on the Episcopal Church's official website.The wiccan-worshipping woman priest is Glyn Lorraine Ruppe Melnyk rector at St. Francis Episcopal Church on Sugartown Road who goes by the Wiccan names "Raven" and "Glispa" and her husband Bill Melnyk, rector of St. James in Downingtown, PA goes by the Wiccan names "Bran" and "OakWyse". A source told Virtuosity that he does not wear a cross but a shell around his neck.Melnyk insists that the shell he wears is the ancient Christian symbol of Baptism, and is quite well-known as the Symbol of St. James, for whom our parish is named."However, on the Druid board on February 24, 2004, Melnyk wrote about his shell: "I, personally, do not wear a cross unless it is a solar cross. Often I wear a silver shell, which most Christians I meet think is a symbol of Baptism, but which, for me, also represents Athena!"Melnyk: "I'm 57, live in southeastern Pennsylvania, and have been a member of OBOD since 1998. My spouse and I are both Druid graduates of the training course. We are also both priests in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church. Between us, we lead two groves (some call them "congregations") of Christians learning about Druidry numbering about 1200. My creed? 'There is only one river.'The pagan eucharistic rite reads in part: "The chalice of sweet red wine is raised and a woman says, "Blessed are you, Mother God, for you have given us the fruit of the earth. Red as blood, warm as life itself, sweet and intoxicating as love. We thank you for wine. We bless you for the power of this drink to remind us of our own power. We praise you for the strength and beauty of our bodies, and for the menstrual blood of womanhood. We embrace the mystery of life which you have entrusted to us, and we pray for the day when human blood is no longer shed and when woman’s blood is honored as holy and in your image."The cup is passed hand to hand and all drink from it. Placing both hands on the fabric covering the table, one of the women says,"Blessed are you, Mother God, for the fertility of this world. We thank you for the sight and scent of flowers, for the way their shape evokes in us the unfolding of our own sexuality, and for their power to remind us of the glory and the impermanence of physical beauty. May our days of blossoming and of fading be days spent in your presence.""Thank you, Mother, for the abundance of life. Thank you for the rich, full, pleasing, and life giving milk of our bodies. Thank you for the children who drink from our breasts for they bring sweetness to our lives. We drink this cup as your daughters, fed from your own bosom. May we be proud of our nurturing and sustaining selves. May we honor our breasts as symbols of your abundance. Thank you for the milk and honey of your presence with us."The cup is passed and shared by all.The parish itself is barely five miles from the evangelical/charismatic Church of the Good Samaritan, in Paoli, the largest parish in the diocese, and from which some of the members broke away several years ago to form this revisionist parish. The church is sustained by a few well-heeled members from the hunt run horse set. The church does not use the Prayer Book, a source told Virtuosity.Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison said on hearing the news that he will not engage in a "witch hunt", meaning he is reluctant to declare that Pagan Wicca Druid ceremonies mean that those practicing these witchcraft-like ceremonies have abandoned the Communion of the Church. Yet, it is the same Charles Bennison who proclaimed that Father David Moyer had abandoned the Communion of the Church by being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."The Rev. Bill Melnyk wrote to Virtuosity following the publication of this article to say that neither St. Francis nor St. James Church use the Women's Eucharist from the EWM website. "At St. Francis the schedule is Rite 1 at the early service and Rite 2 at the later service. At St. James we use Rite 1 (Prayer1, with Prayer of Humble Access) at 7:45, and Rite 2 at 11:00. At our 9:00 am children-oriented family service we had been using an Evangelical Eucharist from the Iona Community -- a Christian Eucharist. Because of this current flap, however, we have changed that to the Prayer Book Rite 2 service. Nothing other than orthodox Christian rites have ever been used at either church."Two summers ago the two "pagan" rectors lead an inter-faith pilgrimage to Stonehenge in England and conducted a service that included wiccans.Recently however the Rev. Glyn Melnyk started using the pagan eucharist the language of which is lifted almost completely (without attribution) from a rite from Tuatha de Brighid, "a Clan of modern Druids … who believe in the interconnectedness of all faiths."On hearing the news an orthodox priest said, "This is worse than the sin of sodomy, it is taking the Episcopal Church to a new level, that of paganism."The Rev. Greg Brewer, rector of Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli said, "My concern is for the parishioners at St. Francis, some of whom I know. They would be shocked and horrified to know that their rector was engaged in Druid and Wiccan practices."The Office of Women's Ministries at the national church headquarters in New York City had the pagan liturgy posted at the church's official website, but it was later deep-sixed from the "Women's Eucharist" when a hue and cry went up from thousands of Episcopalians on the Internet.However the liturgy is cached by Google and can be accessed at the following VirtueOnline Web Link.The story was first blogged at Christianity Today's website with a headline that screamed "Episcopal Church Officially Promotes Idol Worship," written by Ted Olsen. The story rocked around the world causing the Rev. Margaret Rose, Director of the office of Women's Ministries at the national church in New York to immediately withdraw the page on the skimpy grounds that the material was copyright protected. But another priest responded saying, "it cannot be a copyright issue. The author of the liturgy in question is the one who posted it on the ECUSA website." At the very end of the "Women's Eucharist" page had the name and address of Glyn Lorraine Ruppe Melnyk, rector of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Malvern, Pennsylvania. One might have expected the notation at the end to indicate that she submitted it to the site as well. But the office's credibility is seriously undermined by its claim that it didn't promote the liturgy for actual use. A line from an earlier press release reads: "The Office of Women's Ministries is working towards creating a resource to be used by women, men, parishes, dioceses, small groups, within the context of a Sunday morning service, or any other appropriate setting where the honoring of a woman's life passages and experiences beckons a liturgical response. … Although traditional liturgy acknowledges little of these aspects of women's lives, many women have taken up the task of creating and writing such liturgies for themselves or others. The Women's Liturgy Project has begun collecting worship resources written by women for women in order to create a resource that is accessible to all."This was followed by a link to the page with the "Women's Eucharist" listed as the second of nine resources. The "Women's Worship Resources" (not "Dialogue Resources") page of the Office of Women's Ministries has toned down its description of the rites, but still urges readers to "use them for … gathering communities of worship."Rose said the liturgies listed at the website were intended to spark dialogue, study, conversation and ponderings around women and our liturgical tradition."The current liturgy project – A Call for Resources: The Women's Liturgy Project – and the Women's Worship Resources section on our website is a grassroots, organic, interactive process is an offering to open the awareness of the many voices and needs that exist among people in the church as we all strive to find expressions of our life, love and faith in God."Outraged, the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano, the most attended parish in the Episcopal Church was shocked and horrified, wrote to both Rose and the church's Presiding Bishop.In his letter to Griswold he said: "I am alerting you to the unfortunate fact that the web site of the Episcopal Church has been promoting a liturgy and a worship that is patently non-Christian. This afternoon, there was a liturgy celebrating the Divine Feminine posted on the web site of the Episcopal Church. It was outrageous and pagan. I understand that it has been removed as of about 4:30 today. With all due respect, I ask that you clarify the role that the Episcopal Church Office has in promoting non-Christian and pagan practices. I have been in touch with The Rev. Margaret Rose, the director of the Office of Women's Ministries, and she was sorry that the web page had been posted without attribution. (She said it was lifted from a Druid web site.)"In a phone conversation with the director, Roseberry said she did not know that it was "lifted" from a pagan/Druid clan nor did she did mean to convey that the Eucharist was an official instrument or liturgy of the Episcopal Church.Roseberry said Rose was somewhat apologetic, but said the "liturgy" was posted to inspire and promote dialogue. She said that the role of the Office of Women¹s Ministry was to look for ways of spreading the love of Jesus. She said, "It is my personal theology that the clarity of who we are as Episcopalians is often enhanced by our engagement with things that are "Other" and this is clearly "Other".Roseberry blasted her saying that the liturgy was non-Christian, non-biblical and did not represent her hopes for spreading the love of Jesus. "I told her it was right out of The Da Vinci Code. (She hadn't read the book.) I told her that anything that promotes the earth as Mother is Pagan and non-Christian and non-biblical. She also mentioned that the Windsor report encouraged this kind of dialogue and conversation, recognizing that we live in a pluralistic society."Roseberry asked her if she was authorized to open up a dialogue with a pagan religion as a function of the ecumenical office of the Episcopal Church. She said that there were many staff people (herself among them) that represent the Episcopal Church in all kinds of dialogues with the National Council of Churches."I asked her if her office would disavow the liturgy and disassociate themselves from it. She felt that the liturgy itself was a helpful tool in helping us to understand people of other faiths. She might, she said, put up a Muslim liturgy to engender the kind of debate and discussion that we are having about the Druid liturgy."That "other faiths" comment is important, because a key question—if not the key question—is how the Episcopal Church leadership (Rose included) views this liturgy and the church's relationship to it. Is it of a different faith? By promoting it, has the Episcopal Church itself become a non-Christian faith? Rose doesn't seem clear about whether this liturgy is ecumenical (of the church) or of "another faith." Perhaps she's confused because the ceremony directly references the Old Testament. But is offering sacrifices to ancient Canaanite idols antithetical to Christianity or not?Scripture seems awfully clear on this point. "What pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God," Paul told the church at Corinth. "I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?"Wrote another priest, "Imagine for one moment that you're a leader in the Episcopal Church USA. You know that within the next few days, a global commission is going to release a report on how the global Anglican Communion should respond to your church, and is likely to be critical of the ordination of an actively homosexual man as bishop. You know, and have said yourself, that the debate isn't just about sexuality: It's about how one views the Bible. And you know that all eyes will be on your denomination over the next few weeks. What do you do? Well, what the real leaders of the Episcopal Church did was to take an action that makes ordaining a homosexual man as a bishop almost a non-issue. They started promoting the worship of pagan deities!""Many scholars believe they were offerings to the goddess Asherah, the female counterpart to Baal, but in this context it may be more directly tied to Ishtar/Ashtoreth/Astarte, the 'Queen of Heaven'.""Our ancient sisters called you Queen of Heaven," says the Episcopal liturgy. That's a reference to Jeremiah. And not a happy one. In Jeremiah 7, God complains, "The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger." The liturgy's reference to defiant women worshipping the Queen of Heaven with cakes comes directly from Jeremiah 44."Wrote Ted Olsen, "and now Episcopal Church leaders want you to do the same. Defy God. Worship pagan deities. There is no other possible reading of this "Eucharistic" text."The website also offered nine offerings, the second of which is the "Women's Eucharist." Another troubling entry is the Liturgy for Divorce, which includes a rite of divorce."This is not a joke, nor an overstatement. In all truth and seriousness, leaders of the Episcopal Church USA are promoting pagan rites to pagan deities. And not just any new pagan deities: The Episcopal Church USA, though its Office of Women's Ministries, is actually promoting the worship of idols specifically condemned in Scripture," wrote Olsen.Both Episcopal priests belong to The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.The Rev. Bill Melnyk, a Druid priest who is also an Episcopal priest, serving in the Diocese of Pennsylvania included information at his website called "A Little Information Written by the Male Druid/Episcopal priest." The Episcopal priest who goes by the name OakWyse when he's a "Druid" or "Wiccan" priest, was so concerned that news about his activities had leaked out that he sent a frantic message appeared on the message board saying; "My Dear Friends—Raven, Glyn Lorraine Ruppe Melnyk, the Episcopal rector and author of the "Women's Eucharist" and I have come under vicious attack from Anglican fundamentalists re our connection to druidry. Hour by hour the attacks