Posted by Kendall Harmon

When a bomb threat targeted the Thier Galerie shopping mall in Dortmund in July, police rushed to the scene and asked to scour closed-circuit camera recordings.

There wasn’t much footage to go through. An attempt by the mall operator to ramp up video surveillance last fall had been vetoed by local authorities who feared an assault on patrons’ privacy.

“You can’t just say you want to have more cameras,” said Heike Marzen, the mall’s manager. “There are certain laws we have to follow.”

Branded by its dictatorial past, when surveillance was both dreaded and commonplace, Germany has some of the world’s toughest privacy laws. But after two attacks claimed by Islamic State and a mass shooting this summer, the government is pushing to recalibrate the balance between security and anonymity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year, [Rob] Dewey wants as many tri-county churches as possible to sign up to remember first responders on 9/11 this year. The 15th anniversary falls on a Sunday, and many people will be in church at the time of the attack.

“What we’re trying to do is encourage the churches to remember our local first responders who have put themselves in harm’s way,” Dewey said. “This is a chance for congregations to say, ‘We appreciate you.’ ”

Dewey, senior chaplain of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, serves with 40 departments in the tri-county area who respond to emergencies. He plans to spread the word to the first responders who he works with on a daily basis about which churches will be recognizing and celebrating them that Sunday.

Churches can do anything: a reception for first responders and their families, a color guard or honor guard, speakers who were connected to the attack, or include first responders in the service.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* South Carolina

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Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reverend was well aware the thousands he spent on raffle tickets could have purchased multiple similar weapons. He said he not only wanted to get the rifle off the street, but also wanted to make sure he funded the girls' trip.

The brouhaha started when Lucas announced his plans to destroy the rifle. After garnering plenty of local press, the Washington Post picked up the story and Lucas told the paper he had picked up the rifle from a gun store, but had left the rifle at the home of a "responsible gun owner" who offered to keep the weapon locked in a gun safe.

The only problem? As of May 11, 2015, any transfer of a firearm, even between private parties when no money changes hands, requires a full background check.

Read it all and you can find a brief bio of the minister Jery Lucas there.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted August 5, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in the UK are setting an example of how to combat hate crimes and racist abuse within their communities, after the divisive EU referendum vote.

The Community and Urban Affairs division of the Church of England highlighted some of these programmes in a new document, Hate-busters and Neighbour-lovers, published last week.

It lists statements, hashtags, welcome events, training, and worship as examples of ways in which dioceses across the country are promoting inclusion, and tackling racism in their communities.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, wrote in an open letter in June that, despite “some deep divisions to emerge in our nation” since the UK voted to leave the EU, the diocese would be “keeping the values of welcome, inclusion, and international friendship at the heart of our communities”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2016 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In early August 2015 one of Porritt’s junior colleagues (who asked for his name to be withheld) was looking at CCTV images from the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where he had worked as a beat cop. The officer noticed the same, smartly dressed thief – the man the team later nicknamed McNulty – in two stills taken in upmarket shops. Snap. Then another, and another – snap, snap. As he broadened his search to other affluent boroughs of London, the officer kept seeing the same face. He printed out the images of the serial shoplifter and tacked them to a wall in the office. He told me: “When I had 13 or 14 crimes, I said to Eliot, ‘There’s £35,000 worth of goods stolen by this guy. We need to do something.’”

They downloaded the CCTV clips from where the stills had been taken. McNulty’s hands were so fast that in some cases the officers had to slow the footage down to ascertain exactly when the theft had occurred.

“I hate using the words ‘talented’ or ‘good’ for a criminal, when they could be so many better things, like a street magician or a dextrous watchmaker,” said Porritt. “But when we watched him [McNulty], it was like: ‘That’s good.’”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it.

In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The charge is based on the allegation that Mr. Young bought gift cards worth $245 and sent their code numbers to someone he believed had joined ISIS in Syria, to help the group pay for mobile phone messaging with its supporters in the West.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He was the senior Newcastle cleric with a prominent role on the Anglican Church’s sexual abuse working group in 2003 that developed national professional standards.

But the 13th Anglican Dean of Newcastle, Graeme Lawrence, was also in a “gang of three” protecting a notorious Hunter paedophile priest, and led a Griffith group of offenders to the Hunter who were later defrocked after child sex allegations, the royal commission has heard.

Over the next two weeks the commission will hear evidence Mr Lawrence’s power and influence protected child sex offenders for several decades, but did not end with his defrocking in 2012.

“It is anticipated there will be evidence that Lawrence had, and continues to have, considerable influence in the diocese,” counsel assisting Naomi Sharp told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sitting in Newcastle on Tuesday.

Read it all from the Newcastle Herald.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Lagos Mainland, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Adebayo Dada Akinde, has condemned the proposed immunity for members of the National Assembly.

The bishop spoke yesterday while addressing newsmen in his office in Lagos on the 10th anniversary of his church and his retirement from active service on August 23, as he attains the age of 70.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A devastating story of mass child rape perpetrated by an Anglican paedophile ring is unfolding in the latest hearing of Australia's Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

The first day of the two-week sessions heard of the crimes perpetrated by Rev Peter Rushton, an Anglican priest who was Archdeacon of Maitland and who died in 2007.

His catalogue of child rape and abuse was finally exposed by an ABC investigation. He led a paedophile ring involving other clergy and lay people from the Newcastle diocese over as many as four decades.

Rushton's godson, Paul Gray, told how he was taken to St Alban's School for Boys in Hunter Valley. This was the 1960s, and boys would be anally and orally raped by groups of men in a locked room called the "f***ing room", according to Daily Mail Australia.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should truth in adver­tising laws apply to religious claims? Should governments be in the business of defining authentic miracles? Which pastors are genuine, and which are fakes?

However fanciful such questions might seem, all these issues are very much alive in contemporary Africa. The Christian upsurge of the past half century has been marked by widespread claims of healing and miracles, often in the context of charismatic revivals and crusades. As in any such great awakening since apostolic times, a number of wild and bizarre claims have been made, and there is some evidence of active fraud. Every society has its own versions of Elmer Gan­try, people who use religious deception as a money-making tool. The question then arises of who is meant to regulate or suppress such outbreaks.

One early attempt oc­curred in Nigeria in 2004, when the National Broad­casting Commission tried to prohibit anyone from showing “unverifiable” miracle healings on television.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryReligious Freedom / Persecution* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is just the latest intervention by Christian figures in political debates on the matter. Jozef De Kesel, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium, which has the world’s most liberal assisted-dying laws, suggested in January that the country’s church-run hospitals should be allowed to opt out of helping patients end their lives. And in June Pope Francis said to a group of Spanish and Latin American doctors that “true compassion does not marginalise anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude, much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” He cautioned against a “throwaway culture that rejects and dismisses those who do not comply with certain canons of health, beauty and utility.” Life is sacred, he added, and should shine “with greater splendour precisely in suffering and helplessness”.

Research shows that religious people are more likely than the non-religious to oppose assisted dying. But there is wide variation between faiths. A survey of Britons, carried out by YouGov in 2013, found that only three in ten Muslims felt the law should be changed to allow close friends and relatives to help people with incurable diseases take their own lives, should they wish to do so. Around half of Hindus and Sikhs surveyed agreed, and six in ten Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Buddhists. Seven in ten Jews, and 77% of Anglicans, supported such a change in the law. For comparison, 85% of people who claimed no faith were in favour of legalising assisted dying.

Some Anglican leaders are starting to shift their positions. The general synod of the Anglican church in Canada, where doctor-assisted dying was recently legalised, has written guidance on the issue for its congregation. Though it does not go as far as to support doctor-assisted dying, it does not oppose its legalisation, either. “The societal and legal context within which the pastoral and prophetic ministry of the church takes place has shifted,” it notes.

Read it all (their title, it would never be mine).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanadaEuropeBelgium* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships

On Friday, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Act 2016 came into force on the Isle of Man following its approval by Tynwald earlier this year. It will be remembered that homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1992 and official recognition for same-sex couples was not available until 2011, when civil partnerships were introduced. An important aspect of the new law is that it permits opposite-sex couples to enter civil partnerships and, even though it is not part of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man has become the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to offer such a choice to heterosexual couples.

We will watch with interest the response of the Diocese of Sodor and Man to these developments – perhaps this is something to be left for the in-tray of the next Lord Bishop, following the retirement of Robert Paterson on 11 November 2016?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has begun a “rapid evidence assessment” as part of its investigation into the Anglican Churches in England and Wales, the Inquiry’s Counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, said this week.

Mr Emmerson made his com­ments on Wednesday at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, Lon­don, where Justice Lowell Goddard was holding a series of preliminary hearings into the Inquiry’s different strands.

He revealed that the Inquiry’s research team was sifting through information and evidence from 114 different sources. Among them was the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, which had sup­plied over 7000 items of evidence relating to the diocese of Chichester and the case of Bishop Peter Ball, which are being used as case studies by the Inquiry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 29, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We welcome todays update on the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales and the acknowledgment from the Inquiry that the material already submitted is relevant and useful. We note that the Inquiry has received a substantial amount of material from us and other core participants and the analysis of this is now underway as is the process of identifying possible witnesses....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living as I do just east of Seattle, I’ve been waiting for a magazine to do the definitive profile of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Wash., florist who’s getting sued to the nines for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay friend (and long-time customer).

Whereas the New Yorker and the Atlantic have sat this one out, the Christian Science Monitor team stepped in. Their Stutzman piece, which ran last week, leans over backward to give the facts linked to the florist’s side of the story, as well as the views of her critics.

It is part of an intriguing series of seven stories on religious liberty and gay rights and it’s the best treatment I’ve seen yet. The lead story discusses how gay rights is pushing many religious Americans into a corner where they feel compelled to support behaviors their faith condemns as immoral. Look for the Russell Moore quote about the sexual revolution not tolerating public dissent and the John Inazu quote about what will happen to our society when faith-based organizations – if stripped of their nonprofit status – cease to provide social services to the hungry, poor and homeless.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For its modest size and relatively apolitical ethos, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seems to be having more than its share of days in court. Three years ago the Supreme Court unanimously vindicated one of its congregations in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recognized that churches have broad autonomy over whom they hire. This fall the justices will take up Trinity Lutheran v. Pauley, a dispute over whether states can deny funds to schools with religious affiliations.

Now the synod’s two million members may have reason to anticipate yet another day in court. Last week in Milwaukee the church’s triennial convention passed a resolution, by a 946-89 vote, committing to support “those who have a religious and moral objection to women participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft.” The text of the final resolution built on proposals by more than three dozen congregations, circuits, districts, or commissions of the synod.

That such a measure was even brought to a vote indicates how swiftly the country’s legal and political culture has been changing. A similar proposal mooted only three years ago was dismissed as unnecessary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Primate of Australia Archbishop Philip Freier has expressed solidarity with Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers before a Royal Commission public hearing in Newcastle on August 2.

Archbishop Freier said evidence of clergy sexual abuse and predatory behaviour in Newcastle that included a former bishop was “shocking and distressing”.

“We express our solidarity with and prayers for Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers who have worked diligently to end the culture of abuse and silence within the diocese,” the archbishop said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A line has been crossed in Turkey. You had people who were standing up to the military, but once they stopped the soldiers, they didn’t stop themselves. They lost control. And now they feel they can do whatever they want.

This happened in Istanbul, not in Aleppo. In Aleppo, there is no law, there are no rules, there is anarchy. We’re still in Turkey here. You’re a democracy fighter, you have stopped the army, that’s fine. But once you stop the army, once the soldiers give up, you stop and you tell the world, look what we have done. And they didn’t.

I couldn’t sleep last night. I am preparing for anything. It’s not easy for me. This is my home. I shoot conflicts in other countries and then I come back home. But now I’m preparing for anything to happen in my home.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent failed coup attempt in Turkey raises lots of questions, most of which are well beyond the scope of this blog. However, there are two matters that are very much our concern: freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the more general issue of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

​Zosima/Dostoyevksy then pushes the idea further:
But when he knows that he is not only worse than all those in the world, but is also guilty before all people, on behalf of all and for all, for all human sins, the world’s and each person’s, only then will the goal of our unity be achieved. For you must know, my dear ones, that each of us is undoubtedly guilty on behalf of all and for all on earth, not only because of the common guilt of the world, but personally, each one of us, for all people and for each person on this earth.
This suggests that, in some sense, we are responsible for police brutality; for the decay of the inner city; for police shootings; for lack of sympathy with law enforcement; for politicians and social activists, left and right, that have inadvertently fostered a culture of violence; and so on—“for all people and for each person on this earth.”

To be honest, I don’t quite know what this fully means. We are so locked into an individualistic worldview, that Dostoyevsky’s idea is hard to grasp. But I sense he’s on to something, and we hyper-individualistic Christians would be wise to heed it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In these difficult times, we must reject these false choices. Acknowledging that black life has historically been devalued does not inherently devalue the lives of others. Advocating for more and better community policing can happen in a manner that doesn’t marginalize law enforcement. Bearing witness to the legacy of racial division in our community does not undermine the necessary steps toward progress. It is possible to deplore and mourn the conditions surrounding the death of Mr. Sterling and those of Officers Jackson, Gerald and Garafola. We can oppose unnecessary, excessive force just as zealously as we oppose violence against the police.

Officer Jackson not only understood this as a black male police officer, he modeled it for us. In a Facebook post from July 8 he wrote:
I’m tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments…. I swear to God, I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat…. I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you.
That quotation was shared with me in the initial hours after the shooting. Before the news released the names of the officers, friends of the families were hearing through social media. Upon learning of his death, a friend showed me Officer Jackson’s Facebook page. My friend described him as a “true community police officer.” Officer Jackson’s haunting comments caution us against reductionist thinking. He openly wrestled with his identity as a police officer and a black man. He called on his family and his colleagues to not let hate infect their hearts. He understood the complexities of the moment. He set the example for how we all must proceed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that he is dead — killed by police minutes after the rampage he carried out on his 29th birthday — much of what is known about Long comes from his vast online trail, where he fashioned himself as a lifestyle guru and activist with fans who were aching to know his life story.

As racial tensions escalated nationwide with the police shootings of black men this month in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killings of five police officers in Dallas, Long's messages grew more pointed.

“I’m not gonna harp on that, you know, with a brother killing the police,” Long said in a video uploaded the day after the Dallas shootings. “You get what I’m saying?”

“It’s justice,” he said. In the same video, he seemed to hint at his own plans: If “anything happens to me … don't affiliate me with anybody.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePsychologyRace/Race RelationsViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Joining me for more on this is our managing editor Kim Lawton and Lisa Sharon Harper of the Christian social justice group Sojourners. She’s the author of the new book The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.

LISA SHARON HARPER: Thank you.

ABERNETHY: On your list of things that need to be done, what’s first?

09HARPER: Number one, we need to deal with the unconscious beliefs that we have about each other. You see, our society is structured according to those beliefs—in fact you go back to Plato, Western civilization, Plato told us back in 360 BC we should structure the republic according to race. But it wasn’t colorized at that point. We colorized it, and then we created a slave-based, race-based slavery system that structured the way we encountered the world. And it creates biases.

KIM LAWTON: And you think though that that’s still having an impact? We’re well beyond slavery now...

HARPER: So imagine 254 years walking around in society and seeing black people in chains, confined in small spaces with overseers. Then another 100 years you see them swinging from trees—this is how criminals are treated in Europe. This is how we came to understand and see black people. And now, when an officer encounters a black person in a car, you actually—he responds to them as if they’re criminal before even meeting them, before listening to their voice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In December 2014, a middle-aged man driving a car in Dijon, France, mowed down more than a dozen pedestrians within 30 minutes, occasionally shouting Islamic slogans from his window.

The chief prosecutor in Dijon described the attacks, which left 13 injured but no one dead, as the work of a mentally unbalanced man whose motivations were vague and “hardly coherent.”

A year and a half later, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slaughtered dozens of people when he drove a 19-ton refrigerated truck through a Bastille Day celebration on Thursday in Nice, France, the authorities did not hesitate to call it an act of Islamic terrorism. The attacker had a record of petty crime — though no obvious ties to a terrorist group — but the French prime minister swiftly said Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was “a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.”

The age of the Islamic State, in which the tools of terrorism appear increasingly crude and haphazard, has led to a reimagining of the common notion of who is and who is not a terrorist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith-based colleges—and religious liberty broadly—face an uncertain future in California. State legislators in Sacramento are considering a bill called the Equity in Higher Education Act, ostensibly to prohibit religious schools from discriminating against students. Yet it would actually create legal ambiguity, forcing judges to wade into the murky waters of theology to disentangle true religious belief from discriminatory animus.

The bill will be put before the California state Assembly Appropriations Committee in August. If enacted, it could spark similar efforts around the country. Yet instead of regulating the internal affairs of religious institutions, California could simply require them to be clear about their rules. This compromise would protect religious liberty, avoid dangerous legal ambiguity and prevent discrimination.

