In recent years there have been some well-known Episcopalians among the media and entertainment elite. Who can forget Robin Williams’s stand-up routine? The Today Show’s Al Roker is an Episcopalian, as are journalists Juan Williams and Ray Suarez. I once spotted the actor Sam Waterston in an Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and it turns out that he has helped advocate for General Seminary. Lady Gaga worshiped in an Episcopal Church on Super Bowl Sunday this year before she performed at the halftime show.

Among this group is Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, whose Twitter following outstrips the Archbishop of Canterbury 9 to 1. Carlson reaches millions of viewers from the 8 p.m. punditry throne room formerly occupied by Bill O’Reilly. Like another famous Episcopalian, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Carlson is decidedly conservative, if notably more inflammatory.

Carlson cut his teeth in the early days of cable news in the 1990s as a bow-tied know-it-all with a mop top and a boyish grin. Carlson has since given up the bow tie, but he is as puckish as ever in pillorying his left-wing debating partners. He is also active in and informed about the Episcopal Church. He mentions his denominational affiliation humorously in this otherwise tense exchange. In this interview from 2013, he wonders why he still belongs to the Episcopal Church despite its libertinism. Carlson is particularly anguished that the Episcopal Church generally supports gay marriage and abortion rights: “They don’t care at all what God thinks of it, because they actually don’t believe in God.”

Ouch … and yet, I get it.


Why would someone like Carlson stay in the Episcopal Church? He says, “Part of it’s inertia. Part is we really like the people. Part is that’s the world I grew up in. I love the liturgy.” He concludes, “I’m a shallow guy! That’s why I still go to the Episcopal Church.” He, like many conservative Episcopalians, has made his peace uneasily but surely: “I just don’t want to think too hard about my money going to these pompous, blowhard, pagan creeps who run the church!” As one of these creeps, I take his point.

Despite his claim, Carlson is no shallow guy. His roots in Anglicanism run very deep. He is a cradle Episcopalian from California who went to St. George’s School in Rhode Island. There he met his future wife, who is the daughter of Fr. George Andrews, the former headmaster. In 1997 Carlson wrote this piece about the Episcopal Church for The Weekly Standard that reveals not merely a lazy familial attachment to the church, but strong formation and identification within the tradition. He quotes the orthodox evangelical giant, FitzSimons Allison, in lamenting the Episcopal Church’s decline. A man who makes his living arguing on television about the ins and outs of the world wishes the Episcopal Church could transcend the culture. Years before we heard about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, Carlson diagnosed the illness of his own patch of the body of Christ as a sad “vehicle for personal growth.”

Carlson has recently discussed his church membership in this excellent New Yorker piece by Kelefa Sanneh. Sanneh notes that Carlson’s wife deserves the credit for “leading him to faith seriously,” again mentioning that they stick with their denomination despite major objections, most notably to abortion. More generally, Sanneh writes: “In many ways, Carlson is a throwback, and a contradiction: a fierce critic of the political and cultural establishment who is also, unapologetically, a member of it.” The same could be said of his churchmanship — a throwback indeed, and a welcome one.

That Carlson remains a part of the Episcopal Church — and could even be its most famous member —  is illustrative in a few ways. First, he is a reminder that all innovations are provisional. There is no such thing as a “liberal” or “progressive” denomination. The fight for the faith continues on all sorts of strange and familiar battlegrounds, including the dwindling, wayward Episcopal Church. Second, Carlson is a living reminder that there are plenty of conservatives left in the Episcopal Church — some loud, but many quiet. A very liberal seminary professor of mine once earnestly warned a group of mostly liberal ordinands: “Many of your parishioners are going to be a lot more conservative than you are, no matter where you serve.” Third, Carlson’s choice to remain an Episcopalian is a mark of his genuine conservatism, of a variety that few — even those who consistently vote Democrat or march in the streets for the causes du jour — could genuinely condemn. Here Carlson stands alongside English conservatives like Roger Scruton and Peter Hitchens, who are both proud (and critical) Anglicans. Despite how he may be perceived on television, Carlson’s aim is not primarily to destroy others and then run away. He wants to plant roots, build up, and belong. He wants to play a part in great institutions, and fight for them. What more can we ask of Christians in a fallen world? Carlson concludes: “I think there are always going to be some unresolved problems in this life, and real limits on wisdom and human decision-making. Basically, I think our world is truly imperfect, and always will be.”

Indeed. And on this side of judgement day, so is every part of the Church. I’m glad Mr. Carlson and I are in the same part of it together.

About The Author

Andrew Petiprin is Assistant Director in the Office of Faith Formation at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville. He is the author of Truth Matters: Knowing God and Yourself

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27 Responses

  1. Jim Friedrich

    Carlson thinks our church is run by pagans and atheist “creeps” but stays because he loves the liturgy? His endorsement of White House evils – and his association with Fox Noise – says something very sad about either his ability to grasp what the liturgy communicates, or about the effectiveness of formational practices in the churches he attends. In any case, his Anglican self-identification doesn’t seem cause for celebration.

    • Pamela Conley

      I don’t understand how a church says they follow God yet supports the murder of innocent children through abortion. God does not support abortion in any way, shape or form and voting democrat means YOU support this murder. The Democratic party supports abortion before birth, during birth and now…after birth. Black children are aborted three times as much as white children. Where is BLM on this fact?? Where is the outrage by the churches on this??

      • Deborah McCormick

        It is against the Law of God to commit murder. Abortion is MURDER

      • William Johnson

        Yet we pump our fists when we bomb innocent civilians into bloody rags.

      • Peter Arcan

        GOD doesn’t change like a chameleon .We have to denounce every attempt to interfere with our believe.If somebody promotes abortion this person doesn’t have any creed in life.I don’t trust people who pretend to be Christians and in the same time they promote abortion. Killing is taking life of the innocent ,without power.

      • Peter Arcan

        GOD bless you for your strength in the real life as a Christian,

  2. David Bowles

    I’m a cradle Episcopalian and I know longer feel welcome in my church,The progressive socialist ideals of society have replaced truth with relative thinking.The idea of love is wonderful until the boundary of love is shifted to the point were it has no meaning and their is no accountability. The moral law falls away and harming takes place. Under progressive socialism there is know anchor or corner stone to build faith on. The sermons have become weak and the Holy Spirit has mostly disappeared from the church. I stay, hoping and praying new revival happens.

    • Vee Henderson

      Fortunately, our Christ Church, Denver, Colorado is an outpost in the wilderness: orthodox, traditional, charismatic, Biblical and Anglican. And the people there are caring, faithful and prayerful. We are staying.

    • Deborah McCormick

      I feel the same way. I am a practicing Catholic. And I am ashamed that so many Bishops and Cardinals and Priests remain silent and not outspoken about how the Democratic party supports abortion. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  3. Wendy Reichelderfer

    I pray Tucker seeks A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS AS HIS SAVIOR…. and not just be into his “religion” .

  4. Marion Yoder

    Why does it matter what our denomination is? What matters? Life, love and faith. These are the things that every human being is looking and longing for. We all want real life which can only be experienced in a real relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We all want and need to be loved. A basic human necessity that comes from the heart of God the Father through His Son Jesus to us. And real faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen and it’s believing that God exists and that He will reward those who seek for Him.
    These are basic human necessities which every heart looks for. If you are not getting this from your church, then why are you still there? Tradition? Find a church that you get fed Gods word and live In Christ Jesus’ real joy.

  5. Deborah McCormick

    I’m excited joining this group. As a practicing Catholic,I want to see & acknowledge our similarities. God Bless All of You

    • Rolando Ranaglia

      Revelation 21:8 in the Bible says all liars go to hell! Why does Tucker Carlson continue to lie on public TV, yet no one attempts to help him to stop the lying?

  6. Michael Fitzpatrick

    I’m not sure this piece has really aged well. The amount of falsehood and chauvinism that flows out of Tucker Carlson’s mouth on his various media outlets — and I watched Carlson up until early 2021 — staggers the imagination. Whatever he wants to say about “neo-pagan creeps” (I would count myself as both staunchly Episcopalian and as orthodox as anyone), not bearing false witness against our neighbor is far more certain than any position on human sexuality. We do not get to pick and choose the elements of the Gospel. Either let’s do it — all of it — or let’s not do it at all. But capitulating to a culture of falsehood and manipulation — nay, *leading* a culture of falsehood and manipulation, and then getting self-righteous about rejecting gay folk, is not, and must not be what Episcopalian thought and practice should look like.

  7. William Ellot

    what in the world happened to Tucker that he wants All Jews, babies, children and ; all the old and young to roast in the ovens; Even Juan Williams, does not espouse this?

  8. Point 328: Tucker Carlson is the biggest fool and cynical liar in all of America – Levkiv@Info

    […] Tucker Carlson’s deceitful inner self was well told by Andrew Petiprin, a former cult minister in an Episcopalian sect. In 2019, Andrew Petiprin left that sect and joined the Roman Catholic Church. And Tucker Carlson continues to stay in this sect, because Tucker is very comfortable there. He is happy to roll around in this sectarian lie as if in oil. Read carefully Andrew Petiprin’s article on the Covenant website «Tucker Carlson, Episcopalian». […]


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