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"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis, has called on Anglicans to pray and advocate with their local Egyptian consulates and embassies after a court ruling effectively subsumed the diocese into a separate denominational body. Dr Anis, who is also the Archbishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, told ACNS that the Evangelical Church Association (ECA) has been laying claim to the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt for several years. Now, after a 14-year legal battle, a court has ruled that the Anglican Church in Egypt belongs to the ECA and can only be represented by the ECA President.
“This preposterous claim did not just stop there,” Dr Anis said. “They further claimed that they can take possession of all of the Episcopal/Anglican Church properties as their own. They are now forcing us to take their approval before we notarise any document in the government. Moreover, we need to receive the approval of the ECA before we ask immigration to grant or renew visas to our workers. This is causing us a great deal of trouble.”
The diocese is appealing against the court’s decision and a new hearing will be held on Tuesday (1 November).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Middle East Egypt * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Ashers Baking is owned by the McArthur family. It offered to bake cakes iced with a graphic of the customer’s own design. Gareth Lee is gay; and to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in May 2014 he ordered a cake from Ashers bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” and a picture of the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie. Ashers initially accepted his order but Mrs Karen McArthur subsequently telephoned him to say that his order could not be fulfilled because Ashers was a Christian business and that, with hindsight, she should not have taken the order in the first place. She apologised and refunded his money.
Before Belfast County Court, in Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Anor  NICty 2 Mr Lee had claimed that he had been discriminated against contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and/or the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. District Judge Brownlie found for Mr Lee, concluding that Ashers Baking was liable under the 2006 Regulations for the unlawful acts of its two directors, Mr and Mrs McArthur, and that they, in turn, were liable under Regulation 24 for aiding Ashers Baking to act unlawfully. As a result of their actions, the company had discriminated unlawfully against Mr Lee. They appealed and the matter came before the Court of Appeal in Belfast by way of case stated.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has admitted he deserves to be criticised over his support for a bishop convicted of sexual assault, as it emerged separately that his son, a priest, has been arrested for historic child sex abuse.
The retired Anglican Archbishop has been warned he can expect to face “explicit criticism” over claims the criminal activities of Peter Ball, the then Bishop of Gloucester, were covered up by the Church of England.
Lord Carey, who was a friend of Ball’s, has now been given his own lawyer, paid for by the Church of England, to represent him personally at the national child sex abuse inquiry.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has been granted core-participant status at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) after Professor Alexis Jay, who chairs it, ruled that he “may be subject to explicit criticism by the Inquiry in due course”.
Core participants are entitled to legal representation at the Inquiry and to receive advance disclosure of evidence. They may also cross-examine witnesses when the public hearings begin, something that is expected to happen next year.
In his application for core participant status, lawyers for Lord Carey explained that, as a retired office-holder, he was led to be believe that he would be represented at the Inquiry by lawyers for the Archbishops’ Council, which also has core-participant status. “Once the Archbishops’ Council indicated to Lord Carey that there might be some conflict between their interests and those of Lord Carey, he made contact with alternative legal representatives,” Professor Jay said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
My jaw dropped."
This was the instant reaction of a mother suffering from a terminal disease when she was told by her medical insurance company that they could not pay for her chemotherapy but would be willing to shoulder the cost of drugs that would put her to death. The drugs' price: $1.20.
Four years ago, 33-year-old California resident Stephanie Packer was diagnosed with scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes scar tissue to form in her lungs, the New York Post reported.
Read it all from Christian Today.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary South America Brazil * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Ashers managing director Daniel McArthur said he and his family were “extremely disappointed” with the ruling .
“If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people’s causes then equality law needs to change. This ruling undermines democratic freedom, it undermines religious freedom, and it undermines free speech,” he said.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said the “verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression” and could set a “dangerous, authoritarian precedent”.
“Although I strongly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea that they oppose,” he said.
Read it all from the Irish Times.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Religious leaders are joining a pilgrimage to rural South Carolina to mark the centennial of the lynching of a successful black farmer, hoping to draw attention to the history of killings of African-Americans and begin healing of racial divisions.
Black faith leaders and social justice advocates are commemorating the lynching of Anthony Crawford, a man who owned 427 acres in Abbeville, S.C., when he was killed on Oct. 21, 1916.
He had been jailed after a dispute with a white store owner over the price of cottonseed. He was released but was abducted by a large mob of white men and lynched, his body riddled with bullets.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A safeguarding issue was revealed on Monday to be at the centre of the row that blew up last week over bell-ringing in York Minster.
To furious protests by the nation’s bell-ringers, the entire band of ringers at York Minster had been summarily sacked on Tuesday of last week, for reasons that at first were unclear.
At the time, the Dean, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, and the Chapter alluded only to “health and safety”, and the need to bring the ringers under the control of the Chapter, in line with its other volunteer teams.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Music Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his Answer. Gambling-related harm is not restricted to people with problem gambling—it affects family, it affects friends, it affects even people who work in gambling shops. I recently put in a freedom of information request to the Metropolitan Police which revealed that since 2010 there has been a 68% rise in violent crime associated with betting shops across the capital. In the light of that, will the Minister tell the House what assessment the Government have made of the link between this rapid rise in violent crime associated with betting shops and the increase in the number of fixed-odds betting terminals in those shops?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: Any rise in crime figures is of course concerning, and Ministers and the Gambling Commission will look at those figures closely. One of the three licensing objectives that all operators must comply with is to prevent gambling being a source of crime. On the right reverend Prelate’s specific question about the link between fixed-odds betting terminals and the rise in crime, I hesitate at the moment to draw a causal link between them in the absence of evidence on the specific means of betting. However, this is exactly the sort of evidence that should be provided to the forthcoming triennial review.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Gambling Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
I was at a professional meeting, having dinner at a convivial restaurant to honor a senior scholar. There was one man at the table I wanted to avoid. He had been backhandedly undermining my work for years. Using the buddy system, I asked a good friend to sit next to me. But when I came back from the restroom, everyone had shifted chairs, to facilitate more conversation. The only empty chair was next to this man.
I wish I had left the restaurant then. I should have risked the considerable awkwardness and come up with some excuse to leave. Instead I sat down, trying to appear composed.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Men Psychology Sexuality Violence Women * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by out-of-control artificial intelligence (AI). But on Wednesday, as the professor opened the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, he remarked on its potential to bring positive change – if developed correctly.
"Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks," Dr. Hawking said at the launch, according to a University of Cambridge press release.
Representing a collaboration between the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and the University of California, Berkeley, the CFI will bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers, as well as tech leaders and policy makers, to ensure that societies can "make the best of the opportunities of artificial intelligence," as its website states.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Law & Legal Issues Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Eleven clergy of the Diocese of West Ankole have brought a lawsuit in the Kampala High Court against the Primate of the Church of Uganda.
They allege that the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali had violated church canons and slandered the leaders of the diocese when he appointed his own commission to select candidates to replace the Rt Rev Yona Katoneene.
The lawsuit alleges that when Archbishop Ntagali created an eight-member committee on 2 October 2015 to oversee the selection process, he usurped the authority of the local committee, violated canon law and slandered West Ankole was a “failed” diocese.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Uganda * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Much could be said about the Redirect Method, but two things stand out to me. First, as a philosopher of religion, I find [Yasmin] Green’s point fascinating. Regardless how one mixes the faith-and-reason cocktail, a theopolitical agenda like ISIS’s is undeniably still dependent upon information. People enlist in groups like ISIS not simply out of blind hate or misdirected zeal, but because they find ISIS’s description of the world reasonable and compelling. Green’s wording is suggestive: in “arming individuals with more and better information,” Google is acting on the assumption that facts may be as fatal to ISIS’s success as bullets. Google’s experiment rests on a perspective shared by many professors of religion; in Kofi Annan’s words, “Education is peace-building by another name.”
Second, this program raises the question of precedent. Though I doubt many net neutrality advocates will rally in support of ISIS, there is reason to be leery of Google’s self-appointed mission to steer users away from certain ideological stances. Given that the dream of the Internet is a pure democracy of information and opinion, do we trust Google to be the gatekeeper of theopolitical correctness? It’s one thing if I search for “crayons” and Google—after receiving a payment from Crayola—directs me to Crayola’s website. But what about topics far more controversial than my coloring hobby? How comfortable are we with the leading search engine employing “targeted advertising campaigns” on disputed religious and political matters?
The dilemma is this: everyone is pro-information, but we tend to see only the information that supports our particular worldview.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues Multiculturalism, pluralism Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
This [past] week many around the world have prayed for the Pakistani Supreme Court hearing for Asia Bibi that took place yesterday. Over the years, I have written a number of articles on these pages describing the horrific plight of Asia Bibi. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and a married mother of five, who was sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam. What was her “crime?” It was in June 2009, while working in the fields, that she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers. Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.” Her co-workers then complained to the local authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed. What was the derogatory comment she was alleged to have made? The Moslem women claimed that Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered to be an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.