Under current California law, religious colleges that receive state funds can be exempt from antidiscrimination laws. Institutions qualify for exemptions if they are “controlled by a religious organization” and if application of antidiscrimination laws “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.” This is what allows faith-based colleges to, for example, enforce a code of conduct that bans same-sex relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there is one certainty, it is that there will be lawsuits. Within days of Bill C-14 being adopted, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association launched a constitutional challenge, saying the “reasonably foreseeable” clause is discriminatory. A group of Christian doctors has challenged the requirement in Ontario that physicians who have a “conscientious objection” to providing assisted death themselves must, minimally, refer patients to another physician who will. (Quebec resolved this debate by allowing objecting physicians to refer to a neutral third party, to a hospital administrator who will, in turn, find a physician who will carry out a patient’s final wishes.)

Almost all of Canada’s 110 Catholic hospitals have also indicated that they will refuse to provide assisted dying, something that will be particularly problematic in small centres with a single hospital.

Quebec law – like federal law – requires a patient to be terminally ill to be eligible for assisted death. It also requires two physicians to sign off on the request, though at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), a nurse can provide the second signature. This rule change came because doctors appeared to be rejecting many legitimate requests.

Read it all and if necessary another link is there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I shuddered when I heard Eric Garner saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ I wept when I watched Walter Scott turn and run away and get shot and killed from the back. And I broke when I heard the 4-year-old of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother, ‘It’s OK. I’m right here with you,’ ” said Scott, referencing three of the dozens of black men killed by policemen over the past two years.

Scott found an outlet for his pain in a series of scheduled floor speeches this week aimed at starting an honest, if also difficult, conversation about race relations in the United States. His first speech Monday focused on how the wrongful actions of police officers should not overshadow the heroism of others. On Wednesday, Scott expounded on the theme in deeply personal terms.

“While, thank God, I have not endured bodily harm, I have felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted,” he said. “I have felt the anger, frustration, sadness and humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being yourself.”

In addition to sharing his own experiences being profiled by law enforcement because of his skin color, he mentioned his brother, a sergeant major in the Army, who was accused of stealing his Volvo on a road trip from Texas to Charleston. He also spoke of a former staffer who was stopped so many times he felt compelled to buy a different automobile to avoid further scrutiny.

Read it all and take them time to watch the whole speech.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have held off writing about the case of the Episcopal Church (USA)'s lawsuit against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin as it was going through its final stages in the California courts. Today I can do so no longer, because today the California Supreme Court slammed the door shut by denying review of the abysmally egregious decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeal that I wrote about in this post, and this one. Naturally, it wrote no opinion justifying its refusal to grant review, but just issued a one-sentence order.

The result is that the Episcopal Church (USA)'s Machiavellian strategy of organizing a minority group that pretends to be the only diocese in the region after one of its former dioceses votes (by an overwhelming majority of laity and clergy) to realign with a more orthodox denomination has succeeded in California, much the same as it did in Pittsburgh. (But not -- Deo gratias -- in Illinois (Quincy), or [yet] in Fort Worth or in South Carolina [whose highest court has yet to issue its decision, ten months after the oral argument].) So the lawyers for 815 Second Avenue managed to hoodwink the highest judges in both Pennsylvania and California, but not everywhere.

In Pennsylvania, the appellate decisions were unpublished, so no lasting precedent was (thankfully) created....

Read it all and there is more there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A French company that dismissed a Muslim woman for wearing a head scarf when dealing with clients unlawfully discriminated against her, according to an advisory opinion that the European Union’s highest court released on Wednesday.

The opinion — while not the final word in the case — was the latest intervention in a debate in Europe over the role of Islam in public life and the challenge of integrating foreigners, an issue that has gained resonance in recent years with the large influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from Muslim countries. The question of religion in the public sphere is particularly fraught in France, which has a strong tradition of secularism.

In the advisory opinion, Eleanor Sharpston, an advocate general with the European Court of Justice, sided with the Muslim woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who lost her job with Micropole, a French information technology consultancy, in 2009 after she refused to abide by the company’s request that she remove her head scarf when meeting with clients. She took her case to a French court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 protects those alleging non-statutory offences as well as statutory offences and also protects against "jigsaw identification" where members of the public can piece together clues about a complainant's identity.

[Paul] Butler says: "As you will understand, extreme caution is required, particularly in view of the information already in the public domain. It worth stressing that although Carol has shared some details publicly, she has not waived confidentiality in those she has not shared."

Butler says he is "mystified" how the group can believe the Church can disclose documents provided by Carol's solicitor. "On a wider point, it is singularly unattractive to suggest that because there might be no legal consequences to breaching Carol's confidence, the Church should simply provide sensitive material to a group of individuals with a keen interest in but no connection with the case."

Carol has already expressed herself hurt by the campaign to "clear his name" as it implies that she has not been believed, Butler says.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent tragedies around the country have brought people together at various events to discuss the challenges this nation faces. In our own community, many individual citizens and citizen groups are coming together at various public events to mourn those lost last week in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas, and to call for an end to the violence.

The Charleston Police Department is working to ensure that participants in these gatherings are able to exercise their First Amendment rights safely and legally. It will also continue to ensure the safety of the public and businesses in the area.

In the face of tragedy, Charleston has been an excellent example for the nation and the world of how people can come together in love, respect, cooperation and brotherhood. This must continue if we are to move forward in these challenging times.

The City of Charleston and the Charleston Police Department will continue to work diligently with its citizens to keep everyone safe, maintain peace and order, and provide the right to all to express themselves under the law.

These goals will be accomplished by treating all citizens with dignity and respect while carryingout our policing roles and responsibilities in a fair and impartial manner.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* South Carolina

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the real tragedies today is that the Church as a whole has not furthered God’s light, equity, love and principles in our land in order to be a positive influence and impact for good in the midst of darkness, fear and hate.

Far too often, we have limited the definition of the Church. While not in all cases, in many cases, “Church” has become an informational, inspirational weekly gathering rather than the group of people that God has ordained from heaven to operate on his behalf on Earth in order to bring heaven’s viewpoint into history. There needs to be a recalibrating of many of our churches to the unified purpose of the Kingdom of God.

The Church and only the Church has been given the keys to the kingdom, so we have unique access to God that nobody else has. It’s about time more churches start using those keys to unlock doors, so that we get greater heavenly intervention in our earthly catastrophe. This is not to negate or downplay the great work countless churches have done throughout time in our land. I applaud and am grateful for all of it. What we have been ineffective at, though, is a unity that increases our impact on a larger collective level. When we unite as so many churches did during the civil rights movement, we can bring hope and healing where we as a nation need it most.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders failed to give police incriminating evidence about disgraced former Bishop Peter Ball in 1993, according to Sussex police documents.

Ball, 84, was jailed last year for sex assaults on 18 teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Files obtained by the BBC indicate Lambeth Palace received six letters detailing indecency allegations shortly after an arrest in 1992.

Ball was cautioned but worked in churches and schools for 15 more years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Normally, nations pull together after tragedy, but a society plagued by dislocation and slipped off the rails of reality can go the other way. Rallies become gripped by an exaltation of tribal fervor. Before you know it, political life has spun out of control, dragging the country itself into a place both bizarre and unrecognizable.

This happened in Europe in the 1930s. We’re not close to that kind of descent in America today, but we’re closer than we’ve been. Let’s be honest: The crack of some abyss opened up for a moment by the end of last week.

Blood was in the streets last week — victims of police violence in two cities and slain cops in another. America’s leadership crisis looked dire. The F.B.I. director’s statements reminded us that Hillary Clinton is willing to blatantly lie to preserve her career. Donald Trump, of course, lies continually and without compunction. It’s very easy to see this country on a nightmare trajectory....I’m betting the local is more powerful, that the healthy growth on the forest floor is more important than the rot in the canopy. But last week was a confidence shaker. There’s a cavity beneath what we thought was the floor of national life, and there are demons there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A passionate debate on whether the Anglican Church of Canada should bless same-sex marriages came to a head Monday when delegates to their triennial conference voted against authorizing such unions.

More than 200 delegates to the church's six-day General Synod just north of Toronto rejected the resolution after speakers lined up to make their points, with most speaking in favour of the resolution.

In order to pass, the resolution required two-thirds support from each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops.

The bishops voted 68.42 per cent in favour of the resolution, and the lay delegates voted 72.22 per cent in favour. However, the clergy voted 66.23 per cent, just missing the percentage needed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fearful that the nation is locked in a spiral of violence and discord, many Americans took what refuge they could in church on Sunday. In tiny storefronts and suburban megachurches, worshipers mourned the deaths of five Dallas police officers at the hands of an African-American sniper who was aiming to kill white officers at a demonstration against police violence. They also grieved for two African-American men killed in shootings by the police in Baton Rouge, La., and Minnesota.

