Daily Archives: May 2, 2008

Richard Land: Children First

Religious freedom does not include the right to exemption from prosecution for violating the state’s duly passed and constitutionally adjudicated laws. Let’s be clear: The First Amendment’s religious freedom and free speech guarantees protect a person’s right to advocate polygamy and “spiritual” marriage with girls as young as 13, but the First Amendment does not allow you to act upon such beliefs when they contravene state or federal law. Adults having sex with underage girls is statutory rape and is illegal.

Like most Americans, I agree that the safety of children must always take priority in government’s actions. That does not give government officials a blank check to use children’s “welfare” as a subterfuge to justify governmental intrusion or to disrupt any practice it finds vaguely weird.

There is no more treasured language in America’s collective heart than these 16 words: “Congress shall make no Law respecting an Establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As invaluable to our heritage as these words are, they were never intended to exempt people from obeying generally applicable laws, which meet a compelling government interest, such as the ones prohibiting adult males from having sex with underage girls in or out of “spiritual” marriages.

To misconstrue the First Amendment’s religious freedoms to grant such exemption would be to desecrate those time-honored words and the sacred freedoms they guarantee.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

As Gas Costs Soar, Buyers Are Flocking to Small Cars

Soaring gas prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede.

In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April.

“It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here,” said George Pipas, chief sales analyst for the Ford Motor Company.

Read it all–I say thank goodness.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Brazilian Bishops responds to the St Andrews's Draft of the Covenant

However, although acknowledging that commendable effort, we believe that our Communion does not need new instruments of consensus beyond those that historically have been our benchmarks in terms of identity.

We have diligently studied the second draft of the Covenant, known as the St Andrew’s Draft, and despite some new insights shown from the first reactions to the proposal coming from various parts of the Communion, according to our view, the proposition is still problematic.

Sections 05 and 06 in the new proposal focus on elements that we believe are unnecessary and inapplicable to our Communion. In the manner in which they are presented, they constitute a serious setback in the understanding of what is Communion, prioritising the juridical dimension more and less so the ecclesiological and affective dimensions that have been the historical mark of our mutual interdependence.

The Covenant continues to be a mistaken proposal for the resolution of conflicts through the creation of curial instances absolutely alien to our ethos.

We are fully convinced that the time in which we live is marked by symptoms that value highly the building up of networks and other manifestations of communion in a spontaneous way in the various aspects of human life. Insisting on a formal and juridical Covenant, with the logic of discipline and exercise of power, means to move in the opposite direction, thus returning to the days of Modernity, with its Confessions, Covenants, Diets and other rational instruments of theological consensus.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Provinces

Jonathan Chait: How to Beat Gas Tax Demagoguery

The common thread here is anti-intellectual, populist demagoguery. Economists believe the gas tax suspension won’t help consumers. Under current market conditions, the after-tax price of gasoline won’t fall. (And the precedent this would set would be a disaster for the future of weaning Americans off of cheap, carbon-intensive fuel.) So the fact that economists or Tom Friedman may live in cities is obviously not relevant at all. I can imagine Clinton and McCain promising to solve the health care crisis by promising free government-issued leeches, and when doctors insist the leeches won’t help, they reply that it’s easy for rich doctors with their lavish medical plans to say we don’t need a solution.

Generally, betting on the intelligence of the American public is a bad move. But, like Noam, I think this is a great fight for Obama right now. Here’s how pointing out his refusal to pander on the gas tax helps Obama….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, US Presidential Election 2008

Church Times–Canada: Venables licenses 30

More than 30 clergy received licences to serve in the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) from the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Greg Venables, on Saturday at a ceremony in South Delta Baptist Church, Vancouver.

The 29 priests and four deacons have left the Anglican Church of Canada and put themselves under the archiepiscopal authority of the Southern Cone because of the disagreement with the Canadian Church over homosexuality.

British-born Bishop Venables, who is 58, also commissioned two Canadian bishops: the retired Bishop of Brandon, the Rt Revd Malcolm Harding, and the former Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador, the Rt Revd Donald Harvey, who will be the Moderator of ANiC.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]

Between the pulpit and pews, a gulf on Obama's ex-pastor

In interviews at churches in cities and towns including Charlotte, Greensboro, Lumberton and Goldsboro, ministers expressed the view that Obama and Wright had been attacked by a superficial and biased news media. Many said they were teaching Wright’s sermons in Bible study classes. They are delivering lectures on the roots of Wright’s style of ministry and preaching against what they see as attempts to make Wright a divisive figure.

“People get fired up when they see people trying to scapegoat a presidential candidate because of a pastor,” said the Reverend Dr. William Barber II, the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro and the president of the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “And No. 2, the fact that you’re beating up on someone that’s very profound and very prophetic.”

But many parishioners are not nearly as sympathetic to Wright, saying they are disappointed with him for taking a personal dispute public with little concern for the harm it would do to the Obama campaign. (This sentiment is particularly strong among younger voters.) Others call Wright arrogant and untrustworthy, and still others say he is fighting old fights.

“He needs to take the political and keep it separate from the spiritual,” said Rita Harrison, 48, an Obama supporter who was cutting hair at Allison’s Salon in Whiteville. “Why would you risk this man’s campaign because of some personal comments? Because that’s what it is, it’s personal.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

NPR: Does Jeremiah Wright Speak for All Black Churches?

[The Rev. Graylan] Hagler says given the government’s past actions ”“ for example, withholding penicillin from blacks afflicted with syphilis in Tuskegee, Ala. ”“ many African Americans do believe the U.S. government developed the HIV virus to kill people of color, as Rev. Wright has asserted.

Hagler says he supports Obama. But he says if Wright’s statements harm Obama’s bid to become the first African American with a shot at the presidency, “chips fall where they may. As every preacher will tell you, the thing they’re accountable to is God Almighty.”

But Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., has another take on Obama’s pastor.

“Jeremiah Wright is not mainstream,” Jackson says.

Jackson leads a Pentecostal church, which focuses on self-improvement and helping people join the middle class. And while the church cares for the poor, it has little theologically in common with the Rev. Wright’s focus on injustice and oppression.

“He doesn’t represent the majority,” Jackson says. “My guess is maybe 25 percent of black pastors may hold that view. So you’ve got a gifted communicator with what I would call a flawed world view.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Robert Parham: Will the Christian Left Criticize or Justify Obama's Divorce from Wright?

Senator Barack Obama filed divorce papers against Reverend Jeremiah Wright on the grounds of irreconcilable differences one day after his pastor of 20 years appeared at the National Press Club, even though Wright’s substance and style had not really changed.

What had changed was that the national press had become critical of the former pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, obsessing about him after the softball interview by PBS’ Bill Moyers and glowing comments by CNN’s Roland Martin following Wright’s Sunday speech at the NAACP dinner in Detroit.

Some who had once defended Wright’s Afro-centric theology as normative prophetic preaching turned on him. Bashing Wright became acceptable on cable TV news programs. Scorching and unrelenting criticism played a decisive role in forcing Obama to claim he never knew him.

More interesting than how the politicos and pundits debate the Illinois senator’s decision to severe ties with the Chicago preacher and its impact on the presidential race is what will be the reaction of the so-called Christian Left who supported Obama by justifying Wright’s liberation theology. Will they too pile on against Wright? Will they defend him? Or will they rationalize Obama’s action on the grounds of political necessity?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Saving 'God's creation' unites scientist, evangelical leader

A Nobel laureate scientist and a leader of the evangelical Christian movement walk into a restaurant.

It sounds like the setup for a joke, a scenario that is screaming for a punch line that plays off the seemingly endless disagreements between faith and science.

But this is a true story, and Dr. Eric Chivian and the Rev. Richard Cizik have come up with a zinger no one could expect. They went to lunch together to agree on something – the need to curb negative human impact on the Earth. And the partnership they formed that afternoon in 2005 has led this odd couple of the environmental movement to be named, today, to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

“I must admit I approached that meeting with some anxiety,” said Chivian (pronounced chih-vee-an), director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, “I’m involved in evolutionary biology. I support stem cell research. I have gay friends who are married. I felt I had positions that would be at odds with his.”

Cizik (pronounced sigh-zik), vice president for governmental affairs for the 45,000-church National Association of Evangelicals in Washington, D.C,, had similar reservations. But, as they point out, they were not there to discuss their differences. What brought them together is what Chivian calls “a deep, fundamental commitment to life on earth.”

Together, they formed the Scientists and Evangelicals Initiative, which aims to unite the two communities to help bring an environmental message into the large and powerful evangelical movement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Science & Technology

Philip Turner–The Presiding Bishop of TEC: Does She Know What She Is Doing?

Three events in the recent past have posed a serious question. Does the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) know what she is doing? The possible answers to this question have raised even greater concern than the question itself. For, I have concluded, if, on the one hand, she does not know what she is doing then TEC is without effective leadership at perhaps the most crucial time in its history. If, on the other hand, she does know what she is doing, she is leading TEC in directions for which she has no warrant.

To be specific, her decline of an invitation to greet the Pope on his present visit calls into question her understanding of the office of Presiding Bishop. The canonical irregularities surrounding the specially called convention in the Diocese of San Joaquin and the actions to depose Bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan raise questions about the way in which she understands and deploys the Constitution and Canons of TEC. Finally, her Easter Message to TEC raises a question about the adequacy of her grasp of the Christian Gospel.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

The Presentment Memorandum about Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

This memorandum evaluates whether the Presiding Bishop has violated the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church and what procedures would be applicable for charging her with a presentable offense. This memorandum identifies at least eleven violations of TEC’s constitution and canons by the Presiding Bishop in her dealings with Bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan and the Diocese of San Joaquin. Taken together, these actions demonstrate willful violation of the canons, an intention to repeat the violations and a pattern of concealment and lack of candor. In the case of DSJ, the fundamental polity of TEC as a “fellowship of duly constituted dioceses” under the ecclesiastical authority of the diocesan bishop has been subverted. The memorandum then addresses the procedural requirements for filing charges against the Presiding Bishop.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Ruth Gledhill Interviews Archbishop Greg Venables

In an interview with me while he was in Canada, Archbishop Gregory Venables explained why he will be attending both the Global Anglican Future Conference next month in Jordan and Israel, and the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, Kent in July.

The Archbishop of the Southern Cone said: ‘I will be at Gafcon and also I am going to be at Lambeth. I think that is pretty important from the point of view of you guys [meaning the Press. rg].

‘Someone’s got to be there to talk to you about what is going on.’ [Too right, and initial impressions indicate we’re going to have even less access than last time. It’s nice to know that at least one Bishop is prepared to sup with us sinners, the few there are left. rg]

AB Greg continued: ”That was one of the reasons why I eventually made a final decision to go, which was only recently.

‘I think someone has got to go and show their face and speak to the situation.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Lambeth 2008

A UMNS article on the Methodist decision

Delegates to the 2008 General Conference on April 30 rejected changes to the United Methodist Social Principles that would have acknowledged that church members disagree on homosexuality.

Delegates instead adopted a minority report that retained language in the denomination’s 2004 Book of Discipline describing homosexual practice as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The adopted wording in Paragraph 161G also states that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” and that United Methodists are to be “welcoming, forgiving and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.”

Delegates also approved a new resolution to oppose homophobia and heterosexism, saying the church opposes “all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice or sexual orientation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Notable and Quotable

I have said before, that by this consolation all sorrow which we might conceive, because of Christ’s absence, is mitigated, yea, utterly taken away, when as we hear that lie shall return again. And also the end for which he shall come again is to be noted; namely, that he shall come as a Redeemer, and shall gather us with him into blessed immortality.

–John Calvin, commenting on Christ’s Ascension in the Book of Acts

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for Ascension Day

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God,
that we who believe
Thine only-begotten Son our Redeemer,
to have ascended this day into heaven,
may ourselves dwell in spirit amid heavenly things.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship