Ordinarily, being conservative is about favouring the old over the new, conserving what has been passed down from previous generations and being cautious about change.
The more extreme Anglican so-called conservatives however have been so keen to "purify" the communion of what they see as undesirable that they have pushed for radical reform.
Largely in response to their demands, the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling for stricter limits to the freedom of member churches, though this proposal has met with strong objections from many in the Church of England and beyond.
These Anglican "conservatives" are perhaps best-known for their hostility to same-sex partnerships. Yet some are also passionately anti-Islamic. Archbishop Peter Akinola, for instance, as well as being vocally anti-gay, appears to believe that in the Muslim-Christian conflict in Nigeria, communal violence can sometimes be justified.
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), which he helped to create, is part of an alliance which seeks to undermine the current leadership of the Episcopal Church. It has launched a "Church and Islam" website, which claims that "The so called 'moderate Islam' within America is no more moderate than the militant Islam of Saudi Arabia … Across the United States and throughout Europe a resurgent Islam has successfully strategised to infiltrate the church and win the loyalty and trust of large numbers of church-goers", and states that "Polite multifaith conversations must never become a substitute for the proclamation of the historic Christian message which we in the American church must assertively declare and defend."
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, is to deliver a lecture in the US on "Aggressive Secularism, Multiculturalism, and the Islamist Threat to Western Culture and Society".
Especially when competition for resources and opportunities is intense, it is all too easy for other communities and countries to be demonised. And the search for a scapegoat for the nation's ills is common to many kinds of society, including those that are irreligious.
So it is not surprising if in some places, including parts of the west, sizeable numbers might be persuaded that Islam as a whole is a threat (not just a minority of Muslims who are extremists).
Yet in the UK, at least, many Anglicans would be uneasy at such rhetoric. To begin with, the notion that there is no such thing as moderate Islam simply does not fit many people's experience.
The claims made by ultra-conservatives such as Akinola that the "practice of homosexuality" is "a terrible violation of the harmony of the eco-system of which mankind is a part", a "self-centred perversion" and "an assault on the sovereignty of God" are unlikely to convince many people with openly gay and lesbian relatives and friends.
Similarly, overblown attacks on Islam may seem offensive to Anglicans who are close to Muslims and know the stereotypes to be untrue.
Besides, many Anglicans horrified by abuses against Christians by Muslim fanatics in Pakistan, Sudan and elsewhere, were also revolted by the expulsion and mass murder of Muslims in Bosnia by fighters inspired by a distorted version of Christianity.
It is all too easy to project evil on to another group, harder to acknowledge that it may be found in one's own community and self. In the Gospels Jesus urges his followers not to be so fixed on the speck in someone's else's eye that they do not notice the log in their own and warns of evil thoughts in the human heart which, if unchecked, may result in harming others.
This does not mean that injustice should not be resisted, but regarding people as good or bad simply on the basis of religion or ideology is risky.
Many Anglicans, including moderate conservatives, are too conscious of their own need to be delivered "from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness" (in the words of the Litany) to be attracted by the simplistic approach of the radical reformers who misleadingly call themselves "conservatives" or "traditionalists".
Their campaigning has to some extent paid off. Yet, in the longer term, many Anglicans in the UK and elsewhere will hold on to values which are at odds with those of the conservatives striving to reshape the communion.
(c) Savitri Hensman was born in Sri Lanka. She works in the voluntary sector in community care and equalities in the UK and she is also a respected writer on Christianity and social justice. She is an Ekklesia associate. This article is adapted with acknowledgements from her Guardian Comment-is-Free column.