Some prayed for the souls of the men who pulled the triggers. Some thanked God for the sacrifices the police made daily to protect their cities. Some thanked God for the technology that allowed the world to see controversial acts of police violence toward African-Americans.

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan spoke of a country “worried, frustrated and fatigued over senseless violence.”

“From Minnesota to Louisiana and Texas, one nation under God examines its soul,” he said. “Sadness and heaviness is especially present in our African-American and law enforcement communities.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HOLDEN: Well, there's probably nothing more devastating than that. And so we call what we do, primarily in that regard, ministry of presence. Sometimes it's not just saying something. It's just being there and letting them know that we care. You know, I've been through a number of police funerals, and it's never ever easy, as you can imagine.

MARTIN: Your group has deployed chaplains to places like Ferguson and Baltimore where there's been so much unrest in recent years - days of rioting, emotions so raw. What - what's your role in those situations?

HOLDEN: We work with the community and the police department. So we're there to just pray with people, hug people - we do a lot of hugging just to let them know we care, and certainly with the department as well - but also to try to be a balance between the community and the police department and to be out there in the streets. We - we've become very proactive, just talking with people, you know, just letting them know that we're there for them, whatever their needs might be.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence

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Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our vision, then, is bigger and bolder than social justice. And we pray and work not simply for reconciliation of blacks and whites, but of both, and all, to Jesus Christ. And precisely because this is a bigger and bolder vision, we must not become naively optimistic nor cynically despairing. The great American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr spent his life trying to show this nation a middle way regarding justice, one grounded in realistic hope. And he did so with these telling words in his The Irony of American History:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have no easy answer to the crisis in which we find ourselves as Americans. But this much is clear: Dallas Christians, black and white, of all denominations, are called to stand together. As one we pray for those harmed. We who do so are already one body in Jesus Christ, in spite of all the fault lines in our society. May the Holy Spirit guide us all in discerning the shape of our common witness. May we all be praying for the welfare of our city and all its inhabitants. May He protect all exposed to danger in their work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Decent Americans cannot turn a blind eye to police abuse; they just didn’t really believe the it was happening. Or maybe they didn’t want to believe. Today, there is literally no excuse to be ignorant of the problem.

It would be hard to overestimate the impact that smart phone cameras have had on forcing us to grapple with the fact that this is, in fact, a very real (and all-too-common) problem. The streaming video of the aftermath of the killing of Philando Castile appears to be the latest tragic example. (Note: We still don’t know exactly what happened, so I’m going to withhold judgment on this specific incident—but the video evidence we’ve all seen does not look good for the police.)

And if there’s any good to come from this horrible trend, it may be that the scales are coming off the eyes of a lot of well meaning, if naive, white Americans. My hope is that this will change public opinion to the point that we can change public policy.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Shared Conversations at the General Synod in York this weekend, the Council has issued a Q&A designed to puncture notions that scripture could be compatible with same-sex relationships.

And, writing in the Church Times, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, argues that the authority of the Bible “must not be superseded by pastoral, anthropological, and missional arguments”.

The Church should not be worried about being at odds with cultural norms, says Bishop Henderson, who is the president of the CEEC. “The Christian community has never been called to popularity,” he writes. “The gospel is an offence because of its call to repentance.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A memorial group says the slaying of five police officers in Dallas in an attack blamed on snipers was the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Read it all and go to DFW CBS' website for many local angles.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Victoria leaders in the Anglican church will argue in favour of allowing same-sex marriage at a national council meeting in Ontario this week — which is coincidentally Pride week.

“We’ve been talking about this since the ’60s. … I look at it as a justice issue,” said Logan McMenamie, bishop of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Kingcome Inlet.

The Anglican Church of Canada will discuss and vote on changing the canon definition of marriage from being between a man and a woman to between two persons. Currently, the Anglican church performs blessings for same-sex civil unions.

The vote takes place at the General Synod, a national gathering, held every three years, of the houses that make up the Anglican church: The laity, clergy and bishops. In March, the house of bishops said it was not likely to pass the vote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem voted overwhelmingly...[recently] to break from their national denomination, underscoring a schism that has developed over Presbyterian Church (USA)'s embrace of same-sex marriage and the ordination of [non-celibate] gay ministers.

Out of 1,048 votes, 802 members supported bolting to the more conservative Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a super-majority of 76.5 percent that church leaders say made clear the congregation's wishes.

"We're ready to get back to our most important thing, which is our ministry," the Rev. Marnie Crumpler, pastor of First Presbyterian, said after the vote. "We're just looking forward to moving forward as an ECO Presbyterian Church."

But amid a bitter divorce, the results of the vote will not be accepted by the mainline denomination, said the Rev. David Duquette, an official of the Lehigh Presbytery, a regional arm of the national church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

s it true that all defenders of the traditional definition of marriage act out of “condemnation … animosity … casual and deliberate prejudice… [and] hate” towards same-sex attracted people, as Penny Wong suggests? Well, until a few years ago the senator herself opposed the redefinition of marriage; so did her leader Bill Shorten; and so did a number of other political leaders. I do not think they were being hateful bigots at that time.
Straight politicians don't understand what it's like to hide their relationships in fear

Presumably, their views of marriage and family, or of the needs of same-sex people, or of the proper role of the state and culture etc then supported leaving marriage as it was; presumably, over time they were persuaded differently. Others still hold the position these leaders previously held: why presume they are driven by hate? Could it not be that they have real reasons for supporting the traditional conception of marriage? And real questions about the proposed alternative?

Only a decade ago same-sex marriage was a radical proposal with little support among the major parties or general population. The then Penny Wong was in the vast majority. Shifting opinion might be explained by growing sympathy for those with same-sex attraction or changing views (and increasing confusion) about the meaning of marriage. But another reason might be that people have felt pressured into supporting this social change (or cowed into silence) by fear they will be tagged “bigot” if they don’t.

The fact is that many ordinary Australians are both pro-gay people and pro-traditional marriage....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That conclusion suggests that the body doesn’t matter. When it comes to what fulfills us, we are not personal animals—mammalian thinkers, to put it starkly—who come in two basic forms that complete each other. We are subjects of desire and consent, who use bodily equipment for spiritual and emotional expression. Fittingly, then, has this new doctrine been called a New Gnosticism.

Beyond marriage, this doctrine entails that sex doesn’t matter, or that it matters only as an inner reality. Since I am not my body, I might have been born in the wrong one. Because the real me is internal, my sexual identity is just what I sense it to be. The same goes for other valuable aspects of my identity. My essence is what I say and feel that it is.

The doctrine is also individualistic. On the old view, you could know important things about me unmediated, by knowing something about my body or our shared nature. And our interdependence as persons was as inescapable as our physical incompleteness and need: as male and female, infants and infirm. But if the real me lies within, only I know what I am. You have to take my word for it; I can learn nothing about myself from our communion. And if I emerge only when autonomy does—if I come into the world already thinking and feeling and choosing—it’s easy to overlook our interdependence. I feel free to strike out on my own, and to satisfy my desires less encumbered by others’ needs.

But again, mere acceptance of this vision of the person isn’t enough to explain Obergefell. The Court did not simply allow new relationships; it required their recognition as marriages, as similar to opposite-sex bonds in every important way. In other words, it didn’t simply free people to live by the New Gnosticism. It required us, “the People,” to endorse this dogma, by forbidding us to enact distinctions that cut against it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The uncertainty generated has left a series of questions that serves no-one well, least of all the alleged victim.

For that reason, we welcome an announcement this week that the Church of England has launched an independent review into the processes regarding the settlement.

The review is a matter of standard procedure and is not intended to undermine the original decision, but we trust its remit will go beyond mere process without adding further to the distress of the woman involved.

Bell was too important a figure to have his reputation trashed without full transparency and disclosure in the public domain.

Read it all.


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Posted June 30, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the new dispensation, traditional restrictions and attitudes are viewed as judgmental, moralistic forms of socially sanctioned aggression, especially against women and sexual minorities. These victims of sexuality have become the new secular saints. Their virtue becomes their rejection and flouting of traditional sexual morality, and their acts are effectively transvalued as positive expressions of freedom. The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong. Note the absolutist character of these beliefs as they play out in practice. For example, it is precisely the sacrosanct, nonnegotiable status assigned to contraception and abortion that explains why — despite historical protestations of wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” — in practice, secularist progressivism defends each and every act of abortion tenaciously, each and every time.

Read it all.

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced today in accordance with the House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases.

The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future serious safeguarding situations. A review has always been carried out in any case involving allegations against a bishop.

The review will be commissioned by the Church of England's National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled. The case involves the settlement in 2015 of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958.

