Church rift cuts deeper for brothers

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Murdoch brothers don't often talk about the controversy dividing the Episcopal Church, but they really don't have to: In the Murdoch family, schism starts at home.

The Rev. Bill Murdoch, 58, an Episcopal priest in West Newbury, is so frustrated by the Episcopal Church's selection of an openly gay bishop that he is bolting and taking his parish with him. At the end of this month, he is to be consecrated a bishop by the Anglican Church of Kenya, and he will return to the North Shore to start a new Kenya-affiliated parish there.

But the Rev. Brian Murdoch, 53, an Episcopal priest in West Roxbury, is not planning to join his brother for the ceremony in Nairobi and is not celebrating his elevation to bishop.

That's because Brian, as Bill has long known, is gay.

The crisis in the Anglican Communion, set off by the Episcopal Church's decision to approve a gay bishop who is not celibate to lead the New Hampshire diocese, has divided parishes and dioceses and is threatening to split the global church.

But the Murdochs, who maintain amicable relations with one another despite their differences, provide a rare example of how personal the theological dispute can be and how complex the responses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts

8 Comments
Posted August 12, 2007 at 2:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. MikeS wrote:

I wish this was the only set of brothers who were being torn by this crisis.  Unfortunately, I am aware it is not.

August 12, 3:10 pm | [comment link]
2. Florida Anglican [Support Israel] wrote:

Don`t forget other family rifts over this, like between parents and children.  I am on the orthodox side, my parents are not.  Makes me think of Mark 13:11-13.

11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

August 12, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
3. Chris wrote:

Kendall, I applaud you allowing comments for this.  This type of subject matter has often (too often IMO) been in the “Comments are Closed” category.
I think Brian Murdoch raises a good question (and one that I have posted several times throught the years on T 1:9).  How do reasserters handle the issue of legality?  It seems to me that there is an inherent inconsistency in attributing so many problems in society to the gay agenda, yet backing away from any attempt to outlaw such activity.  If the answer is that it’s wrong for it to be illegal, then the argument that it’s such an awful thing loses much credibility.
I have never seen any conservative, either Anglican or evangelical, come out in favor of making homosexual conduct illegal.  But I think it might happen one day, and perhaps it already has and I’m just not aware of it.

August 12, 7:35 pm | [comment link]
4. Larry Morse wrote:

#3: Do you know why we get the Comments are Closed message on some entries? I never understood the purpose of the closing. LM

August 13, 9:00 am | [comment link]
5. Florida Anglican [Support Israel] wrote:

#4 Larry Morse,

Sometimes Dr. Harmon does not want commenting to get out of hand, so he does not allow comments at all on some topics.  At least I think that is the purpose.

August 13, 9:34 am | [comment link]
6. Andrew717 wrote:

#3, I think it is at least part a church/state issue.  Orthodox Christianity teaches that homosexual activity is a sin.  There may be some cult out there (for argument’s sake) which teaches that homosexual activity is a sacrament.  Both would be equaly valid and protected in the eyes of the US Gov’t, as they should be.  The same reasoning is behind why adultery is also no longer criminalized.  Much which is immoral is perfectly legal.

August 13, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
7. Chris wrote:

Andrew, we outlaw all sorts of behaviors - bigamy, polygamy, pedophilia.  Why stop with those?

August 13, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
8. Andrew717 wrote:

Pedophilia is viewed as harmful to the child, who is not legaly capable of giving consent.  Bigamy and polygamy just haven’t yet been pushed through like the decriminalization of homosexuality was.  I’m not sure what legal argument we really have for outlawing them, nothing that can’t be overcome if the political will were present.  I suspect they haven’t been legalized mostly due to the fact that the main pressure for legalization would be from hardline Mormon splinter groups.  These tend to be located in Utah and other areas where the LDS have large numbers, and the LDS is too aware of their reputation for bigamy to allow it to flourish.  The LDS leadership steps ahrd on bigamy, and I don’t see it being legalized in Utah without LDS support. 

I would not be surprised if in future polygamy were pushed by Muslim groups, arguing that the Koran allows a man three wives and to limit a man to one wife only violates the 1st amendment.

August 13, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
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