are spreading on fundamentalist BLOGs across the country. For our protection, we must end all internet connection as soon as possible. I ask Kernos to leave this one notice up for a day or two, but then to do a universal delete of all references to Druis. Please delete my membership. I cannot stress how serious this is. If you respond, please do not use my name in your response. I will not be posting again." It is signed Druis.Virtuosity also learned that Melnyk had been funding pagan Druid projects out of his Discretionary account which might be illegal.On a posting to a Druid website posted on Mon Aug 23, 2004 Melnyk wrote regarding White Spring, Glastonbury. "Plans are nearing completion for the purchase of the White Spring properties on the side of Glastonbury Tor, across Wellhouse Lane from the Chalice Well Gardens. Please go to for the initial information. I am now soliciting funds to aid in the purchase and development of the White Spring. A Trust will be available soon. Until then, donations can be sent to me and made payable to "Saint James Church" earmarked for "Rector's Discretionary Fund-White Spring". These donations are tax deductible. We are also looking for folks who would be willing to make larger, interest free loans to aid in the purchase. We are not home yet, but we are now very close to making this a reality!"Peace, DruisLate last night the link was taken off the worldwide web clearly working hard to erase his tracks.This is the organization that trained them according to his own words and it can be found here: The OBOD Message Board Lughnasadh 2004 Eisteddfod Winners. The Druid Craft Tarot by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm and Will Worthington. The following is a piece of another pagan ceremony written by Mr. Melnyk, AKA (OakWyse) for the Celtic fertility festival of Beltaine."Participants draw a warm bath prepared with Lavender bath salts, or scented with a sachet filled with Vervain,, Mint, Basil, Thyme, Fennel, Lavender, Rosemary, Hyssop, and Valerian. The bath should be decorated with white candles, and a musky incense used. Wash each other in the bath, taking time to become relaxed and centered. Then dry each other with soft towels and anoint each other with Lavender or Musk oil on the souls of the feet, behind the knees, just above the pubic area (be careful with essential oils here!), on the breasts, under the chin, and on the forehead. Dress in plain or ceremonial robes, or simple peasant garb that is easily removed. Each take a burning white taper from the bath for the procession to the Nemeton. (If there are more people than will fit in the bath, take turns stepping in and being washed ceremonially.)"As our ancestors once did, so we do today, and so our children will do in the future. We are here to pay homage to the divine as manifest in Boinn, Lady of Fertility, and to Bel, Lord of the Sun; to the Gods, to the Ancestors, and to the Earth Spirits; to the rising light of the year. Now is the time of fertility, when the flowering plants put forth their blossoms, and Mother Earth is fertile once again. Life is now awake, and the bees and butterflies travel from flower to flower. In the meadow come together the sire and the dam. This is the Feast of Beltaine, the Fires of Bell. As the Sun now burns brightly bringing warmth to Mother Earth, so warmth stirs in the loins, and the fires of joining burn again in the sexes. In the embrace of lovers new life is created. So let us join together as one to make our offerings in joy and reverence.Boinn, Cow-Mother and Goddess of the Moon, River of Life, grant us this boon: That power of joining may flow in us soon! AND THEN THIS:River Goddess, naked be!He removes her clothing, and caresses her body.They take some of the small wildflowers strewn about, and weave them into each other’s hair, on the head and in the pubic area.And they eventually end up doing it: The couple join in love-making on the mattress, taking whatever time is needed. (If there are more than one couple, appropriate actions agreed upon as a group beforehand now take place.)The Very Rev. G. Richard Lobs III, Dean of The Cathedral Church of Saint Luke in Orland told Virtuosity, "This is an immensely important story. The primary significance is not that there are two heretical priests, deep into the occult, in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. That is important but secondary. The significance lies in the fact that a culture has been created by the top leadership, within the National Episcopal Church, where the writing of pagan priests is welcome at the Women's Desk for "exploration." It is important to note that this place was not arrived at overnight. Where we are at present is the result of thirty-five years of downward sliding. There really is a slippery slope. This is not simply about two priests. It is about a once great denomination where it is permissible to offend the Almighty and in the most provocative ways to date."Peter Akinola, chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, has been saying that the Episcopal Church USA is "embroiled in a new religion which we cannot associate ourselves with."Responding to the charges Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison said, "the accusations against two local priests that they are practicing druids and in violation of their ordination vows are extremely serious and merit further inquiries to establish the Facts. At the same time, it’s imperative to ensure that the Revs. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk and William Melnyk are treated fairly and not victims of a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” mentality, he said. “I am extremely concerned by the charges made against the Melnyks, yet I am also concerned about the reputations and pastoral needs of two priests who have contributed very positively to their parishes and this diocese for four years,” Bennison said. “I will not allow this situation to turn into a witch-hunt of any sort.” Bennison indicated that he is looking forward to communication with the lay leaders of St.- Francis-in-the-Fields, Sugartown, where Rev. Ruppe-Melnyk is rector and St. James’, Downingtown, where her husband serves. The Bishop said he thought it crucial during this process to hear the voices of those now served by the Melnyks.“The liturgy at the center of this unfortunate controversy was written years ago for study purposes for a small support group of women in a diocese where the priests previously served. Yet to be determined is the extent to which it represents the priests’ present views,” Bennison said. “The Melnyks assure me that it has never been used in liturgy or in their prayer life.”NOTE: If you are not receiving this from VIRTUOSITY, the Anglican Communion's largest biblically orthodox Episcopal/Anglican Online News Service, then you may subscribe FREE by going to: Virtuosity's website has been accessed by more than one million readers in 45 countries on six continents. This story is copyrighted but may be freely forwarded electronically with reference to VIRTUOSITY and the author. No changes are permitted in the text.

Episcopal Church, I Weep for Thee

I have not posted much since the election, though delighted that President Bush has won, I immediately had other issues of the personal type on my mind. Personal, yet it also has a mirror in the current conflicts in America.

I am an Episcopal, and the current conflicts happening within my church is causing me great spiritiual pain. My first complete dissonence with the church came about because of the Iraq war. Prior to the war a statement was read in my church from the Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. For those who do not understand how the Episcopal church works suffice it to say that Bishop Griswold is the top of the hierarchy for Episcopal church, the American branch of Anglicans.

The anti-war tone of the pastoral letter was very keen, and while I do not recall the exact wording of the letter, I recall the Bishop noting that the US should act only in step with the United Nations. I found the tone of the letter offense. The whole thing nearly caused me to get up and walk out of church. I would have found it much more appropriate for a pastoral letter to note the difficulty of Christians in going to war, to note the issues that great theologians have wrestled with regarding war from St. Augustine to Thomas Aquinas to Martin Luther. I would have not been offended had the Bishop requested we pray for the President to find guidence, as Episcopals we pray for our leaders every week as a matter of course, but during times of National stress those prayers take on ever more importance. At least to me. Later Bishop Griswold made other public pronouncements that only served to anger me even more. In an interview with a religious magazine he not only denounced the war, but also found it necessary to apologize for being an American as this country was so "hated and loathed" around the globe. Later, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury he described the war as immoral and illegal. Bishop Griswold complained about those who invoke God's name and assume bleesings on our acts, and noted he was deeply disturbed that some Christians are animated by notions of a God of vengence and retribution, and adopt simplistic views of good and evil.

While I was upset about the pastoral letter and Bishop Griswolds later and ongoing pronouncements, I separated what the National Church was saying or doing from what was going on in my particular parish. Unlike the Catholic church pronouncements from the Bishops can be taken or not in each individual parish and I felt fairly comfortable with my own St. Thomas. So we continued in our own particular parish and took a wait and see attiutude. It had been rare for us to miss a Sunday at church, but as time went on and we were more upset about what was coming out of Bishop Griswold's mouth we missed more and more Sundays.

The next note of discord appeared for me when Gene Robinson was chosen as Bishop to the Diocese of New Hampshire. For anyone not following what has been happening in the Episcopal church, Mr. Robinson is gay. But not simply a gay man. This is a Priest who left his wife to go live openly in a homosexual relationship while still a Priest of the Episcopal church. The relationship Mr. Robinson has with his gay lover continues. His ordination took place in August of 2003. To say I was uncomfortable with this is an understatement. Discussing it has been difficult because to say I was opposed to this automatically meant for some people that I was obviously a homophobic demon.

If the man were not a church leader the issue is one of privacy and not one of my concern. Moral issues have to be between each individual and God, I do not want them legislated and at the same time I do not expect church leaders to blantantly contradict the teachings of the church that rely not just on the bible but on some two thousand years of theology. It is not an issue that has to do with gay rights, ordaining and then consecrating a man who is living in a gay relationship is a church matter and not a privacy or rights issue. Yet, his consecration in November was not simply a church matter, it has become not only an issue of deep contention in the church, it has national implications for the country. The Canadian Anglican church has their liberal end which are blessing same sex unions as do areas of the American Episcopal church.

There are now liberal leaders of the Anglican church of which America is only a very small part of, that believe by ordaining and consecrating a gay man in an ongoing gay relationship and the blessing of same sex relationships as the next step in fighting for various rights for various people. They intend not only to make all this an issue within their church, they intend to make it an issue for all of the societies in which they are active. An active liberal part of the Episcopal church are determined to make gay marriage legal despite the majority of America not considering that as appropriate. How do I know this? How am I so sure of this? Because when a ballot proposel was on my state's election schedule Nov. 2 that would make marriage between one man and one woman, at least 4 Bishops in my state very publically requested Episcopals to vote against it. They were on NPR doing so. I heard that on my way home from work one day.

That was in October. The following Sunday ended up being the last time my family would go to church at St. Thomas. I was disturbed by the Bishops appeal, not only because I consider it wrong, but because I do not want my church to be actively involved in the legislative process like this on what so many believe is a moral issue, not one of rights. We had not been in church for probably 2 months when we attended that Sunday, and part of my intent on attending that day was because I wanted to specifically speak to my priest about this. I needed to hear from that priest exactly what the thought process of St. Thomas was on this issue.

I had worked the night before so I was quite tired but determined that I was going to get some answers from my priest. Instead I heard a sermon that prompted me to lean over and whisper to my husband, "Jesus was NOT a socialist!" and during announcements I found out that the League of Women Voters were going to be in the Parish hall to register people to vote. What? My church has very few young people of an age that they would not have registered to vote for one, next again I simply do not believe that type of activity belongs in church. Yet, determined to have a private word with my priest I headed to the Parish hall after services anyway. At the doorway a young man thrust a paper into my hand, even though it seemed clear to me that I was attempting to walk by him and ignore his offering. I glanced at the paper and thrust it right back at him and said "I do not need a young man who is the age of my son telling me how important it is to vote, I have not missed voting since I registered at age 18, but thanks anyway." I was so irritated by this that I simply turned around and told my husband and children I preferred to leave.

I chewed on this for about a week, trying to decide what exactly I wanted to do and how. Then came the long awaited Windsor report. This is a report from the Lambeth commission that was to make a pronoucement on how the church would proceed concerning the consecration of Gene Robinson and the issue of some churches blessing same sex relationships. The vast majority of the Anglican Communion is against this activity, and it also contradicts the previous General Convention pronouncements. It happened that I was up late that night, not an uncommon occurance because I work nights and have trouble sleeping on a normal schedule. So I started reading the news announcements which basicly stated the American Bishops who had participated in the consecration needed to "apologize" as did those participating in same sex blessings, but it stopped far short of stating it was wrong and would not be tolerated. As I read the news on it I sat in front of my computer and cried. I cried because the report also notes that if those involved in activities that were against the teachings of the church' against the majority of orthodox Anglicans than the choice would likely be "to walk apart". There it was, in black and white, that the church that had survived 500 years was likely to break apart. It also was in black and white that all American Episcopals would also have to choose whether to continue to walk with the direction the church was going, or choose to walk apart as well. Because about half of the leadership of the American Episcopal church is on the liberal side of this divide it meant in effect that various parishes will either stay with the ECUSA or leave for the newly formed American Anglican Council that is orthodox, and by extension each member of the Episcopal parishes would have to choose to stay with their church or not depending on which group their parish would decide to go with. And it would be wrong to believe a parish may simply opt to take their church and leave the ECUSA. I won't get into all the legal specifics of it, suffice it to say that it is not a simple matter.

For me this meant that it was imperative that I speak personally with a Priest from my parish. I sat up that night writing a long, difficult letter to one of my Priests and requested he either call me or email back so we could set up a time to meet and talk things over. A couple days later I heard from him and we set up a time. In the intervening days I came down with a nasty upper respirtory infection and called the church to let him know I could not make the meeting and to get ahold of me to reschedule.

That was a Thursday. My intent had been to get back with him on Monday if I did not hear from him before that. Instead something occured that made me understand in a very visible manner that it would be impossible for me and my family to continue to go to St. Thomas.

That Monday morning my dad (stepdad) stopped by the house. He handed me a brochure and asked "Isn't this your church?" I took a glance at it and noticed it said "The Belles of St. Mary" and told him no, we go to St. Thomas. My dad requested that I really look at what was in my hand, so I looked at it again, and when I actually really looked I could have been knocked over by a feather.

On the front of the brochure was the Belles of St. Mary, in nearly all their glory. When I had simply glanced at the brochure it did not really come into my head that the Belles of St. Mary was the womens' group at St. Thomas, but on closer inspection of the brochure one could not miss it. 14 naked women sat in the back lit pews of St. Thomas, all women I know. Each is situated in the pews of the Sanctuary just so that while they have no shirt on, the nipples of their breasts are behind the pew. It was so shocking and inappropriate that I could not even form words. When I recovered the ability to speak the first thing out of my mouth was "Holy mother of Jesus" to which my dad said "I don't think Holy has anything to do with it."

The brochure is an advertisement for a calendar. I knew that the womens group was putting together a calender to raise money for the steeple that had been hit by lightening in July of this year and had caught on fire and I had even read announcements in the weekly church brochures for the "calendar girls" but chalk it up to lack of attendence that I did not realize they meant real calender girls. The money is also supposed to go to research for breast cancer. The reason to put out a calendar that had naked women from my church, taken in my church, mattered not to me. I can find no good reason for this to occur. When I opened up the brochure there was Ms. September. A woman I know not only from church, but as a medical assistant to one of the physicians I had known and worked with for years. Susan is completely naked, with a couple items in her hands held stategically to cover her nipples and herself turned just so that her "business" is not on full view. However tastefully done, it could have been a picture in Playboy except for the fact that is was a 60 something year old grandmother. While I spit and sputtered and murmered incoherant sentences it occured to me that perhaps the steeple had been hit by lightening for a reason. And it surely wasn't so that grandmothers and greatgrandmothers would take off their cloths and have their pictures taken.

I cannot even put into words how offensive and inappropriate I found this all to be. I then sat down and fired off an email to both Priests of St. Thomas and told them that my family would no longer be attending St. Thomas and exactly why.

Since then, I have alternately raged and wept. I am an orphan now. The church that my children were baptised in, that my oldest confirmed in and in which I expected my other two children to confirm in had rotted to it's core. The church I expected to see my children married in, to see grandchildren baptised in and the church I expected to have my and my husbands funeral in was no longer available to me. Not because of anything I or my family had done, but because of the lack of moral compass that I expect a church to have. I had been let down and pushed out of my church.

The American Anglican Council, the new orthodox branch, is fairly new, and there are only three churches in my state that have affliated with it at this time. None of which are anywhere near me. I do not want to go "church shopping" I know I will never feel comfortable in a "bible" church. My husband was raised a Baptist and for him that is a tradition he could return to easily. Not so myself. I am about as uncomfortable as can be in a church that does not have a traditional altar, that has bands playing on what I consider should be an altar. I don't want comtempary Christian music though I like to listen to it, just not in service. I am not comfortable in a tradition that people swing their arms and yell out Amen! I do not believe churches like that are wrong, but for me they do not give to me the spirituality that I long for. I grew up mainline Protestant and wish to remain mainline Protestant.

The problem though, is that for the most part mainline Protestant churches have become the abode of those who are just like the ones who are leading the Episcopal church. I have a dear friend who recently left the Methodist church for the same reasons as I left my church. Though at least her church didn't have naked women in the pews. One of her issues was that what would be termed preChristian pagan rites seem to have crept into the Methodist church as well as openly gay pastors of both sexes. By that I mean gay people who are openly living in a gay relationship while ministering to a flock. To my chagrin there are two PA Episcopal Priests that were recently caught as Priests in a Druidic cult as well, a married couple. The women also wrote a "eurcharist" for women that is straight out of the Druidic cult they were involved in, which ended up on the official Epicsopal womens site. But that is another post, call it chapter two to this one. I found this out after I had officially left St. Thomas, yet because I still consider myself an Episcopal it pains me deeply.

It seems to not matter which mainline Protestant church one looks it, it seems the insane have taken over. In their wish to makeover society to their own liking they have taken secular social issues into the church and twisted Christian teachings for their own aims. When it is objected to, then those who are steering their churches this way become indignant and accuse me and others like me as hate filled and clearly not a "true" Christian. Because I want my church to remain orthodox and true to the "faith delivered" by the clear tenats of the bible I am somehow awful, hate filled, homophopic, simplisitic and idiotic. Taking that one step further I am also a bad American. Since I will not go along with an agenda that it's proponents believe will lead to the "full rights" of gays and lesbians, as if this issue is also not laden with moralistic overtones that the church has traditionally upheld, I am un-American because I am denying "rights" to a minority.

It is as if by simply wishing the church to stand by 2000 years of bibically based teaching, I am now advocating the rounding up and placing into concentration camps all those who term themselves gay, lesbian and transgendered. Or maybe I am just advocating standing them up against a wall and shooting them. Why can't it simply be an issue that I believe people should be free to live their lives the way they want, between them and God if they believe in God, without the imposition of secular values into my church life? If I cannot seek solace and grace away from secular society in my own church where in God's name can I? Why can I not have just that one corner of a Christian life? Just one little corner where I do not have to turn the channel, turn off the radio and am allowed to practice the Christian religion as it has been practiced for 2000 years.

I have been forced back and forced back on issues that I believe deeply in. I have done all that has been asked of me. I have turned the TV channel. I have turned off offensive programing, I have banned certain movies and music in my home, I have diligently taught my children to respect ALL people regardless of color, religion and sexual orientation. I have taught my children the values of my morality while teaching them to respect others because I don't think there is a perfect path to God. I have taught them that people have a right to believe in no God if that is right for them. I have taught my children the value of education, of hard work, of personal responsiblity. I have taught my children charity and humility. I have taught my children the value of learning about other cultures, as well as the culture of their own family roots. And yet, now I find that I cannot even have what I consider the last fort against the sometimes overwhelming pressure on children to leave the morals taught to them for the fleeting and sometimes dangerous behaviors of the secular world.

I have been forced to the pinnacle and now I say not one more damn step am I willing to go. I am not an idiot as so many on the left side of the political divide call me. I am none of the names they call like kindergartners in a sandbox. I am no longer willing to have my values and morals denigrated. And that is what the left does not understand. It is not simply that I do not want a gay Bishop, it is not simply that I don't believe in gay marriage, though the other side seems to think the gay issue is what put Bush over the top in terms of getting out the vote from his base. The truth is that is not the issue. The issue is that while I have spent nearly 21 years teaching my own children to have respect for others views and beliefs, and to simply turn away from those things that are not the values and morals of ourselves, I find the other side is not willing to do the same for me and mine.

Just one little corner was all I asked for, and I couldn't even have that.


UPDATE: This article has been linked in many places, and I have received a great outpouring of support. To all who wrote to me thank you ever so much.
Many write to tell me what solutions there may be for the dilemma of a church, I would like to let all know that we were able to find a traditional Anglican church not far from our home. A small church of those who have chosen to leave the path the ECUSA is on. I found it by doing an internet search for Episcopal/Anglican churches in my area. The church is an Independent Anglican Church under the United Episcopal Church of North America. The only like church in my state. It was a blessing to be able to find it, and to also find that the Rector is an elementary teacher and floor hockey ref that both of my older children had in school, as well as knowing him through playing floor hockey. We were able to celebrate Christmas Eve there when previously I had dispared of having that important part of our family Christian life this year.
Many members at the church have come from St. Thomas, the Rector and his wife were married at St. Thomas many years ago. Again it is a blessing to be with others who understand. Thank you again all who have offered so much support and prayers.
I also wished to address a couple things that have come up from other blogs through comments sections.
The calendar, marketed as raising funds for breast cancer research, in reality also went to repair the steeple of the church which was hit by lightening in May 2004. 10% of the profits go to breast cancer research. The calendar costs $15 so one dollar and fifty cents from each sale goes to research. The vast majority of the money stays within the church.
Next, when we choose to leave the church I wrote a letter through email to both the Rector and the Assistant Rector, both had basicly the same things that are in this article. Mother Joy the Rector, never bothered to write back or attempt to contact this family at all. Father Chris, the assistant Rector wrote a brief note telling me there were two sides to everything and if I wished to I could contact him.
A couple people who thought I was a bit too unitarian in bringing up my children to be tolerant of other faiths and beliefs suggested that I do a bit of bible study with the Baptists. I had to chuckle at that one because first of all my husband was brought up in the Baptist faith, his grandfather was a Baptist minister, as are a couple uncles. My own great grandfather was a minister and assisted starting the Freewill Baptist church in Hannon Missouri oh so many years ago. As a Registered Nurse I work with and treat a great many people of various faiths. It is imperative in my work that I have a decent working knowledge of other faiths in order to appropriately treat my patients. One of the questions on any admission is to ask a patient if they have any religious or cultural values that we need to be aware of that would affect their treatment, such as faiths that do not accept blood. Understanding and being aware of others faith is simply endemic to the healthcare field. A dear friend of mine who is a physician who happens to be a Hindu from India nonetheless took his family to see "The Passion of the Christ". He believes it to be important for his children to see all sides of religion. We have had many conversations on religion, and while there are points that we do not agree on, we can still care about and respect one another. The ability to do this in America is one of the things that make us so unique, it is a strength of this country, not a weakness.
Thank you all for taking the time to read though this.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Last Battle of Vietnam

The Last Battle of Vietnam

It never occurred to me, ever before,
That our Navy would win the Vietnam War.
When they took to their boats in this year of elections,
With the mission of making some major corrections
I shared their belief, John should not be elected,
And their view overdue, truth should be resurrected.
Yet I questioned the course they’d set themselves for,
Knowing how John was loved by the media whore.

Ignored and dismissed by the media queens
Being shrewd, savvy sailors they still found the means
To reach out to the people, to open their eyes
To a phony John Kerry and his war story lies.
With their very first ad, they torpedoed his boat,
A Cambodian Christmas would no longer float.
His heroics unraveled, his stories fell flat,
Especially that one ‘bout his magical hat.

John called on his lawyers and media whores,
And threatened the Swiftees with vile legal wars.
But these warriors kept charging back into the fire,
And made the folks wonder, “Is Kerry a Liar?”
Till the question of whether he’s telling the truth
Was still in their minds in the election day booth.
So the brave Swiftees gave us what we’d not had before,
They gave us our victory in the Vietnam War.

Those brave, stalwart sailors, falsely labeled as liars,
Stood firm and stood tall, kept directing their fires,
Steadfast, unrelenting, they served once again,
And defeated John Kerry, these honorable men.
All Vets can take pride, yes all, not just some,
That we won the last battle of Vietnam.
It took far too long to bring an end to our war
But we did, November Second, Two Thousand Four.

To our Brothers, forever on that long black Wall,
You’ve been vindicated now, one and all.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

As always I would like to thank Russ for his words.

Swift Justice by Russ Vaughn


Bold John sailed forth in his faux scow,
Till the Swiftees fired across his bow;
And legions of irate attorneys,
Could not defend Cambodian journeys,
Nor stories of his fabled hat,
So voters sensed they smelled a rat.
And while the networks denied them prime,
The Swiftees surely got their time.

While John screamed it was all a smear,
O’Neill came across sincere,
And forced Big John to duck the press,
To run, to hide from his specious mess.
But relentless those old Swiftee guys,
They bit, hung on, exposed his lies.
These brave old warriors once again
Stood for their country, for their kin.

They made us all look one more time
At the traitor who’d charged them with crime,
And gave false witness to their deeds
For nothing more than political needs.
It’s a smear proclaimed the New York Times
Those liars all committed crimes.
Chris Matthews raged, foamed at the mouth,
Still the turncoat’s campaign headed south.

So the Swiftboat Veterans’ charges stuck
And made poor John a sitting duck.
He had no answers, no glib replies,
To cover up his treasonous lies;
That made us think, our minds aware,
The Swiftees had some truth in there;
What if he’d faked his combat valor,
Were all those medals tinged with pallor?

Dan Rather would not pay them heed,
But still the Swiftees made John bleed.
The mainstream pundits called them liars;
But no lefty slant could staunch these fires.
The blazes that these Swiftees set
Were burning John Boy’s ass you bet;
And those Swiftboat fires just burned away
Till they fried John’s ass on election day.

Now all you heroes on that Wall
Take solace seeing Kerry fall.
This scheming pol who stained your name
Has been denied his claim to fame.
The Swiftees stood and did their best,
Denied the traitor his life’s quest.
You can rest in peace our honored kin
Your honor restored by honorable men.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne DivisionVietnam 65-66

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Vietnam Vets Veterans Day, by Russ Vaughn

Before I post this fantastic poem by Mr. Vaughn I wish to first apologize for not getting it up earlier, for some reason I was getting an error reading when I was trying to post the last couple days. Thought it was perhaps due to the amount of traffic blogspot was getting following the election.

Their Veterans’ Day

Some said let you apologize
But that wouldn’t do it in our eyes.
A man astride of each position
Could we believe your true contrition?
And on deaf ears your words would fall
To those whose names are on that Wall
The vindication they now accept
In settling up this long-held debt,
Is that for them we gave our best
And denied you, John, your lifelong quest.
We fought for them, fought for our own,
To make you reap what you had sown.
Listen carefully John to what we say,
November 2d was their Veterans’ Day.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Monday, November 01, 2004

Full Transcript of bin Laden tape

Read it and wonder why this has to come from Al Jazeera. Why has MSM in America not managed to get this out to Americans. Think on that hard.


Update: Here is a very good analysis from Winds of Change. It's long but worth the read as it takes into consideration translation from MEMRI, BBC and Al Jazerra.

For the First Time in My Adult Life

I will be voting a straight Republican ticket. I have always been that swing voter the media talks about, but this time around and maybe for a very long time the democrats have lost me.

John Kerry is the epitomy of everything about the democratic party I despise. The navel gazing, old hippy. The inability to put what is necessary for the country above own personal wants. He is the epitomy of the part of the generation that is selfish, that see those who believe in Christianity and those values as little more than deluded idiots. The part of a generation who couldn't simply change what needed to be changed, but felt it necessary to attempt to bring down everything good along with it. The epitomy of the part of America who sincerely believe the foundering fathers really are just dead white guys. The epitomy of those who think displaying the flag is akin to believing in colonalism. The epitomy of the generation who rioted and smashed institutions in their drive to right wrongs, unable to see the complete damage they were doing to the things that were good and right about this country, and those who never came out of those times. He is part of the country who put forward and still believe that everyone is a victim somehow, unless your white and male. And particularly if your white and male and Christian. The generation who brought us the idea that everything can and should be fixed by the Federal Government, and esque the idea of personal responsiblity.

I can't think of a worse candidate for President, and even more so at this particular juncture in our history. He is everything that I despise about the 60's era, and I don't mean just the 60's itself, but that era that encompasses the riots, the "peace in's" and teach in's and feel good bullshit. The era that brought such turbulance to this country that we are still dealing with the aftershocks today. The radical left still lives, and what a shame that is.

I won't belabor my point further, I just know that if this is the best the democratic party can give us, I will not vote for one democrat this year and likely will not for years if ever.