William Montgomery Brown

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"Bad Bishop" William Montgomery Brown, 1934.

William Montgomery Brown (1855 – 1937), sometimes called "Bad Bishop" Brown, was an Anglican clergyman and author. Brown, of Galion, Ohio was consecrated a Bishop of the Episcopal Church, but is best remembered as the first Anglican Bishop to be tried for heresy since the Reformation, and the first of any creed in America to be deposed for heretical teachings.

Biography[edit]

Brown's evolution from Anglican missionary priest at Grace Episcopal Church (1883–1891), to author of The Church for America (1895), which explained the beliefs of the Episcopal Church, to Bishop of Arkansas (1899-1912), to finding an interest in Marxism, socialism, and Communism during the 1910s, to author of Communism and Christianism (1920), dramatically increased and challenged his influence in the church. It led to his heresy trial by the House of Bishops in 1924-25.

There he tried to prove to his fellow Bishops that they did not believe in a strict interpretation of the Bible any more than he then did. While awaiting the final verdict on his deposition as Bishop in October 1925, he was offered a place in both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Catholic Church. He opted for the latter and was consecrated an Old Catholic bishop in a ceremony conducted in his own study (originally St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church) in Galion. Because Old Catholic orders were accepted as valid by the Episcopal Church in the USA, Bishop Brown's position as a bishop in Apostolic Succession could not be challenged by his former church. Many Old Catholic bishops and churches of the present count Bishop Brown as in the line of succession of their bishops.

Brown felt that his real ministry began at age 71 when he started lecturing to the working class and writing a wider variety of books. This continued until his death in 1937.

Brownella Cottage in Galion Ohio was Brown's home from its construction 1885-1887 until his death, except for the years in Arkansas. It was built for Brown and his wife, Ella Scranton Bradford, by her aunt and adoptive mother, Mary Scranton Bradford, the wealthy philanthropist of Cleveland. The house reflected both the Bradford wealth and the high style of 1880s architecture in the United States. The house still stands as part monument to Brown, part museum for the town of Galion.

Works[edit]

Cover art for the paperback edition of Teachings of Marx for Girls and Boys (1935).
  • The crucial race question; or, Where and how shall the color line be drawn. 1907
  • Communism and Christianism, analyzed and contrasted from the Marxian and Darwinian points of view. At least after 1928, Galion, Ohio, Bradford Brown educational company, inc.
  • Teachings of Marx for girls and boys. 1935
  • Human meaning of Christian doctrines
  • My heresy; the autobiography of an idea. New York, John Day, 1926.
  • Why I am a Communist. Galion, Ohio, Bradford Brown Publ. Co., 1932[citation needed].
  • Communism, the new faith for a new world. Bishop Brown's appeal to Chicago's World Parliament of Religion [sub-title from cover]. Galion, Ohio The Bradford-Brown Educational Co.[citation needed]1935
  • Science and History: For Girls and Boys
  • The Christian Way Out: A Criticism
  • The Level Plan for Church Union
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of the Trial
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of Other Heretics in the Episcopal Church
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of the World and the Church
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of Science
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of Philosophy
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of Sociology
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of the Bible
  • The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism from the Viewpoint of History

Footnotes[edit]

Further reading[edit]