Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Storming out of St Paul’s Cathedral

Cranmer has been sent the following account, and would like to share it with his Communicants and readers:

I walked out of St Paul's Cathedral yesterday during the most disgraceful sermon which I have ever heard in my life. In 44 years of churchmanship, I have never done this before, despite sitting through sermons which have raised an eyebrow in the past. I usually seek to see the good in people, especially if they are our clergy, and if the rest of what the preacher is saying is biblical and good.

The sermon yesterday was an extreme left-wing diatribe delivered by a South African, one Fr Michael Lapsley, on the theme of ‘remembrance. It might as well have been written by Michael Moore.

Lapsley was the so-called ‘Chaplain’ to the ANC in exile.

Within 5 minutes of his sermon, Fr Lapsley proclaimed: ‘Let the British people apologise to the Iraqi nation for this totally illegal, immoral and unjust war against their people’.

He then went on to insult the integrity of our Coalition servicemen by saying (I paraphrase):

‘When they are being brutalised by their participation in an unjust and unpopular war, US Servicemen come back, not as heroes, but bringing their violent memories and stress with them, and this is leading to an upsurge in domestic violence, drug addiction and alcoholism’.

The implication was that US forces (and not just some undisciplined elements of the sort you get in any Army, war bringing out the best in most and the worst in a few) are inflicting the ‘brutality’ they allegedly inflicted on the Iraqis on their families and neighbourhoods.
So US troops (AND, it was hinted, our own) were effectively insulted as wife-beaters, drug addicts and alcoholics, whose only hope of redemption, it seemed, was to confess their role to Fr Lapsley as aggressors in an ‘unjust’ and ‘totally illegal’ war.

Lapsley proceeded to attack Lady Thatcher, whom he could not bring himself to name and simply described as ‘a certain political leader’ for wanting to hold a service at St Paul's to celebrate ‘what she saw as victory in the Falklands-Malvinas war’.

He implied that the war to liberate the Falklands (or, as he seemed to prefer, ‘Las Malvinas’) should not have been fought, ‘for those on both sides who lost their lives should be commemorated in this Cathedral’.

Lapsley then went on to insult the victims of terrorism on 9/11 and 7/7 (which terrorism I never heard him define as Islamicist terrorism) by saying: ‘The West needs to examine and accept its own share of responsibility for the problem of terrorism’. He depicted Umkhonto we Sizwe as ‘heroic freedom fighters’ , whose only fault seemed to be that they were ‘more complex’ than their ‘heroic stereotypes’ (my own personal view is that neither the National Party Government nor the ANC had anything to be proud of, and the armed wing of the ANC probably had as much blood on their hands). So, not a cheep about necklacing, car bombs, such as that at Amanzimtoti or Church Street, forcing black shoppers to drink bleach for not complying with the boycott, managing to kill even more black innocent citizens than the SA security forces.

O no. His only ‘criticism’ of a leading ‘Freedom Fighting hero’ was one that came from said ‘hero’ himself: ‘I am more complex than the hero you portray me as’.

The final straw for me was when he said:

‘This year, the British people have been commemorating the end of the Slave Trade. Let us hope that in 200 years time the Church will apologise for refusing to honour same-gender marriages’. He went on to portray the Church's opposition to gay wedding ceremonies as reactionary and narrow-minded.

Now, I can honestly say that I am not remotely bigoted on this, having good gay friends, but to depict opposition to gay marriage as unchristian and motivated by irrationality and hatred and on a shameful moral par with support for slavery was the last straw. As he continued in this vitriolic vein in which he attacked (the fairly gentle and courteously explained) Anglican doctrine opposing the blessing of same-sex relationships, I got up and stalked out of St Paul's, absolutely seething and without staying for Communion.

It was an absolutely disgraceful diatribe and a desecration of the House of the Lord. I cannot imagine that the last Dean, V Rev. Dr John Moses, would have allowed such a ‘sermon’ in our National Cathedral.

I therefore can no longer commend St. Paul's Cathedral as a place to worship.

Cranmer has quite a few places of worship he could not recommend, but would exhort Communicants who may be appalled by this highly politicised ‘sermon’ to complain directly to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And then Cranmer shall apologise for wasting his Communicants’ very valuable time, which, he has recently re-learned, is a very precious commodity indeed.


Blogger Meg said...


And you are one of those people who think that 9/11 had something to do with Iraq?

Listen. 9/11 was a big fat lie. The majority of people either know that or suspect it.

I am one that knows.

Educate yourself to the facts and THEN write your essays.


4 September 2007 at 07:56  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

I know how you feel it happened to me at Portsmouth Catederal some years ago. The left wing view is everwhere and we have no one to challange it, least of all Cameron

4 September 2007 at 07:58  
Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

His Grace The Archbishop Cranmer

Your Grace

It's interesting how these Anglicans have not cared enough about Christianity to walk out when Bishops et alii Churchmen (& in these enlightened times, Churchwomen) attack fundamental core Christian Beliefs (eg in the Bible, the Resurrection, Jesus's Miracles, Sexual Morality etc etc etc), while drawing inflated salaries, pensions & other generous perquisites

However, your tolerant Communicant walks out when some trendy lefty from Abroad attacks Mrs Thatcher etc

At least he had the good sense to walk out at this point - however, why did he (& so many others) not walk out at a much earlier point

I have the honour to remain, in Christ, your Grace's obedient servant etc

G Eagle

4 September 2007 at 08:48  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Any sermon that touches on issues that affect people, like poverty or injustice, is political. Is there another kind of sermon that is also worthwhile? Even giving offense may be effective in the long term. The seeds of ideas can be planted in this way, although it is a technique best reserved to those who have already mastered a tactful style of delivery.

Presumably your correspondent maintains that the Iraq war was legal, moral and just. All three? Now that's a fringe position.

Your correspondent may not be aware that of those who served in the falklands, more have committed suicide than were killed in action. This is violence brought home, is it not? Perhaps I will link later to evidence of spousal violence in America to substantiate the claim that you can't take the war zone out of the man.

Not having been there, caution is indicated. Therefore let me say that on the evidence that has been presented, I am sorry that your correspondent was offended. But that is all.

4 September 2007 at 08:53  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

Being an Argentine sympathiser is bad enough for me. "Islas Malvinas"? no, they were named after Viscount Falkland long before Argentina even existed.

The Falklands War is a classic example of how those most sacred principles of the UN - ie, the right to self determination (the Falkland Islanders themselves want to stay British) apparently applies to some but not all.

The Argentine argument for the war is really one made of no more substance than tissue paper, and anybody who sees fit to imply that it was somehow wrong to defend those islands is nothing less than an apologist for brutal dictatorship.

Methinks this Lapsley needs to brush up a bit on his ethics.

4 September 2007 at 09:16  
Anonymous bob said...

He seems to have talked about everything in his sermon except God, which seems revealing in itself.

4 September 2007 at 09:19  
Blogger Roger said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Iraq was a multiculturalist war. And Abu Ghraib was a prison where inmates were taught free love and tolerance for homosexuality.

We can't help it that the Iraq War has gone wrong because so many Iraqis have rejected Freedom, Democracy, Tolerance and Diversity.

4 September 2007 at 11:49  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

Mr AethelBald, I think the point of the correspondent was not to debate the falsehood or otherwise of Rev Lapsleys sermon [sic], but to hear the Word preached. People go to church to worship God; they join unions, think tanks or parties to hear political propaganda. I suspect had it been a right wing tirade of equal vigour against the left (even saying it sounds preposterous) His Graces correspondent, had he not fainted first, being a person of principal would probably have walked out just the same.

We have leaned to our cost in this country (some more than others) what happens when the two get mixed up. Mixing Politics and Religion in the pulpit is a fiery combination, people get burnt, eh Your Grace!

4 September 2007 at 12:47  
Anonymous Fred said...

The effects of war on the people who fight it are grim indeed. It is never a subject that should become political football.

To my mind the issue of this sermon is not the left wing propaganda that this person was spouting, it was the flagrant disregard for the Word of God. I will accept that Christians can have differing but Biblicly based points of view on various important topics in the world. But God is absolutely clear on what is right and wrong about same sex "marriage". And He is clear that it is wrong. So whatever "word" this preacher is hearing, it cannot be the Word of God.

But as we coast gently downhill towards the "end of the age", the church should clearly be teaching its flock the Truth, and preparing them to withstand the onslaught that is to come. Instead we have here one congregation who much prefer the broad way that leads to destruction.

4 September 2007 at 14:22  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The left wing view is everywhere and we have no one to challenge it, least of all Cameron

The "left-wing view" is lazy haphazard thinking with the kind of over-wrought emotionalism previously associated with the interwar Fascist Right.

It is bemusing how the positions are reversed with much of the Right prefering rationality and the others stringing together random facts as if concatenated they form a chain of causation - a sort on Manichean Conspiracy.

Addled brains are in abundance nowadays but dressing monkeys and letting them onstage with a microphone does not change the fact they are monkeys

4 September 2007 at 17:49  
Blogger defender said...

your Grace
I found this and thought it should be brought to your attention.

Algeria: 5 sentenced for preaching Christianity
Islamic Tolerance Alert. "5 sentenced for Christian doctrine preaching and public order offences," from El Khabar (thanks to Daryl):

Five people were sentenced earlier in June for charges related preaching Christian doctrine and public order offences by virtue of the law on the religious practice in Algeria approved by the government in 2006. The sentences vary between one year sentence with no remission and one year suspended sentence with a 5000 AD fine.
Public authorities started implementing the legal texts ruling the religious practice in Algeria. Five people are to be tried for Christian doctrine preaching as well as public order offending. Sentences were considered by the indicted as a beach to the freedom of worship established by the constitution and stressed that they were trapped by security services.

The press attaché at the religious affairs ministry Mr. Tammine said he didn’t know about the trial, but all those who practice illegally the religious rituals i.e. outside the religious community. The same legal texts are applicable to Salafist Muslim communities....

Posted by Robert at 6:29 AM | Comments (9)
Email this entry | Print this entry | Digg this | del.icio.us

Perhaps an effort could be made to have Fr. Lapsley sent to the dioscese with the instruction to defend the faith and, if necessary, shed his blood in the course of.

4 September 2007 at 18:47  
Blogger defender said...

My apologies, here is the link http://www.elkhabar.com/FrEn/lire.php?ida=80046&idc=52

4 September 2007 at 18:51  
Blogger Ttony said...

Good on your correspondent for walking out! I have sometimes thought of doing so but have never had the courage of my convictions, as he obviously has of his.

4 September 2007 at 20:23  
Blogger Roger said...

So you don't think Leftism is now ubiquitous even amongst the so called Right?

According to an absorbingly interesting article in the July 16 New York Times, the U.S. has a five-year, $750 million program aimed at--get your Digitalis out--raising living standards in the mountainous region of Pakistan bordering on Afghanistan, where the Taliban and al Qaeda are centered. It is one of the most backward, primitive, dangerous, and Islamo-intensive areas of the world, and we think that spending money on water treatment, hospitals, roads, and schools will make the people in that area more resistant to Islamic extremism. The area is so wild and lawless that the Pakistan government has virtually no sway there, and even the people involved in designing the program fear that most of the money will just go to enriching local warlords. But we're doing it anyway.

So there's our "war on terror": a war on poverty stretching from the Palestinian territories to Pakistan.

From this we can infer that George Bush is a Socialist who believes people are products of society. He also believes that all religions and cultures are equal and all express the same truths of universal brotherhood and peace. That makes him a multiculturalist.

Have you seen that sanctimonious smugness plastered on Bush's face? No matter what happens he is never shaken and never doubts himself. This is because he never absorbs any serious criticism from the democrats because he is more left-wing then even them.

This is why the left is infested with conspiracy theorists: "Bush Lied" - "It was a War for Oil". They can't believe that their Universalist Multiculturalism and Social determinism had anything to do with the Iraq War. They really think they're all things to all men.

Have you seen that film American Psycho? There's a bit where he says:

"I'm into murders and executions. Do you know I like to dissect girls? I'm utterly insane." and the person he's talking to replies;

"Mergers and Aquisitions? I've heard people that it really isn't very interesting"

Well maybe that will creatively communicate my point.

Nobody gets it do they?

4 September 2007 at 21:26  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Traditionally, the expectation is that the sermon will be based on the Scripture lesson for the day. Since Holy Scripture never deals with the current political scene, we really should not expect to hear an overtly political sermon. What transpired at St. Paul's is an example of a preacher who was clearly out of bounds, who did not follow the clear rules for preaching, but was rather simply using the pulpit as an opportunity to state his own opinions. Shame on him!! He should be disciplined by the Church authorities for the abuse of his position and denied the opportunity to preach at St. Paul's again.

5 September 2007 at 04:18  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Doesn't the BCP lay down the reading for each day ?

Surely the falling away from Belief of many in the Anglican Church - South Africa seemingly ver politicised - is represented by the falling away from the Prayer Book His Grace so assiduously prepared ?

5 September 2007 at 06:34  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

It was an absolutely disgraceful diatribe and a desecration of the House of the Lord.

Er, it's the C of E. What did he expect?

5 September 2007 at 07:09  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...


There is such a thing as collectivism. It infects both the Right and the Left. For example, Fascism and Communism are both collectivist. Mr Bush is a right-wing collectivist (and a prat).


Is it really true that Holy Scripture never deals with the current political scene? In its essence and really, really?

Mr Recusant,

It's King Aethelbald, if you don't mind.

5 September 2007 at 09:09  
Anonymous High Church Tory said...

The only time I have ever walked out of a sermon was one Christmas Day when the preacher saw fit to ruin the festive spirit by attacking the Prince of Wales' excellent views on the banality and impoverishment of modern liturgies.
I slammed the door very loudly as I went.

5 September 2007 at 12:40  
Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

I have the perfect solution. How about having a suitably-qualified Jewish woman as the new Dean of St. Paul's?

I have posted my thoughts on this subject here:


5 September 2007 at 18:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair enough comment....afterall didnt the briish armed forces "get caught" in local arab attire and shooting locals!

Seems like the iraqis saying the area is more unstable since the allied forces have been there is ringing true!

No wonder thier P***** off at us!

19 September 2007 at 14:58  
Anonymous Matt Wardman said...

Your Grace

Having just read the transcript of the offending sermon on the St Paul's website, it bears only a passing resemblance to the account quoted in your article.

One example. Compare:

Iraqi suffering is exponentially greater than people here. But we should not underestimate the long term impact of wars both just and unjust, not only on the lives of combatants but on their families. This can continue across the generations.

Often the legitimised violence of armed conflict which happens in public space gives way to other horrors which happen in private space behind bedroom doors – sometimes in harm to loved ones and sometimes in harm to self. Domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and psychological disturbances are just a few of the consequences of war.
with your quote:
He then went on to insult the integrity of our Coalition servicemen by saying (I paraphrase):

‘When they are being brutalised by their participation in an unjust and unpopular war, US Servicemen come back, not as heroes, but bringing their violent memories and stress with them, and this is leading to an upsurge in domestic violence, drug addiction and alcoholism’.

The implication was that US forces (and not just some undisciplined elements of the sort you get in any Army, war bringing out the best in most and the worst in a few) are inflicting the ‘brutality’ they allegedly inflicted on the Iraqis on their families and neighbourhoods.
So US troops (AND, it was hinted, our own) were effectively insulted as wife-beaters, drug addicts and alcoholics, whose only hope of redemption, it seemed, was to confess their role to Fr Lapsley as aggressors in an ‘unjust’ and ‘totally illegal’ war.

It is not a paraphrase, it is a caricature and a straw man.



20 September 2007 at 00:09  

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