Yearly Archives: 2017

(Economist) Reno, Nevada–Anti-vagrancy laws are not the best way to reduce homelessness

As the city’s fortunes have risen, so too have its rents, occupancy rates and house prices. Since 2012 the median price of a home has doubled; the average rental price jumped 17% between 2014 and 2016. In January the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless counted nearly 4,000 people living in weekly motels, up from 2,560 in 2011. Those who cannot afford motels have moved into shelters or onto the street.

If the proposed ordinance to ban sleeping outside passes, Reno’s police officers will be directed to try persuading those living on the streets to move to shelters. If they have no space, the homeless living on the street will be left alone. But if they do, anyone living outside who refuses to move in after a warning might be arrested.

An arrest record makes it harder for a homeless person to find employment or housing in the future. Many studies suggest there are cheaper ways to tackle the problem. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a charity, found that the average costs associated with the incarceration and hospitalisation of a chronically homeless person are about triple what it would cost to provide a chronically homeless person with housing. Between 2007 and 2015, New Orleans reduced its homelessness rate by 85%, primarily by providing housing. Reno’s city government should take a look.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Deutsche Welle) ‘WhatsApp blasphemy’ and the plight of Pakistani Christians

On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in eastern Pakistan sentenced Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, to death on blasphemy charges. James, a tailor by profession, was accused by a friend of sharing “blasphemous messages” on WhatsApp’s text messaging service.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan’s Islamic identity.

Pakistan’s Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.

Read it all.

Posted in Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(CAJ News) Fragile Nigeria fracturing as ethnic eviction deadline nears

Fears of a coup may have been allayed with the return of President Muhammadu Buhari after a lengthy absence due to ill health but the panic gripping delicate Nigeria has taken a new dimension as an ultimatum issued by the major ethnic group for other tribes to vacate some parts of the country approaches.

Coupled with terrorism by the Islamic militant Boko Haram sect escalating, with over 20 000 civilians killed (unofficial figures suggest the toll is 100 000) and some 2 million displaced, the West African powerhouse has to contend with inter-ethnic relations at their most fractured nation in recent years with the deadline some diehard members of the majority Hausa for the Igbos to leave the northern parts of the country due at the end of this month.

At the centre of the brewing conflict are the Hausa (largely Muslim), are the largest ethnic group with 29 percent of the 190-million population, and the Igbos (predominantly Christians), who are third with 18 percent. The Yoruba are the second largest tribe (21 percent) in Africa’s biggest country by population, and with over 500 tribal groups.
While the government of Buhari (a Hausa), who nonetheless has spent the better part of the tense period in the United Kingdom for health reasons, audios and videos urging the North to attack the Igbos in the region are in circulation on the internet and social media.

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Posted in Nigeria

What Activist Masha Gessen, a promoter of Same-sex Marriage, admitted in 2012

Found there:

It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist . . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—-because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago.

I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally . . . . I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three . . . . And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage (emphasis mine).

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

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst deign to be made like unto men, the sharer of our sorrows, the companion of our journeys, the light of our ignorance, the remedy of our infirmity: So fill us with thy Spirit and endue us with thy grace that, as thou hast been made like unto us, we may grow more like unto thee; for thy tender mercies’ sake.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up;
but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another…

Psalm 75:6-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Justin Welby meets the new Apostolic Nuncio

The Archbishop and the Nuncio discussed matters of mutual concern, including the peace process in South Sudan, the current refugee crisis and the future of Europe.

The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with most countries around the world. This is managed via the ‘second section’ of the Secretariat of State, which is headed by Archbishop Paul Gallagher. The history of the nunciature in the UK goes back to the 1930s.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

A Story of Hope for a Friday–this Wonderful Lady provides Birthday parties for children who have never had one

Watch and enjoy it all.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Poverty

(WSJ) Nina Shea–How to Help Iraq’s Religious Minorities

As Islamic State heads toward defeat in Iraq, Christian and Yazidi survivors of genocide should be returning to their hometowns in Nineveh province. Instead, these fragile minority communities mostly remain stranded at displacement shelters in Kurdistan without the means to rebuild their villages. Many are fleeing Iraq, and the country now risks losing these religious minorities entirely. The Trump administration is making the situation worse by continuing Obama policies that effectively exclude these non-Muslims from U.S. aid in Iraq.

Today there are fewer than 250,000 Christians in Iraq, according to the State Department, down from as many as 1.4 million before the 2003 invasion. These Christians speak Aramaic, like Jesus of Nazareth, and trace their faith to Thomas the Apostle, whose relics were spirited from Nineveh by Orthodox monks as ISIS approached. The Iraqi Jewish community, its roots in the Babylonian exile, was forced out over the past 70 years; fewer than 10 Jewish families remain in Baghdad. Yazidis—who have lived near the Sinjar Mountains—number about 400,000. Nadia Murad, the voice for thousands of Yazidis enslaved by ISIS, warned a congressional panel earlier this year that her people could soon disappear because of emigration. This would signal the end of Iraq’s indigenous non-Muslim communities.

Since fiscal 2014, the U.S. has provided $1.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Iraq, but very little of it has reached the beleaguered Christian and Yazidi communities. This is because the Obama administration decided to channel most of it through United Nations refugee and development agencies, a practice the new administration has continued. There is no protection for religious minorities in the U.N.’s overwhelmingly Muslim camps, and Christians and Yazidis are terrified of entering them. The U.N. doesn’t operate camps in Iraq for displaced Christians, and the international body has enough resources to shelter only half the Yazidis who congregate around Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan. U.N. programs also exclude the local churches that struggle to care for these minorities, forcing them to raise aid on a piecemeal and insecure basis from other sources.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Iraq, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AI) TEC Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania to share a bishop

Last weekend at a meeting of the clergy of the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Bishop Franklin (pictured) announced that he will retire on April 3, 2019, as required by the canons of the Episcopal Church. His letter, which you can read here, says he has returned from sabbatical “full of energy and ideas that we will explore together over that time.” Chief among those ideas, as we discussed with the clergy of both dioceses, is the possibility of our dioceses sharing a future.

At our upcoming diocesan conventions, we will propose that we spend the next year convening discussions among leaders across our region about how we might create more opportunity for mission by working together. This process will culminate in October 2018, when our dioceses plan to meet together for a joint convention in Niagara Falls.

If our discussions in the next year are fruitful, as we hope they will be, we would anticipate that in 2018, the Diocese of Western New York would elect Bishop Rowe as its bishop provisional for five years beginning in April 2019, when Bishop Franklin retires. During the first three years of the partnership, our two dioceses would work together to deepen our relationships and develop shared mission priorities. In October 2021, we would re-evaluate the partnership and then, in October 2024, decide whether we wanted to continue it beyond the five-year mark.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(Local Paper) South Carolina insurance director confirms http://HealthCare.gov prices will increase 31% next year

As Congress once again turns its focus toward health care reform, the S.C. Department of Insurance posted some sobering news about 2018 health insurance prices.

The agency confirmed on its website Thursday that average premiums for HealthCare.gov polices will skyrocket 31 percent in South Carolina next year, confirming information the federal government published on the future of health insurance costs earlier this summer.

Some customers will face higher increases than others. A 60-year-old patient in Charleston County who doesn’t use tobacco and wants to buy a “silver” plan next year will pay about 28 percent more. His monthly premium will increase from about $837 a month this year to $1,068 a month next year.

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Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance & Investing

(Church Times) Dire state of Religious Education laid bare in analysis of Government census

A quarter of all state secondary schools are struggling to meet their legal obligation to teach religious studies, data obtained by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has shown.

Its analysis of the previously unpublished School Workforce Census, obtained from the Government by a Freedom of Information request, found that, out of the 2793 schools that took part in the census, 28 per cent (787 schools) said that they gave no time to religious education (RE) in Year 11, the GCSE year.

This equates with 800,000 pupils, NATRE estimates in its report, The State of the Nation: A report on Religious Education provision within secondary schools in England, published on Monday. And, of the schools claiming to offer non-examined RE to Year 11 pupils, 83 per cent admitted that their students received zero minutes of teaching per week, meaning that, in practice, it was not on the curriculum — what the report calls a “tick-box exercise”.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(JE) Jeff Walton-Episcopal Church Still Skidding Downhill

Episcopalians have yet to hit bottom in their downward membership spiral that began in the early 2000s.

Updated statistics made available today by the Episcopal Church General Convention Office show a denomination continuing a sustained decline in 2016 to 1,745,156 domestic members. The U.S.-based denomination shed 34,179 members, a decline of 1.9 percent, while attendance losses were relatively limited compared to previous years, declining 9,327, down 1.6 percent. A net 37 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,473 congregations.

Among dioceses facing the largest declines is Eastern Michigan, which dropped 14.7 percent from 5,888 down to 5,022 members (-866). The diocese also saw a 3.5 percent drop in Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), down to 1,922 attendees.

The diocese’s past bishop, Todd Ousley, recently joined the staff of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to serve as bishop for pastoral development after 16 years serving in Michigan. In a letter to the diocese, the local standing committee wrote about its decision to pursue a provisional bishop rather than seek a new diocesan bishop to replace Ousley.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch looks back to 1817–Episcopal priest Philander Chase Comes to Preach

On May 3, 1817, he conducted the first…[Episcopal] service in Columbus at the Buckeye House hotel.

Four days later, he preached again at the High Street home of storekeeper Lincoln Goodale. “Some of those who came were merely curious. Others believed that God’s inerrant providence brought them to that spot. All listened with reverence as Chase intoned the service from the Book of Common Prayer and preached to them,” Lisa M. Klein wrote in her 2003 history of Trinity Episcopal Church, Be It Remembered.

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Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Philander Chase

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith We give thee heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of thy servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of thy Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer