Who owns the name ‘Anglican’?

Published June 1, 2004

Anglicans wanting to get online information about General Synod 2004 might have entered “General Synod 2004” or the acronym “gs2004” into a search engine.Either way they were likely to come across two similarly-named Web sites: gs2004.anglican.ca and gs2004.classicalanglican.com. The first, “the Web site for General Synod 2004,” is part of the official domain of the Anglican Church of Canada. The latter, which calls itself “the Canada General Synod portal,” is produced by Anglican laypeople and clergy opposed to same-sex blessings, who also run the Classical Anglican Net News (CANN) under the domain www.anglican.tk. The confusion doesn’t end there. The decision by conservative priests in British Columbia to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and call themselves the “Anglican Communion in Canada” have led the church’s national office to ask its legal counsel to research legal title to the name “Anglican Communion.””Our concern is that the name ‘Anglican Communion in Canada’ is misleading. The Anglican Communion in Canada is represented by the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of the Anglican church. The chancellor, or legal counsel, of General Synod (the church’s national office), Ronald Stevenson, confirmed he is working on the issue, but declined further comment.The fact is that the Internet has become the arena for much of the vociferous debate that is going on in the Anglican Communion over the issue of same-sex blessings in the diocese of New Westminster and the ordination of a gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States. The debate has produced a plethora of unofficial Web sites, many of them using “Anglican” or “Anglican Communion” in their domain names. These Web sites often offer links to other groups sharing sentiments similar to their own, particularly on the issue of same-sex blessings and homosexuality. In Canada, for instance, one individual has registered anglicancommunion.ca, anglicancommuniondioceses.ca and anglicancommunionnetwork.ca, all of which are yet blank. The domains are registered to Toronto resident Sarah Lublink, who also registered classicalanglican.com, the parent Web site for the CANN synod site. That site and the CANN news site have both featured advertisements for the DVD of For Such a Time as This, the most recent national conference of Essentials, a coalition of conservative Canadian Anglican groups. The gathering united orthodox Anglicans from across the country by a video link up.When contacted by Anglican Journal, Ms. Lublink referred questions about the Web site to Michael Daley, a CANN spokesperson.Mr. Daley, who says he operates CANN with volunteers called “web elves,” denies any agenda other than to provide more information to Anglicans about issues of the day. “CANN is not about providing a path for alternative structures, but alternative sources of information,” he said. Asked about the various Web site domains registered, he said that “it is not at all uncommon for individuals to register a plethora of different domain names for websites” and “there is no reason to believe that the church has exclusive use of the term (Anglican). It is simply too broad a descriptor.” A layperson, Mr. Daley said that CANN was created in 1998 “as a news service of the Prayer Book Society of Canada,” and has since then “grown exponentially” into what he describes as a “full-service Anglican Web community” that provides blogs (Web logs, or running commentaries) for conservative theologians like Kendall Harmon of South Carolina and conservative groups like the American Anglican Council.But what’s in a domain name? Under the Canadian Internet Registration Authority rules, Web sites that are named like already existing domains are called “bad faith registrations,” according to Keith Nunn, a Web consultant who has worked with the Anglican Church of Canada. They are domain registrations made “to disrupt the business of a competitor who has the rights to a trademark or trade name,” he added. Meanwhile, Bishop Anthony Burton of Saskatchewan who registered the name www.anglicanchurch.ca to identify his diocesan Web site, and who has been closely allied with conservative Anglican groups, denied any plan to provide parallel Anglican structures. “The boring fact is that we chose www.anglicanchurch.ca a few years ago because it is easy to remember and spell,” he said, adding that he is “opposed to dividing the Anglican Church of Canada up, undermining its work or mission, or setting up agencies to compete with it.” The Internet – a 20th century technology – has been used as an instrument for protest and even insurrection in recent times (like Indonesia, where in the 1990s pro-democracy activists posted information about corruption involving government officials, which eventually led to their downfall.). The global reach and the minimal cost (only about $25 a year for a domain name in Canada) make it a good medium for transmitting information or propaganda. National church officials are mum about their reactions to these Web sites. “I haven’t looked at these Web sites so I can’t say what we would or wouldn’t do,” said Mr. Boyles.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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