Daily Archives: March 22, 2010

Tom Krattenmaker: On campus, 'tolerance' and faith collide

Should a student religious group at a public university be allowed to bar a certain group of students from membership ”” gay students, to be precise ”” without losing its official student-group status, and the funding and other benefits that go with it?

Today, the answer to that constitutionally loaded question depends on which federal appellate court you ask. In a case involving the Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the school was entirely within its rights when it denied recognition to the Christian Legal Society over its unwillingness to accept as members gay students or any others who did not share the group’s beliefs. The 7th Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in a similar case at Southern Illinois University’s law school.

Clarity is presumably on the way, as the U.S. Supreme Court has taken on the Hastings case and will hear arguments April 19. Let’s hope the country comes out of it with a clearer understanding of what’s in and what’s out when it comes to the membership policies of religious student groups. And let’s hope that the high court sheds some much needed light on the larger issues evoked by the law school case:

Does religious freedom include the right to discriminate on the basis of gender, race or sexuality? Do authorities have the right to foist their values on religious groups through carrots and sticks such as meeting-space privileges and the threat of withholding funds? And, as more conservatives are asking these days, shouldn’t that oft-proclaimed liberal principle of “tolerance” also be invoked to the benefit of tradition-minded Christians?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Obama Pays More Than Buffett as U.S. Risks AAA Rating

Two-year notes sold by the billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in February yield 3.5 basis points less than Treasuries of similar maturity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson and Lowe’s Cos. debt also traded at lower yields in recent weeks, a situation former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. chief fixed-income strategist Jack Malvey calls an “exceedingly rare” event in the history of the bond market.

The $2.59 trillion of Treasury Department sales since the start of 2009 have created a glut as the budget deficit swelled to a post-World War II-record 10 percent of the economy and raised concerns whether the U.S. deserves its AAA credit rating. The increased borrowing may also undermine the first-quarter rally in Treasuries as the economy improves.

“It’s a slap upside the head of the government,” said Mitchell Stapley, the chief fixed-income officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Fifth Third Asset Management, which oversees $22 billion. “It could be the moment where hopefully you realize that risk is beginning to creep into your credit profile and the costs associated with that can be pretty scary.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Live the Trinity: Why the Episcopal Church obsession over property?

Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton New York. (Been there many times. About one hour south of Ithaca and Cornell University.) One of the few growing and thriving Episcopal parishes in the diocese heck in the state. They left the Diocese of Central New York. They tried to keep their property. They were sued. They lost.

The family was abruptly evicted from the parsonage. The church building was closed. (People who came looking for the soup kitchen hoping for something to eat had to look elsewhere. That is an important point. I will come back to this.)

The Episcopal Church sold the building to Muslims.

Who paid one third what the Church of the Good Shepherd was offering. (There is some question about whether they had the funds to make that offer but that is not the most important issue here.)

To Muslims.

See those nasty traditional Anglicans do not believe in same-sex relations. They do not believe in women in ministry. Oh wait they do because the rector’s wife was associate pastor so I guess they do believe in women priests….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Departing Parishes

Matt Kennedy's Former Parish Sold to Muslims by the Diocese of Central New York

Take the time to read it all as well as looking at the pictures and there is a lot more there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Milwaukee, TEC Departing Parishes

Stephen Cottrell to be new Bishop of Chelmsford

The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading, has been nominated by Her Majesty the Queen as Bishop of Chelmsford in succession to The Right Reverend John Gladwin. He will be the tenth Bishop of Chelmsford.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell said: “I was born and brought up in Essex, and it is still the place I think of as home. Now I have been invited to return to this large, diverse and richly varied diocese to serve as your bishop. It is an immense privilege.

“What sustains me in ministry is the joy and beauty of the gospel. I want us to be a church that is gospel centred, servant hearted and mission focused. I am hungry for us to be a church that connects with every person and every community.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Michael Poon–The Anglican Communion as Communion of Churches and the Anglican Covenant

The paper aims to draw out the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant for the Anglican Communion. It begins by examining the nature and reasons of the “ecclesial deficit” of the Anglican Communion. It points out that the ecclesial status of the Anglican Communion has never been clarified. The Anglican Communion arises historically as an accident. It has never been constituted as an ecclesial body. The paper traces the transformations in the Anglican ecclesiastical map amid powerful global undercurrents in the second half of the twentieth century. It reflects on the emergence of the status of the See of Canterbury as “focus of unity” of the Anglican Communion. It proceeds to point out how uncritical adoption of the term “instruments of unity” from Protestant ecumenical dialogues led to confusion and mistrust among Anglican Churches. The paper then explores the potentials of communion-ecclesiology for the Anglican Covenant. It goes on to argue that the Anglican Covenant, grounded in the New Covenant, provides the canonical structure of the Anglican Communion. It constitutes the particular Churches to be a confident Communion of Churches. The inter-Anglican structures of the Anglican Communion should in fact be the ecclesiastical embodiment of the Anglican Covenant.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Ecclesiology, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Theology, Windsor Report / Process

NY Times Editorial: Health Care Reform, at Last

The process was wrenching, and tainted to the 11th hour by narrow political obstructionism, but the year-long struggle over health care reform came to an end on Sunday night with a triumph for countless Americans who have been victimized or neglected by their dysfunctional health care system. Barack Obama put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions.

The bill, which was approved by the Senate in December and by the House on Sunday, represents a national commitment to reform the worst elements of the current system. It will provide coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, prevent the worst insurance company abuses, and begin to wrestle with relentlessly rising costs ”” while slightly reducing future deficits.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

IBD: Health Overhaul's Assault On Business

If you don’t care how this affects businesses, you should. Some 15 million people in this country don’t have jobs ”” and another 12 million work part-time but want full-time positions.

If America’s major employers are hit with huge, government-mandated cost increases during an economic downturn, do you really think they’ll hire more when the economy starts growing on its own again? Of course not.

Despite this, the White House predicts its plan will “cut costs” for businesses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even makes the bizarre prediction that passage of health reform will lead to 400,000 new jobs “immediately,” and millions more down the road.

Such claims don’t hold water because health reform includes $569.2 billion in new taxes, at last count 160 new bureaucracies and regulations, and 16,500 new IRS agents to collect all those taxes….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

E.J. Dionne on the Health Care Bill (Washington Post): Yes, they made history

In approving the most sweeping piece of social legislation since the mid-1960s, Democrats proved that they can govern, even under challenging circumstances and in the face of significant internal divisions.

To understand how large a victory this is, consider what defeat would have meant. In light of the president’s decision to gamble all of his standing to get this bill passed, its failure would have crippled his presidency. The Democratic Congress would have become a laughing stock, incapable of winning on an issue that has been central to its identity since the days of Harry Truman.

This is why Republicans decided to put everything they had into an effort to defeat the measure. They said its passage would hurt the Democrats in November’s elections. They knew that its failure would have haunted Democrats for decades.

Without this concrete achievement, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kept warning her troops, Democrats would have been stuck with their votes for reform bills and nothing to show for them. The real and imagined flaws of their proposed system would have been hung around their necks, yet they would have had no way of demonstrating its advantages.

With success comes the chance to defend what is, in many of its particulars, the sort of plan a majority of Americans said they wanted. Yes, it is imperfect and it won’t come cheap. But it fills a gaping hole in the American social insurance system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Local Newspaper Editorial: The House's historic mistake

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., was right Sunday night when he hailed looming approval of an unprecedented expansion of the federal government’s health care role as “an historic moment.” Yet the House also made history by taking that giant step without a single Republican vote. Regardless of your opinion on how to cure what’s ailing our nation’s medical system, that lack of bipartisanship sends a disturbing signal about how deeply our nation is divided — and assures that this debate is far from over.

Our opinion remains that while major health care changes are needed, Obama-Care is a counterproductive regulatory behemoth that will impose devastating new financial burdens on both the private and public sectors.

That’s particularly alarming in these hard times of record federal deficits and high unemployment. Persisting poll trends show that a solid majority of Americans share that opinion.

But even those who think the president’s reform plan is sound should be troubled by the legislative machinations required to advance it….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Local paper Front Page: (Jim) Clyburn revels in victory

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn experienced the most significant legislative triumph of his congressional career Sunday evening as a historic health care bill extending insurance to 32 million Americans was passed.

Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, ended a week that he said was the most exhausting of his 17-plus years in Congress by finally corralling the minimum 216 votes needed for the House to pass the landmark legislation.

“We have debated this issue for several generations,” Clyburn said on the House floor at 9:30 p.m. “The time has come to act. This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

NY Times: House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama

House Democrats approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system on Sunday, voting over unanimous Republican opposition to provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans after an epic political battle that could define the differences between the parties for years.

With the 219-to-212 vote, the House gave final approval to legislation passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Thirty-four Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill. The vote sent the measure to President Obama, whose yearlong push for the legislation has been the centerpiece of his agenda and a test of his political power.

After approving the bill, the House adopted a package of changes to it by a vote of 220 to 211. That package ”” agreed to in negotiations among House and Senate Democrats and the White House ”” now goes to the Senate for action as soon as this week. It would be the final step in a bitter legislative fight that has highlighted the nation’s deep partisan and ideological divisions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Dekoven

Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, who didst inspire thy servant James de Koven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may afford to thy faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of thy grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:14-16

Posted in Uncategorized

Another Lenten Prayer

Grant, O Lord, that in thy wounds we may find our safety, in thy stripes our cure, in thy pain our peace, in thy cross our victory, in thy resurrection our triumph; and, at the last, a crown of righteousness in the glories of thy eternal kingdom.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer