Category : Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Christopher Caldwell–Macron Seeks an Enlightened Islam

Devout Catholics have often chafed under laïcité. But having either lived through or studied the Dreyfus era, they understood laïcité’s historic logic. Today’s young Muslims have no such folk memory. And history has moved on. In 1905, mass movements—socialism above all—were ready to provide antireligious muscle for the state. Today they are weaker, and they face a different religion, one that does not feature “turn the other cheek” among its precepts.

Nor does Islam have any hierarchy through which the state’s commands can efficiently resonate. When Combes told the church to close thousands of schools, bishops obliged. Laïcité requires such institutional interlocutors. Where France once tore down Catholic institutions, it must now build up Muslim ones. The CFCM is one example. As part of his antifundamentalist push, Mr. Macron has called for more Arabic instruction in schools.

The French leaders who invented laïcité knew the church. They were often lapsed Catholics themselves. Now when they sing the praises of an “Islam of the Enlightenment,” one wonders whether this is a realistic prospect or a figment of their ideological imaginations. Muslims may prefer the real Islam they have studied and lived to the licensed, accredited Islam of “Republican values” that Mr. Macron is proposing.

Every Western country has a version of this problem. All our treasured “values” were formulated for a society more uniform and more orderly than today’s. Why do we assume these values will survive diversity? Why does France assume that a system devised to subordinate its historic religion can serve just as well to mediate between its more recent secularism and a (rising) foreign religion? For a long time laïcité has rested less on its own logic than on the forbearance of its citizens. Under conditions of globalization, mass migration and the ethnic and religious recomposition of that citizenry, such forbearance can no longer be assumed.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC) France launches checks on dozens of mosques

The French authorities have launched inspections of dozens of mosques and prayer halls suspected of links to Islamist extremism.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced the crackdown, saying some could be closed if found to be encouraging “separatism”.

It comes a week before the unveiling of a new law to combat such extremism.

It is a response to attacks in October, blamed on Islamists, including the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty.

In a note to regional security chiefs, reported by French media, Mr Darmanin said there would be special checks and surveillance for 76 mosques and prayer halls, 16 of them in the Paris region.

He ordered “immediate action” concerning 18 of them, with the first checks set to be done on Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Tennessean) NIH director Dr. Francis Collins urges Christians to look for truth about COVID-19 vaccines, not conspiracy theories and misinformation

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, urges anyone questioning whether they should take a COVID-19 vaccine to evaluate all of the available evidence.

While speaking Thursday with a top Southern Baptist leader, Collins encouraged Christians to seek out the truth about the vaccines awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration instead of the misinformation and conspiracy theories being spread out of fear and anxiety. Collins pointed to a Bible verse in Philippians 4 for guidance.

“‘Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things,'” Collins said. “That would apply really well right here. So whatever is true.”

Amid a surge in coronavirus cases and promising vaccine developments, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission hosted Collins, who leads the country’s medical research agency, for an online discussion.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(ITV) Police apologise to minister after shutting down legal church service in Milton Keynes

Police have apologised to a church minister after officers interrupted a lawful service in Milton Keynes and told him he would be prosecuted for breaking Covid regulations.

Pastor Daniel Mateola normally preaches to a full church, but since communal worship is banned under Covid rules, his congregation gets support from online worship instead.

Services are filmed professionally and streamed online, but last Friday worship was interrupted by the police who said there were too many people present.

To avoid confrontation, the church sent their five musicians home but police said the film crew was too big and called seven more officers as back up.

Pastor Daniel said: “It was very challenging, very intimidating, at one point a little bit scary too. At one point I was thinking, what’s going on here?

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Pandemic likely to increase slavery and trafficking, mission warns

The world must act now to prevent a surge in global slavery under the conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Justice Mission (IJM) has warned today, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Covid-19 is exacerbating poverty and the circumstances that cause people to fall into bonded labour and servitude, the IJM, a Christian anti-trafficking charity, has said. Furthermore, the lockdowns that many governments have imposed in an effort to control the virus have led to a marked increase in online sexual exploitation of children, as adults in the West who are restricted to their homes have spent more time on the internet, facilitating the abuse of children elsewhere.

Estimates from the World Bank suggest that 49 million extra people will be forced into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The IJM said that it had already observed people-traffickers trying to exploit this by offering false job offers or loans to entrap vulnerable people who had lost their income because of the virus.

The IJM’s principal adviser on modern slavery, Peter Williams, said that evidence suggested that certain vulnerabilities were key key, and that these — loss of income, family medical emergencies, isolation — were “characteristic of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on people in poverty”.

In the developing world, public institutions that were needed to combat trafficking and modern slavery — such as local police forces, social services, and the courts — were being put under unprecedented pressure by the pandemic, Mr Williams said.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Post-Gazette) In Greater Pittsburgh, Some churches scale back in-person worship amid COVID19 surge

When the first coronavirus wave hit in the spring, most churches shut down live worship at the peak of the Christian calendar, with Lent leading into Holy Week and Easter.

While many churches reopened to at least some in-person worship in the ensuing months, some are now scaling back those in-person activities with the recent resurgence in COVID-19. And that happens just as churches today usher in another season that normally draws some of the biggest worship attendance of the year — the start of the Advent season, the four-week period leading to Christmas.

That means that more worshipers will be listening at home to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” rather than singing out the traditional opening hymn of the first Sunday of Advent in church. And other services marking the season also are going on line. Services like “the hanging of the green, that’s not happening,” said the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, general minister for the Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), referring to ritual decorating of churches with Christmas symbols.

Several churches that had resumed live worship have gone back to online-only.

“Almost none of our churches are going to have a live Christmas Eve program,” he added. “Christmas Eve is typically a crowded service. It’s going to be difficult to do socially distancing.”

He added: “This is a hard decision. People don’t want to stop meeting.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) Michael W. McConnell and Max Raskin: The Supreme Court Was Right to Block Cuomo’s Religious Restrictions

During a public health emergency, individual freedoms can be curtailed where necessary to protect against the spread of disease. Most of this authority is at the state and local, not the federal, level. But when public health measures intrude on civil liberties — not just religious exercise, but other constitutional rights — judges will insist that the measures be nonarbitrary, nondiscriminatory and no more restrictive than the facts and evidence demand.

The real disagreement between Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Breyer and the majority was over a technical though important detail. This disagreement made the court look more fractured than it actually was. Just days before the decision, on Nov. 19, the governor’s lawyers sent the court a letter stating that he had redrawn the red and orange zones in Brooklyn, conveniently putting the churches and synagogues that were the focus of the litigation into the more permissive yellow zone. The letter cited no reasons for the reclassification and offered no assurance that it might not happen again, at a moment’s notice, with no more explanation than this time.

The court majority regarded the governor’s about-face as too fleeting and changeable to derail a decision on the merits. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Breyer, by contrast, concluded that the change eliminated any need for the court to intervene, at least for now. That is a reasonable position (though we disagree with it) — and it does not indicate any fundamental disagreement with the five justices in the majority about the need to protect civil liberties even in a time of emergency.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Stephen Noll) Covid19 Vaccine: Are Clergy First Responders, or Last?

I am in my 75th year, a bellwether of the Baby Boom generation, and I am looking forward to getting my Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as possible.

I am also a retired priest. Most of my ordained colleagues are younger than I and are serving active congregations.

So who goes first?

The Centers for Disease Control is apparently drawing up priority guidelines as to “essential” recipients, and it is thought that the elderly and “first responders” will go to the head of the line. I have heard no mention of clergy being on the list of essential workers.

It is, I suppose, not surprising that in a secular society, clergy are considered non-essential, but what surprises me is that there has been no call from church leaders in this matter. All too frequently there has been a sheepish plea for compliance with regulations restricting worship, even when secular bodies are exempted from them. The Supreme Court just struck down such a provision in New York as a violation of the free practice of religion, which is good, but such a decision lacks the rationale that religion – and Christianity in particular – is a matter of the life of the immortal soul, not just the body.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Rowan Williams–The Joy of Jonathan Sacks

Just over twelve years ago, Sir Jonathan Sacks, as he then was, gave an address to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops—the first Jewish speaker to be invited to this event. He spoke with all the energy and clarity he invariably displayed as a lecturer, and had a palpable effect on all. The atmosphere of the conference was a bit fragile—a lot of absentees, frustration on the part of many that we were not planning to pass resolutions, even a cynicism that the event was an exercise in evading unwelcome decisions. We were discussing the idea of an Anglican “covenant” to affirm the vision (and the limits) of our shared identity, often with more heat than light.

Jonathan (unprompted by the organizers) spoke precisely about covenant, and transformed the word for us. From the Jewish point of view, he said, a covenant could be a “covenant of fate,” a solidarity grounded in shared trauma and pain, or a “covenant of faith,” the free decision to risk mutual commitment and to be implicated in one another’s acts and sufferings. The unchosen common experience of slavery in Egypt was the foundation of one profound strand in Jewish identity; but only at Sinai, when Israel says yes to God’s invitation to seal the human side of the covenant, is the full nature of covenantal identity established, as the people make their promise to one another as they do to God.

He had spelled out some of this a year or so earlier in what is surely one of his best books, The Home We Build Together. In it, he explains how social solidarity cannot be secured just by the market, or just by the coercive authority of the state; it needs the conscious investment of covenanting with one another for the common good. This is significantly more than just a social “contract” because it presupposes a continuing sympathetic regard for one another, a willingness to make constant adjustments to maximize the well-being of the community as a whole. It needs attention, flexibility, and, above all, loyalty.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Robert Putnam thinks religion could play a role in healing divisions

Given the huge decline in churchgoing beginning in the 1960s, can religion play a role in turning things around like it did at the beginning of the 20th century?

Garrett: I definitely think there’s a role for religion to play. But religion will have to be innovative in meeting the moment. We have seen some religious innovation aimed at combating the decline in churchgoing — in such things as megachurches, for example. But some of those megachurches are characterized by a theology that is highly individualistic — the prosperity gospel — the idea that God blesses the righteous with riches for themselves. That’s been used to draw people back into religion, but it’s reflective of the destructive, highly individualistic drift over the past half-century, which we chronicle in the book.

For religion to play a role in another upswing, it’s going to have to find a way to speak to a changed social landscape and to remind us our religious traditions speak directly to the situation we find ourselves in today — a situation where we need to take better care of our most vulnerable. We need to think about how we organize a society more fairly. There are great templates in every great religion for how to do this but we have to choose that religious narrative. There’s a moment here where our religious leaders have the ability to shape a religious narrative in order to inform our social problems. We’re seeing some early signs of that happening. For example, the Rev. William Barber, who is organizing “moral marches on Washington” and taking up the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.

Putnam: King moved America from the bottom up as well as the top down. He did it above all by using the Exodus narrative. He knew it appealed well beyond the Black church he was in himself. The point is religious narratives and religious symbols have a huge power to move lots of people.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC) France Islam: Muslims under pressure to sign French values charter

France’s Muslim Council is due to meet President Emmanuel Macron this week, to confirm the text of a new “charter of Republican values” for imams in the country to sign.

The Council (CFCM), which represents nine separate Muslim associations, has reportedly been asked to include in the text recognition of France’s Republican values, rejection of Islam as a political movement and a ban on foreign influence.

“We do not all agree on what this charter of values is, and what it will contain,” said Chems-Eddine Hafiz, vice-president of the CFCM and Rector of the Paris Grand Mosque. But, he said, “we are at a historic turning point for Islam in France [and] we Muslims are facing our responsibilities”.

Eight years ago, he said, he thought very differently.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(The Hill) Andrew McCarthy–For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty

The majority concluded that the restrictions are not “neutral” or of “general applicability.” This finding is key in the court’s religious-liberty jurisprudence. Restrictions that apply to everyone and do not target religion but incidentally affect religious observance (e.g., a general ban on peyote use that happens to burden the rites of some religious groups) are presumptively valid. By contrast, restrictions that single out religion — i.e., that are not neutral or generally applicable — are subject to the “strict scrutiny” analysis that the court applies to burdens on fundamental freedoms. That means the state, to justify its restrictions, must show that they are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.

Here, there is no gainsaying that the state has a compelling interest in stemming the spread of a potentially deadly infectious disease. Yet, the court observed that “it is hard to see how the challenged regulations can be regarded as narrowly tailored.”

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(CT) For Pilgrims, Thanksgiving Was a Way of Life

One of the Pilgrim Fathers’ most striking moments of thankfulness occurred the first Sunday after they reached North America. A scouting party of 16 men returned to the Mayflower with a good report about the land. The collective sense of relief spurred an impromptu worship service. As Bradford put it, “They fell upon their knees and blessed ye God of heaven.”

This scene was not an isolated incident. Bradford’s history of Plymouth references the giving of thanks no less than 30 times. The first Thanksgiving, rather than being an anomaly amid the drudgery of forging a new colony, fell within a rhythm of gratitude in the Pilgrims’ life.

Indeed, the first Thanksgiving may have been the 1621 observance of an annual English harvest festival known as Harvest Home. Some have noted this fact in attempt to deny the first Thanksgiving’s spiritual character. In actuality, it underscores the cyclical nature of thanksgiving in Plymouth colony.

Before the Pilgrims faced each day, they first turned to God in gratitude and intercession. The pattern persisted as half their company died that first winter and as crops failed the next year. Weekly, they took seriously observance of the Sabbath, making preparations each Saturday so Sunday could be spent in uninterrupted worship and rest.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war — for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Anglican Churches in the UK Are Shrinking in Size but Not Impact

There are two pictures I could offer you of the role and significance of the Church of England in contemporary British society. The first is one of growing secularization and declining church attendance. The second is one where the church is the beating heart of the nation’s socioeconomic infrastructure, with an ever-increasing contribution of food banks, homeless shelters, and a range of community support.

Paradoxical though it may seem, both these pictures are recognizable reflections of the national church in Britain in 2020.

The evidence for secularization, or at least for the declining importance of Christianity, is compelling. Christian affiliation in the UK fell from 66 percent to 38 percent over 25 years, with Anglicanism accounting for the sharpest decline in affiliation. By 2018, only 12 percent of the national population identified as belonging to the Church of England or its sister churches in Scotland and Wales.

Any residual cultural affiliation to the Church of England appears to be in freefall and is likely to accelerate; surveys show as few as 1 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds now identify as Anglican. Likewise, attendance at Church of England services has fallen significantly in recent decades, down to an average weekly attendance of 57 people (compared to a mean of 81 in the Episcopal Church in the US, which has also suffered decline).

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CC) Christiana Peterson–What we lost when the funeral home replaced the home funeral

At the time my house was built, people often died at home rather than in hospitals. Their families cared for the bodies. Typically, the deceased was washed and groomed by the women of the household and clothed in a simple home-sewn garment or winding-sheet, a cloth that, when wrapped around a body, made the dead resemble a mummy. Sometimes people would sew their own death shrouds.

These death rituals were carried out in community—a group of people with a history, with communal memories and rituals, who shared ways to grieve and manage the reality of death.

Today, the home has lost its place at the center of our death rituals. We no longer live near our families of origin, and our communities do not function in the ways they once did.

Death practices in the United States had changed greatly by the 1940s, when Howard Thurman gave his Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard. Thurman said that as death moved out of the home and into the hospital and the mortuary, “our primary relationship with death [became] impersonal and detached.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Religion & Culture

(LA Times) Muslims reel over a prayer app that sold user data: ‘A betrayal from within our own community’

Five times a day, tens of millions of phones buzz with notifications from an app called Muslim Pro, reminding users it’s time to pray. While Muslims in Los Angeles woke Thursday to a dawn notification that read, “Fajr at 5:17 AM,” users in Sri Lanka were minutes away from getting a ping telling them it was time for Isha, or the night prayer.

The app’s Qibla compass quickly orients devices toward the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia — which Muslims face when praying. When prayers are done, the in-app Quran lets users pick up reading exactly where they left off. A counter tallies the days of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Listings guide users to halal food in their area.

These features make it easier to practice the many daily rituals prescribed in Islam, turning Muslim Pro into the most popular Muslim app in the world, according to the app’s maker, Singapore-based BitsMedia.

But revelations about the app’s data collection and sales practices have left some users wondering if the convenience is worth the risk.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Theological Conversations with Kendall Harmon: The Rev. Rico Tice

Listen carefully for a concise summary from a Church of England evangelist as to what the gospel actually *is*.

Posted in England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Some Churches Push Back Against Coronavirus Restrictions

Religious leaders in Europe and the U.S. are pushing back harder against coronavirus restrictions than during the pandemic’s first wave, invoking their right to religious freedom and arguing churches are safe.

Protests in France and Britain, where bans on communal worship are now in place, have brought governments to the negotiating table with religious leaders. The Catholic diocese of Brooklyn, one of the largest in the U.S., is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court against numerical limits on worshipers.

Church leaders were largely deferential during the spring lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19. Many are taking a different tack now, convinced churches shouldn’t be treated more strictly than secular activities.

“We have demonstrated, by our action, that places of worship and public worship can be made safe from Covid transmission,” wrote a group of British faith leaders to Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Church Times) Faith groups pledge to help end conflict-related sexual violence

A declaration condemning sexual violence in conflict and pledging support for survivors, launched this week, is a way for faith leaders to “shape the sort of world we want to see”, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has said.

The Declaration of humanity by leaders of faith and leaders of belief was published on Tuesday by the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, which is run by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. It was launched by the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations, and special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, Lord Ahmad, to encourage faith groups around the world to help end such forms of violence in their communities.

The latest UN Security Council report says that, in the past decade, 65 parties (50 non-state actors and 15 state actors) have been listed as perpetrating systematic sexual violence across 11 countries. Campaigners have highlighted the continuing suffering of victims through the stigmatisation of both them and any children born as a result of sexual violence. Some of the countries where this has been most prevalent are the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and eastern Ukraine.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Twitter on Tuesday: “Sexual violence in conflict is a terrible, scarring issue. The Declaration of Humanity is an important step towards ending it. As we honour the dignity and courage of survivors, let us stop at nothing to protect the God-given humanity of every person.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(CEN) Paul Richardson reviews Gareth Atkins’ new book ‘Converting Britainnia – Evangelicals and British Public Life, 1770-1840’

‘God Almighty has set before me two great objectives’, William Wilberforce wrote in his diary in October 1787, shortly after his conversion, ‘the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners’. As Gareth Atkins comments in this wide-ranging account of evangelical influence on public life in England from 1770 to 1840, it is important not to let the spotlight fall only on Wilberforce or his allies in Parliament. Historians have often failed to give enough attention to extensive networks that supported Wilberforce and to the care he took to form alliances with other groups that were not completely of his way of thinking.

Not that Atkins seeks to play down Wilberforce’s importance. The picture he paints of a politician seeking lobbying William Pitt and others to influence legislation as well as trying to secure promotion for evangelicals in the church is extraordinary. His energy was enormous. Atkins describes the money and support he raised to secure re-election to his Yorkshire constituency and in an amusing touch adds that the evangelical author, Hannah More, was so anxious about the outcome that she had to be prescribed opium.

Wilberforce’s evangelical faith did not mean that he could not be forceful and cold-blooded if he situation demanded it, even thinking about wrecking an opponent’s career. ‘It is the fashion to speak of Wilberforce as a gentle, yielding character’, remarked one official at the Colonial office, ‘but I can only say that he is the most obstinate, impractical fellow with whom I ever had to do’.

But supporting Wilberforce and the other ‘saints’ in Parliament were large networks of evangelicals which Atkins describes in the church, in the City, in the empire, in the Royal Navy and in the East India Company.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

The Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia releases its ruling on the matter of proposed services to bless same-sex unions.

You can find the ruling at the top of the page here. You may find the ruling itself in a 123 page pdf there. It is a lot to digest.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PD) Carl Trueman–The Impact of Psychological Man—and How to Respond

This means that we will be living in a day of small things for some time to come. The modern self is the result of a long and comprehensive revolution; it cannot be supplanted until an equally comprehensive revolution comes to take its place, and that will likely take many generations if it happens at all. In the meantime, Christians need to have modest goals, especially Christians involved in the public square. A world where orthodox Christianity is considered not just implausible but also immoral is a world that we will need to navigate in a manner perhaps not seen since the second century. Then, Christianity was a little-understood minority cult, suspected of entertaining values and patterns of behavior deemed subversive of the wider social good. Of course, we all know how that story developed. Sporadic local and later a few pan-imperial persecutions of the church gave way in the fourth century to the toleration and then the official adoption of Christianity as the religion of Rome. Historians and theologians debate to this day whether this final move was on balance good or bad for the church. That is not my interest here. My point is simply this: the church has been in a similar situation before and has not only survived but ultimately thrived.

And how, humanly speaking, did she do this? By all accounts it was by being faithful members of the church community and loyal subjects of the state, to the extent that loyalty to Christ and loyalty to Caesar were compatible. At times it was not possible to be both, and those were times of persecution. But it was not culture war so much as fidelity to the Christian community and, only when necessary, dissent from the decrees of Caesar that characterized her life and made her strong. She became attractive by being faithful to her message. It is my belief that only by modeling true community, oriented toward the transcendent, can the church show a rapidly destabilizing world of expressive individuals that there is something greater, more solid, and more lasting than the immediate satisfaction of personal desires.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Apologetics, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

An update on the safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury

A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth’s response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(C of E) A Curate takes worship into whole new dimension – with children’s services in Minecraft

As churches rose to the challenge of moving services online amid Covid-19 restrictions this year, one curate has gone step further in efforts to engage with young members of her congregation – by taking worship inside a video game.

