Posted by The_Elves

A powerful article at Christianity Today by Tish Harrison Warren. The subtitle: "I thought a winsome faith would win Christians a place at Vanderbilt’s table. I was wrong." It's an excellent read from one who was at the center of Vanderbilt University's decision to rescind recognition of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and other Christian groups.

Kendall posted several entries on the Vanderbilt situation in 2011-2012. Links here, here, and here.


Tish Harrison Warren/ August 22, 2014
The Wrong Kind of Christian
Image: KEVIN VANDIVIER / GENESIS

I thought I was an acceptable kind of evangelical.

I'm not a fundamentalist. My friends and I enjoy art, alcohol, and cultural engagement.
We avoid spiritual clichés and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice.

Being a Christian made me somewhat weird in my urban, progressive context, but despite some clear differences, I held a lot in common with unbelieving friends. We could disagree about truth, spirituality, and morality, and remain on the best of terms. The failures of the church often made me more uncomfortable than those in the broader culture.

Then, two years ago, the student organization I worked for at Vanderbilt University got kicked off campus for being the wrong kind of Christians.

[...]

At first I thought this was all a misunderstanding that could be sorted out between reasonable parties. If I could explain to the administration that doctrinal statements are an important part of religious expression—an ancient, enduring practice that would be a given for respected thinkers like Thomas Aquinas—then surely they'd see that creedal communities are intellectually valid and permissible. If we could show that we weren't homophobic culture warriors but friendly, thoughtful evangelicals committed to a diverse, flourishing campus, then the administration and religious groups could find common ground.

But as I met with other administrators, the tone began to change. The word discrimination began to be used—a lot—specifically in regard to creedal requirements. It was lobbed like a grenade to end all argument. Administrators compared Christian students to 1960s segregationists. I once mustered courage to ask them if they truly thought it was fair to equate racial prejudice with asking Bible study leaders to affirm the Resurrection. The vice chancellor replied, "Creedal discrimination is still discrimination."

Feeling battered, I talked with my InterVarsity supervisor. He responded with a wry smile, "But we're moderates!" We thought we were nuanced and reasonable. The university seemed to think of us as a threat.

For me, it was revolutionary, a reorientation of my place in the university and in culture.

I began to realize that inside the church, the territory between Augustine of Hippo and Jerry Falwell seems vast, and miles lie between Ron Sider and Pat Robertson. But in the eyes of the university (and much of the press), subscribers to broad Christian orthodoxy occupy the same square foot of cultural space.

The line between good and evil was drawn by two issues: creedal belief and sexual expression. If religious groups required set truths or limited sexual autonomy, they were bad—not just wrong but evil, narrow-minded, and too dangerous to be tolerated on campus.

The whole article is highly recommended

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture

6 Comments
Posted August 27, 2014 at 7:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Grace Davie, the distinguished British sociologist of religion, has proposed an interesting idea: A strong establishment of a church is bad for both religion and the state–for the former because the association with state policies undermines the credibility of religion, and for the latter because the support of one religion over all others creates resentment and potential instability. But a weak establishment is good for both institutions, because a politically powerless yet still symbolically privileged church can be an influential voice in the public arena, often in defense of moral principles. Davie’s idea nicely fits the history of the Church of England. In earlier centuries it persecuted Roman Catholics and discriminated against Nonconformist Protestants and Jews. More recently it has used its “bully pulpit” for a number of good causes, not least being the rights of non-Christians. Thus very recently influential Jewish and Muslim figures have voiced strong support for the continuing establishment of the Church of England, among them Jonathan Sacks, the former Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, and the Muslim Sayeeda Warsi, currently Minister of Faith and Communities in David Cameron’s cabinet.

Of course it would be foolish to recommend that the British version of state/church relations be accepted in other countries—as foolish as to expect other countries to adopt the very distinctive American form of the separation of church and state. However, as I have suggested in other posts on this blog, the British arrangement is worth pondering by other countries who wish to combine a specific religious identity with freedom for all those who do not share it. For starters, I’ll mention all countries who want legislation to be based on “Islamic principles” (not full-fledged sharia law); Russia, struggling to define the public role of the Orthodox Church; Israel trying to define the place of Judaism in its democracy; India, similarly seeking to fit hindutva into its constitutional description as a “secular republic”. In a globalizing world, cross-national comparisons can be surprisingly useful.

Read it all from the American Interest.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureWomen* Theology

4 Comments
Posted August 1, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Being more cynical, one might buy into the famous Marx quotation: “religion is the opium of the people”. While it’s true that Marx was articulating his belief that religion was a way of “power” saying “don’t worry if you’re downtrodden in this life, you will find a reward in the next”, in the wider quotation from which those words are taken, he was actually being more sympathetic: acknowledging the potential of religion to give solace where there is distress.

That’s how I feel when I look on in bemused fascination at members of my own family’s religious devotion despite their never-ending series of trials in this life. As a callow, arrogant youth I would try the Marx line out on them, only to be dismissed. And rightly so, because back then I was merely trying to provoke them.

Today, the conversation is different. I respect their beliefs because I can see the solace they have brought them, whilst absolutely rejecting any attempts to continue to force those beliefs upon others, or to marry them to the state.

The need for complete dis-establishment of church and state not only in this country, but in all countries, appears so obvious in the face of the many inequalities that accompany “establishment” that it is mystifying that in the 21 Century that there can be any argument against it. But then, what do I know? Apparently, my heart is closed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internal Revenue Service said it will monitor churches and other houses of worship for electioneering in a settlement reached with an atheist group.

The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.

The suit alleged the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches promoting political candidates, issues or proposed legislation. As part of their tax-exempt status, churches and other religious groups are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General

3 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I care very much about the future of religious liberty, and I don’t think, over the long run and in this country, there will be much of it...American liberalism more generally, is committed to the idea that freedom to worship is sufficient, and is trying, gradually but consistently, to discourage Christians and other religious believers from acting out their religious convictions anywhere outside the walls of the church — at least, in any ways that might interfere with the power of the State to arbitrate and dispense justice and charity.

It’s possible that in the coming years there will be at least a temporary slowing in the erosion of religious liberty, but I can’t see the long-term trends altering. All Americans, including those who call themselves conservatives, are gradually growing accustomed to the elimination of the “third sector” of civil society and will find it increasingly difficult to understand why either the free markets or the State should be restrained from exerting their powers to their fullest. I expect that quite soon most Christians will cease even to ask for anything more from the State than freedom to worship.

For those of us who believe that civil society should be stronger, not weaker, and especially if our primary concern is for the health of religious institutions as the most important mediating forces in society, this change will pose a wide range of problems. For instance, the removal of tax breaks for religious institutions will surely be complete within a generation, and a range of policies will discourage charitable giving, which will make generosity harder — but not impossible for most of us. That’ll be a way for us to discover what we are made of.
--from his Snakes and Ladders blog; I encourage you to read it all. This was quoted in the late sermon this morning by yours truly in worship--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

England (and I mean England) is a paradoxical country when it comes to religion. We have an established church. This means that our head of state, the Queen, is also head of the Church of England and 26 of its bishops have seats in the upper House of Parliament. The Church of England also has special privileges and duties in relation to marriages and to burials. Until recently it also enjoyed the special protection of the law of blasphemy. But England is one of the least religious countries in Western Europe. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey (No 28, 2011), half the population do not belong to any religion and affiliation to the Church of England fell from 40% in 1983 to 20% in 2010. Politicians are not encouraged to wear their religion , if any, on their sleeves. Religious observance is much more common amongst minority communities than it is amongst the majority, who would once unhesitatingly have described themselve s as “C of E” even if they never went to church. One reason for this loss of interest, of course, could be that the Church of England is a very undemanding church. It has no dietary
laws, no dress codes for men or women, and very little that its members can say is actually required of them by way of observance....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sad reality is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Although it is reported that only one bishop voted against the guidance, it is also being claimed that a significant number, even a majority, are not personally happy with it. The reactions to the guidance make clear just how extensive the divisions are in the wider church and thus how difficult the environment for the facilitated conversations is going to be. They also perhaps highlight two areas where the conversations need to focus their attention but which were largely unaddressed by the Pilling Report:

(1) What doctrine of marriage should the Church have and how should it then bear faithful witness to that in ordering its own life and in mission in a wider society which recognises same-sex marriage? and

(2) What is to be done, what new church structures may be needed, so that those who find themselves unable to accept the conclusions on the doctrine of marriage and its practical implications can faithfully bear witness to their understanding of marriage without undermining the mind of the majority or condemning the Church of England to continuing destructive conflict over this issue?

Read it all and Pt I is here.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It all started when the Rev. Rob Dewey, police officer turned Episcopal priest, saw a need for chaplains at police scenes to counsel and support those affected, from first responders to victims and their families.

The need became an unfunded dream that became Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, a growing nonprofit Judeo-Christian ministry turning 25 years old.

Its chaplains have counseled countless residents who have landed, by choice or by fate, at the doorstep of violent death and life's other most devastating traumas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersPolice/Fire* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2014 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for the plaintiffs. While prayers before legislative sessions do not necessarily violate the Constitution, the court said, the “overwhelming predominance” of the prayers was explicitly Christian, leading a reasonable observer to understand the town to be endorsing that religion over others, regardless of the town’s intent. (After the suit was filed, the board invited representatives of other religions, including Judaism, the Baha’i faith and Wicca, to deliver the prayer, but after four months the prayers were almost exclusively Christian again.)

Defenders of the board’s practice rely on a 1983 Supreme Court case that upheld prayers before legislative sessions — including those of Congress — because they are “deeply embedded” in American history. The prayers in Greece are constitutional, the defenders say, because they may be delivered by anyone, and the town does not compel citizens to pray.

But compulsion is not the only issue. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a 1984 case, when a government appears to endorse one religion, it “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” After the Greece lawsuit was filed, one of the plaintiffs received a letter, signed “666,” that read, “If you feel ‘unwanted’ at the Town of Greece meetings, it’s probably because you are.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches and other nonprofits long have been forbidden from endorsing political candidates. But erratic enforcement of the law has emboldened supporters of legislation in Congress that would end the restriction. Far from needing to be repealed, the ban on politics in the pulpit ought to be enforced more aggressively.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) would repeal a 1954 amendment to the tax code sponsored by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. The amendment says that churches and other so-called 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations may not "participate in, or intervene in … any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

Jones' legislation seeks to restore the "1st Amendment rights" of churches, but that's misleading. Churches may have a 1st Amendment right to endorse candidates, but there is no constitutional right to a tax exemption. Congress is free to condition such exemptions — which can be worth millions of dollars — on an agreement by churches and charities to refrain from partisan political activity. And it's the IRS' responsibility to enforce compliance....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage has, over the centuries, been publicly recognised as a stable institution which establishes a legal framework for the committed relationship between a man and a woman and for the upbringing and care of their children. It has, for this reason, rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.

The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Macedonian court sentenced the archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in Macedonia to three years in prison on what his denomination and activists called Wednesday, July 3, "false charges" of money laundering, while fourteen co-defendants received suspended jail terms.

Additionally Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, also known as Zoran Vraniskovski, must handover SOC properties, including church buildings, to the state for allegedly laundering some 250,000 euro ($325,000), his church said. Bishop Marko of Bregalnica, whose civilian name is Goran Kimev, Bishop David Ninov of Stobi as well as fourteen "priest-monks, abbesses, nuns and other faithful people of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric" each received two years suspended sentences for financial wrongdoing, the SOC added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

1 Comments
Posted July 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Niagara is suing a blogger over online material he claims was fashioned to hold the spiritual leader of 25,000 Anglicans up to ridicule and contempt.

The defamation lawsuit claims that Michael Bird, Hamilton-based bishop for the 90 parishes in the diocese, which includes Hamilton, has been pilloried on the blog as a weak, ineffectual leader, portrayed as a thief, described as having a sexual fetish and labelled an atheist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada

6 Comments
Posted May 1, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Rowan County lawmakers drew nationwide attention Wednesday for pushing a resolution that says North Carolina and its counties and towns have the right to establish an official religion.

Republican state Reps. Carl Ford and Harry Warren filed the measure this week as Rowan commissioners gear up to fight a lawsuit that seeks to end their habit of opening meetings with specifically Christian prayers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government

5 Comments
Posted April 6, 2013 at 10:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The tell-tale empty box of decongestant pills lay crumpled and damp in the woods behind an abandoned trailer, and the people who used it to make methamphetamine were long gone.

Their trash pile was evidence of a quick method of cooking methamphetamine that is gaining popularity in South Carolina – causing the number of meth cases to skyrocket and allowing “cooks” to be more mobile.

Last year, six years after South Carolina made people show an ID to buy pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in meth, the State Law Enforcement Division reported 538 meth-related incidents in the state. That’s four times the number reported in 2010.

Read it all--makes the heart sad; KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Bill, for the first time in British history, fundamentally seeks to break the existing legal link between the institution of marriage and sexual exclusivity, loyalty, and responsibility for the children of the marriage. If the Bill passes, several previously foundational aspects of the law of marriage will be changed to accommodate same sex
couples: the common law presumption that a child born to a mother during her marriage is also the child of her partner will not apply in same sex marriages (Schedule 4, para. 2); the existing provisions on divorce will be altered so that sexual infidelity by one of the parties in a same sex marriage with another same sex partner will not constitute adultery (Schedule 4, para. 3); and nonconsummation will not be a ground on which a same sex marriage is voidable (Schedule 4, para. 4).

Marriage thus becomes an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, is no longer central to society’s understanding of that institution (as reflected in the law). The fundamental problem with the Bill is that changing the legal understanding of marriage to accommodate same sex partnerships threatens subtly, but radically, to alter the meaning of marriage over time for everyone. This is the heart of our argument in principle against same sex marriage....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our government is coalescing around Pastor Saeed, but it is still moving too slow and engaging at too low a level. Two weeks ago 49 Members of Congress (37 from the House and 12 Senators) sent letters to the State Department urging “strong and sustained” advocacy on Saeed’s behalf. On Friday we reported that the State Department and White House made near-identical comments within moments of each other that clearly and unequivocally called for Pastor Saeed’s release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

7 Comments
Posted January 31, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One would have hoped that the Seattle opinion and common sense would be sufficient, but FEMA has apparently reverted to a position that provides less than full participation for religious institutions. Its reasons for doing so are not entirely clear but seem to include a mix of constitutional, statutory and regulatory concerns.

Many of these concerns should have been put to rest by the Oklahoma City experience and Congress's approval of aid to religious organizations there. Nobody suggests that government should entirely rebuild sanctuaries or pay for the printing of prayer books. But if roofs are being repaired and other structural damage is being remediated, the religious nature of what might occur below shouldn't matter. That is consistent with the reasoning of a 2003 Justice Department opinion that permitted the federal government to provide assistance to help restore the landmarked Old North Church in Boston.

In essence, federal disaster relief is a form of social insurance meant to help repair a tear in our social fabric. Houses of worship are an important part of that social fabric and are often where people turn for comfort and support after a disaster. After Hurricane Sandy, they are equally in need of repair and should be equally eligible for assistance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2013 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.

The announcement, from the Church's House of Bishops, would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate.

Conservative evangelical Anglicans say they will fight the move in the Church's ruling general synod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted January 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A troubling year lies ahead for church and state relations. All the signs are that Members of Parliament are flexing their muscles over the General Synod vote on women bishops.

They would like nothing less than to bounce the Church of England into an early decision, and some are actively seeking to interfere with a decision-making process that uniquely ties the Church and State together. Many supporters of women bishops will welcome this support from Parliament for their cause. Many of us agree that the Church of England must act quickly to resolve a question that has already been settled, not least by the overwhelming support of diocesan Synods. But threats from Parliament are unhelpful for many reasons.

In particular, dispersed power and the separation of British institutions are fundamental to our constitution. If any British institution seeks greater powers over another the balance of the British state is upset. We should expect Members of Parliament to exercise great restraint when it comes to their power. An over-mighty Parliament is as much a danger as an over-mighty Church. Both have their own respective responsibilities and rights and to overstep these is to upset a balance that has been worked out over centuries.

