Daily Archives: March 11, 2016

[Guardian] Magistrate sacked over religious opposition to same-sex couples adopting

A Kent magistrate who publicly opposes adoption by same-sex couples on religious grounds and sits in the family courts has been sacked for serious misconduct.

The decision to remove Richard Page, 69, following an interview he gave on BBC television last year, was authorised by both the justice secretary, Michael Gove, and the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.

Page, who had been on the bench for 15 years, had only a month more to serve as a justice of the peace, according to the Christian Legal Centre, which has supported him.
[Page] continued: “In the case of same-sex couples adopting children, it has only been a relatively short time that same-sex couples have been able to adopt and foster, and therefore there has not been time for a proper analysis to be carried out into the effects such placements have on the children’s educational, emotional and developmental wellbeing.

“As a magistrate I have to act on the evidence before me and, quite simply, I believe that there is not sufficient evidence to convince me that placing a child in the care of a same-sex couple can be as holistically beneficial to a child as placing them with a mum and dad as God and nature intended.

“I am surprised that this lord chancellor should seemingly pander to the new political orthodoxy when what it amounts to is social experimentation on the lives of the most vulnerable children in our communities.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Religious Freedom / Persecution

[Atlantic] Jonathan Merritt: Are Conservative Christians ”˜Religious Extremists'?

New data show that most Americans consider the beliefs and practices of traditionalist Christians to be ”˜extreme’””but is that warranted?
Conservative Christians share striking similarities with Taliban terrorists. Or at least, that’s the argument laid out by Kimberly Blaker in her 2003 book, The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America. Conflating leaders like James Dobson of Focus on the Family with Islamic fundamentalists, Blaker argued that America’s traditionalist Christians also seek to indoctrinate youth with oppressive views of women, minorities, and LGBT persons through mind-control tactics and intimidation.

When Blaker’s book was released, America had an outspoken conservative Christian president with an approval rating of more than 60 percent, the post-9/11 church attendance spike had not yet receded, and religious-right leaders still seemed to hold sway in American public square. It was easy to dismiss her argument as outside the mainstream debate.

But 13 years later, according to a new study by Barna Research, Americans believe that many Christians’ beliefs and practices are so far outside of the norm that they deserve one of modern society’s ugliest epithets: “extremist.”..
In an age of religious terrorism, “extremist” is too damaging a word to be tossed around with such little discretion. When society slaps the E-word on something, it marks it for marginalization. And if the data is right, tens of millions of religious Americans may be at risk of being ostracized, sidelined, or banished from social acceptability because of their beliefs. These are the very communities best positioned to attack genuine religious extremism. But labeling them ”˜extremist’ simply encourages alienation and radicalization.

One of the great ironies of this politically correct age is how those who most champion tolerance are often in such great need of the virtue themselves. Society calls “extremist” those believers they consider to be rigid, narrow-minded, and unaccepting of others.

Carelessly painting such wide swaths with a caustic descriptor is its own form of intolerance. It’s refusing to accept those who are less accepting. It’s coercing someone to convert to your way of thinking to keep them from converting others to their own. It’s marginalizing one group to keep them from shaming some other marginalized group. It contributes to the very problem it’s trying to solve.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

[Andrew Nixon] Operation Fiji Assist

The scale of destruction from cyclone Winston in Fiji is hard to comprehend. The pictures are just devastating. The death toll stands at 42 – which is just shocking – but many are saying it may still rise as communications improve. We pray it will not.

The tiny village of Maniava, where a Youthworks Year 13 mission team spend time each July was literally blown away. Of the 32 houses, only 4 remain. We praise God no one was killed! You can read here about the extraordinary efforts our dear brother Claude (Dean of Suva) to get some food and basic first aid to Maniava (with rations on horseback!) thanks to the generous donations of Sydney Anglicans and other supporters of Anglican Aid.

This story of destruction of homes and livelihood is very close to home for me as I remember very fondly my time in Maniava and the wonderful welcome I received when last there..

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces

(WSJ) Nicholas Hahn-Unions Take On Roman Catholic Schools

Union organizers now have their sights set on America’s largest Catholic university, DePaul University in Chicago. But the school’s president, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, won’t let labor bureaucrats usurp his authority without a fight. Writing online for Inside Higher Ed in January, he noted that “whether or not a particular faculty member chooses to incorporate religion in his or her classroom overtly, the point is that it is up to the university, not the government, to decide what counts as religious perspective.” Ultimately, he wrote, “the freedom to determine what is or what is not religious activity inside our church is at stake.”

In recent years many faith-based schools have wrestled with questions about the religious and secular mix in their missions””and labor bureaucrats have noticed. Some schools have seemed to neglect their identity when hiring professors. “I’m not Catholic,” Alyson Paige Warren, a Loyola adjunct professor, told America Magazine in January, “and I don’t teach Jesuit spirituality.”

Pope Francis will have none of that ambivalence. In January 2014 remarks to a delegation from the University of Notre Dame, Francis insisted upon the “uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom.” He reminded his visitors from Notre Dame””and by extension administrators at other Catholic colleges””to protect their schools’ “identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness.”

If more religious educators prayed over that, labor bureaucrats wouldn’t stand a chance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

NYT–Muslims Sue Over Denial of Bid to Build Mosque in New Jersey Suburb

In a prosperous New Jersey suburb about an hour west of Manhattan, a retired AT&T executive decided with some friends to open a mosque in the town where he has lived for nearly 40 years, been on the board of education, led a task force to create the town’s community center and even served as mayor.
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About 65 people attended the congregation’s Friday prayer services, which were held in rented halls or sometimes in parks.

On the surface, the process seemed straightforward: In November 2011, the group, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, led by the former mayor, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, bought a four-acre plot in an area of Basking Ridge where zoning permitted houses of worship. The group’s architects and engineers argued that the plan complied by a wide margin with every conceivable building requirement.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Guardian) The unique role of the church in the battle for financial inclusion

Justin Welby captured the attention of the nation in 2013 when he declared war on Wonga and pledged the support of the church in the fight for financial inclusion. And yet, alongside the positive headlines, a common question emerged in response: what does the church really have to offer to people struggling on low incomes and preyed on by exploitative lenders, except perhaps a some spiritual support and comfort?

The answer has come in the form of the Church Credit Champions Network, a project funded by Lloyds Banking Group that has been piloting in London and Liverpool since the spring of 2014. It helps equip local churches to engage with money and debt issues, and has formed a key part of the task group set up by the archbishop of Canterbury and chaired by former City regulator Sir Hector Sants.

The church has both an unmatched “branch network”, with a presence in every community in the country, and a range of different resources, such as people, money, skills and buildings, which are all potentially of value to credit unions and others seeking to increase access to savings and affordable credit in their communities. The network helps churches to listen and reflect on what is happening within their local community in terms of money and debt, and then trains up clergy and church members as ”credit champions”, ready to take practical action.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Church Times) MPs vote down Government’s attempt to loosen Sunday-trading laws

The House of Commons has defeated the Government’s attempt to relax Sunday trading restrictions. On Wednesday evening, MPs voted 317 to 286 to maintain the current rules.

Twenty-seven Conservative MPs defied the Government to vote against a proposal to give local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours.

They were joined by Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP), who announced their opposition to the changes on Tuesday, after press reports had earlier suggested they would abstain or vote in favour. Although there are no Sunday trading restrictions in Scotland, and the Government’s plans affect only England and Wales, the SNP argued that allowing seven-day shopping across the UK would lower the premium pay-rates that Scottish workers currently receive for working on Sundays.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's interview in The House magazine

…in order to be fully successful, he says, the struggle against religious violence and extremism must involve a domestic component too. He offers a staunch defence of the UK’s own “Judeo-Christian tradition”, and warns against attempts to dilute those values out of a misplaced fear of causing offence.

“I think you’ve got to be very clear about rights and wrongs,” he says. “You can’t turn a blind eye, in any way at all.”

This is where secularism, Welby says, too often goes wrong: a successful multi-faith society, he believes, should not view faith as a threat to be pushed to the margins, nor identity as a zero-sum game of exchange, where different groups deny their values to avoid alienating others. Instead he says society must make room for people of different faiths to take pride in their traditions, and regard diversity as a blessing and an opportunity for hospitality.

“We need to be confident about our own heritage, our Judeo-Christian heritage, whether we’re believers or not,” he says. “That is what has shaped our own values, and we need to be confident in that.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Lancelot Andrewes

O thou who sendest forth the light, createst the morning, and makest the sun to rise on the good and the evil: Enlighten the blindness of our minds with the knowledge of the truth; lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, that in thy light we may see light, and, at the last, in the light of grace the light of glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away, and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together; and he said to the man that did the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Mid’ian; and he sat down by a well.

–Exodus 2:9-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Reminder–Diocese of South Carolina Convention began on Friday

Join the Diocese for a live-streamed service of Holy Eucharist at the beginning of the 225th annual Convention of the…

Posted by Diocese of South Carolina on Thursday, March 10, 2016

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Danse des elfes

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

[Dr Peter Jensen] To go forward we must go back

..Christians are constantly assailed by non-Biblical thought. Today there is a very powerful temptation simply to capitulate and change our doctrine on key matters. Now you have to decide consciously, individually and as a church, that you will trust the written word of God and follow its teachings no matter what the world says. About this there can be no compromise. In public utterances church leaders must teach the Bible.

The tragedy is, that in some places the church has listened more closely to the culture around us than to the Bible. Instead of being different and holding out a better hope and a better way, sections of the church have become advocates for patterns of life which God rejects.

Sometimes the claim is even made that this represents the Spirit’s contemporary voice, as though the Spirit could contradict himself, or the Bible is not sufficient. We are listening to the human spirit rather than the Holy Spirit.

Or, we are told, the Bible is unclear in its teaching. We must therefore allow several interpretations to flourish even though they are absolutely contradictory to each other, and one has been the established interpretation for 2000 years..

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

(Crux) John Allen–Report insists ISIS is guilty of ”˜genocide’ against Christians

A major report released Thursday by two US-based Christian organizations argues for including Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan Christians as victims of genocide perpetrated by ISIS, ahead of a March 17 deadline for the US State Department to make a finding about whether, and to which categories of ISIS victims, the term “genocide” applies.

Although experts say a finding of genocide would not immediately trigger changes in US foreign policy or the acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers, it’s nevertheless important since both domestic and international law require that acts of genocide be investigated and those responsible indicted and prosecuted.

The 278-page report was released by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with “In Defense of Christians,” a US-based research and advocacy organization devoted to protecting Christians in the Middle East.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence