Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denounced her opponents in South Carolina as terrorists and murderers, saying those who opposed her view of church order were “wolves” and false shepherds leading the flock astray.
The 26 Jan 2013 “outrageous” remarks have changed the game in the South Carolina diocesan fight, her critics charge. What had been a dispute over property has become an ideological war with those who do not conform now being branded as evil.
Speaking to national church loyalists at a special convention held 26 Jan 2013 at Grace Church in Charleston, Bishop Jefferts Schori began her remarks with the story of a glider pilot who had entered restricted airspace in South Carolina and found himself harassed by local officials.
“I tell you that story because it’s indicative of attitudes we’ve seen here and in many other places. Somebody decides he knows the law, and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law, and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge,” she said.
“It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage,” the presiding bishop said.
Bishop Jefferts Schori also denounced what she saw as the arbitrary and capricious usurpation of power by local church leaders stating: “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption. That’s why Jesus challenges us to think about how the shepherd acts. The authentic ones don’t sneak over the wall in the dead of night. They operate transparently, and they work cooperatively with the gate-keeper himself.”
Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council stated her remarks were “just over the top,” Canon Ashey said, adding that her “anger was not in keeping of any leader of any Christian church.” He called upon the presiding bishop to apologize for remarks.
South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence told The Church of England Newspaper the presiding bishop’s remarks were not likely to help matters.
“One of the things I said to the Presiding Bishop when last we spoke is that if she and I could refrain from demonizing one another, regardless of what others around us are saying, we might get somewhere. Based on the words and argument of her recent sermon for the New TEC Diocese in South Carolina, I guess she wasn’t able to do it,” Bishop Lawrence said.
A spokesman for the Presiding Bishop declined to elaborate on the speech stating “As for the Presiding Bishop’s sermon, she did not identify any group in her sermon.”