Read it all.

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The California legislature is poised to consider legislation that could destroy the ability of numerous faith-based colleges and universities to pursue the mission for which they were created. SB 1146, one of two similar bills recently introduced into the California legislature, would essentially restrict fully faith-based education to seminaries.

As explained in the Biola University news:

If passed as is, this bill would strip California’s faith-based colleges and universities of their religious liberty to educate students according to their faith convictions.

The proposed legislation seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California only to those institutions of higher learning that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This functionally eliminates the religious liberty for students of all California faith-based colleges and universities who integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The goal is to unwind Britain’s 43-year membership of the bloc, disentangle and sever the legacy of shared sovereignty, and then reshape the biggest single market on earth.
Three fundamental issues arise.
On substance, what political and commercial arrangements will Brexit Britain demand and will the EU accept them?
In execution, will the exit deal — the divorce and breaking of old obligations — be struck at the same time as a trade agreement covering post-Brexit trade? And if no, is a transition possible to ensure a soft landing?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland--Scotland--WalesEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Are there political implications to much of what takes place at an SBC gathering? Of course there are. You'd have to be blind not to see that. However, it is just as important to listen to the debates about WHY the convention takes some of the stands that it does.

It was nice of AP, in a piece containing very few attributions for quotes from real people, to note that the SBC has not changed its doctrinal stand on the moral status of sexual acts outside of marriage. It would have been nice, however, to have allowed readers to see a few quotes from actual Southern Baptists describing why they supported one type of action for the powerful people who lead the Disney corporation, yet another set of actions for the LGBT victims of a hateful act of terrorism.

Once again, journalists do not have to AGREE with the theological content of these arguments and decisions. But it is inaccurate, flawed, biased journalism to ignore the religious content of these kinds of events. By the way, this happens when journalists cover liberal, "mainline" Protestant events almost as often as it happens with coverage of doctrinal conservatives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyApologeticsEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mpho Tutu-van Furth had to give up her priest’s licence last month when she married a woman. But she believes the Anglican Church of Southern Africa will — with a little divine intervention — come to embrace same-sex marriages....

In May in Franschhoek‚ Tutu married Professor Marcelina van Furth‚ a paediatrician who researches infectious diseases at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The union had the blessing of her parents‚ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and Leah Tutu.

Van Furth is an atheist – but this has not posed a problem. “It seems to work quite well‚” says Tutu-Van Furth. “I respect her atheism‚ and she's interested in Christianity. She comes to church with me‚ sits in a pew‚ listens to the teaching and asks me about it. She sinks into being a peaceful place and meditates while I pray‚ and that's also fine....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a nod to changing times, the Anglican Church of Canada’s latest report on physician-assisted dying, rather than opposing the practice, recognizes it as a reality. The report offers reflections and resources around assisted dying and related issues, such as palliative care.
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down last year a ban on physician-assisted death for the “grievously and irremediably ill” as unconstitutional, notes the paper, entitled In Sure and Certain Hope: Resources to Assist Pastoral and Theological Approaches to Physician Assisted Dying, released Thursday, June 9.

In the wake of this decision, the paper states, “public debate concerning the legal ban on physician assisted dying is in some ways over.”

As a result, the authors continue, “our energy is best spent at this time ensuring that this practice is governed in ways that reflect insofar as possible a just expression of care for the dignity of every human being, whatever the circumstances.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On March 28, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a revision. The phrase “freedom of worship” would be changed to “freedom of religion.” The notice came in a letter from the agency’s director, Leon Rodriguez, to Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who called for the correction last year.

The switch allows the naturalization exam to reflect the actual language of the Constitution: The word “worship” does not appear anywhere in its text, whereas the First Amendment promises “the free exercise” of “religion.” This might look like a slight edit, trivial at best and pedantic at worst. Isn’t “freedom of worship” the same thing as “freedom of religion”?

Not at all, and more is at stake than a semantic squabble over which words immigrants memorize as they prepare to become citizens. Redefining “religion” as merely “worship” diminishes religious freedom by pushing aside important aspects of faith, from street-corner proselytizing to engaging in political life from a religious perspective.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church has conceded that a vote on same-sex marriage this week risks putting it at odds with the remainder of the Anglican Communion.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, said the potential split was “a very serious issue” for the Scottish church but added that all sides were committed to maintaining unity.

Members of the church will be asked on Friday to consider a change to canon law, which currently states that marriage must be between a man and a woman, at its General Synod.

Read it all from the (London) Times (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava: “All dharmas [truths, or religions] are equally valid.” Indians often cite this noble maxim, which was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and the country’s constitution remains firmly secular and democratic. In recent years, though, the country’s religious outlook has darkened to the point that minorities—including both Christians and Muslims—face dangers of severe persecution and violence.

The fact that that threat receives little attention in the West says much about our stereotypes of other world religions. If we saw a situation where tens of millions of Christians were being similarly maltreated by a Muslim regime, Western media and policy makers would speak out vigorously. But when the enemies of religious liberty are Hindu, members of a faith that Americans idealize, the public silence is deafening.

Although India’s Chris­tians do not represent a large proportion of the country’s vast population—only about 3 percent—they number about 40 million, comparable to the larger European nations. India’s Christians suffer from multiple disadvantages, especially because so many derive from people of low or no caste or from tribal communities on the margins of Hindu society. Official reluctance to accept the reality of conversions makes it difficult to assess the true extent of Christian numbers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A private Christian university that forbids sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage will be in Ontario's top court this week, seeking a green light for its proposed law school after the province's law society denied it accreditation.
It's the latest legal battle for British Columbia-based Trinity Western University, which is fighting similar cases at appeal courts in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
The case that will be heard Monday at Ontario's Court of Appeal sees the university go up against the Law Society of Upper Canada, with both sides arguing the other is being discriminatory.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was something unique about DCI Julie MacKay’s statement outside Bristol Crown Court on May 9 this year - the day Christopher Hampton admitted his guilt in murdering 17-year-old Melanie Road in 1984.

MacKay spoke from the heart; blonde hair whipped by the wind, barely using her notes, and in a way that was so personal, so affecting, that she single-handedly showed the human face of Britain’s police.

Her conviction that she would find Melanie’s killer - and her belief in her own intuition – shone through. Here was DCI Jane Tennison, played expertly by Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect, brought to life.

“I can’t describe it, but I always knew I was going to be the one to solve Melanie Road, she tells me. “I could feel it right here in my tummy.”

Read it all from the Sunday Telegraph.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilySexualityViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How to navigate this new reality? Most conservative Christians fall into one of three broad camps.

There are those who are determined to even more fiercely wage the culture wars, demanding the broadest possible religious exemptions from recognizing same-sex marriage.

There are those who plan to withdraw as much as possible into their own communities to preserve their faith —an approach dubbed the "Benedict Option," for a fifth-century saint who, disgusted by the decadence of Rome, fled to the forest where he lived as a hermit and prayed.

There is, however, a segment that advocates living as a "...[dissenting] minority," confidently upholding their beliefs but in a gentler way that rejects the aggressive tone of the old religious right and takes up other issues, such as ending human trafficking, that can cross ideological lines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A federal jury in Minnesota has found three young men guilty of plotting to join ISIS and commit murder overseas, in a case in which six other men have already pleaded guilty. All of the men are Somali-Americans who are in their early 20s; they now face maximum sentences of life in prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days after having been stripped and dragged through the streets of her village in the most undignified and inhumane of ways, the gracious and forgiving response of Soad Thabet, an elderly mother and grandmother, is both courageous and inspiring.

The ethos of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt has always been one of forgiveness, as was particularly evident in its peaceful and reconciliatory response to the burning of over one hundred churches and places of ministry in August 2013, and following the brutal execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last year. Having said that, there is currently a rejection of conventional ‘reconciliation meetings’ based on the fact that they have historically been used as a cosmetic short-term solution, without addressing root causes or preventing the recurrence of similar incidents. Despite an ongoing commitment to genuine reconciliation efforts, there is an immediate and pressing need for tangible solutions, as superficial measures that aim to pacify will by no means have a lasting effect, and can never lead to true reconciliation and social cohesion.

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities or individuals, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations; and that an elderly woman could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s initial denial that these crimes actually occurred.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How many Southern Baptists are there in the greater Houston area, out of a population of four to six million people?

This is not an easy question to answer, just poking around online. It doesn't help, of course, that Texas Baptists are a rather divided bunch and things have been that way for several decades. But one thing is sure, there are hundreds of Southern Baptist congregations in the area and several of them are, even in Donald Trump terms, YYHHUUGGEE.

Now, the important journalism question – when looking at Houston Chronicle coverage of Baylor University issues – is whether there are any Southern Baptists, or even former Southern Baptists, who work on this newspaper's copy desk or in its suite of management offices.

Can I get a witness?!? Is there anybody there who knows anything about events in recent Southern Baptist life and how they affect the news?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & CultureSexualitySportsViolenceYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More recently, Notre Dame historian George Marsden — a self-described “Augustinian Christian” and so something close to an evangelical, whatever that still means — has argued in his book “The Twilight of the American Enlightenment” that religious traditionalists and secularist liberals can avoid a great deal of acrimony by defenestrating the midcentury idea of a “neutral” public sphere and instead adopting what he and others have termed “principled pluralism.” More recently still, in his new book “The Fractured Republic,” the scholar and journalist Yuval Levin, a Jewish social conservative, has counseled both religious conservatives and secularist liberals that they can repair our dysfunctional politics by comprehending the implications of this one essential truth: that American society is no longer the consolidated unit it once was but a diffuse assortment of subcultures.

True, many religious social conservatives still think it’s their duty to take America back, their disposition expressed in the fierce eloquence of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). But many do not. Many have finally given up on the whole idea of a culture war or are willing to admit they lost it. They are determined only to remain who they are and to live as amiably and productively as they can in a culture that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t belong to them.

In time, this shift in outlook may bring about a more peaceable public sphere. But that will depend on others — especially the adherents of an ascendant social progressivism — declining to take full advantage of their newfound cultural dominance. I see few signs of that, but I am hopeful all the same.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 2:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This isn’t the headline in most of the UK media, for some reason, which appears to prefer singling out Muslims and hijabs. There’s nothing quite like a bit of Islamomania in a morning to go with your toast and marmalade, is there? ‘Top EU court adviser backs workplace Muslim headscarf ban‘, says the BBC. ‘EU’s top judge backs workplace ban on headscarves‘, writes the Independent. ‘Senior EU lawyer backs workplace ban on Muslim headscarves‘, proclaims the Guardian., above a picture of Muslim women wearing sky-blue burqas (which the Guardian calls a ‘headscarf’) emblazoned with the stars of the EU flag. ‘Top European Union court adviser says employers should be allowed to ban Islamic headscarves‘, says the Evening Standard, while the Express goes with: ‘Bosses can ban Muslims wearing headscarves at work‘.

It’s left to the Telegraph to take a more equitable and accurate approach to headlines: ‘Bosses can ban headscarves and crucifixes, EU judge says‘, they write (noting that ‘crucifix’ sounds a bit meatier than ‘cross’ in the spectrum of hallowed bling). But even this doesn’t extend to kippahs, tichels, turbans or karas. Why not just say: ‘Bosses can ban religious clothing and jewellery in the workplace’? Or does that leave hanging the fuzzy question of facial hair? Should hirsute tendencies be exempt? If so, why?

The legal opinion (HERE in full) was issued by Juliane Kokott, an Advocate General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in response to clarification sought by a Belgian court on what precisely is banned under anti-discrimination laws, following the dismissal of a receptionist who refused her employer’s request not to wear her hijab at work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Abuja of the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion), has said that the renewed pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta, was not in the best interest of Nigeria. It therefore urged those behind the bombing of oil installations in the region to desist from the act. The Church called on the Niger Delta Avengers to cease hostility against the government while embracing dialogue, noting that Nigeria, currently engaged in many battles cannot afford to start another one with militants in the Niger Delta. The Primate Of The Church Of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, made this remark in his Presidential Address to the 3rd Session of the 9th Synod of Abuja Diocese, held at All Saints Church, Wuse. While urging the Federal Government to also tread cautiously in its attempts to resolve the growing crises in the Niger Delta, the Church called on it to seek collaboration with the host communities in its efforts to secure all pipelines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the behaviors and beliefs of Christians mirror those of their unbelieving neighbors, it is evidence that the Church is a product of the culture it is called to transform, and that instead of producing disciples, it has been turning out "belonging nonbelievers," if not "functional atheists."

So, if you want find fault for the recent Court ruling, look no further than the doorstep of the Church and a decades-long ethos of non-discipleship Christianity. The thing is, the solution to our national condition starts at the same threshold.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the case will return to Adams County (assuming the Church litigators do not waste everyone's time and money with a request for leave to appeal again to the Illinois Supreme Court), the stay against those actions will be lifted, and they can proceed. However, like the claim to the moneys in the bank, the claims in these suits will not be proceeding in a vacuum. Twice now the Illinois Court of Appeals has held that ECUSA had no enforceable trust interest in property held for parishes. The first of those decisions also dealt with the ineffectiveness of the Dennis Canon to create any such trust under Illinois law. It is likely, therefore, but not certain, that these last few isolated claims will fare the same fate as the others. (No one ever made anything by trying to predict what a particular court will decide to do.)

It is nonetheless deplorable that the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA sees fit to allow his litigators to continue to waste the Church's trust funds and pledge income on litigation for purely punitive purposes. One has to wonder, when it comes to going after realigning dioceses and parishes, just who is in charge of ECUSA after all these years. The irony is that a person who acts as his own attorney (or lets his attorney make all the decisions, which comes to the same thing) has, as those of us in the profession happily admit, "a fool for a client."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts SchoriMichael CurryTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A massive wildfire burning around the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta, is about 1 km (1,094 yards) away from Enbridge Inc's Cheecham crude oil tank farm, but is under control for now, emergency officials said on Monday.

The blaze near the tank farm was stable because the wind was cooperating as Enbridge's industrial firefighters tackled the blaze, the officials said at a news conference.

The entire population of Fort McMurray, about 90,000 people, were forced to flee the Canadian city nearly two weeks ago as the uncontrolled wildfire raged through some neighborhoods and destroyed about 15 percent of structures.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 5:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amy Moses and her circle of self-employed small-business owners were supporters of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: “We don’t take Obamacare,” the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation.

“Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system,” said Ms. Moses, describing the emotional sting of those words to a successful entrepreneur.

“Anytime one of us needs a doctor,” she continued, “we send out an alert: ‘Does anyone have anyone on an exchange plan that does mammography or colonoscopy? Who takes our insurance?’ It’s really a problem.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Netherlands has seen a sharp increase in the number of people choosing to end their own lives due to mental health problems such as trauma caused by sexual abuse.

Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an "insufferable" mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists .

In one controversial case, a sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with the procedure as she was suffering from "incurable" PTSD, according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 14, 2016 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. Remember, they were the ones who characterized constitutional disputes as culture wars (see Justice Scalia in Romer v. Evans, and the Wikipedia entry for culture wars, which describes conservative activists, not liberals, using the term.) And they had opportunities to reach a cease fire, but rejected them in favor of a scorched earth policy. The earth that was scorched, though, was their own. (No conservatives demonstrated any interest in trading off recognition of LGBT rights for “religious liberty” protections. Only now that they’ve lost the battle over LGBT rights, have they made those protections central – seeing them, I suppose, as a new front in the culture wars. But, again, they’ve already lost the war.). For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pictures obtained by the BBC show large parts of the Canadian city of Fort McMurray in ruins following a devastating wildfire.

The exact scale of the damage is difficult to assess, as access to the city is restricted.

Officials have given few details other than to report that 1,600 homes and other buildings have been destroyed.

However, people who have seen the damage say whole neighbourhoods have been wiped out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 6:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wildfires spreading around Canada’s oil-sands hub of Fort McMurray may become the costliest catastrophe in the country’s history with losses potentially reaching C$9.4 billion ($7.3 billion).

Insurance losses could reach that high if nearly all homes, cars, and businesses in the Fort McMurray area were destroyed and owners filed a claim to insurers, according to a research note to clients from Bank of Montreal analyst Tom MacKinnon. He said it’s more likely that one-quarter to half of assets would be damaged, leading to total insurance industry losses of C$2.6 billion to C$4.7 billion, as much as quadruple the costliest Canadian natural disaster.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted May 6, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although a consistory court has a discretion to take into account pastoral considerations relating to a bereaved family, the churchyard rules must not be disregarded when erecting memorials in a churchyard.

Unauthorised memorials that violate those rules are a trespass, and liable to be removed by the PCC or on the orders of the Chancellor of the diocese. The fact that there were older memorials that had been installed without authorisation in the churchyard was not a reason for allowing more recent unauthorised memorials to remain there, the Consistory Court of the diocese of Durham said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Alberta city is under the province's largest fire evacuation order as a massive wildfire enveloped the region.

Approximately 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray and area were told to leave their homes Tuesday.

According to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, 80 per cent of the houses in the neighbourhood of Beacon Hill were destroyed by the powerful blaze.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted May 5, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although Bill C-14 unavoidably damages the value of respect for life and puts vulnerable Canadians at risk, its goals include, as its preamble recognizes, maintaining respect for human life at both individual and societal levels and the protection of vulnerable people. Achieving those two goals demands another goal be explicit in the preamble: not allowing medically assisted suicide to become part of the norm for how we die.

So how can we, as far as possible in the current circumstances, achieve these three goals?

The conditions legislated for qualification for hastened death will be critical. They must be very limited and strictly controlled; they underline that it is an exceptional intervention, limited to adults competent at the time of death, terminally ill from a physical disease or disability, in unbearable suffering and giving their informed consent.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NB: Carter is not legislation. It is only a Court decision voiding a particular aspect of a particular Criminal Code provision. To be specific: “To the extent that the impugned laws [s. 241 (b) and s. 14] deny the s. 7 rights of people like Ms. Taylor they are void by operation of s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It is for Parliament and the provincial legislatures to respond, should they so choose, by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in these reasons.” (§126)

Second, from its very first sentence the bill sounds the final death-knell, for all public purposes, of Abrahamic faith. The Carter/C-14 doctrine of autonomy is a clear repudiation of that kind of faith and the establishment of a new faith in man as utterly independent of God. One does not need to be Abrahamic to understand this. If the Parliament of Canada recognizes personal autonomy as extending a moral right to determine the manner and timing of one’s own death, and to take one’s own life or another’s life, it necessarily recognizes the person—and itself as a deliberative body of persons—as lying outside of all putative divine authority in such matters. In short, the C-14 preamble is the final repudiation of the Charter preamble. “The principles of fundamental justice” (§71) now operate independently of any reference whatsoever to the supremacy of God. The link between “the supremacy of God and the rule of law” is decisively severed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The same week that Kate Grosmaire visited the hospital where her 18-year-old daughter lay in a coma from a gunshot wound to the head, she visited the jail where the shooter was being held by police.

Even before they took Ann off life support, the Grosmaires knew wanted to forgive her murderer, her high school boyfriend Conor McBride.

“Conor has said that act could not have been anything but from God because people alone can’t do that; it has to be from God,” said Kate, who still talks to McBride on the phone once a week. “That was the start of his salvation.”

Since Ann’s death in 2010, Kate and husband Andy Grosmaire have become advocates for an approach to criminal punishment called restorative justice. In their daughter’s murder case, the Catholic couple learned they could push for lighter charges than life in prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In deciding how to vote it is important that we recognise that we are answering a different sort of question from that at general elections but, as there, we also need to keep front and centre the test of what it means to love our neighbours and how our vote can serve the common good. That means not deciding on the basis of what is best for me personally (usually understood in simple financial terms) or even for the UK alone but to look at our personal and national good in the context of international society and the importance of good relationships. It also means trying to step back and take in the bigger picture both historically but also in terms of the present nature and likely future development of the EU. At least three broad areas require serious Christian reflection and evaluation in discerning how to vote.

First, as regards its form, the EU is an international legal and political entity based on treaties between national governments. This means considering a Christian attitude to the role and limits of nations and national identity and the dangers of empire as well as consideration of the principle of the free movement of peoples and how it relates to our sense of belonging and place of national borders. Second, the EU also has motives and aims which shape its ethos. Here Christians must evaluate how it has assisted in moving Europe from war to peace, whether and how it has enabled solidarity both within Europe and between Europe and the poorer parts of the world, and whether, particularly in relation to economic life, it is driven by our contemporary idols in the Western world and, through the Euro and austerity, serving or undermining human flourishing. Finally, as the EU is best viewed as a political community it needs, from a Christian perspective, to be assessed in terms of how well it serves the pursuit of justice and whether its political structures are – or can be - representative of its 500 million people and whether they uphold the principle of subsidiarity which seeks to respect local and national governing structures and non-governmental forms of social life.

In the light of all these issues a number of arguments on both sides need to be rejected by Christians but, after exploring each of these areas, I believe it is possible to sketch out potential Christian arguments for each side of the debate focussing on these issues, often neglected in the wider political debate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, is looking to stop the publication of a new tell-all memoir written by his father Ron Miscavige.

In a document first published by Tony Ortega, noted Scientology reporter, lawyers from Johnsons Solicitors, working on behalf of David Miscavige, contacted Silvertail Books, the publisher responsible for “Ruthless” in the U.K. and Ireland asking them to halt release of the book, scheduled to debut May 3.

Asserting that they were “putting them on notice,” the letter claimed the material contained in the memoir was “highly defamatory” and that “in the event that you proceed with the release of this book, in total disregard for the truth, our client will be left with no alternative but to seek the protection of UK/Irish defamation and other laws.”

The letter sent by David Miscavige’s counsel also suggests that a similar missive had been sent to St. Martin’s Press, the publisher in charge of the book’s U.S. release.

Read it all.

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have now had confirmed what many recognised to be true from the outset of this tragedy. Yet there remain unanswered questions and unresolved accountabilities. No judicial action can bring back the lives of those who were lost or undo the sorrow of those who continue to mourn them. And we cannot escape the reality that this verdict comes too late for some who did not live to see the consummation of their tireless quest.

At the heart of the Christian faith is a narrative of justice, and justice must be allowed to take its course. But our Christian message is also one of forgiveness, grace and mercy. It is only now that some of the wounds can begin to heal and that some of the hurts can begin to be released – truth and justice are crucial to that process, but grace and mercy must also play their part in the journey forward.

Now is the time for us to show our true dignity; we must not now become consumed by bitterness, recrimination and hate, as we allow justice to take its course. We continue to pray for the families of the 96 and everyone whose lives are affected and scarred by this tragedy.

Read it all.

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All told, the deputies found $53,000 in cash in Eh Wah's car that night. Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said he couldn't comment on the particulars of Eh Wah's case because of the open investigation, but it is clear from his deputy's affidavit that the officers didn't like Eh Wah's explanation for how he got the cash. "Inconsistent stories," the affidavit notes. Despite the positive alert from the drug-sniffing dog, no drugs, paraphernalia or weapons were found. Just the cash.

They took Eh Wah to the police station for more questioning. They let him drive his own car there, with deputies' vehicles in front of and behind him the whole way. They interrogated him for several hours.

"I just couldn't believe it," Eh Wah said in an interview. "An officer was telling me that 'you are going to jail tonight.' And I don’t know what to think. What did I do that would make me go to jail? I didn’t do anything. Why is he saying that?"

Eh Wah tried to explain himself, but he had difficulty because English isn't his first language.

Read it all.

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Follow it there.

Update Hillsborough inquests: Fans unlawfully killed, jury concludes:

Ninety-six football fans who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquests have concluded.

The jury decided the match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield's actions amounted to "gross negligence" due to a breach of his duty of care to fans.

Police errors also added to a dangerous situation at the FA Cup semi-final.

After a 27-year campaign by victims' families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated.

Read it all.


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Posted April 26, 2016 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first attempt to replicate the United States’s diplomatic advocacy for beleaguered believers worldwide has come to an end.
Five years ago, Canada’s Conservative party campaigned for a new office to champion the cause of international religious freedom (IRF). The office opened in 2013, looking to complement the strengths of the US State Department’s IRF office that it was modeled after.
But six months after the Conservatives lost national elections to the Liberal party, the four-person, $5 million Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) has been shut down.

Read it all.

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Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mercy has been the animating force of Pope Francis’ three-year pontificate. And the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Catholic Church has been celebrating since December, is the greatest expression of the pope’s interest. Millions of Catholics are taking the opportunity to renew their faith and receive plenary indulgences during what Francis has called “a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God.”

Vatican City’s judicial system, however, is not taking the year off. Msgr. Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda has spent the Jubilee in a Vatican City jail cell, and he could face up to eight years behind bars for crimes against the Vatican City State. He and his co-defendants won’t be the first to be prosecuted by the world’s smallest state.

There are two types of courts within the Vatican: religious and civil. Religious courts punish heretical priests, for example, and their jurisdiction extends beyond the Vatican’s walls. Penalties follow the principle of salus animarum, the salvation of souls. They come in the form of invitations to repentance, expulsion from the priestly state or, in severe cases, excommunication.

Read it all.

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Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has today called for a “tsunami of truth telling” about corrupt influence-peddling on government by business interests.

Makgoba made these comments while delivering an address to a graduation at the Witwatersrand University where he received an honorary degree.

He was responding to the Constitutional Court's judgment on Nkandla.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2016 at 5:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the real target is not Christianity but freedom. Nor is this a war. Wars are fought between nations, by armies, and the intended victims are combatants. Terrorists wear no uniforms, and their intended victims are innocent civilians. I for one will never forget the episode two weeks ago on the Ivory Coast where terrorists gunned down a five-year-old child begging for his life.

There have been ages of terror before, but never on this scale, and never with the kind of technology that has given the jihadists the ability to radicalise individuals throughout the world, some acting as lone wolves, others, like the attackers in Paris and Brussels, working in small groups, often involving family members.

The aim of Isil is political: to re-establish the Caliphate and make Islam once more an imperial power. But there is another aim shared by many jihadist groups: to silence anyone and anything that threatens to express a different truth, another faith, a different approach to religious difference. That is what lay behind the attacks on the Danish cartoons; on Catholics after a speech by Pope Benedict XVI; the murder of Theo van Gogh; and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. The calculation of the terrorists is that, in the long run, the West will prove too tired to defend its own freedoms. They are prepared to keep committing atrocities for as long as it takes, decades if need be.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 30, 2016 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A historic declaration from the Anglican Church of Canada regarding it’s part in the horrific cultural genocide and many abuses done to an estimated 150,000 Aboriginal children and their families in the name of Christ was delivered at North America’s oldest Anglican Church, Her Majesties Chapel of the Mohawks in Brantford, Saturday afternoon.

Canada’s top Anglican Bishops and leaders were on hand as Anglican Archbishop of Canada, Fred Hiltz and National Indigenous Bishop, Right Reverend Mark MacDonald delivered a humble and heartfelt apology to all Indigenous children forced to attend residential schools operated by the Church and their families.

The Chapel is only a short distance from the Mohawk Institute, Canada’s first and longest running residential school where atrocities were committed in the name of education and Christianity against Aboriginal children.

Read it all.

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Posted March 24, 2016 at 6:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even Svante L. Myrick, the mayor of this city, thought the proposal sounded a little crazy, though it was put forth by a committee he had appointed. The plan called for establishing a site where people could legally shoot heroin — something that does not exist anywhere in the United States.

“Heroin is bad, and injecting heroin is bad, so how could supervised heroin injection be a good thing?” Mr. Myrick, a Democrat, said.

But he also knew he had to do something drastic to confront the scourge of heroin in his city in central New York. So he was willing to take a chance and embrace the radical notion, knowing well that it would provoke a backlash.

And it has.

Read it all.

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Black Mountain Missionary Baptist Church absolutely gleams in the sunshine with a fresh coat of paint on the outer walls and brilliant yellow daffodils blooming on the manicured lawn.

The handiwork of an arsonist has been entirely erased. There are no signs of the flames that charred the insides of the historic church, which dates back to the days when this was a working coal camp. The soot and stain and odor of acrid smoke are long gone. So, too, are the water-logged furnishings, ruined in the mad dash by firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

Church members refused to leave Black Mountain in shambles.

“They never missed a worship service because of the fire,” said Bill Wallace, director of missions for the Upper Cumberland Baptist Association. “They never gave up. That says so much about their determination to serve the Lord and to reach this community with the gospel.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first questions raised will focus on Belgium’s response to the problem on their home ground. Authorities may have scored a victory by capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the Isis-aligned plotters linked to the Paris attacks, but they missed a network planning an atrocity with heavy weapons and explosives. This suggests gaps in the understanding and surveillance of the terrorist threat. Given that Brussels sits at the political heart of Europe, this points to a problem that can no longer be described as Belgian alone.

While for some the terrorist atrocities in Paris was a wake-up call, for security forces it had been expected for a while. Terrorist groups, from al-Qaeda to Isis, have long sought to launch a terrorist attack in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a string of plots have been disrupted or launched from a francophone network emanating from Brussels. The Paris attack was the realisation of these fears from a depressingly predictable place.

The networks of radicalised individuals with links to Isis have grown as the group continues to hold sway on the battlefield and send back people and plots to their original bases in western Europe. Given the tempo of attacks and the ease with which the networks appear able to acquire weapons and move freely around the continent, Europeans will ask themselves how much longer they will face this threat. I

Read it all or there is another link here.

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we ask what is driving this assault on the free exercise of religious conviction, the answer is that it is in large part driven by a human rights agenda which sees religion and human rights as antithetical not simply on specific issues, but across the board. As the legal scholar Louis Herkin puts it: ‘The human rights ideology is a fully secular and rational ideology whose very promise of success as a universal ideology depends on its secularity and rationality.’

In addition, there is also deep seated fear about religiously inspired violence. The growing threat of terrorist activity driven by an Islamist ideology has led many governments across the world, including the government in this country, to conclude that religion can be dangerous and that the best way to counteract this danger is seek to suppress the dissemination of ‘extremist’ religious ideas.

What this combination of a secular rights ideology and fear of Islamic terrorism is in danger of leading to, if indeed it has not led to it already, is the undermining of the very rights that human rights advocates and Western governments say that they support.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted March 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England’s safeguarding procedures in cases of reported sexual abuse have been condemned as “fundamentally flawed” by an independent review, which was commissioned by the Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to implement the changes that the review calls for, and to do so quickly.

The review, which was carried out by Ian Elliott, a safeguarding consultant with the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, considered the Church’s response to allegations of sexual abuse by the Revd Garth Moore, a former Chancellor of the dioceses of Southwark, Durham, and Gloucester, who died in 1990... It concerned an attempted rape by Chancellor Moore of “Joe” (not his real name), which took place while Joe, then aged 16, was staying as a house guest at Chancellor Moore’s rooms in Gray’s Inn.

Joe was then drawn into what he has described as an exploitative and emotionally abusive relationship by Brother Michael Fisher SSF, who later became Bishop of St Germans.

Read it all.

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Posted March 18, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, might have helped prevent a sex abuser bishop being brought to justice for more than 20 years, a public inquiry has been told.

He allegedly failed to pass on "very detailed" allegations made in the early 1990s against the former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball - who was jailed last year for abusing a string of boys and young men - it was claimed.

It was one of the reasons a "proper" police investigation into Ball's abuse was delayed for more than two decades, the inquiry into historic sexual abuse in England and Wales being overseen by Justice Lowell Goddard was told.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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Posted March 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We welcome the plans outlined in today's preliminary hearing by Justice Goddard, for the Anglican Church, as it examines the extent to which institutions and organisations in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children.

As a church we will be offering full cooperation and are committed to working in an open and transparent way, with a survivor-informed response. We are already reviewing our 2008 Past Cases Review, referred to in today's hearing.

Read it all.

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Posted March 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question then is what exactly Jeremy Pemberton is seeking and how it can be justified. If the argument is that the church’s doctrine is in error or that the bishops are in error in their statements and applications of that doctrine then there are means within the church to rectify those errors. To seek for the state to correct the church’s alleged errors – by judging that the bishops are mis-stating its own doctrine or that the substance of that doctrine must be abandoned - is a step which needs to be defended. Yet I have seen no serious defence of this approach. The decision of Canon Pemberton and his supporters to continue to press their case through the courts means they must address this issue of their chosen means to secure their desired end and clarify what they are wanting the court to decide in terms of directing the church in relation to its doctrine and requirements of ministers....

Finally, looking ahead as we draw near the end of the Shared Conversations, this case highlights the difficulty of implementing what some call for under the title of “good disagreement”. If the case is lost then it has been established that the church has a doctrine of marriage which bishops are right to uphold by refusing to issue a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage. The judgment is clear that canonical obedience is “a core part of the qualifying of a priest for ministry within the Church” (para 120) and that Canon Pemberton is obliged to undertake to pay true and Canonical Obedience to the Lord Bishop but that (given its conclusion as to church doctrine), “Self-evidently he is not going to be able to fulfil that obligation or has not done so….and therefore objectively he cannot be issued with his licence” (para 121). Any bishop who therefore issued a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage would therefore be open to legal challenge. Any attempt to allow clergy to enter same-sex marriages would, it appears, need first to redefine the church’s doctrine of marriage. If, however, Jeremy wins his case then, as noted above, no bishop could refuse a licence on the grounds of the priest being in a same-sex marriage.

In other words, if the church keeps it current doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify licensing clergy in same-sex marriages but if it changes it or somehow declares it has no fixed doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify refusing a licence to clergy in same-sex marriages given equality legislation. So, even if it were considered desirable, it is therefore hard to see how, given the law, the church could “agree to differ” on this subject in a way that both enabled same-sex married clergy to be licensed and also protected those unable in good conscience to license clergy in same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

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Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...[Church of England] clergyman Jeremy Pemberton has won the right to appeal against a ruling by an employment tribunal that he was not discriminated against.

Canon Pemberton took his case to the tribunal after he was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain because he had married his partner Laurence Cunnington.

Read it all from Christian Today.

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0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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