Disappearing data challenge for Presiding Bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2011 p 7. June 16, 2011Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
A flap over the ethics of editing the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia has erupted in the Episcopal Church, with conservative bloggers crying foul after staffers at the Episcopal Church’s national offices in New York deleted unflattering information from the biography of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
On March 17, blogger Mary Ailes, author of the popular “Baby Blue” website, reported that a “section of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church’s bio on Wikipedia has gone missing.”
The expunged biographical details concerned the Presiding Bishop’s claim, published by the national church in summary biographies of candidates standing for election as presiding bishop in 2007, that she had served as “Dean of the Good Samaritan School of Theology in Corvallis, Oregon, from 1994–2000.”
Ms. Ailes further reported the redaction had been made by church staffer who stated “I work in the Communication Office at the Episcopal Church Center. Edits made per Bishop Jefferts Schori’s suggestion.”
Critics charged the new presiding bishop had not been entirely straight forward about her career, and after her election, Bishop Jefferts Schori conceded she had perhaps been unclear in her description of the post, as the Good Samaritan School of Theology was not an accredited seminary or theological college but the adult education programme at the parish where she served as an assistant priest.
The story was quickly picked up by other conservative bloggers led by ‘Virtueonline’, who expressed joy at the presiding bishop’s discomfort over the “puffery” in her resume.
A spokesman for the presiding bishop told The Church of England Newspaper the redaction was a “non-story.”
“There was incorrect information and it was corrected. There is no attempt to hide or mislead, just to be accurate,” the spokesman said.
However, James Coder, author of the ‘Viderunt Omnes’ blog argues the real issue at play was the culture of historical revisionism rampant among the upper echelons of the Episcopal Church.
Mr. Coder notes that in 2007 correct but unflattering information about Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison was redacted from Wikipedia. “This is the second time TEC is implicated in serious Wikipedia manipulation,” he said, adding that the “ongoing cover-up, and the original story warrant a good deal of discussion in the Anglican world about our political culture, and how a falsity of this magnitude in a Primatial election too so long to escape our attention.”
Speculation on conservative blog sites continues as to whether this additional information on her resume gave the presiding bishop her one-vote victory in 2007 over Bishop Henry Parsley of Alabama. However, Bishop Jefferts Schori’s margin of victory came with the support of at least four conservative bishops, including one sitting diocesan bishop who has since been deposed by the presiding bishop.
Following the election, four conservative bishops told CEN they had voted for Bishop Jefferts Schori as they wanted to precipitate a crisis and elect, from their perspective, the “worst possible candidate”. One retired bishop explained his vote as being “strategic” as he wanted to see the Episcopal “house of cards” collapse.