Friday, 16 March 2012

Today is my Last Day at the Church of England

Today is my last day at the Church of England. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern at my local diocese, then in Wales for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of Gods culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that my ’people’ are now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the church continue to be sidelined in the way the people just want to have sex and make some 'shekels'. God is one of the world’s largest and most important beings and it is integral that people continue to follow him for more than an insurance policy after death. The people have veered so far from the message I preached right out of pope college (Popelege for those ITK) that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what they think God stands for.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Christianities success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our fellow man, well apart from those Scientology nut jobs. The culture was the holy water that made this place great and allowed us to earn our followers trust for 2012 years. It wasn’t just about the prayers; this alone will not sustain a religion for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the church. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this God for so many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored non believers through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 bishops (out of a religion of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played in every church we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer communion and the mixed sex lawn tennis cup.
I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look believers in the eye and tell them what a great saviour Jesus was.

When the history books are written about Christianity, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, God, and the president, Jesus, lost hold of the religion’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the people’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to our long-run survival.

Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising the only religion on the planet, five annual rallies in the United States, and kept the piece with heathens in the Middle East and Asia. If you had to put a number to it, my congregation has a total belief base of more than a trillion dollars! I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my congregation to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money and less co-mingling. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular in the world. Another sign that it was time to leave.

What are three quick ways to be a good human? a) ‘Get laid a lot’ which is earth-speak for persuading the opposite sex to have sex with you, just because it feels good (disgusting). b) ‘Get a sweet Ride’. In English: Spend less money in church and more at work in order to get fancy cars than can’t even get around in London anyway. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where people around you believe that religion can be all about sitting under a bloody tree.. 

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their congregation off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different bishops refer to their own congregation as “muppets,” Even after Robert Finn, John Magee and Charles Brown? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the collection tins and pitch lucrative and complicated ways to gain enlightenment even if they are not the simplest prayers or the ones most directly aligned with the congregation’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

These days, the most common question I get from junior bishops about God is, “If he is all loving, why is there such sorrow in the world?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their bishops about the way they should behave.
When I was a first-year bishop, I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with finding out what the seven sacraments were, understanding God, getting to know our congregation and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.

My proudest moments in life — steering clear of all that altar boy bunkem, winning a bronze medal for the sack race in Vatican City, known as the Papal Olympics — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. Christianity today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.

Bish’ Out

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