Read it all from Touchstone.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Asia Pakistan * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
In the tug of war between religious freedom and nondiscrimination rights, the weight seems to be pulling toward the latter.
At least that's the view of 17 religious leaders — including LDS Church Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé — who addressed their concerns with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' recent report in an Oct. 7 letter to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The report, titled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles With Civil Liberties," comes down squarely on the side of civil liberties for individuals, the letter says, and "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities, and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Mormons * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice? For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort.
I welcome anyone who has the courage to say, as a Christian, that we should give dying people the right to leave this world with dignity. My friend Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, has passionately argued for an assisted-dying law in Britain. His initiative has my blessing and support — as do similar initiatives in my home country, South Africa, throughout the United States and across the globe.
In refusing dying people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values. I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth. The time to act is now.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Southern Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Canadians are grappling with one of the most difficult legal issues we have faced in decades: our collective responsibility to facilitate medically assisted death for those who choose it and satisfy the legal criteria. Since the Supreme Court decided in 2015 that Canadians have a Charter-protected right to a dignified death of their choosing, governments, doctors, hospitals and citizens have struggled to accept and move forward with a workable regime. One of the biggest impediments, however, is institutional resistance. Hospitals that claim a right to conscientious objection may well prove the Achilles heel in government efforts to breathe life into a right to die.
Catholic hospitals, which are publicly funded, take the position that as institutions they have religious rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This position was recognized by some Supreme Court judges in a 2015 case known as Loyola High School v Quebec. Three judges concluded that a religious institution, as a collective, could claim a right to freedom of religion under Section 2(a) of the Charter. However, the three judges added a key caveat to this conclusion: “… an organization meets the requirements for s. 2(a) protection if (1) it is constituted primarily for religious purposes, and (2) its operation accords with these religious purposes.” Publicly funded hospitals do not satisfy this test and therefore have no claim to freedom of religion.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In The Irish Times, expatriates described how the liberal abortion laws of their adopted homes made Ireland appear regressive in comparison, motivating them to hold their own demonstrations calling for repeal.
One woman, a television producer based in Vancouver, described how living in such a “progressive and liberal society as Canada has made it apparent to me how far Ireland has to go in terms of women’s rights and politics in general”.What was left unsaid – as has become routine in these discussions – is just how extreme the abortion laws are in some of the supposedly more civilised countries we are being asked to look up to.
In Canada, there are no legal restrictions on abortion whatsoever, allowing terminations up until birth for any reason that doctors are comfortable with.
Contrary to its liberal image, the country is apparently uninterested in transparency when it comes to this legal regime, refusing to collect statistics on the number of late-term abortions....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ Canada England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
My country’s parliament recently passed the first national assisted-suicide legislation in our history. Prompted by the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision last year to strike down the previous law as unconstitutionally restricting individual rights to life, liberty, and security, Parliament is now arguing over how widely or narrowly to involve Canadian citizens—both patients and health care providers—in assisted suicide.
In Culture of Death, first published in 2000, American lawyer and activist Wesley J. Smith warned that this debate was upon us. A new, updated revision of the book sharpens this warning, drawing on a wide range of cases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and the bellwether states of Oregon and Washington.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Books Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Now we have come full circle. It was widely reported on Saturday that a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to be officially euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia were lifted in 2014. Jacqueline Herremans, a member of Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission (death panel?), said in a French media report, “The euthanasia has taken place.” She further announced that the euthanasia was done “in accordance with Belgian law.” Few details were provided other than the minor child had “a terminal illness.” Belgium is presently the only country in the world that allows terminally-ill children of any age to choose to end their life, but Belgian law requires that the minor be capable of making “rational decisions.” Further, any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors, approved by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and have parental consent. The only thing missing is the 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts to give their legal authorization . . . always within the law, of course. The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those aged over 12. Lord, have mercy!
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
White rioters poured into the streets, burning and looting homes, businesses and churches in a black neighborhood and leaving this city deeply traumatized. That was 1921.
Last week, not far from where those haunting events took place, the streets of Tulsa were calm after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black motorist. The video of the shooting angered many Tulsa residents, but the subdued reaction was markedly different from the violent clashes that took place in Charlotte, N.C., in recent days, after the police killed a man there.
Why one place erupts and another does not is never easy to discern. Tulsa quickly released videos showing the facts. But some here trace part of the reason for Tulsa’s emphasis on prayer, and not protest, in recent days to the lingering scars of the 1921 riot, which is regarded as one of the deadliest race riots in the country’s history and still lingers in Tulsa’s consciousness.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The ICBC also highlights that Māori and Pacific voices have been notably absent in public conversations over assisted suicide, raising questions whether the debate so far has accurately reflected this country’s cultural diversity on these issues.
The submission also flags:
1. The limits of claiming assisted dying as a personal ‘right’. The ICBC propose that an individual choice to die does not exist in a vacuum. The ICBC reminds Kiwis that no person is free of social responsibility for others who may suffer as a result of their choice to die.
2. Overseas experience indicates that assisted suicide promotes suicide by normalising it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
With children it is usually cancer: incurable sickness, unbearable pain, debilitating, degrading misery. What child wouldn’t prefer to go an be with Jesus? Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia (it’s a thing) agrees. Far better for children to be given a fatal injection than to cough up blood all night long, whether or not they go to be with Jesus. Indeed, Jesus doesn’t really come into it. Why should he? We’re talking about the exercise of free will for the alleviation of unbearable physical suffering. It is liberal, progressive and compassionate. A child could understand it, especially at the age of 17.
Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and now injects people whether or not they are suffering a terminal illness. If you’re depressed and feeling suicidal for no particular reason at all, Belgium will provide a way out. They extended euthanasia to children in 2014. It is the only country in the world that has no age restriction. At least in the Netherlands you have to be 12 years of age before you can decide you’d prefer to be with Jesus than all those nasty doctors and nurses. In Belgium, the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia can give their blessing to your death if you’re 10, eight, six… provided you’re in unbearable physical pain and know what you’re doing.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child… (1Cor 13:11).
One hesitates to use the word ‘evil’ of statutes promulgated by well-intentioned politicians in the context of a liberal democracy, with all the constitutional checks and balances afforded by reason and experience. But Belgium’s abolition of all age restrictions on “the right to die” must surely qualify as one of the most wicked and damnable decrees in the history of Christendom.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Nearly 225 years after the ratification of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the cause of conscience protected by the principles of “no establishment” and “free exercise” may be losing support in the minds and hearts of the American people.
Appeals by religious individuals and groups for exemption from government laws and regulations that substantially burden religious practice are increasingly unpopular and controversial. So much so that many in the media have taken to using scare quotes, transforming religious freedom into “religious freedom.”
Now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appears to be recommending that we make it official: Our first freedom is first no more.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
McAllister is adamant that taking drugs to end her life would not be suicide. “In suicide,” she says, “you’re choosing between life and death. With the End of Life Option Act, you’re choosing the time and manner of your death, knowing that it is inevitably coming within a short period of time. The law allows you to have a little bit of control over when, where, and how.” She would rather die at home, with an opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, than in a hospital.
Advocates of right-to-die laws say control, or at least the sense of it, is important to the terminally ill. What people seem to want is the comfort of knowing that they have a way out if pain becomes unbearable or their condition deteriorates too far....
Professor Robert George, who has written extensively on philosophy and ethics, argues that statutes such as California’s diminish respect for the sanctity of life. “Opposition to medicalized killing” is “grounded in a recognition of ... the idea that no one has ‘a life unworthy of life,’ or is ‘better off dead’ or a ‘useless eater,’ ” he writes in an email. “It reflects the belief that nothing should be done that gives credit to or encourages the adoption of these beliefs, even by those suffering pain and tempted to despair.” George rebuts those who argue that individuals should be free to determine their own fates, calling medical assistance in dying “a policy question that implicates many aspects of the common good of our civil society and legal order.” Many who end their lives, he says, are driven by fear and depression. He urges that people facing terminal illness be provided with palliative care and counseling to help make their last months comfortable and peaceful.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
One week ago (on September 5) the second session of the month-long Anglican Leadership Institute began. This session's participants are pictured above with the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute (top right).
The institute is a leadership training initiative that brings future leaders in the Anglican Communion to South Carolina for periods of study, teaching, reflection and nurture.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Latest News * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * South Carolina
Comes now Bishop Bruno, he of the forkèd tongue, and for a response to the charges files a motion to dismiss the Title IV proceedings against him in their entirety. His reasons stated are twofold:
(1) The complainants violated the confidentiality provisions of Title IV by disclosing the substance of their charges, and of ECUSA's responses to them; and
(2) [Now get this] The complainants violated Canon IV.19.2 by resorting to a proceeding in the secular civil courts before filing their charges against +Bruno under Title IV.
Note that while +Bruno is technically correct that the earlier stages of the Title IV proceedings against him were confidential, the violation of that confidentiality by the Complainant (i.e., the members of St. James the Great) does not furnish canonical grounds for a dismissal of the charges. Under the Canon he cites (IV.13.9[a]), it is only misconduct "that the Hearing Panel deems to be disruptive, dilatory or otherwise contrary to the integrity of the proceedings" on the part of the Respondent (i.e., Bishop Bruno) or the Church Attorney that can provide grounds for the imposition of sanctions -- which, by the way, do not include the dismissal of all charges, as +Bruno requests.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Obamacare failed because it flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101. It straitjacketed insurers into providing overly expensive, soup-to-nuts policies. It wasn't flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford — not what the government dictated. Many healthy people primarily want catastrophic coverage. Obamacare couldn't lure them in, couldn't persuade them to buy on the chance they'd get sick.
Obamacare failed because the penalties for going uncovered are too low when stacked against its skyrocketing premium costs. Next year, the penalty for staying uninsured is $695 per adult, or perhaps 2.5 percent of a family's taxable household income. That's far less than many Americans would pay for coverage. Financial incentive: Skip Obamacare....
Obamacare failed because it hasn't tamed U.S. medical costs. Health care is about supply and demand: People who get coverage use it, especially if the law mandates free preventive care. Iron law of economics: Nothing is free; someone pays. To pretend otherwise was folly. Those forces combined to spike the costs of care, and thus insurance costs.
Read it all.
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(You may find the names of all 343 firefighters here--KSH).
On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.
So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.
On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.
--First published on this blog September 11, 2003
From the official Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination’s Gender Identity Guidance, just released last week:
Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.
Now, churches hold events “open to the general public” all the time — it’s often how they seek new converts. And even church “secular events,” which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.
Read it all from Euguene Volokh at the Washington Post.
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A woman and her daughter are facing incest charges after authorities learned the pair were legally married in Oklahoma this year, and that the mother had married her son a few years earlier.
The motivation behind the March marriage was unclear Wednesday, when 43-year-old Patricia Ann Spann and her daughter, 25-year-old Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, made initial appearances in Stephens County district court. Under Oklahoma law, marrying a close relative is considered incest whether or not a sexual relationship exists.
Read it all.
On Wednesday, August 17, the Wyoming Supreme Court heard a case that has huge implications for each and every one of us.
The case involves Judge Ruth Neely, who has served with distinction for twenty-one years as the municipal judge in Pinedale, Wyoming. Since municipalities have no authority either to issue a license or solemnize a marriage, you would think that she’s unaffected by all the hoopla over same-sex marriage. But you would be mistaken. Because of her beliefs about marriage, the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics (CJCE) wants to remove her from her job and disqualify her for service anywhere in the Wyoming judiciary.
The story began on a cold Saturday morning in December 2014. Shortly after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Wyoming marriage statutes unconstitutional, a reporter from the Sublette Examiner called Judge Neely to ask if she was “excited” to perform same-sex marriages. It was only because she had accepted a part-time job as a circuit court magistrate that this question had any relevance at all. In that unpaid position, she was authorized, but not obligated, to solemnize marriages. She gave a perfectly reasonable reply. She said that if she were ever asked, she would help the couple find someone to do the job. However, she would “not be able to do” it herself.
Based on this solitary exchange about a hypothetical scenario, the commission has been waging what they call a “holy war” against her for more than a year. They are not content to send her a letter clarifying what she should have done, nor even a letter of reprimand. Instead, they are leveling the greatest possible punishment allowable by law—and the implications of their arguments are chilling.
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Speak Up is a new resource from the Evangelical Alliance and the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship to equip and inspire Christians with confidence and knowledge of the current legal freedoms we have to share our faith.
The good news of Jesus is something we all have a part in sharing. Through our everyday lives – in the local playground, at the bus stop or over a cup of tea – we all have amazing opportunities to introduce people to Jesus.
We won't always be sure how it will be received, but the Christian message must be proclaimed. Romans 10:141 says: "And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" In this country we've got the freedom and privilege of being able to speak up and demonstrate the love of God and the transforming power of Jesus in our communities.
Read it all and download the resource itself.
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Yesterday I wrote an article for Religion News Service about women and burkinis. But, it was not really about women and burkinis. It was about secularism and its march.
Before you go much further, click here and see this picture at the New York Times. It’s of the French police making a woman take off more clothes to stay on a beach.
So, this is not really about burkinis, but it is about the right of religious people to live out the implications of their beliefs, even in the face of the secular march of the Western world.
Read it all from CT.
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Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals in an ongoing crackdown targeting the region's burgeoning Protestant Christian community.
A public notice posted at the Central Hospital in Zhejiang's Wenzhou, a city that has been dubbed "China's Jerusalem" because of its high concentration of Christians, made patients and their visitors unequivocally aware of the new rules this week.
"Religious activities are banned in this hospital," the notice said. The Wenzhou Central Hospital was originally set up as a Protestant hospital.
An employee who answered the phone at the same hospital...confirmed the new measures.
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“It’s a moral dilemma,” [Caitlin] Swieca said. “There’s definitely two conflicted feelings: the feeling of wanting to just watch a game and not let the domestic violence thing bother you, and the feeling of not wanting to let the domestic violence issue just fade into the background.”
Swieca tried to make peace with that conflict shortly after Chapman’s arrival with a simple act: She pledged on Twitter that each time Chapman recorded a save, she would donate $10 to an organization that aids domestic violence victims. At least then, Swieca said, she might feel better about Chapman’s helping the team.
She soon found out she was not alone. The Domestic Violence Legal Clinic has worked with Swieca, promoting the hashtag #pitchin4DV and an accompanying Twitter account, for which pledges totaling $5,100 have trickled in from around the country to groups supporting domestic violence victims.
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Police...[this week] apologised to the bishops of the Church of Uganda for failing to provide security to them while touring church land in Ntawo, Mukono, where they survived a mob.
Police on Tuesday rescued the prelates led by Archbishop Stanley Ntagali from an irate mob that attacked them while coming from a tour of the one-square mile land that belongs to the church.
The land under contention at Ntawo in Mukono is being developed by the Uganda Christian University (UCU) on behalf of the church.
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A hired mob attempted to lynch the archbishop and bishops of the Church of Uganda on Tuesday, but were foiled when police arrived and drove off the attackers. On 23 August 2016 the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of Uganda and 34 members of the House of Bishops were inspecting a parcel of church owned land in Ntawo in the Mukono District when the attack occurred.
Sources in the Church of Uganda, who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the bishops, reported that at the House of Bishops’ Meeting held before the start of the 23rd Provincial Synod the bishops discussed a ten-year development plan for the church. One of the issues under discussion was the status of a one square mile parcel of land donated to the church in 1940.
Held by the church in trust for Uganda Christian University, a portion of the land has been leased to the government’s National Agricultural Research Organization, with the bulk of the land remaining undeveloped. Under former Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Noll, the university proposed building a commercial housing estate on the site to provide income for the church as well as an agricultural research station for the university.
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Convicts in British prisons who preach terrorism and extreme ideology to fellow inmates will be held in high-security “specialist units,” the government announced on Monday, amid efforts to crack down on Islamic radicalization in jails.
The announcement reflects an emerging trend in Europe to isolate terrorism convicts and influential extremists from the rest of the prison population. Prisons are often regarded as potential breeding grounds for would-be terrorists, particularly for young offenders serving sentences for crimes unrelated to terrorism but who nonetheless fall under the spell of older, charismatic inmates.
Last week, Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s best-known Islamist activists, was found guilty of inviting support for the Islamic State. He could face a lengthy prison term.
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Born in Louisiana, Mrs. Janu grew up in a predominantly white suburb in upstate New York, joined a white sorority in college and married a white detective. Yet these days, she fears that racism and bias might be “hard-wired” into society and wonders how that might affect her family.
She worries as her husband holsters his Glock 22, kisses her goodbye and heads out the door to pursue gun runners and violent criminals in this predominantly black city. Will he be a target now on the street?
She worries as she has adjusted to the rhythms of round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes. What dangers might Wesley face as a teenager at the hands of the police?
And then there is the racial divide that runs right through her living room, the issues that occasionally create a rift between husband and wife. Mrs. Janu, 31, is a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, for instance, while Mr. Janu, 42, argues that some of its activists “do more harm than good” and spew “a lot of hate” toward the police.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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”.
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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.’”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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.
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"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....
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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....
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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....
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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