The Revd Jo Burden, who recently joined West Hereford Team Ministry, in the Diocese of Hereford, came up with the idea of reaching out to children on a platform they were familiar with – Minecraft.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Church of England) Living in Love and Faith resources published

The Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith teaching and learning resources, exploring questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, have been published today.

The extensive resources draw together the bible, theology, science and history with real-life stories. They were commissioned by the House of Bishops and include a book, a series of films and podcasts and a course following three years’ work by a group of more than 40 people from across the Church.

They are intended to initiate a process of whole Church learning and engagement in 2021, within a clear timeframe, that will contribute to the Bishops’ discernment of a way forward in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

Read it all (and yes you have to look through it all; the book is 480 pages (!)).

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

(RNS) After Nice attacks, Pope Francis and French Catholics call for peace with Muslims

After a man killed three people Thursday (Oct. 29) at the Catholic cathedral in Nice, France, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the French Catholic community, offering prayers for the victims as well as wishes that “the beloved French people may respond united for good against evil.”

The attack, one of three on Thursday attributed to Muslim extremists, took place in the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice as a man reportedly yelling “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” stabbed the cathedral’s custodian and two women, one of whom was taken to a nearby café but later died, according to The Associated Press.

“It’s a moment of pain, in a time of confusion,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni in a statement to reporters. “Terrorism and violence must never be tolerated. Today’s attack sowed death in a place of love and consolations, such as the house of the Lord.

“The pope is informed of the situation and is close to the grieving Catholic community,” the Vatican statement continued. “He prays for the victims and their loved ones, so that the violence will cease, and they may return to see each other as brothers and sisters and not enemies so that the beloved French people may respond united for good against evil.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism

(BBC) Vienna shooting: Austria hunts suspects after ‘Islamist terror’ attack

A gunman shot dead by police has been identified as a 20-year-old “Islamist terrorist” who was released early from jail in December.

Two men and two women died of their wounds after gunmen opened fire at six locations in the city centre on Monday evening.

Twenty-two people were wounded.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the four who died were an elderly woman, an elderly man, a young male passer-by and a waitress. Witnesses described how the gunmen had opened fire on people outside bars and chased them as they fled inside.

It was clearly an attack driven by “hatred of our way of life, our democracy”, the chancellor said. He earlier spoke of a “repulsive terror attack”.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

A letter to clergy from Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell and the Bishop of London on the recently proposed Lockdown

We are grateful for people’s energy, hard work and creativity in making this happen and we hope and pray this will continue. We are grateful that the new guidelines being introduced on Thursday not only allow churches to remain open for private prayer but also enable online worship to be broadcast from the church building. We were cautious about these issues during the first lockdown – perhaps overly so – but in this second lockdown we want to encourage church buildings to remain open for private prayer wherever possible, making sure that their buildings are Covid secure in the ways that we have learned in recent months, and to broadcast services from their church buildings. However, if you do not have the resources or wherewithal to do this, please do not feel that you have failed in any way. The good thing about provision of worship online, is that people can join in from anywhere and therefore we can support each other more easily in this endeavour. Our national digital team will continue to offer training and support and provide national services each week.

However, worship online still means that the people of God do not have access to the sacraments which are so central to our life in Christ. This is a huge loss and since we were not consulted about the lockdown provisions, we fully intend to speak with government about why certain exemptions are made and not others, emphasising the critical role that churches play in every community. The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra. Nor can we separate out our worship from our service, it is always both and not either or.

Nevertheless, we will of course abide by the law and ask you to do the same. We must do all that we can to keep our communities safe and to enable the NHS to manage this crisis. The Recovery Group chaired by the Bishop of London will be issuing specific guidance in the next day or two.

Bearing in mind our primary vocation as the Church of Jesus Christ to pray and to serve we call upon the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. More than anything else, whatever the nation thinks, we know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles and whose steadfast love endures for ever.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

The Federal Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond grants Anglican Diocese of SC’s motion for a stay in the trademark litigation with TECSC and TEC.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture