Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "all states must license marriage between two people of the same sex" and "recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed “out-of-state." Despite this change, the Diocese of South Carolina continues to affirm the historic position of the Christian Church: that God has ordained two states of life for His people, singleness or Holy Matrimony – the joining together of one man and one woman into a holy union. By affirming this position, we stand firmly under the authority of Holy Scripture, in continuity with the two thousand year history of the church, and in accord with the vast majority of Christians around the world. Therefore, it is clear that while the Supreme Court may be changing the civil definition of marriage, it has no authority over Holy Matrimony and the Church’s blessing of the union between husband and wife.

The Bible envisions Holy Matrimony as the life long, exclusive union of one man and one woman. While Christians, like others, experience failure in realizing this vision, it is nevertheless the standard we profess and toward which we strive. We believe that marriage, like all areas of life, can be redeemed, and that by God’s grace all married people can be enabled to live into its unique calling.

The full consequences of the Supreme Court’s cultural and legal innovation have yet to be seen, and will be tested over time. It is our strong belief that this same Constitution, to which they have appealed, must protect the rights of all people to the free exercise of religion. In the light of this conviction, the Diocese of South Carolina will faithfully conduct its ministry in accordance with our beliefs, trusting that this freedom will be upheld.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few days, it’s this: Most people—religious or otherwise—have no idea what marriage is, why it exists, and what we need it for. And what’s worse, they have no idea they have no idea.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we should call Oppenheimer’s arguments what they are: societally destructive. He seems to think that churches losing their privileged positions will be just peachy for society, because the government will then step in and execute the same work with extreme competency. His faith in big government is touching, but naive. Consider how the Great Society programs have fared. The government often does a much worse job of distributing funds and targeting local needs than community-specific outfits that must give local account for their operations.

[Also]...we should challenge Oppenheimer on the way he makes his case. He dislikes Scientology. He’s fit-to-be-tied that the group was given a tax-exemption as a religion. But Scientology is quite different from the vast spectrum of American churches. Oppenheimer has used a tiny group at the margins to deny an obvious truth about the myriad groups at the center. Oppenheimer would nuke a thriving continent to vanquish an unwanted mouse.

He also notes the awkwardness of the IRS determining what is and isn’t a church. But instead of dealing with that problem, he doubles down on it, and encourages exponentially greater government involvement to regulate congregations. A most vexing solution, this. His comments on Yale and universities are in truth a screen to hide his real target: churches, particularly those “that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”

Here we behold the Oppenheimer Project with unveiled face. It isn’t really about redirecting a few odd dollars and cents currently going to religious nutjobs. It’s about smashing into oblivion those who dare to resist the late stages of the sexual revolution. They no longer deserve to thrive, or perhaps even exist, in this country.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults know only too well the risks associated with residential care. In 2012, of the 16,500 children who were found to be at high risk of sexual exploitation, more than a third—35%—were children living in residential care. It seems to me that these amendments would add additional strength to the general direction of the Bill, which we on these Benches happily support. We also draw on the research and briefing of the Children’s Society.

Places which care for children, young people and vulnerable adults in either residential or supported care facilities can easily become targeted by people who, via grooming and addiction to psychoactive drugs, use control to lead children and vulnerable adults into other very serious kinds of abuse. I note the point that the noble Lord made that accepting the amendment would put this offence on the same footing as that of supplying drugs outside a school, which the Bill already makes an aggravating factor.

My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol told me that last year, in his own city of Bristol, 13 men were convicted of a string of sexual offences involving sexual abuse, trafficking, rape and prostitution of teenage girls as young as 13 years old. Their tactics were clear: in return for drugs and alcohol, young girls were forced to perform sexual acts with older men. Much more could be said but I want to support these amendments because, as I say, they would help this vulnerable group to receive additional protection.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We must contend for marriage as God’s gift to humanity – a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.

We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.

We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One year ago I wrote in these pages about how the InterVarsity ministry at Bowdoin College, with a forty year history of ministering the Christian Gospel, was formally refused access to meet with students on campus facilities. Christian students in the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship were denied access to the funds and facilities for student activities and other benefits enjoyed generally by students participating in voluntary activities on the campus....

One year later, the ministry continues with these important changes to report.

The venue has changed. This Christian ministry, through the help of committed friends, acquired a building on the edge of campus and became a member of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. The meetings that once took place in the college chapel, the college dining halls, and in buildings reserved for Christians to practice religious faith now take place in a converted living room at the Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center, named after the first President of Bowdoin College and his first lady.

The challenge to incarnational and invitational ministry has changed. The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin College previously operated primarily from a base on campus and only secondarily retreated to points beyond. Those priorities have been reversed by force of circumstance, and the ministry now operates primarily from its newly acquired space on the edge of campus.

Read it all from First Things.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.

“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.

“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.

But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.

For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

There a many references to the Diocese of South Carolina statement here if you need it.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire — that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender — then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.

In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell — and at the core of modern American life.

This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.

Read it all from Time Magazine.

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1 Comments
Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Supreme Court prepares to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, religious people are wondering: will we lose our tax-exempt status for our religious institutions? Justice Samuel Alito raised this question during the oral arguments, citing the 1983 Supreme Court case that ruled Bob Jones University could lose its tax-exempt status if it continued to oppose interracial dating and marriage.

The solicitor general, arguing the case for same-sex marriage, responded that it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.” This sort of reply should do nothing to calm the nerves of those who object to same-sex marriage. When the conscientious objectors become a minority of the voting population, will our rights be protected?

The issue of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations is already a hot topic in some quarters. Those in favor of taxing religious organizations point out the huge financial impact that it would have, anywhere from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

The confiscation of church property is no new thing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Update (June 22): InterVarsity has given CT more details about its reinstatement at 19 California campuses.
"Cal State has not changed the language of their 'all comers' policy," said Greg Jao, vice president of campus engagement. "They have clarified that the policy only requires that (a) we allow all students to become members, which we have always done, and (b) we allow all students to apply for leadership positions.
"We have been assured that we can have a rigorous selection process which reflects InterVarsity’s mission and message as a Christian ministry," he told CT. "We’re confident in our ability to choose leaders who reflect our mission and message."

Read it all.

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, found that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibited government actions that “demean” the lives of homosexuals and that therefore gay marriage is a constitutional right. Homosexuals, he said, cannot be deprived of the “constellation” of state-conferred benefits limited to marriage, “a keystone of the nation’s social order.” He was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Each of the four dissenting justices issued separate opinions, the central gist of which was summed up by Justice Scalia when he wrote, “It is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”

Justice Samuel Alito, making a similar point, noted that, “Until the federal courts intervened, the American people were engaged in a debate whether their States should recognize same-sex marriage. ... Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.” He added, “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState GovernmentSupreme Court* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Simply put, mutual responsibility towards offspring naturally demands a long-term commitment (at least 18 years) while mutual attraction and erotic desire does not. What we see in the modern world is the fracturing of a very lofty ideal of marriage back into two different kinds of relationships: those which are primarily focused on children, and those which are primarily focused on erotic love. The battle over the institution of marriage is basically a battle over whether which of these two purposes of marriage ought to have primacy.

The answer that the Supreme Court has given by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage is basically a ruling in favour of erotic love. This should surprise no one. It’s the more culturally popular option, and it’s the view of marriage that the vast majority of heterosexuals already subscribe to. It’s also, in practice, the definition that we’ve been using for a long time. The truth is that most of the material and social supports that exist to help parents with the task of raising children are no longer associated with the institution of marriage in any way – and unfortunately, the pro-family groups that could be providing financial, emotional and practical support to people who are choosing traditional marriage tend to waste their resources fighting fruitless political battles instead.

The challenge, then, is for advocates of the traditional family to stop wringing their hands over the SCOTUS decision and blaming the gays for the demise of the family, and to focus instead on renewing the practice of sacramental marriage by building up communities of support so that the traditional understanding of marriage will become practicable and attractive again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexualityYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in one of the ironies in which the arc of history specializes, while the conservative case for same-sex marriage triumphed in politics, the liberationist case against marriage’s centrality to human flourishing was winning in the wider culture.

You would not know this from Kennedy’s opinion, which is relentlessly upbeat about how “new insights have strengthened, not weakened” marriage, bringing “new dimensions of freedom” to society.

But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.

Read it all (emphasis and article title his).

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.

There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

Read it all from Russell Moore.

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Read it all.

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image,” the leaders wrote. “We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.”

In the statement, the leaders suggest that the Court’s ruling is part of a negative trajectory on marriage and “represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

Read it all and the full text of the decision is there.

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2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....the controversial law still faces a bumpy future. Here are five challenges the ACA will face during the next several years:

Healthcare costs are still too high. As many enrollees are discovering, the “Affordable” Care Act is somewhat misnamed. Healthcare costs continue to rise faster than wages or overall inflation, putting a financial burden even on people who have healthcare. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23% of Americans who have healthcare coverage are “underinsured,” meaning their out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is more than 10% of their income in a given year. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have been rising because consumers and businesses have been opting for plans with lower premiums—which usually require the patient to bear more of the cost before 100% coverage kicks in. The irony is that insurance has gotten more affordable, but actual healthcare hasn’t.

The ACA includes several long-term provisions meant to explore ways to lower costs, but they may not be nearly enough to offset other trends pushing costs up, such as the retirement of the baby boomers and the development of expensive new drugs. If Congress ever gets serious about improving the ACA rather that faux-repealing it, cost will be the thing to focus on.

Read it all.

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two South Sudanese pastors whose legal plight is drawing comparisons to Meriam Ibrahim have been isolated by Sudan. They won’t be heard from until next Thursday, when a judge lets them speak in a Khartoum court.

The question is what role American advocacy played in their relocation to a higher-security prison earlier this month.

The families of Yat Michael (imprisoned for six months) and Peter Yen Reith (imprisoned for five months) were denied visitation on June 4. The day before, a vocal New York City pastor had attempted to visit the two Presbyterian pastors. A few days before that, a Virginia-based Christian TV network aired a telephone interview the two pastors gave from prison.

William Devlin, who pastors Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, has long advocated for American pastors to travel to “hard, dangerous, difficult places” in support of persecuted Christians. Sudan ranks No. 6 among the world’s most difficult places to be a Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudanAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This case comes hard on the heels of an attempt sponsored by Unite to establish that a beneficed parish priest is employed by his bishop or enjoys the status of a worker, thereby paving the way for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims. That was roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment sketched the history of the relationship between church and state and more particularly the jurisdiction of royal or civil courts over clergy from the investiture controversy in the 11th century right through to the establishment of the modern ecclesiastical courts. He appears to have accepted the proposition that employment tribunals could determine such questions as an attack on the balance that has been struck. Similar considerations apply to the Pemberton case, although the legal analysis is distinct.

While many will feel sympathy for Canon Pemberton, it should be remembered that even in the secular field, activities outside the workplace can result in a lawful termination of employment, although rarely. It should also be remembered that when ordained as a priest, he not only took an oath of canonical obedience to his bishop but also declared that he would fashion his own life “according to the way of Christ” and to be “a pattern and example to Christ’s people”.

What that amounts to cannot be a matter of private judgment. Plenty of other homosexual priests have at some cost followed the House of Bishops guidance and previous similar utterances from the hierarchy.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How is it being used?

Last week, US government agency talks that were intended to create a code of conduct for the technology fell apart. Privacy campaigners walked out of the discussions, claiming that companies and government agencies were unwilling to accept that they must always seek permission before using facial recognition technology to identify someone.

Alvaro Bedoya, from Georgetwon University Law Centre in Washington DC, told New Scientist that “not a single company would support [the principle].”

Uses of the technology are becoming increasingly Orwellian. Tesco plans to install screens that scan customers’ faces, determine their age and gender, and show them a relevant advertisement.

In the United States, a company called Face First offers retailers the ability to "build a database of good customers, recognize them when they come through the door, and make them feel more welcome” (in other words, schmooze the big spenders). The product also sends alerts whenever “known litigious individuals enter any of your locations”. Another company, Churchix, uses facial recognition technology to track congregation church attendance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of the horrific shooting that killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, BBB Wise Giving Alliance is warning about the potential for fund raising scams, and is urging donors to be aware of the different circumstances that often emerge in tragedy-related philanthropy.

“The hate crime that is being called the ‘Charleston massacre’ is such a shocking and emotional event,” said Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the national charity monitoring arm of the Better Business Bureau. “Many people are going to want to donate to the families of the victims, the historic church, and the community. We are warning donors to be on the lookout for questionable solicitors and scammers, not to mention people who might have good intentions but no experience with charity fund raising.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others. Here are BBB WGA’s tips for trusted giving:

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted June 23, 2015 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Charleston police gave church members clearance Saturday to return to their space, several members said. A group then met in the ground-level fellowship room where those killed had gathered to discuss the Gospel of Mark.

Harold Washington said it was an emotional moment.

“They did a good job cleaning it up. There were a few bullet holes around, but ... they cut them out so you don’t see the actual holes,” he said.

Many parishioners are eager to return to their church home. But others aren’t, not with death and horror still so fresh. They will fan out into the area’s other houses of worship to seek much-needed support.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let us whites especially admit that many of us have inadvertently imbibed theological and ethical assumptions that, in the face of a tragedy like this, show themselves to be naïve. We sometimes write and act as if the Christian ethic is mainly niceness on steroids, all in the name of grace. Anyone who knows my writing knows I’ve wandered into this territory from time to time. In short, we do not take into sufficient account the depth of evil roaming this world, and in this particular case, the radical evil that lies at the heart of racism.

Of course, we mustn’t swing the pendulum in the other direction. We mustn’t now abandon the doctrine of imago dei, nor the need for mutual respect, nor the fruitfulness of dialogue, and so forth. To assume we can solve racism with by merely mocking white supremacists and treating perpetrators of hate crimes with brutality and hatred—well, that is just as naïve. As if evil can be checked with distrust, suspicion, and hate.

And we can never forget that radical “niceness”—what is better called agape love—has extraordinary power to bring miracles to bear on seemingly intractable evil in isolated cases. Agape love on the ground is a large part of the reason Martin Luther King, Jr. made as much progress as he did in his day.

Still, the moment of lament is the moment to rethink what we believe, and to adopt the radically realistic ethic of Jesus, who has no illusions about the power of evil....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheodicy

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Posted June 20, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 1944 settlement, the basis for governing religious education, school worship, and denominational schools for the past seven decades, should be replaced with an agreement in tune with modern reality, a former Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, said this week.

Mr Clarke calls for the change in a pamphlet, A New Settlement: Religion and belief in schools, cowritten with Professor Linda Woodhead, a colleague at Lancaster University, where he is a visiting professor in politics and religion.

"It is clear to us", they say, "that the educational settlement between Church and State formalised in the 1944 Education Act, and reflected a different era, no longer serves its purpose."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 19, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I don’t think there’s ever been anything like that here,” said historian Jack Bass, a professor emeritus at the College of Charleston. “I think it’s just unprecedented.”

While South Carolina has suffered a long history of racially motivated arson attacks at black churches, some as recently as the late 1990s, the state’s last mass slaying of this scale occurred 139 years ago during the Reconstruction Era, Bass said.

in July 1876, violence erupted in Hamburg, a small town across the Savannah River from Augusta. Following a confrontation between white farmers and the town’s African-American militia, an armed mob of white men laid siege to the community. Five black men were summarily executed.

A hate crime, as defined by Congress, enables the Justice Department to prosecute crimes motivated by the offender’s bias against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted June 19, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are 28 in all--take them time to look through them.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted June 18, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



A white gunman killed nine people during a prayer meeting at one of Charleston’s oldest and best-known black churches Wednesday night in one of the worst mass shootings in South Carolina history.

Heavily armed law enforcement officers scoured the area into the morning for the man responsible for the carnage inside Emanuel AME Church at 110 Calhoun St. At least one person was said to have survived the rampage.

Police revealed no motive for the 9 p.m. attack, which was reportedly carried out by a young white man. Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said, “I do believe this was a hate crime.”

Mayor Joe Riley called the shooting “a most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”

Read it all.

Update: the best way to try to keep up with this story is to follow the Twitter Hashtag #charlestonshooting

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* South Carolina

5 Comments
Posted June 18, 2015 at 3:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After years of infertility, Angel and Jeff Watts found a young egg donor to help them have a baby. They fertilized her eggs with Mr. Watts’s sperm and got 10 good embryos. Four of those embryos were transferred to Ms. Watts’s womb, resulting in two sets of twins — Alexander and Shelby, now 4 years old, and Angelina and Charles, not yet 2.

But that left six frozen embryos, and Ms. Watts, 45, had no plans for more children. So in December she took to Facebook to try to find a nearby Tennessee family that wanted them.

“We have 6 good quality frozen six-day-old embryos to donate to an amazing family who wants a large family,” she posted. “We prefer someone who has been married several years in a steady loving relationship and strong Christian background, and who does not already have kids, but wants a boat load.”

In storage facilities across the nation, hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos — perhaps a million — are preserved in silver tanks of liquid nitrogen.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a wide-ranging interview on ABC radio yesterday, the Bishop of Grafton Sarah McNeil, spoke of the recent diocesan synod held in Port Macquarie.

Bishop McNeil said members of the synod had discussed a number of political issues, including gay marriage, asylum seeker policy and climate change.

The bishop said the synod decided to assess the views of the congregation on gay marriage in the next 12 months, then to present this to the 2016 synod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Newcastle's Anglican Bishop has fought back tears while apologising for past church cover-ups and the poor handling of complaints about child sexual abuse.

Greg Thompson marked 500 days in the position by saying sorry for "the terrible harm done [by] a culture of not listening".

"If you are a victim or a survivor of abuse I want to encourage you to come forward," he said.

"I want to assure you that when you do share your story the church will believe you and you will be supported in that process.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

TEC’s essential legal arguments can be distilled down to one proposition: TEC claims to be a "hierarchical" church, with complete, top-down control of the entire organization.

“There are multiple and significant problems with these assertions in this case as detailed in this brief,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “First, TEC's organizational structure is irrelevant to this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled clearly and repeatedly that in property matters of this sort courts not only can, but should decide them based upon 'neutral principles of law' if that can resolve all the issues. That means questions of ownership can be settled on the same basis as in any secular case.”

An example of this point is the 2009 decision of the All Saints case by the South Carolina Supreme Court. As in any litigation involving churches, doctrinal issues are often involved. However, if the court can decide the matter applying the customary laws of property ownership, it may do so. That occurred in All Saints.

Read it all

and see also Diocese of South Carolina’s PR on TEC’s ‘Spurious’ Offer to Settle

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

4 Comments
Posted June 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Traditional Christian teaching could effectively be “criminalised” in some settings under David Cameron’s plans for new anti-extremist banning orders, a top Anglican theologian and former Parliamentary draftsman has warned.

The Rev Dr Mike Ovey, a former lawyer and now principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, a training school for Church of England clergy, said proposals for new “Extremism Disruption Orders” could be a “disaster area” for people from all the mainstream religions and none.

Mr Cameron and Theresa May have signalled that the new orders, planned as part of the Government’s Counter-Extremism Bill, would not curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but the promotion of other views deemed to go against “British values” even if it is non-violent and legal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church of Canada expressed regret on Monday for the "immoral sexual behaviour" of one of its priests and apologized for not publicly disclosing a confession made two decades ago by the B.C.-based priest, who admitted to sexually abusing parishioners.

Gordon Nakayama's case was never reported to the police, but his story was the inspiration for The Rain Ascends, a novel by well-known Canadian author Joy Kogawa who is also the priest's daughter.

The former priest ministered to the Japanese-Canadian community in B.C. and Alberta. During the Second World War, he followed his Japanese-Canadian parishioners from Vancouver to their internment camps.

Read it all from the CBC.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The offer was made by a local attorney who represents the 20 percent of members who remained with TEC when most of the Diocese disaffiliated in 2012. It promised that TEC would end its multimillion dollar legal campaign to seize local church properties if the parishes agree to hand over the Diocese’s identity, its other assets including the Diocese’s offices on Coming Street in Charleston and the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, which is prime real estate that could be sold off by the cash-strapped denomination.

“This is not a legitimate offer of good faith negotiation and never was intended to be,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Assistant to Bishop Mark Lawrence. “It was a spurious offer chiefly made to disrupt submission of our brief and make them look good in the press.” Lewis said. “As a matter of fact, the Presiding Bishop's chancellor is on record as saying they would never settle. In that, they have been utterly consistent up until now.”

“Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that TEC has ‘no legal, equitable or beneficial interest’ in these properties. TEC appealed the matter and a hearing is scheduled before the South Carolina Supreme Court in September. If TEC were confident of its case, they would be eager for justice to be served and would not attempt to derail the next step in the legal process . Their so-called proposal has been unanimously rejected by all parties.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* Theology

3 Comments
Posted June 16, 2015 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After careful consideration of this proposal it was quite clear that it was not a legitimate offer of good faith negotiation and never was intended to be. Thus, the proposal has been unanimously rejected by all parties to the litigation for the Diocese of South Carolina.
Reasons:

1. First, if it had been legitimate, it would have come from someone with authority to bind all the parties on the Episcopal Church side. The Presiding Bishop, though referenced in the letter, does not have that authority for TEC. It would - at minimum - require an action by TEC's Executive Council, if not General Convention. Tisdale’s letter doesn't even have the signature of legal counsel for TEC. Counsel for TEC was contacted to request that they provide the necessary proof of authority, along with THEIR signature on this offer. There has been no response.

2. Equally important, a valid proposal should have come to the Diocese’s lead counsel for this litigation, not to a parish representative. After nearly two weeks from the time of the original "offer" that contact has still not been made. A good faith offer has still not been properly presented .

3. Along these same lines, it should have been done entirely in confidence, and not presented as a kind of mass public statement. On Friday (6/12) it was publicly announced by a TECinSC blogger that Bishop vonRosenberg had sent a written notice to all his parishes, informing them this offer had been made. Both communications represent a serious breach of confidentiality. Today's announcement from them further emphasizes this dynamic. If some kind (any kind) of good faith negotiation is what they were really interestd in, this certainly was not the way to conduct it.

Particularly to the point, the letters from Mr. Tisdale should not have been presented in the midst of the appellate briefs being filed. It must be noted that the expiration date of this offer was the same day our reply brief was due to be filed with the State Supreme Court. That is obviously no accident.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Episcopal Church has taken a major step towards letting same-sex couples marry in church. However the process of change will take at least two years. If and when final approval is given, priests will be allowed – but not required – to celebrate weddings between same-sex partners.

The General Synod voted to ask the Faith and Order Board to look at revising the church’s rules on marriage. An overwhelming majority backed the resolution.

“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages,” said David Chillingworth, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus (chief bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Archbishop Stephen Langton was mediator between the King and his barons, counsellor to both, and an advocate of civil harmony, cohesion and goodwill. His great legacy was this remarkable document, the spring from which so much of the human quest for political liberty has drawn, here and abroad, especially in the United States of America.

"The vision of the dignity of the human being, however limited that vision is, in Magna Carta sets a standard for our consideration of all human beings – however important or unimportant, near or far, they may seem to be.

"Langton was not alone. His was an age of giants at Canterbury. Alphege whose love for his people led him to give his life to save them from paying a crippling ransom. Anselm, the wise scholar and yet brave counsellor, whose advice cost him years of exile.

In such self-giving and courage Magna Carta found fertile soil to grow. It sets the bar high for all of us today...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlyn Jenner may have given Americans a crash course in transgender acceptance. But progressive pockets of Europe are moving toward an even higher plane — embracing what advocates describe as a post-gender world that critics say is leaving no room for women to be women and men to be men.

In Berlin, for instance, fresh rules for billboard ads in a district of the liberal German capital read like a new constitution for a land without gender identity. Girls in pink “with dolls” are basically out, as are boys in blue playing “with technical toys.” In ads showing both adult women and men, females cannot be depicted as “hysterical,” “stupid” or “naive” alongside men presented as “technically skilled,” “strong” or “business savvy.”

Adult women — featured alone or otherwise — must not be shown “occupied in the household with pleasure.” And in one stipulation pounced upon by critics, the equal-opportunity board of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg — home to Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall — no longer wants to see images of women “smiling for no reason.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A judge has ruled that a diocese in Texas which broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences is the rightful owner of its church property.

Judge John Chupp of Tarrant County ruled Wednesday that All Saints Episcopal Church belongs to the...Diocese of Fort Worth rather than the national denomination.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Under a law that took effect Thursday in North Carolina, employees who issue marriage licenses can refuse to complete paperwork for gay couples by invoking their religious beliefs — a move that could mean longer waits at courthouses for all those who want to wed, especially in rural counties with small staffs.

Gay rights groups and some Democrats said legal challenges were likely to come soon for the new law, the second of its kind nationwide. Utah passed one this year.

North Carolina's law took effect as the state House voted to override Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's earlier veto. The Senate already had voted for the override. McCrory said though he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, no state employee should be able to break his or her government oath. His position puts him at odds with social conservatives aligned with his party.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of more than 190,000 abortions, 51 per cent were medical, where a pill is taken to end a pregnancy. Ten years ago medical abortions made up only 20 per cent of procedures, while in 2013 the number was 49 per cent.

The total number of abortions last year was down slightly from 190,800 in 2013, and has fallen every year since 2007. Ninety-two per cent of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks, and 80 per cent were carried out at less than ten weeks, compared with 60 per cent a decade ago.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Defying the governor, lawmakers here enacted a law on Thursday that allows state court officials to refuse to perform a marriage if they have a “sincerely held religious objection,” a measure aimed at curtailing same-sex unions.

The Republican-controlled House voted 69-41 on Thursday to override a veto by Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican, who refused to sign the marriage bill in May. Mr. McCrory said at the time that although he believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, he vetoed the bill because “no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath.”

The State Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans, voted to override Mr. McCrory’s veto on June 1.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 5:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film's title alludes to the opening track of Wilson's 1988 debut solo album. The film delivers both in spades. Mercy is certainly shown to Wilson in the film, which skips the darkest period of his life, a fifteen-year-stretch between 1968 and the transformation that came after Melinda Ledbetter (his wife-to-be) met him. During those lost years, he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, battling auditory hallucinations, spending much of his time in bed, using drugs, and grossly overeating (his weight soared to more than 300 pounds).

Melinda (played by Elizabeth Banks) is really the central character in the '80s narrative, and her perseverance and genuine concern for Brian's well-being ultimately get him out of his abusive relationship with Dr. Landy. Love & Mercy celebrates the gift of Wilson's music by focusing on his most fertile creative period and the light shining through after almost two decades of darkness. What makes the Wilson story so wonderful is its genuinely redemptive arc. With Melinda he has enjoyed a newfound stability (they've been happily married for 20 years) and a return to the music spotlight with 2004's Grammy-winning Brian Wilson Presents Smile and later with the long-awaited release of the masters for Smile in 2011.

While love and mercy may have both landed in the title, justice is also central to the film. In the scene that generates the largest applause, Dr. [Eugene] Landy is served papers for the lawsuit that ultimately cost him his license to practice psychiatry. That may suggest why Love & Mercy is so compelling. It avoids the formulaic quality of so many recent biopics, but it's not ashamed to tug at our heartstrings. And above all, it captures the joy of creation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionMusicPsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following allegations of human rights abuses, bribery and corruption the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board have raised serious concerns with SOCO International and its board since November 2013 and intensively since December 2014. Our concerns specifically address four main areas relating to the company's operations in and around Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The four main areas are:

• The instigation of a wide ranging and transparent independent enquiry of SOCO's operations in and around Virunga National Park.

• Amendment of the previously issued statement agreed between SOCO and WWF to remove any room for doubt about SOCO's intentions within existing or future boundaries of a World Heritage site so that there are, without exception, no circumstances in which SOCO would conduct further exploration or production activities in the Virunga National Park or any other World Heritage site.Following allegations of human rights abuses, bribery and corruption the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board have raised serious concerns with SOCO International and its board since November 2013 and intensively since December 2014. Our concerns specifically address four main areas relating to the company's operations in and around Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The four main areas are:

• The instigation of a wide ranging and transparent independent enquiry of SOCO's operations in and around Virunga National Park.

• Amendment of the previously issued statement agreed between SOCO and WWF to remove any room for doubt about SOCO's intentions within existing or future boundaries of a World Heritage site so that there are, without exception, no circumstances in which SOCO would conduct further exploration or production activities in the Virunga National Park or any other World Heritage site.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAfricaRepublic of Congo* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Freier wrote to Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten because Parliament may soon consider amending the Marriage Act. Mr Shorten is bringing a bill to introduce same-sex marriage, and two other bills are also planned.

“Should changes to the Marriage Act be legislated, I urge on behalf of the Anglican Church that there be provision made for decisions of conscience.

“Ministers of religion recognised by a church or other religious body must have the right to refuse to solemnise a marriage if in doing so that would contravene his or her religious beliefs or the religious beliefs of the church or other religious body,” Dr Freier wrote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To learn about the enigmatic group, CT editorial resident Morgan Lee spoke with Virginia Comolli, the author of Boko Haram: Nigeria's Islamist Insurgency and a fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Why are the origins of Boko Haram so unclear?

During my research, I was struck by the amount of confusion and contrasting views among high-level politicians and members of the military. There are people who believe it is a group purely motivated by violent religious extremism. Other people say it is a political movement. Other people think it’s an opportunistic criminal entity.

However, if we look at the history of northern Nigeria in the post-colonial period, you’ll see the emergence of a number of groups framing their discourse in religious-revival terms, with people advocating a return to true Islam as a way of addressing societal evils. But although these critics were speaking in religious terms, they were all critical of the corrupt government. They also represented those from the north who were socioeconomically and politically marginalized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are 5 separate stories and then the data--you find the link there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's the end of a tough week in Baltimore. Tensions continue in the Freddie Gray case. And now the murder rate has spiked to a 40-year high. One man who understands well what the city is going through is Kurt Schmoke. He's a native son and was elected as Baltimore's first black mayor in 1987. He served three terms, grappling with high unemployment, poor schools and violent crime.

Now the president of the University of Baltimore, Schmoke shares his memories of the city and his thoughts about moving it forward with Morning Edition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few commentators on either side of the ongoing marriage debate would deny that individuals possess a fundamental right to marry. To do so seems ridiculous today. Marital relationships are, as the Supreme Court first affirmed in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)—albeit in obiter dictum, an aside unnecessary to the decision of the case—an important part of the happiness that individuals have a natural right to pursue.

It may be a surprise to modern Americans to realize that the Meyer case represents the first notable appearance of the “right to marry” language in the American political tradition or its antecedents in liberal political philosophy. It played almost no role in the Civil Rights Movement beyond its invocation by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia (neither King nor Malcolm X made mention of such a right to my knowledge), it was entirely absent from the anti-slavery movement (Lincoln’s Republican Party was formed, in fact, with the twin policy goals of ending slavery and outlawing polygamy), and it was similarly absent from the revolutionary conflict with Great Britain.

The idea of a fundamental right to marry—not just someone of the same sex, but anyone at all—is a relatively new one. Among those who didn’t think anyone—not just homosexuals, but heterosexuals as well—possessed such a right are John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln, to name only a prominent few. Why not?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. cracking down on international football’s governing body looks like a recipe for geopolitical disaster. Fortunately, the only thing the world hates more than American unilateralism is corrupt officials compromising the integrity of the world’s most popular sport. These five facts explain the FIFA scandal and the geopolitical implications of this growing story.

1. Sepp Blatter

Nine FIFA officials were indicted last week by the U.S. Department of Justice for taking $150 million in bribes while awarding FIFA broadcast rights. This kicked off a Swiss investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 Russia World Cup and the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Since the story broke last week, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has managed to win reelection and then resign his post.

For years the worst-kept secret in sports was FIFA’s extensive ‘patronage’ system. Blatter is accused of using FIFA development money, earmarked for promoting soccer in impoverished nations, to secure votes and general support for his initiatives. FIFA generated nearly $6 billion over the last four years—that’s a lot of money to work with.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the decision of a court in France to allow a paralysed man to be taken off life support.

Vincent Lambert, 39, has been in a coma for seven years after a motorcycle accident left him tetraplegic.

His family have been split over whether he should be kept alive.

The case was taken to the European court last year after France's highest court had ruled in favour of ending his life support.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four Methodist bishops. Four denominations. One place. One cause.

“They have sensed the need for leadership and have come to give unity to families across the state who have been impacted by officer-involved shootings,” said The Rev. Dr. Robert Kennedy, pastor of St. Peters African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Charleston.

ennedy stood Wednesday night at the head of his North Charleston church, packed with hundreds, and introduced The Rt. Rev. Richard Franklin Norris, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Monroe, presiding bishop of the South Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The Rt. Rev. James B. Walker, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Rt. Rev. Lewis Jonathan Holston, presiding bishop of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“We come tonight to make a plea for liberty for minorities who are not always treated fairly,” he said, adding that while there are good cops, there are also those who make poor decisions on the job and something needs to be done.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is no secret that as the bloody insurgency waged by the Boko Haram since 2009 intensified, so too did the brutality of the Nigerian military’s response. Since the start of the conflict, Amnesty International has been documenting and highlighting human rights abuses perpetrated by both sides. But the report released today, “Stars on their Shoulders, Blood on their Hands,” goes further than ever before. Not only does it reveal incontrovertible evidence of the horrifying scale and depravity of war crimes committed by the military, it also shows that military commanders either sanctioned the abuses or ignored the fact that they were taking place.

This report is based on years of research and analysis — including hundreds of leaked military reports and correspondence and interviews with more than 400 victims, eyewitnesses, and senior members of the Nigerian security forces. We have found that more than 7,000 young men and boys died in military detention since March 2011. In addition, more than 1,200 people were rounded-up and unlawfully killed by the military since February 2012. And Amnesty International’s evidence suggests that the vast majority of those arrested, detained, or killed were not members of Boko Haram.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 3, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Survivors of historical child abuse say Scotland’s churches have been “let off the hook” by a national public inquiry set up to investigate the issue.

The inquiry, which is set to get under way later this year, will look at allegations of abuse relating to children in residential care, including independent boarding schools.

But it will not examine allegations where the child was living with its family or an adoptive family, or where the child was attending a “faith-based organisations on a day-to-day basis”.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. companies whose financial statements contain errors may soon have to “claw back” some of their top executives’ compensation as a result.

The Securities and Exchange Commission will soon propose long-awaited rules forcing companies to claw back, or revoke, some of their top officials’ incentive pay if they have to restate the financial results that led to it, according to people familiar with the agency’s internal deliberations.

Unlike existing rules, in which clawbacks are triggered only in a narrow set of circumstances involving misconduct at companies that restate earnings, the SEC’s proposal would apply to all manner of restatements—including those issued because of mistakes.

Read it all.


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1 Comments
Posted June 3, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the U.S. carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they're being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Read it all.


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Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My mom and dad didn’t tell us why they were putting us on the train. I thought they were coming with us,” said Clara Fergus, a Cree woman from northern Manitoba to a sharing circle on the morning of June 1, at the beginning of the final event of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). “They put us on the train, and then we noticed they didn’t come with us.”

The train took Fergus all the way to the United Church of Canada-run Brandon Indian Residential School, where she would spend the rest of her childhood having her language, culture and identity stripped from her while suffering “all forms of abuse” at the hands of teachers and staff.

“Being away from your brothers and sisters, being away from your grandparents,” said Fergus. “It’s the love that we missed. The hugs. The nurturing…I can’t imagine…if I sent my kids there, and they had to go through that…”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has spent the last six years documenting stories like Fergus’s, stories of how the Indian residential school system was set up to enact what Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin recently called “an attempt at cultural genocide.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What has been at stake here is not just a single employer that has discriminated against one individual. The largest employer in America – the Department of Defense – has a rule in place that discriminates against anyone who wears a hijab or turban or maintains facial hair for religious reasons. Individuals who maintain articles of faith, such as these, are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military without a rarely granted accommodation.

A large majority of Americans affected by such discriminatory policies belong to minority faith communities, and the Supreme Court’s decision directly impacts how we think about equal opportunity and religious freedom in this country.

Elauf demonstrated that she recognizes her case would have bearing for a number of different communities. “I am not only standing up for myself, but for all people who wish to adhere to their faith while at work,” she said, following the oral arguments. “Observance of my faith should not prevent me from getting a job.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We too easily forget that every good service the government provides comes with a growth in its regulatory power. And that power can be used in ways nobody imagined in the past.

We also forget Tocqueville’s warning that democracy can become tyrannical precisely because it’s so sensitive to public opinion. If anyone needs proof, consider what a phrase like “marriage equality” has done to our public discourse in less than a decade. It’s dishonest. But it works.

That leads to the key point I want to make here. The biggest problem we face as a culture isn’t gay marriage or global warming. It’s not abortion funding or the federal debt. These are vital issues, clearly. But the deeper problem, the one that’s crippling us, is that we use words like justice, rights, freedom and dignity without any commonly shared meaning to their content.

We speak the same language, but the words don’t mean the same thing. Our public discourse never gets down to what’s true and what isn’t, because it can’t. Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.
Words like “justice” have emotional throw-weight, so people use them as weapons. And it can’tbe otherwise, becausethe religious vision and convictions that once animated American life are no longer welcome at the table. After all, what can “human rights” mean if science sees nothing transcendent in the human species? Or if science imagines a trans-humanist future? Or if science doubts that a uniquely human “nature” even exists? If there’s no inherent human nature, there can be no inherent natural rights—and then the grounding of our whole political system is a group of empty syllables.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 1, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those who helped design this network over subsequent decades focused on the technical challenges of moving information quickly and reliably. When they thought about security, they foresaw the need to protect the network against potential intruders or military threats, but they didn’t anticipate that the Internet’s own users would someday use the network to attack one another.

“We didn’t focus on how you could wreck this system intentionally,” said Vinton G. Cerf, a dapper, ebullient Google vice president who in the 1970s and ’80s designed key building blocks of the Internet. “You could argue with hindsight that we should have, but getting this thing to work at all was non-trivial.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But by themselves, they are not likely to change the culture of the organization, a fact made clear Friday by the re-election of long-standing FIFA President Sepp Blatter. So though he obviously rated the equivalent of a red card (a game-ejecting penalty), he’s still in charge.

Two years ago Mr. Blatter suppressed a critical internal report on evidence of vote buying and other corruption in FIFA, causing the author, former U.S. Attorney for New York Michael Garcia, to resign in protest.

Observers of FIFA have long suspected rampant vote-selling in the choosing of World Cup host nations, such as the surprising decision to award the 2018 tournament to Russia.

The call to play the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was even more stunning.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 30, 2015 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[WARNING: the following post may be dangerous to one's mental health. The panoply of unbelievably large figures in it may also cause one's eyes to glaze over. For those who cannot wade through it all, here is the bottom line:

The Episcopal Church (USA) has spent, and further committed (in its adopted budgets) to spend, a total of $42,675,466 on suing fellow Christians in the civil and ecclesiastical courts over the first eighteen years of this century. When one adds in the estimated additional amounts spent by individual dioceses on such litigation, the total amount exceeds Sixty Million Dollars.

Can't believe it? Well, then, read on -- you have been warned.]

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

8 Comments
Posted May 30, 2015 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few arrests can have provoked such Schadenfreude as those of seven senior officials of FIFA, football’s world governing body, early on May 27th at a swish Swiss hotel. The arrests are part of a wide-ranging investigation by America’s FBI into corruption at FIFA, dating back over two decades. The indictment from the Department of Justice named 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and paying bribes worth more than $150m. They are likely to face charges in a US federal court. As more people start talking in a bid to sauve qui peut, the investigation will with luck reach into every dark and dank corner of FIFA’s Zurich headquarters...

American extraterritorial jurisdiction is often excessive in its zeal and overbearing in its methods, but in this instance it deserves the gratitude of football fans everywhere. The hope must be that FIFA’s impunity is at last brought to an end and with it the career of the ineffably complacent Sepp Blatter, its 79-year-old president, who was nonetheless expected to be re-elected for a fifth term after The Economist had gone to print.

The evidence of systemic corruption at FIFA has been accumulating for years, but came to a head in 2010 with the bidding for two World Cups. When the right to hold the competition in 2022 was won by tiny, bakingly hot Qatar, against the strong advice of FIFA’s own technical committee, suspicions that votes had been bought were immediately aroused. Thanks to two female whistleblowers and the diligent investigative work of the Sunday Times, a wealth of damning evidence was unearthed involving a Qatari FIFA official, Mohamed bin Hammam, who allegedly wooed football bigwigs in Africa with a $5m slush fund.

Read it all.


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Posted May 29, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opponents of payday lending have a new ally in the fight against predatory lenders: Leaders from the 15.7-million member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

“We cannot sit by idly while some of the poorest among us are preyed on by people simply looking for a quick buck with no regard for the devastation they cause in the lives of others,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

The ERLC is one of the founding members of the newly-formed Faith for Just Lending coalition, which launched earlier this month. Among other members are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the National Baptist Convention USA, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and the PICO National Network.

“While representing distinct institutions with different histories and practices, these faith organizations hold a shared conviction that Scripture speaks to the problem of predatory lending—condemning usury and teaching us to respect the God-given dignity of each person and to love our neighbors rather than exploit their financial vulnerability,” the group stated in a press release. “They believe that just lending is a matter of biblical morality and religious concern.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In England and Wales, the Suicide Act 1961 makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt.

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said he would attempt to reintroduce a bill that would allow assisted dying in the UK.

He said it was "completely wrong" that terminally ill people did not have the option to end their life.

"Whatever your take on the subject, it should be debated," Lord Falconer told the BBC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSwitzerland* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI director, James Comey, commenting on the arrests in Zurich yesterday of senior Fifa officials, identified rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corruption in the federation. “Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes became a way of doing business at Fifa,” he said. The raids by both the American and Swiss authorities were cynically welcomed by Mr Blatter’s team as a sign that it was cleaning up its act.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, as our sister paper The Sunday Times has diligently exposed, was secured by the rigging and purchase of votes. Despite clear evidence of wrongdoing, Qatar has held on to the cup. An investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee, a body created by Mr Blatter to soothe the many doubts about federation practices, was not published in full to spare the leadership embarrassment. On an almost daily basis, the absurdity of Qatar hosting the cup becomes apparent, from its treatment of construction workers to the extraordinary decision to switch the games to the winter in the midst of the European club season.

The Blatter years have been distinguished by a Machiavellian manipulation of the executive committee and of the broader football voting community.

Read it all (requires subscription) [my emphasis].


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Buhari's to-do list is indeed a long one.

Earlier this month, his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, said that 110 million out of Nigeria's population of 170 million were living in "extreme poverty" while the largest chunk of the nation's wealth was going into the pockets of a small percentage of the population.

This situation has been brought about by the mindless corruption of the past six years, mainly fuelled by a cabal in the oil and gas industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United States law enforcement officials declared in forceful terms on Wednesday that their broad investigation of FIFA had only begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption.

The Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. described soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels, saying that top officials treated FIFA business decisions as chits to be traded for personal wealth. One soccer official took in more than $10 million in bribes, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said.

The schemes involving the fraud included the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup; the 2011 FIFA presidential elections; and several sports-marketing deals

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A different health care issue has emerged for Democrats, in sync with the party’s pitch to workers and middle-class voters ahead of next year’s elections.

It’s not the uninsured, but rather the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for people already covered.

Democrats call it “underinsurance.”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Justice Department unsealed a 47 count indictment early Wednesday charging 14 world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud. Four of the accused have already pleaded guilty.

The announcement in a press release followed a round-up of officials of FIFA, the world soccer federation, at a swanky Zurich hotel where they were assembling for an important meeting.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeSwitzerland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internal Revenue Service said identity thieves used its online services to obtain prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households, a major setback for the agency that is charged with safeguarding taxpayers’ privacy.

The IRS said criminals used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data acquired from elsewhere to gain unauthorized access to the tax agency accounts. About 100,000 more attempts were unsuccessful, the agency said.

Thieves used the information from prior years’ returns to help them file for fraudulent refunds, the IRS said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of former players have filed a lawsuit claiming all 32 NFL teams, their doctors, trainers and medical staffs obtained and provided painkillers to players — often illegally — as part of a decades-long conspiracy to keep them on the field without regard for their long-term health.

The lawsuit reprises some of the allegations made in a federal lawsuit last year on behalf of 1,300 former players against the NFL. That complaint was filed in May, 2014 and dismissed in December by Judge William Alsup of the U.S. Northern District in California. Alsup wrote that the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association was the appropriate forum to resolve such claims. That decision is being appealed.

The new lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. Northern District of Maryland. It names each NFL team individually as a defendant and lists 13 plaintiffs, including Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys and Etopia Evans, the widow of Charles Evans, a running back who played eight years with the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens and retired after the 2000 season. Evans died of heart failure in October 2008 at age 41.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 1:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By about 4pm, the national Yes vote stood at 62.4 per cent against 36.6 per cent for the No side with 60.2 per cent of the country going to the polls.

Donegal, against some expectations, has approved the amendment to the Constitution by a small margin. Donegal South West has been the closest so far, with 50.1 per cent voting Yes, representing a margin of just 33 votes.

The Yes vote in Dublin was particularly pronounced. Dublin Midwest reported a Yes vote of 70.9 per cent and Dublin Southwest returned 71.3 per cent, in line with an overall 70 per cent positive vote anticipated in the capital. As the result emerged thousands of people gathered, against convention, in the courtyard of Dublin Castle signalling widespread jubilation.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“‘A good job’ means a really tough fire,” says retired firefighter Alfred Benjamin. Some call it terrifying or seductive, but as Rescue 5’s Joseph Esposito notes, “You should be scared…that’s what keeps you alive.”
Directed and produced by Liz Garbus (HBO’s Emmy®-nominated “Bobby Fischer Against the World”) and produced by actor Steve Buscemi (Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”), A GOOD JOB: STORIES OF THE FDNY explores life in one of the most demanding and innovative fire departments in the world.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMovies & TelevisionUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Voters will be given two ballot papers: a white ballot paper for the marriage referendum and a green ballot paper for the age of presidential candidates referendum.

In the marriage referendum people may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution.

This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Australia is clearly being asked to take a regional role in this ongoing crisis. What role should we take?

PHILIP FREIER: Well, I think there's a couple of things we could do. One is to look at these countries where many people are wanting to leave for a manifest number of reasons and seek some of the long term solutions that might stabilise those.

But I think that plainly we need to do all we can in association with our regional neighbours in making sure that there are not people simply left starving on boats with nowhere to go.

So the breakthrough that we've had are people being able to come onshore, seems to be the initiative of some fishermen in Indonesia, seems very welcome.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.

The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.

The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two “priceless” medieval painted panels, the stone effigy of a knight in chainmail and a plaque marking the spot where a 12th-century Bishop of Hereford’s heart was buried are among dozens of historic artefacts recovered by police investigating thefts from isolated country churches.

The brightly painted 15th-century panels were hacked from a rood screen at Holy Trinity Church in Torbryan, Devon, in 2013. The paintings of St Victor of Marseilles and St Margaret are rare survivors of the puritanical zeal of the Reformation when many religious artifacts were destroyed.

The panels were recovered from a London collector who had bought them along with about 40 other objects stolen from country churches, which police are now trying to return to their rightful owners.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The law

“… must protect all. It must protect the rights of the defendants to have and to manifest their religious beliefs but it also recognizes that the rights of the plaintiff not to be discriminated because of his sexual orientation must also be protected. If the plaintiff was a gay man who ran a bakery business and the defendants as Christians wanted him to bake a cake with the words ‘support heterosexual marriage’ the plaintiff would be required to do so as, otherwise; he would, according to the law be discriminating against the defendants. This is not a law which is for one belief only but is equal to and for all. The defendants are entitled to continue to hold their genuine and deeply held religious beliefs and to manifest them but, in accordance with the law, not to manifest them in the commercial sphere if it is contrary to the rights of others [93 & 94].

As to the defendants’ argument that Article 10 (expression) meant that they could not be compelled to express or commit themselves to a viewpoint or to appear to give support to another’s views, she concluded that what the defendants had been asked to do “did not require them to support, promote or endorse any viewpoint” and did not engage Article 10 – and her view was that, even if she was wrong in that conclusion and Article 10 was engaged, any infringement of the defendants’ rights was justified under Article 10 (2) because they were prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society and for the protection of the rights of others

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fears that Islamic State has sent fighters to Europe posing as migrants were growing last night after a terrorist suspect was smuggled across the Mediterranean to Italy.

Abdelmajid Touil, 22, who was arrested by anti-terrorism police near Milan, is alleged to have helped to stage an attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis two months ago in which 22 people, including a Briton, were killed.

Police said that Mr Touil, a Moroccan, first arrived in Italy on February 17 at Empedocle, Sicily. Since Moroccans are not offered asylum in Italy, he was told that he would be expelled.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US regulators are increasingly concerned about the threat that cyber attacks pose to financial stability after assaults on Sony Pictures and Target highlighted the proliferating range of techniques used by digital raiders.

In a new report on risks to the financial system, regulators also sounded the alarm on risk-taking by institutions searching for higher investment yields, as well as the threat of rising interest rates triggering market volatility.

On cyber security, the annual report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council said “the prospect of a more destructive incident that could impair financial sector operations” was even more concerning than recent breaches that have compromised financial information.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DUP MLA Paul Givan is consulting on an Assembly bill that would allow people with religious beliefs a limited exemption from certain equality law requirements.

He said his private member’s bill would protect Christians who “do not feel there is space being made for their religious beliefs”.

Following the court ruling, DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “We have been listening to people and I think the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ is now what we would like to frame some legislation around – recognising that there are rights on both sides and therefore there has to be a reasonable accommodation between the two. So, I think we are not surprised at the outcome, that’s why we had embarked upon the legislative process.”

Mr Givan said his party leader had no apology to make for last year labelling the commission’s support for the court action “bonkers”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have to admit I was surprised by the verdict. For me, the case was not simply one of straightforward homophobia. Refusing to write a message fundamentally at odds with one’s beliefs is different from, say, refusing a couple a bed in a B&B: it is to involve people in an argument rather than simply request that they act as disinterested providers. If Ashers had simply refused to sell any cake at all to Mr Lee or any other LGBT person, then that would be an obvious act of discrimination.

The case is complicated further by the fact that equal marriage is not just a religious issue in Northern Ireland: it is a live political issue. Less than a month ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against the legalisation of equal marriage. We are now in the strange situation where the Equality Commission and the court have both decided that refusing to write an equal marriage slogan on a cake is against equality, while equal marriage itself is illegal.

The court ruled that as Ashers is a commercial organisation rather than a church there can be no exception. This is bound to lead to a wonderful summer of Northern Ireland’s national sport, whataboutery. Already all sorts of scenarios are being dreamt up, from Jews baking Nazi cakes to the somewhat confusing conclusion by loyalist “flags” activist Jamie Bryson that the ruling now means pubs must serve him while wearing his pipe band uniform.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A judge has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Ashers Baking Company, based in County Antrim, was taken to court by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

A Belfast judge said, as a business, Ashers was not exempt from discrimination law.

The firm's general manager said they were "extremely disappointed" by the ruling and are considering an appeal.

Damages of £500 were agreed in advance by legal teams on both sides of the dispute.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican church here will not allow same-sex marriages to take place on its pre­mises, said newly installed Anglican bishop Melter Jiki (pic).

The 50-year-old bishop, who is the first native Kadazan chosen to lead the 90,000-strong Anglican community in the state, said this when asked about the church’s policies and what to expect during his tenure.

“We are totally against the so-called same-sex marriage. We will not allow it in the church,” said the father of four who was installed as the sixth Anglican bishop in Sabah on Tuesday

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East AsiaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”

Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.

Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsSecularismReligious Freedom / Persecution* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lobleins are among thousands of couples and individuals in the United States grappling with difficult choices regarding their stored genetic material. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 600,000 frozen embryos are stored nationwide, in addition to countless more cryo-preserved eggs and sperm.

The issue made for dramatic headlines recently as “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara was hit with a lawsuit by her ex-fiance, who wants custody of their two fertilized embryos to use for a potential pregnancy. But for most people who have used assisted reproductive technologies, the question of what to do with frozen eggs, sperm and embryos plays out in a much more private, if no less wrenching, manner.

“Having embryos in limbo is a huge problem for our field,” says Eric Widra, medical director at Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has locations throughout the Washington area. “Parents are apprehensive or conflicted and don’t know what to do.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMenScience & TechnologyWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking at the third synod of the Zaria Diocese of the Anglican Communion in Kaduna State on Sunday, Reverend Asaju urged General Buhari to ensure he prosecutes all corrupt government officials irrespective of their background, and also ensure he revives the nation’s refineries and as well address the problem of unemployment.

The cleric also urged the governors-elect and other elected political office holders across the states to imbibe the tenets of integrity, openness, transparency and prudence in the discharge of their duties.

The 2015 edition of the annual event, which commenced on May 14, has as its theme; ‘Walking in the Light of God’.

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

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Posted May 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is nearing the end of negotiations to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach to real estate developers.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno announced the sale to congregants Sunday, Diocese spokesman Robert Williams said. The sale of the church could bring in roughly $15 million -- twice the appraised value of the site, Williams said.

Services at the church will likely continue into the fall, Williams said. No information on where congregants will be moved or whether the congregation may reopen at a different site was available on Monday, he said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Los AngelesTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Baroness Shields, the former head of Facebook in Europe, is to become the UK's minister for internet safety and security in the new Conservative government.

The Telegraph understands the American-born entrepreneur turned technology evangelist is to lead the Government's effort to improve online safety in its war against child pornography.

She will also be involved in the UK's war on cybercrime and hacking, including the vital area of cybersecurity, with the aim of keeping the general public safe online.

Her appointment, as a Parliamentary under secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is part of a push by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to tackle the problem of illegal child porn online, and to ensure that images of abuse are blocked.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPornographyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week marks one year since Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to 40 lashes for adultery, and death for apostasy. The campaign for her release was joined by thousands across the globe, including David Cameron, but although Ibrahim is now free, the situation for Sudan's religious minorities continues to worsen.

When the Court of Appeal declared Ibrahim innocent of all charges and released her from prison on 25 June 2014, there was cautious hope that the campaign would lead to wider respect for freedom of religion or belief in Sudan. But just five days after her acquittal, on 30 June, the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida, North Khartoum, was demolished after being given 24 hours' verbal notice.

As 2014 came to an end, religious minorities faced further restrictions. In particular, the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination (SEPC) has been embroiled in a legal battle to maintain ownership of its properties, which began with a court order to seize parts of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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