Religious freedom is threatened by a state that seeks to impose its own thinking on the Church. This is why the government’s pretence that it can outlaw the Church of England and the Church in Wales from ‘opting-in’ to same-sex marriage is such a curious claim. It misunderstands the nature of marriage itself, which cannot be divided into civil and religious marriage. It forgets that canon law is also the law of the land. And it is an overreaching of government power.

The fourth element of the so-called quadruple lock is merely a recognition of the status quo, that only the churches can initiate change to their own canon law. Any move to compel the Church in one direction or another is completely unacceptable.

--Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2013 edition

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted January 4, 2013 at 9:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 24, 2012 at 5:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pity the prime minister. With most news bleakly austere these days, changing the law to let gay couples marry must have seemed a sure way to spread crowd-pleasing sweetness and light. Countries around the world are giving homosexuals full marriage rights. More than half of British respondents usually tell pollsters they favour gay marriage. Besides, David Cameron truly believes in it, as he told the Conservative Party conference in October 2011.

But government plans to let same-sex couples not only marry but marry in church, detailed on December 11th, have startled the ecclesiastical horses and divided the already fissiparous Conservatives. The Anglican and Catholic churches, along with the Muslim Council of Britain and Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, oppose the move, which contravenes their belief that marriage is between a woman and a man. High-profile Tories including Michael Gove, the education secretary, and Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, are for the change, but over 100 Conservative MPs are believed to oppose it. That will not put the outcome in doubt, as Labour and the Liberal Democrats support the shift, but it guarantees a continuing row.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You have said you are an enthusiastic supporter of marriage and that you do not want "gay people to be excluded from a great institution." Yet I wish respectfully to point out that behind what you say lurks a basic philosophical misconception about the nature of 'equality.' Equality can never be an absolute value, only a derivative and relative value. After all, a man cannot be a mother nor a woman a father, and so men and women can never be absolutely equal, only relatively equal, since they are biologically different. So too with marriage. Marriage, ever since the dawn of human history, is a union for life and love between a man and a woman. It is a complementary relationship between two people of the opposite sex, the man and the woman not being the same, but different. They are not, in other words, absolutely equal but relatively equal. This is why gay couples, two men or two women, are not being ‘excluded’ from marriage; they simply cannot enter marriage.

By enabling gays to 'marry' and by equating the union of gay people with marriage, however well-intentioned, you are not only redefining what we mean by marriage but actually undermining the very nature, meaning and purpose of marriage. Marriage, and the home, children and family life it generates, is the foundation and basic building block of our society. If you proceed with your plans, you will gravely damage the value of the family, with catastrophic consequences for the well-being and behaviour of future generations. The 2011 Census shows the parlous state of the institution of marriage which you claim to believe in so strongly, and of family life in general, with one in two teenagers no longer living with their birth parents and over 50% of adults living outside of marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

9 Comments
Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Coalition... [Monday] announced new proposals to legalise same-sex weddings in churches, synagogues and other faith organisations that choose to opt in.
The Church of England and the Church in Wales are to be explicitly banned by law from holding same-sex weddings under the Bill.
Maria Miller, the equalities minister, promised that “watertight” protections would prevent religious organisations from being forced to conduct same-sex weddings against their wishes.
However, she admitted that the Government was powerless to prevent campaigners bringing legal action against churches in an attempt to overturn the safeguards.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage is not the property of the Government nor is it the property of the Church, the Rt Rev Tim Stephens, Bishop of Leicester, reminded Parliament in a response to the Government statement on equal marriage in the House of Lords, today.

While the forms and legalities around marriage had evolved over time, he said, one fundamental feature had remained the same throughout: that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, a social institution that pre-dates both Church and State and has been the glue that has bound countless successive societies together.

The Bishop asked for assurances that, for example, teachers would not be disciplined for upholding traditional religious teachings and that proper time would be given for consultation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legislation to clear the way for gay marriage in the UK will include an opt-in for churches who favour the change, British prime minister David Cameron has said.

His declaration threatens a major revolt by Conservative MPs opposed to his plans when the issue will be decided in a free-vote in the House of Commons.

Saying he did not want gay couples “excluded from a great institution”, Mr Cameron insisted that churches opposed to gay marriage will not and cannot be forced to sanctify them.

However, the plans are more developed than they were when they were first produced last March, when it proposed civil ceremonies only.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted December 8, 2012 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.

The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister’s claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable. However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The parliamentary reaction to this week’s synod vote tells a powerful tale. Wearing his Garrick Club tie, the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered questions from MP's, all of whom expressed amazement and moral repugnance about the official and institutionalised sexism of the Established Church. (note to overseas readers — The Garrick Club is an exclusive Gentleman's club in the West End).

The Garrick Club Tie Gaffe (if such it was) underlined an important aspect of the problem: the Church claims to be far more than a private organisation like a golf club, masonic lodge, or Gentleman's London hang-out. It claims to be good news for everyone, and the fury of our legislators when they see it acting as though it were a private club, disconnected from society, was unmistakable....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersWomen

4 Comments
Posted December 3, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Though the Church of England is now the only church within these islands and within the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion which is still by law established, and though this has often been questioned as an archaic privilege in an increasingly plural age, there has hitherto been little political enthusiasm to pursue disestablishment. Once the dust has settled on the Church’s embarrassment at being temporarily thwarted by a hard-line minority over women bishops, it remains to be seen whether anything different will happen this time.

The Church itself has remained fiercely protective of what it sees as its solidifying, pastoral role in society. It argues that it can act as a reminder that there is a higher authority than politicking to which public life needs to be held to account, that an Established church can usefully reflect the concerns of religion and morality more widely in a mixed-belief society, and that its significant voluntary contribution to civic society and an expanding role in education under governments of all stripes merit continuing recognition within the country’s unwritten constitutional settlement. This remains the case, establishment's supporters argue, in spite of the falling numbers and financial challenges that have afflicted the Church in recent years, which means that around a million people (out of a population of 50 million) consistently attend its weekly services.

Scepticism is growing, however, and has reached a new peak this past week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the fallout [over the recent vote on Women Bishops], the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, in an interview with this newspaper, urged Justin Welby, the incoming archbishop, to push through reform regardless, and there were mutterings in the Shadow Cabinet of changing the law so the Church would no longer be immune to charges of sexual discrimination. Hitchiner, though, “shocked” and “sad” as she was, and critical as she is of the overrepresentation in General Synod of people “on the more conservative end of the spectrum”, and the disproportionate amount of airtime they were given “to go back to discussions that were being held 20 years ago about why they felt uncomfortable with the idea of women priests”, says that she is wary of tampering with the system: “I think we stuck to the system and nothing went wrong. That’s the most frustrating thing. I would be happier in the long run without changing the system, without making special arrangements.”

The appointment of women bishops is, she thinks, an “unstoppable train. It is bound to happen.” She feels torn, she says. “As a feminist I believe that women shouldn’t be held back from anything. Women have worked very hard, whether they’re religious or not, to make sure that is the case. But having said that, I also think that if the Church is dictated to by society or the State it ceases to be a church.”

Read it all(requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersWomen* TheologyEcclesiology

0 Comments
Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the Church of England scuttled plans to allow women bishops on Nov. 20, incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called it “a very grim day for women and their supporters.”

Now, that grim day is turning into a church-state nightmare for Britain's established church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

8 Comments
Posted November 27, 2012 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The key political and constitutional problem is that, although the Church of England now behaves largely as if it is a voluntary society, it remains nonetheless part of the state. The Queen as head of state is ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church, must be in communion with it, holds the title Fidei Defensor and – nominally – appoints its senior clergy. The Archbishop crowns and anoints the new sovereign, and the Church conducts important public ceremonies and rituals effectively in relation to the UK as a whole. The Church’s courts remain courts of the land, although they lost their public law jurisdictions in the 1850s. Twenty-six bishops continue to sit in the House of Lords – each nowadays actually appointed by a private, unaccountable committee of the Church itself.

These are high matters and could be addressed again by Parliament. However, whatever the degree of change made, none could procure the appointment of female bishops unless Parliament legislated directly to that end. In other words, disestablishment could not by itself resolve the particular question of female bishops. On the other hand, what disestablishment could do would be – a very different matter – to permit the state and Parliament to wash its hands of Church of England affairs altogether.

Since nothing so far suggests that Parliament contemplates such a rupture, it follows that the Church must be allowed to deal with the present crisis itself. Whether in doing so it strengthens the case for a radical review of remaining church/state ties is another question.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I propose disestablishment because I want Christianity to flourish in England, and renew itself, and the best way to do this is through a free market – but when you have a powerful state tied to a weak church, you get a statist church pushing a statist agenda. See how Anglican (and Catholic) charities, subsidised by the state, increasingly bury any Christian identity they have in favour of the state’s ideology of “equality and diversity”. The Big Society, as its heart, was an attempt to push the state out of those areas in which it has no real business, such as the charitable, volunteering and caring sectors. The churches should be leaping at this opportunity.

So here’s a possible solution. The Church of England is disestablished, and becomes just another independent church. The government passes a law that no religious building can change function, while taxpayers stop funding church maintenance through groups like English Heritage (which costs £15 million a year). Therefore if a congregation feels that they are sick of Canterbury and want to break off to join a breakaway liberal or evangelical or Anglo-Catholic church they can do so, so long as they can raise the money to buy the building, which since it cannot change function and costs a lot of money to maintain is not much.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

8 Comments
Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ex-communicated Anglican Bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, has lost the latest round in his controversial campaign to take over Anglican Church properties from the main church (CPCA).

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed five appeals that had been lodged by the Kunonga faction, as well as two others launched by his Manicaland counterpart and supporter, Bishop Elson Jakazi.

The appeals were struck off the court's register after Kunonga's lawyers made a u-turn and claimed he was still the CPCA's legitimate Bishop of Harare. This is despite the fact that Kunonga formed his own Church Province of Zimbabwe and appointed himself Bishop of Harare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaZimbabwe

0 Comments
Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Public school students are largely free to exercise their faith on campus and on the field. A player's personal prayer in the locker room or on the bench is protected by the First Amendment.

The challenges to prayer arise when school employees and resources are involved. A high school football coach can't lead his team in prayers. Yet a patchwork of inconsistent court decisions boils down to this: Public universities are free to hold prayers before football games as long as they only cite God and do not mention Jesus. A specific nod to Christianity would be viewed as supporting one faith over others. The theory is that a general nod to a deity serves a non-religious purpose, giving fans a moment to reflect, while not advancing a particular faith.

Public high schools, on the other hand, face greater restrictions

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 24, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

3 Comments
Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

8 Comments
Posted August 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A proposed amendment to the state Constitution that supporters say would protect Missourians' right to pray in public will pass by a mammoth margin if numbers from a Post-Dispatch poll hold until Aug. 7.

That's when the so-called "right to pray" ballot measure — known as Amendment 2 — will go before voters.

The measure's champions say it better defines Missourians' First Amendment rights and will help to protect the state's Christians, about 80 percent of the population, who they say are under siege in the public square.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government

5 Comments
Posted July 31, 2012 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How much money does the U.S. government forgo by not taxing religious institutions? According to a University of Tampa professor, perhaps as much as $71 billion a year.

Ryan Cragun, an assistant professor of sociology, and two students examined U.S. tax laws to estimate the total cost of tax exemptions for religious institutions — on property, donations, business enterprises, capital gains and “parsonage allowances,” which permit clergy to deduct housing costs....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxes* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

5 Comments
Posted June 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Tom Eklo of Richfield’s St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, after voicing his opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, went even further recently, saying he’d like to get out of the marriage business altogether.

“I don’t think clergy should be doing marriages," he said. "We’re basically puppets of the state in that regard."

According to Eklo the state is responsible for marrying individuals—and because marriage is thus a civil, rather than religious contract—religious organizations, of any denomination, should not be tasked with performing marriages.

Read it all.

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8 Comments
Posted June 13, 2012 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England faces its biggest rupture with the State in 500 years under government plans to legalise gay marriage.

Senior church sources warned that if the legislation goes ahead as proposed, the only way forward will be to cut an important tie between Church and State.

Divorcing the Church from its role as religious registrar for the State would not amount to total disestablishment, but it would be a significant step in that direction and would generate enormous passion and anguish from the pews upwards.

Read it all (requires subscription) and there are other articles there (as of this posting the Independent, the Guardian, the Press Assocation, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph). Note that you may also find a picture of the front page of tomorrow's [London] Times there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although they have rented it out to a restaurant for the past five years, the owners of one building in Aspe have never paid property tax. Nor have they ever paid tax on the apartments that house two of their employees. But that may be about to change. Last week, the city's government voted to partially rescind the exemption that the Catholic Church, landlord of those three properties and another eight more in town, has long enjoyed. And thanks to the crisis that threatens to upend Spain's economy, it's not the only place demanding change.

Three different laws, including a 1979 agreement with the Vatican, exempt the Catholic Church from paying property tax in Spain. The same provision holds for other recognized religions and non-profit organizations like the Red Cross, yet because Catholicism is the dominant religion in Spain, and because the Church's holdings there are so vast (España Laica, a pro-secularism group, estimates that were it not for the exemption, the church would annually owe 2.5 to 3 billion euros in property taxes), critics have long argued that the arrangement is part of the preferential treatment granted the Catholic Church. It's only now, however, with austerity measures bearing down and a European bailout looming, that anyone has thought to put that criticism into action. Economic pressure, in other words, may well accomplish what 33 years of democracy have not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Major steps toward the dis-establishment of Norway's state church, the (Lutheran) Church of Norway, were passed by the government on March 16 in its weekly session with King Harald V.

Expected to be adopted by the Parliament (Storting) in May or June this year, the proposals will make changes in the country's constitution as well as in other church legislation, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs announced.

"I hope we have now prepared a good basis for the Church of Norway to be an open and inclusive national church, also in a multicultural and multi-religious setting," Minister Rigmor Aasrud (Labour Party), said in a news release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeNorway* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran

5 Comments
Posted March 20, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asked about their views on same-sex marriage this week, nine sig­natories of a letter sent to the Lon­don representatives of the General Synod calling for the freedom to bless civil partnerships in church said that they would support the Government’s proposals to legalise same-sex marriage. Other clergy oppose such a change.

“A change in the definition of mar­riage to include two men or two women would seem to me to be an appropriate step in the redefinition of marriage for our particular contemporary society,” said the Lead Chaplain of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, the Revd Robert Thompson.

The Vicar of St Lawrence’s, Eastcote, in Pinner, the Revd Stephen Dando, said that same-sex marriage should be “both allowed and celeb­rated”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

5 Comments
Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nothing that is of the keenest concern for the bishops’ conference has been “put on the table” by the administration, in any forum. The HHS mandate has been published in the Federal Register, without changes. The administration-controlled Senate rejected efforts to amend the law to accommodate the bishops’ criticisms. Bishops’-conference negotiators asked White House officials whether the bishops’ religious-freedom concerns — which extend both to Catholic institutions and to employers of conscience of any creed — were off the table; yes, replied the White House negotiators. Well, then, what about the administration’s ridiculously stringent four-part test for who qualifies as a “religious employer” able to claim exemption from the HHS mandate? The day Gibson’s story ran on the Religion News Service wire, the bishops’ conference was informed that any discussion of the four-part test was also off the table.

Which leaves one wondering precisely what is on the table, beyond a tacit agreement by the administration to stop acting as if leftist America magazine and the HHS-dependents at the Catholic Health Association are the Catholic Church in the United States, in exchange for the bishops’ conference rolling over and asking to have its belly scratched.

Read it all (emphasis his).

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1 Comments
Posted March 9, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral has spoken in support of gay marriage in a move that threatens to deepen divisions within the Church of England.

Dr David Ison, 57, said that the virtues of marriage should be available to gays, adding that it was better to talk of “Christian marriage” rather than homosexual or heterosexual unions. He admitted that he had conducted ceremonies for homosexuals after civil partnerships, even though formal blessing services for gays are banned by the Church and no liturgy has been authorised.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

25 Comments
Posted March 8, 2012 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indicating support for same-sex couples, the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, said that it was still not too late for the Church to move ahead with blessing civil partnerships.
“The Churches have only themselves to blame for their current predicament, in which they face a major rewriting of the law on marriage,” he said.
“Instead of at first opposing civil partnerships, and then only accepting them grudgingly with gritted teeth, they should have welcomed them warmly from the first and immediately proposed services of commitment and blessing in church. They should do this even now.”

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted March 7, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pinched by the global recession and tough-love budget demands of the European Union, the Italian government is looking for extra revenue, and has its eyes set on commercial properties owned by the Roman Catholic Church.

On Feb. 15, the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti announced it wants to revise rules on the tax-exempt status of church-owned commercial property. Although the exemption also applies to other not-for-profit entities, such as trade unions, political parties and religious groups, the Catholic church is its largest beneficiary.

"Such a move would have been unimaginable six months ago," said Francesco Perfetti, a history professor at LUISS University in Rome. "After all, no matter whether you are a believer or not, the church is an integral part of Italy's culture."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketTaxes* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Senate voted by a narrow 51-48 margin to block the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467), sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and 37 other senators.
The proposed measure would have given employers and insurers the possibility to opt out of paying for contraceptives and sterilizations

“The need to defend citizens’ rights of conscience is the most critical issue before our country right now,” said Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bishop Lori chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Who owns marriage? It’s an interesting question and a pressing one in the debate around equal civil marriage. It is owned by neither the state nor the church, as the former Archbishop Lord Carey rightly said. So it is owned by the people.

The fierce debate over the past few weeks has shown people feel very strongly about marriage. Some believe the Government has no right to change it at all; they want to leave tradition alone. I want to challenge that view – it is the Government’s fundamental job to reflect society and to shape the future, not stay silent where it has the power to act and change things for the better.

I believe that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage, irrespective of whether they are gay or straight.

Read it all.

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

8 Comments
Posted February 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Archbishop Timothy Broglio] wrote in a letter that "The federal government, which claims to be 'of, by and for the people,' has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people -- the Catholic population -- and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle."

However, it was another passage that seems to have triggered alarms at the Army office of the Chief of Chaplains.

"We cannot -- we will not -- comply with this unjust law," stressed Broglio. "People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. ... In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther Faiths

5 Comments
Posted February 10, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reverence for both Scripture and freedom led [Roger] Williams to his position. His mentor was Edward Coke, the great English jurist who ruled, "The house of every one is as his castle," extending the liberties of great lords — and an inviolate refuge where one was free — to the lowest English commoners. Coke pioneered the use of habeas corpus to prevent arbitrary imprisonment. And when Chancellor of England Thomas Egerton said, "Rex est lex loquens; the king is the law speaking," and agreed that the monarch could "suspend any particular law" for "reason of state," Coke decreed instead that the law bound the king. Coke was imprisoned — without charge — for his view of liberty, but that same view ran in Williams' veins.

Equally important to Williams was Scripture. Going beyond the "render unto Caesar" verse in the New Testament, he recognized the difficulty in reconciling contradictory scriptural passages as well as different Bible translations. He even had before him an example of a new translation that served a political purpose. King James had disliked the existing English Bible because in his view it insufficiently taught obedience to authority; the King James Bible would correct that.

Given these complexities, Williams judged it impossible for any human to interpret all Scripture without error. Therefore he considered it "monstrous" for one person to impose any religious belief on another.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 8, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Oregon public schools are opening up their buildings for church services to bring in extra income.

Eight of the state’s 10 biggest districts rent out buildings for services.

While some believe that school-based churches violate the Constitutional separation between church and state, courts generally have found the practice to be legal. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that as long as districts are renting out spaces to outside organizations, it would be discriminatory to ban religious groups.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government

3 Comments
Posted November 1, 2011 at 5:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In another political aftershock from the summer's rare East Coast earthquake, a bid by the mayor of Washington to secure federal aid for the damaged Washington National Cathedral is drawing criticism from those who say it runs counter to separation of church and state.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray is seeking $15 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repairs to the cathedral, which was seriously damaged in the 5.8 temblor Aug. 23.

But Joseph L. Conn, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, blogged on the organization's website, "Asking the taxpayers to pick up the tab sets a very bad precedent and jeopardizes a critically important edifice that protects us all: the wall of separation between church and state."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralCity Government

16 Comments
Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most perspicuous example of a ministerial exception is the Catholic church’s limitation of membership in the priesthood to males. If a university were to have a rule that only men could serve as professors, it would be vulnerable to a suit brought under the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The difference (or so it has been asserted) is that there is no relationship between professorial skills and gender — a woman can perform the duties of a teacher of history or chemistry as well as a man — while the tradition of an all-male priesthood is rooted in religious doctrine. So the university would be engaged in discrimination pure and simple, whereas the church’s discrimination is a function of its belief that the all-male priesthood was initiated by Christ in his choice of the apostles.

Were the state to intervene and declare the tradition of an all-male priesthood and the doctrine underlying it unconstitutional, it would be forcing the church to conform to secular norms in violation both of the free exercise clause (the right of a religion to be governed by its own tenets would be curtailed) and the establishment clause (the state would in effect have taken over the management of the church by dictating its hiring practices). (I am rehearsing, not endorsing, these arguments.)

This clear-cut example — to which both sides in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC refer frequently — may be the only one (and it is only clear-cut because it has behind it 2,000 years of history). For the question quickly becomes one of boundaries — how far does the ministerial exception extend? To whom does it apply?...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture

9 Comments
Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as it remains preoccupied with its struggling economy, Ireland is in the midst of a profound transformation, as rapid as it is revolutionary: it is recalibrating its relationship to the Roman Catholic Church, an institution that has permeated almost every aspect of life here for generations.

This is still a country where abortion is against the law, where divorce became legal only in 1995, where the church runs more than 90 percent of the primary schools and where 87 percent of the population identifies itself as Catholic. But the awe, respect and fear the Vatican once commanded have given way to something new — rage, disgust and defiance — after a long series of horrific revelations about decades of abuse of children entrusted to the church’s care by a reverential populace.

While similar disclosures have tarnished the Vatican’s image in other countries, perhaps nowhere have they shaken a whole society so thoroughly or so intensely as in Ireland....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

7 Comments
Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following a stinging rebuke by the Anglican Church, the state-run Urban Development Corporation (UDC) appeared yesterday to be backing off what appeared to be a veiled threat to forcibly acquire the church-owned Nuttall Hospital lands near Cross Roads, Kingston.

UDC general manager, Joy Douglas was quoted in television reports as suggesting that the agency was eyeing the sprawling Nuttall lands as part of redevelopment plans for the capital city.

Douglas was further reported as saying "there are plans by the prime minister to amend the UDC Act, that will do away with a clause that forces the Corporation to acquire land before engaging in redevelopment activities".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

0 Comments
Posted August 24, 2011 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There seems little reason in logic for the current legal position. There might be something to be said for insisting on monogamous heterosexual marriage as a way of privileging the country's traditional Christian culture (if that is what you want to do). But once the state recognises homosexual couples it has abandoned any pretence that it is upholding Christian marriage. Whether churches and other religious bodies choose to recognise gay marriage, to the extent of holding ceremonies to honour it, is a matter for them. Unlike heterosexual marriage, they are not able to conduct legally binding partnership in any case. So why stop there? Why not recognise polygamous marriages, and indeed any other form of intimate union that people wish to enter into?

In a liberal society, it is no business of the state's how people conduct their private lives. Some object to polygamy out of the belief that it disadvantages women. But that is not necessarily the case. Some women may actively prefer to be part of a polygamous household, which can have distinct advantages (for example, sharing the burden of childcare) over the standard monogamous unit. As long as there is no coercion involved, the most serious downside may well be in the state's refusal to recognise polygamy and thus give all partners equal rights.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

13 Comments
Posted August 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In language never before used by an Irish government leader, Enda Kenny yesterday accused the Vatican of downplaying or “managing” the rape and torture of children in order to uphold its own power and reputation.

Speaking in the Dáil in a debate on the Cloyne report, he said it excavated the “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism” dominating the culture of the Vatican to this day.

The Taoiseach's speech was reported around the world with many media organisations praising Mr Kenny for his criticism of the Catholic Church.

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 23, 2011 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There's no tally of how many churches, synagogues and mosques convert public school spaces into prayer places for the nominal cost of permits and promises to make no permanent changes in the school setting. What's clear is that there has been a steady rise in numbers as congregations find schools are available, affordable and accessible to families they want to reach.

Critics, including some courts, are concerned that these arrangements are an unconstitutional entanglement of church and state. They say these bargain permits effectively subsidize religious congregations who would have to pay steeply higher prices on the open market. They also note that the practice appears to favor Christian groups, which worship on Sundays — when school spaces are most often available.

Caught in the middle: churches such as Forest Hills, which spent $3,000 for a permit to use P.S. 144 from February through June and just renewed for July and August. For September and beyond, however, nothing is certain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

7 Comments
Posted July 19, 2011 at 6:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Commenting on the Government's proposals, Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and Convenor of the Lords Spiritual said:

"Some reform of the Lords is overdue, not least to resolve the problem of its ever-increasing membership. But getting the balance of reform right, so that we retain what is good in our current arrangements, whilst freeing up the House to operate more effectively and efficiently, is crucial.

If the test of any reform is that it helps serve parliament and the nation better, in proposing to replace the House of Lords with a wholly or largely elected second chamber, the case has not been made. That case would require a clear redefinition of the primary purpose and function of the Upper House.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted May 18, 2011 at 11:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of non-Christian faith groups should be invited to sit alongside bishops in the House of Lords, a historian who contributed to a commission on reform of the Second Chamber has suggested.

Writing in the Church Times today, John F. H. Smith, an architec­tural historian who made a sub­mission to the Royal Commis­sion on the Reform of the House of Lords, argues that, although bishops should re­main “in the majority”, “an interdenominational and inter­faith college” would “broaden faith repres­en­tation”.

“Religious leaders would, there­fore, continue to widen debate by bringing moral and philosophical perspectives to stand alongside the political, economic, and financial judgements of other groups,” he writes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

36 Comments
Posted May 13, 2011 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I celebrate the birthday of the King James Version, and look forward to its continued use in public discourse, to inspire and to persuade. But I do not support legislation based on the Bible, or any effort to label America a Christian nation. And I say that as a proud and practicing Christian.

Our nation is well served by the Constitution's guarantee of the free exercise of religion, which gives us unrestrained liberty to gather for worship and read the King James Version, or any other sacred text we want.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted April 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sir, I have just watched the royal wedding on television, and I can only hope that those politicians, of whichever party, who were either at the ceremony or watched the televised coverage, appreciate the contribution of music to the entire occasion. Military bandsmen, fanfare trumpeters, choristers, orchestral musicians and organists, all worked to make the occasion such a splendid event. Imagine it without a single note of music.
--From a letter to the editor in today's (London) Times [subscription required] (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyMusic* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted April 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wedding couples, even royal couples, at times compose their own wedding prayers. In the British tradition of royal weddings, however, it seems that Prince William and Catherine Middleton are the first to do so:
God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The prayer helps sum up the prince and his bride, a Facebook-generation couple described by Archbishop Rowan Williams as “deeply unpretentious people” who steered away from an “all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.”

They “wanted something simple and clear and also wanted something with tradition, roots and associations,” he added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted April 30, 2011 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Prince William and Kate Middleton walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey on Friday (April 29), Britain’s unique and historic ties between church and state will be on full display.

Some here think—even hope—it could also be the last powerful stroll for church and state in this increasingly secular country.

As the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. John Hall, and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams prepare to conduct and solemnize the wedding of the century, both Christians and prominent and powerful nonbelievers are raising their voices and demanding the disestablishment the Church of England that has dominated religious life here for 400 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

24 Comments
Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the book and ''explicitly Christian''. That was the assessment by one of Australia's Anglican leaders of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said the wedding ceremony - conducted to a revised 1928 Church of England rite - was ''in a way more Christian than it needed to be''.

''It was not sentimental about marriage,'' said Bishop Forsyth. ''The [biblical] reading was not gushy and, rather than apologise for being Christian, the service was generous.''

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

12 Comments
Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The coalition government’s plans to reform the 1701 Act of Settlement, ending the ban on a Roman Catholic monarch in Britain, does not have the support of the Canadian government.

On April 20, Prime Minister David Cameron said Roman Catholics should be able to become King or Queen, or marry the heir to the throne. However, he noted that this reform was not in the government’s power, but required the agreement of those Commonwealth nations where the monarch is the head of state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanadaEngland / UK

14 Comments
Posted April 29, 2011 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With fanfare and flags under cool, gray skies, Prince William and his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, were married on Friday in one of the largest and most-watched events here in decades — an interlude of romance in a time of austerity and a moment that will shape the future of the British monarchy.

Some 40 minutes after her husband-to-be, Miss Middleton rode to Westminster Abbey to offer a first glimpse of her wedding dress — a creation by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen in white and ivory, with a two-meter train, that had been the object of furious speculation. She wore a delicate veil with intricate lace on the neckline and a diamond tiara lent for the occasion by Queen Elizabeth II, and traveled in a Rolls Royce limousine with her father, Michael Middleton.

The service began with a hymn, “Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer.” The couple stood side by side before the altar. As she arrived to join him, William whispered to her, and onlookers said he seemed to be saying, “You look beautiful.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

24 Comments
Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Up to two billion people around the world will watch today as a 29-year-old woman from Reading marries into the British Royal Family.

Much of Britain is expected to grind to a halt as the nation enjoys another bank holiday, with many taking up position in front of their TV sets from 10am to savour a display of pageantry, pomp and circumstance not seen here since the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer 30 years ago.

Kate Middleton will marry Prince William in a spectacular and extravagantly patriotic ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking in a short film produced by Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury talks about the sense of hopefulness and generosity which lie at the heart of marriage, and what this also tells us about the ‘mystery’ and ‘delight’ which can be found in this life-time commitment. Dr Williams, who will be conducting the marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Friday 29th, also describes the sense of privilege he feels about his own role in the royal wedding:

“Any priest or minister conducting a wedding is bound to feel a huge sense of privilege. You’re invited into some intimate places in people’s lives. You’re invited to take part in a very significant moment, a moment of hope; a moment of affirmation about people’s present and future. And I’ve felt very privileged to be part of this event for those reasons. Here are young people sending a message of hopefulness, sending a message of generosity across the world. And it’s my privilege to be able to bless that in the name of God, to witness it in the name of God”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

27 Comments
Posted April 27, 2011 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Prince William and Kate Middleton walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey on Friday, Britain's unique and historic ties between church and state will be on full display.

Some here think — even hope — the royal wedding could also be the last powerful stroll for church and state in this increasingly secular country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

8 Comments
Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps the even more serious challenge looming relates to same-sex relationships and marriage. When in 2004 the Civil Partnership Act gave those entering legal same-sex partnerships fundamentally the same legal status as husbands and wives there were two exceptions: there could be no religious ceremony at the registration and marriage remained between a man and a woman. So, for example, a married person undergoing sex reassignment has formally to divorce his spouse before being legally recognised in the new gender and entering a civil partnership with his former spouse.

The former distinction was legally removed last year and discussions are now underway about how to enable civil partnerships on religious premises. Under the pretense of extending religious freedom, the state risks giving support to one perspective within churches’ internal debates on how to respond to civil partnerships by permitting religious premises to apply for authorization to host their registration. While this could create difficulties for a number of denominations, the Church of England as the national, established church will come under particular scrutiny.

Although there will be no compulsion and the Church of England has said it will not seek to gain authorization, conflicts could still result....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

11 Comments
Posted April 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage is under threat, we hear from some church leaders. Not by heterosexuals with an ever-increasing divorce rate, but by gay and lesbian people who want to express their religious faith in their civil partnership ceremonies.

Some leaders in my own church, the Church of England, as well as the Roman Catholic church have described this as an assault on religious liberty – and no doubt there is an aggressive secularist agenda to embarrass the churches, though aggressive secularists should note that we are pretty good at doing that ourselves without their help.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

6 Comments
Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church-state tensions in the United Kingdom became headline news twice in February. Early in February a group of senior members of Parliament, fearful that legislation paving the way for women bishops might fail in General Synod, indicated that they would use parliamentary powers, if necessary, to see it through.

MP Frank Field filed an Early Day Motion calling on the government to remove the Church of England’s exemption from equality laws if the plan for women bishops fails in Synod. Various advocates of women in the episcopate welcomed this gesture, but others expressed concern that it would set an unhelpful precedent and open the way for the Parliament to impose other unwanted requirements.

Lynne Featherstone, the government’s Equalities Minister, announced plans Feb. 14 to allow religious buildings to be used as venues for celebrations of civil partnerships. She also announced plans to review current distinctions between marriage and same-sex unions. It made visible once more the deep divisions that exist in British society over sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Rowan Williams has refused to be drawn on the issue publicly, but has broken his silence to tell MPs he is not prepared for the Coalition to tell the Church how to behave.

He told a private meeting of influential politicians that the Church of England would not bow to public pressure to allow its buildings to be used to conduct same-sex civil partnerships.

The comments are the first time he has spoken since the Coalition unveiled plans to allow religious buildings to be used to conduct homosexual partnership ceremonies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

16 Comments
Posted February 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Quebec's governing Liberals voted in favour of an opposition motion to ban ceremonial daggers from the provincial legislature.

The Parti Québécois tabled its motion Wednesday — requesting the government prevent Sikhs from carrying their ceremonial daggers into the national assembly building — and the legislature voted unanimously in favour.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

2 Comments
Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The key distinction underlying classical liberalism is the distinction between the private and the public. This distinction allows the sphere of political deliberation to be insulated from the intractable oppositions that immediately surface when religious viewpoints are put on the table. Liberalism tells us that religious viewpoints should be confined to the home, the heart, the place of worship and the personal relationship between oneself and one’s God.

When the liberal citizen exits the private realm and enters the public square, he or she is supposed to leave religious commitments behind and function as a stripped-down entity, as an abstract-not-full personage, who makes political decisions not as a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim but as what political scientist Michael Sandel calls an “unencumbered self,” a self unencumbered by ethnic, racial, gender, class or religious identities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted November 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Diocesan Diversity – The Diocese of Toronto honours and appreciates the diversity represented in its parishes and clergy. This diversity will continue to be reflected in the selection and appointment of clergy, and in the membership of committees and councils of the diocese. We recognize there are theological and cultural differences across our diocese and within parishes which are strained by both the limits and permission represented in blessing same gender relationships.

--All congregations and individual Anglicans are called to exercise pastoral generosity one to another.
--Permission to participate in blessings of same gender commitments will be extended only to those parishes and clergy who fulfill the requirements noted above and are granted permission by the diocesan bishop.
--No clergy nor parishes will be required to participate in the blessing of same gender relationships.
--Clergy who object to blessing same gender relationships will be asked to exercise pastoral generosity by referring same gender couples seeking a blessing, if requested, to the Area Bishop.
--Clergy who support blessing same gender couples will be asked to exercise pastoral sensitivity to those in their parish who are not in agreement with the parish designation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted November 5, 2010 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Her Majesty The Queen will inaugurate the Ninth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 23 November. The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will preside and Dame Mary Tanner (a President of the World Council of Churches) will preach.

This Synod will reflect some significant changes amongst its membership: 35% of the elected members of the General Synod are starting their first ever five-year term; the proportion of elected clergy who are female has increased from 21% to 28%; and women now make up 46% of the elected laity membership (up from 40%).

The November group of sessions will continue with regular business for the afternoon of Tuesday, 22 November, until late afternoon on Wednesday, 23 November. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Other key features are indicated below....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church’s public policy agency can advocate on causes beyond alcoholism and temperance without violating the terms of its endowment, a District of Columbia judge ruled on Wednesday (Oct. 6).

Superior Court Judge Rhonda Reid Winston’s decision is the latest twist in a long-running debate in the UMC about how its General Board of Church and Society is funded and the positions it takes on political issues.

“This matter has been an enormous, unnecessary distraction,” Jim Winkler, the board’s chief executive, said in a statement. The board has for decades fought “predatory enterprises” such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling, he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The international outcry over a tiny Florida congregation’s plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11 intensified on Thursday, drawing vocal condemnations from world leaders and touching off angry protests in corners of the Muslim world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 10, 2010 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's church versus state in a local taxation battle.

Episcopal church officials say the property tax assessment on land next to Holy Apostles Church on the Oneida Indian Reservation is unlawful because it's designated a cemetery.

Village of Hobart assessor Mike Denor says 23 acres that have a 2010 property tax obligation of about $600 are mostly woods, and even calling it a cemetery "is kind of a stretch."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity Government

2 Comments
Posted August 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a government that professes religious neutrality, these kinds of judicial attacks on named religious groups are extraordinary. One must ask: What business does a federal judge have declaring as a "finding of fact" that religious beliefs are harmful or beneficial to any group? Who is he to look into the hearts of religious believers and see only "stereotypes and misinformation"? Since when is a law held in suspicion simply because religious bodies endorsed it and churchgoers voted for it?

Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, and others targeted by Judge Walker would give a different account of their motives. They affirm the unique status of the marriage of man and woman because they regard it as a blessing, not a harm, for all of society. They counsel people against all nonmarital sexual relations, heterosexual or homosexual, because marriage provides the best environment for both adults and children to flourish.

The judge offered reassurances that overturning Proposition 8 would not "affect the First Amendment rights of those opposed to marriage for same-sex couples." He stressed a prior ruling that "no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs." But this has never been the principal threat.

The real threat impinges more upon traditionalist laypeople and parachurch organizations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Catholic leaders in Scotland have denounced the coalition government’s plans to leave intact the 1701 Act of Settlement, which bans the monarch from marrying a Roman Catholic.

“When a monarch is free to marry a Scientologist, Muslim, Buddhist, Moonie or even Satanist but not a Catholic, then there’s something seriously wrong,” said Scottish Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell.

In a written answer given to the House of Commons on June 30, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Cabinet Office, Mr. Mark Harper stated “there are no current plans to amend the laws on succession”

Bishop Devine, who during the General Election had urged Catholics not to vote Labour due to their social policies, expressed outrage over the Cameron government decision.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

35 Comments
Posted July 30, 2010 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The concept that government should exist separately from religious beliefs is an ideal one according to an Anglican priest.

Systems where the line between state and religion was unclear have historically been open to ‘blatant’ abuse, The Rev. Ng Koon Sheng expressed.

He was teaching a course organised by St. Andrew’s Cathedral (SAC) titled ‘Sharing Our Faith in a Secular & Plural Society’ held on Tuesday.

Referring mostly to Christianity, the priest highlighted cases in which the Church either abused its authority or was abused by the state.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 4, 2010 at 10:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The governor of the commonwealth of Virginia has decided, "in the interest of religious freedom," to grant state chaplains the freedom to pray in the name of Jesus at public events.

"I just didn't think it was right, the change that was made a couple years ago, to have an official state policy to tell chaplains of any faith how to pray, whether Muslim or Jew or Catholic or Christian," Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters Thursday.

If you reverse an official state policy on prayer with another state policy on prayer, it's still a state policy on prayer, right?

The conservative Christian Family Foundation of Virginia doesn't seem to mind....

Oddly enough, the ACLU of Virginia agrees with the Family Foundation, at least on the need for the state of Virginia to have the right policy on prayer.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government

0 Comments
Posted May 1, 2010 at 9:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Virginia Supreme Court has set oral arguments in the appeals brought by ECUSA and the Diocese of Virginia in the cases involving eleven ACNA parishes in the Anglican District of Virginia. I have previously discussed what took place at the hearings below in this post, and in this one; they may serve as background to understanding the issues involved. In this post, I would like to sketch out the issues as ECUSA and the Diocese have presented them in their briefs. In a subsequent post, I will go over the arguments of the ACNA parishes in opposition.

There is no way, of course, to predict what the Virginia Supreme Court will find significant in the briefs and arguments presented to it. Moreover, I am not licensed to practice in Virginia; someone who is may pick up on points of Virginia law and procedure that I have missed. Thus do not use these posts as a basis to expect any particular outcome. Instead, to the extent they assist you in making your way through the forest of contentions and counter-contentions, and in evaluating their relative strengths and weaknesses, they will have served their purpose.

At issue in these appeals is the interpretation and application of this Virginia statute, first adopted in 1867...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters

2 Comments
Posted April 7, 2010 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Alli’s amendment to the Equality Bill, which allows civil partnerships to be registered on religious premises, if religious bodies wish to allow it, was approved during the Report Stage in the House of Lords on Tuesday by 95 votes to 21.

The proposed changes to the Civil Partnership Act had been significantly modified since the debate in January (News, 5 February). The scope is narrowed to England and Wales, and the existing rule that “no religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document” is retained.

An additional clause reads: “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.” A further clause states: “Regulations may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.”

Lord Alli stressed that the issue was one of religious freedom. “Religious freedom means letting the Quakers, the liberal Jews, and others host civil partnerships. It means accepting that the Church of England and the Catholic Church should not host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted March 5, 2010 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vicars will end up being sued and the difference between marriage and gay partnerships will be 'fudged' after last night's vote in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Winchester warned. Speaking to me by telephone a few minutes ago, the Right Rev Michael Scott Joynt, who was unable to be in the House for the vote because of unbreakable prior commitments, said he believed the next step would be vicars being sued for discrimation if they obeyed Church of England law and refused to do gay weddings.

'Having thought about it a great deal since the committee stage, I regret enormously the vote last night....I think it will make for a great many difficulties. There are two I am particularly concerned about.'

He continued: 'Notwithstanding the bland words of a number of individuals, some of whom surprise me, I believe it does further fudge the line between civil partnerships and marriage. That is shown by some newspapers which simply speak of gay marriages in church. The second thing is, I believe that it will open, not the Church of England but individual clergy, to charges of discrimination if they solemnise marriages as they all do but refuse to host civil partnership signings in their churches. Unless the Government does something explicit about this, I believe that is the next step.'

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

19 Comments
Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gay men and women will finally be allowed to marry in churches after the House of Lords dramatically voted in favour of lifting the ban on religious premises holding same-sex partnerships.

The amendment to the Equality Bill, which was tabled as a free vote by gay Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming backing in the Lords, including from a number of prominent Anglican bishops.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers -- the latest fallout from a bitter debate between District officials trying to legalize same-sex marriage and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Starting Tuesday, Catholic Charities will not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in the plan. A letter describing the change in health benefits was e-mailed to employees Monday, two days before same-sex marriage will become legal in the District.

"We looked at all the options and implications," said the charity's president, Edward J. Orzechowski. "This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city's new requirements and remain faithful to the church's teaching."

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 3, 2010 at 12:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In conclusion, were the state to be preventing a religious body from exercising its freedom of religion it would indeed be quite wrong for the established church to support such restrictions simply on the grounds that it did not itself wish to exercise such a freedom. That is not, however, the situation created by the Civil Partnership Act. The current legislation does not place any such limit on religious freedom. Quakers, Unitarians, liberal Jews, any other religious group, is at liberty to celebrate the formation of civil partnerships and other patterns of same-sex union within their own communities in whatever way they determine according to the laws of their religious body. The state does not claim any right to interfere in or to prevent such religious ceremonies.

No religious body has a right for its clergy to be recognised as acting as a registrar on behalf of the state or for its premises to be used for such registration - registration of births, for example, is not franchised out in order that it can be completed on religious premises by a religious minister at a service of infant baptism or thanksgiving for the birth of a child rather than by a civil registrar! Saying that such registration cannot take place in a religious ceremony is therefore not a denial of anyone's rights.As noted above, in many European countries, there is universal civil registration of marriage and this is not held to be an infringement of religious freedom. Furthermore, in contrast to marriage law prior to 1836, it is not as if those with religious commitments who wish to enter a civil partnership are required to participate in a ceremony to which (as agnostics, atheists or non-Anglicans) they may have conscientious objections - they simply have to sign a document in the presence of a registrar and witnesses.

As some have begun to argue, it may well be time for a more wholesale review of the law in relation to marriage, including now its relationship to civil partnerships. The proposed amendment by Lord Alli is, however, not the way to proceed. The rushed, piece-meal and agenda-driven nature of his changes to the Civil Partnership Act create many more problems and confusions than they resolve and show a lack of awareness of the history and contemporary complexity of the law in relation to civil marriage, religious marriage and civil partnerships. Sadly, given the weaknesses in the arguments advanced, and the known views of many of the signatories of the letter to The Times, it is perhaps not unduly cynical to see the sudden strong lobbying of support for Lord Alli's amendment as something of a Trojan horse. Under the flawed but powerful rhetoric of “religious freedom" and “non-discrimination", the amendment will have two consequences. Removing the restriction of registering civil partnerships to a civil ceremony will further undermine the distinction between civil partnerships and marriage. It will also make life increasingly difficult for those people and communities of faith who in conscience object to the establishment of 'gay marriage'and who are given no protection under the proposed amendments from charges of being discriminatory if they only offer marriages but not civil partnerships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted March 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the debacle of Civil Partnerships I must confess to some doubts about the place of Bishops in the House of Lords.

You will recall that eight bishops (Chelmsford, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Peterborough, St Albans, St Eds & Ips and Truro) voted in favour of the Bill while only two bishops voted against (Chester and Southwell). In recent times they have slightly redeemed themselves with a spirited defence of religious freedom by defeating the government on the Equality Bill, but such was the seriousness of the Civil Partnerships legislation that it is not easy to forget.

Three of those bishops who voted in favour came back again like bad pennies with a letter to The Times protesting this time that the Civil Partnership Act had not gone far enough in creating a new category of civil marriage. They now want civil partnerships to have the character of religious marriage, according to the various letter writers. They complain that the original Act had prohibited civil partnerships from being registered in religious premises. Now they want this overturned for uber-liber- al Jewish and Christian bodies, effectively making civil partnerships undistinguishable from marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

4 Comments
Posted March 2, 2010 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has so far resisted change, arguing that if some religious groups are allowed to hold civil partnerships then the pressure on the C of E to follow suit will become intolerable. It is a feeble argument. No one is arguing that any church should be forced to conduct a civil partnership. But willing churches should not be precluded from doing so.

Benjamin Disraeli believed the Church of England to be “a part of our liberties, a part of our national character”. If it has any hope of continuing in that role, the Church — and the Government — must recognise that our liberties today should include the right of homosexuals to register the most important promise of their lives in a church.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted February 24, 2010 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This picture is routinely challenged by those who contend that secular reasons and secular discourse in general don’t tell the whole story; they leave out too much of what we know to be important to human life.

No they don’t, is the reply; everything said to be left out can be accounted for by the vocabularies of science, empiricism and naturalism; secular reasons can do the whole job. And so the debate goes, as polemicists on both sides hurl accusations in an exchange that has become as predictable as it is over-heated.

But the debate takes another turn if one argues, as the professor of law Steven Smith does in his new book, “The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse,” that there are no secular reasons, at least not reasons of the kind that could justify a decision to take one course of action rather than another.

It is not, Smith tells us, that secular reason can’t do the job (of identifying ultimate meanings and values) we need religion to do; it’s worse; secular reason can’t do its own self-assigned job — of describing the world in ways that allow us to move forward in our projects — without importing, but not acknowledging, the very perspectives it pushes away in disdain.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted February 23, 2010 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does the Church of England think about the fact that it is established? How does it go about defending the indefensible? The growing consensus among Anglican leaders is that this seeming anachronism is a crucial defence against an aggressive secularism, a guarantee that Christianity exists in that inescapable cliche of religious discourse, "the public square". The Bishop of Durham gave his version of this line in a lecture last week (pdf).

He began by reflecting on the crisis of our democratic system. For politics to regain health, we need to rethink the role of religion in public life. The key problem is that "we have done our best to banish God from the public square". Hardline secularists have had too much sway – "and, absurdly, there are some Christians who have gone along for the ride, still believing the old fable that God and government don't mix." Since the Enlightenment, secular democratic ideology has edged God out of the political sphere, he says, and only a weak form of religion, deism, was permitted.

Read the whole thing.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

16 Comments
Posted February 19, 2010 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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