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Snow: Don't read meaning into church schedule change

A change in the White House church schedule was just that: a change and not necessarily related to the front page news coming from the Episcopal Church about what a Nigerian bishop calls a “satanic attack” on the organization, according to a White House spokesman.

Tony Snow, the spokesman, told Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, that he just didn’t know the cause for the recent schedule change.

“Yesterday on the Internet, the following news was reported nationwide from the White House, and I quote: ‘Loaded into press van 2, the pool assumed the proper sobriety of an anticipated church visit, only to be told five minutes later that ‘church is cancelled,’ no reason offered.’ And my question, did this last-minute cancellation of Episcopal church worship have anything to do with this morning’s top of page one reporting of the biggest split of more than 200 years of Episcopal church history?” Kinsolving asked.

“I wish I could just say a flat, no. I have no idea,” Snow said.

Bush, who has not made any secret of his Christian faith during his presidency, sometimes has attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington while he’s in the area. But the Episcopal church as an organization is being torn into pieces these days because of the dispute over endorsing homosexual relationships.

The headlines involved two of the leading Episcopal parishes in Virginia, Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church, whose members announced plans to leave the Episcopal denomination and place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

Akinola has described the church organization’s widening acceptance of homosexual lifestyle choices as a “satanic” attack on the historic church organization.

The Episcopal denomination in the United States is a local division of the Anglican Church worldwide, and has been roundly condemned by many Anglican leaders in other parts of the world for its approval of an openly-homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson, as well as other related moves, in recent years.

Virginia diocese spokesman Bishop Peter Lee said the churches’ affiliation with Nigeria leaders now meant that the congregations were “occupying Episcopal churches.”

The diocese issued a statement confirming that eight of the congregations, with about 8,000 people together, had approved the change. There are about 185 other churches, and 80,000 other people, in that diocese.

“We are saddened when individuals decide they must leave the Episcopal Church, for we are diminished when any brother or sister departs from the community,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement.

“God gives us a gift in the midst of that diversity, and we more fully know both truth and God’s will for us when we are able to embrace that diversity,” she said.

Four Virginia congregations earlier announced their disaffiliation with the denomination, and several others have scheduled a vote. And one entire diocese, in Fresno, Calif., has begun the process of leaving the denomination.

Officials said Truro rector Martyn Minns had been consecrated a bishop by the Church of Nigeria earlier this year, in order to lead Akinola’s Convocation of Anglicans in North America, officials said.

The arguments going on now will be much more than spiritual, too, since under the Episcopal church structure, the denomination itself retains ownership of church buildings and property.

Kinsolving also was able to ask a question about a military confrontation in the Middle East:

“From Jerusalem, both The New York Times and Washington Post correspondents reported on Friday that Fatah and Hamas gunmen shot it out with each other for seven hours, which left 30 men wounded, but no one killed. And my question: Does the White House believe this was inaccurate reporting, an intentional restraint, or inept shootings?

“And what’s your second question?” Snow said.

“You’d like to evade that. All right.”

“It’s not an evasion, it’s a question – when you ask about White House belief about a shootout, it – no don’t – I know you’ll come up and you’ll say, I’m sorry, they made me ask this question. So I’m just telling the people that made you ask the question, please come up with something a little less provocative than that so that I can answer a fact question, rather than a – …”

Do you have a tough question you’d like to ask the White House? WND’s MR. PRESIDENT! forum is your big chance.

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