- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

While the spiritual nature of Washington's new Episcopal bishop will, we trust, reveal itself in the fullness of time, the politics of John B. Chane's pulpit are already on display, showcasing a leftism that is how to say it? practically corny in its ideological purity.

Following an installation ceremony on Saturday keynoted by a grand old leftist no less antique than the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr. who took the opportunity to redefine President Bush's terrorist "axis of evil" as a triumvirate of "environmental degradation, pandemic poverty and a world awash with weapons" the 58-year-old Bishop Chane on Sunday addressed his flock at the National Cathedral for the first time as bishop. There, as this newspaper described it the following morning, he declared "the church is 'guilty' in its complicity with institutional slavery and narrow-minded in its attitudes toward women and homosexuals."

And that's just for starters. A vocal church liberal, Bishop Chane has inflamed traditionalists with his commitment to the ordination of women and non-celibate homosexuals, as well as to the "blessing" of same-sex unions. But such politics, of course, don't stop at the cathedral door. Considering the bishop's public vows to engage secular Washington, it's worth noting that he has supported needle-exchange programs for drug users and denounced government drug-enforcement policies and interdiction efforts as being a "failure." He has decried public utilities for setting "immoral" rates and called the lack of universal health insurance "a national scandal given the promises of the Constitution" a leap into the penumbras not even Hillary Clinton thought of taking. His jaundiced world view is skewed toward a moral jumble of equivalence among September 11, the Holocaust, the atomic-bombing of Japan, Palestinian terrorism and Israeli self-defense.

Predictably, Bishop Chane hails from the "nothing-justifies-September-11-but" crowd. "Nothing on the created face of this earth can ever justify what was done … on September 11," he wrote last year. "But all of us need to understand that we must not only seek swift justice for those who perpetuated these crimes against humanity, but we must also address with swiftness the search for justice for so many in a part of the world that we have too often neglected or looked to only as a source of benefit."

Or as in a sermon about his trip to Lebanon in February 2001 worse. "It is clear that the billions of dollars in foreign aid given to Israel and the blind support offered the Israeli government by the United States [have] been a hurtful thing to the average citizen of the region," he wrote. He mused about a religious campaign to end Middle Eastern violence and return "the disputed territories" to their "rightful owners." Hint: not likely to be the Israelis.

Meanwhile, Bishop Chane has promised to make Washington the "most exciting diocese in the Episcopal Church." Exciting, perhaps, in the way that a plane crash or a soccer riot is exciting. He didn't say much about spiritual salve for troubled times.

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