Category : Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Bishop of London relishes diversity in the city at interfaith Iftar

At one of her first public engagements since being installed last month (News, 17 May), Bishop Mullally said that diversity in London was something to be proud of.

She was speaking to more than 100 young people, including representatives from schools across London, at an Iftar organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation.

The event, at the St John’s Wood Synagogue, ended with the breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset. The speakers were Bishop Mullally; the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan; the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

Bishop Mullally said: “One of the great joys of coming back to London is its diversity. There is something in that diversity that we should be proud of. The opportunity of interfaith dialogue is that we can gain an understanding of each other. . . As people of faith, we have an ability to strengthen this city. We hold the opportunity to strengthen a city that is already strong.”

Bishop Mullally praised the young people who were there to talk about interfaith matters, noting that “today itself is a small step, but it has an enormous impact”….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Abuse inquiry seeks Peter Ball statement from Prince Charles

The Prince of Wales has been asked to give a witness statement to a public inquiry about a paedophile bishop who was jailed after abusing young men.

Peter Ball, 85, was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 for offences against 18 teenagers and men.

The former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester carried out the abuse between the 1970s and 1990s.

Prince Charles exchanged a series of letters with Ball, whose Gloucester diocese covers his Highgrove home….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

The rector of Christ Church, Mount Pleasant, preaches on approaching the Supreme Court decision Theologically

Timely Sermon Addressing Legal Issues from Ted Duvall:

This past Sunday, the Rev. Ted Duvall, the Rector of Christ Church, Mount Pleasant, gave a helpful sermon addressing the on going legal battle. Listen now.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(WSJ) Ryan Anderson–Discrimination Law Isn’t Supposed to ‘Punish the Wicked’

If those playing down the importance of the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling are wrong, those overstating it are also off base. “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane claimed that “it’s a shorter walk than we think, particularly today, from ‘I won’t bake them a cake because they’re gay’ to ‘I won’t seat him here because he’s black.’ ” This wildly mischaracterizes Mr. Phillips’s position. The Masterpiece proprietor serves all customers, regardless of sexual orientation, but he can’t in good conscience communicate all messages or celebrate all events. He is motivated by his Christian belief that marriage unites husband and wife, not his customer’s identity.

This disagreement about the definition of marriage occurs among people of good faith motivated by honorable theological and philosophical premises, as Justice Kennedy recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 same-sex-marriage decision. And as he wrote in Masterpiece, “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”

That is why states should be careful not to abuse antidiscrimination policy in a way that amounts to an enforcement of an orthodoxy regarding questions about sex on which reasonable people can disagree.

Monday’s ruling won’t open the floodgates to invidious discrimination as critics imagine. But neither should we gainsay its wider applicability. The Supreme Court has said clearly that the government may not punish people because of their religious beliefs. Any generally applicable, neutral law must serve the common good, not punish those whom people in power deem to be “wicked.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court

Jeff Miller, rector of St Philip’s, Charleston, writes his Parish about Today

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” –Hebrews 10:19, 22
Dear St. Philip’s Family,
On Thursday, June 7, the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States will gather to consider whether or not to grant our petition for a Writ of Certiorari. We believe that this is the best way to bring clarity to the conflicted legal landscape and resolution to the protracted battle between the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church. While this is a hopeful sign, it is not a guaranteed thing. The justices grant only a small percentage of the thousands of petitions that they receive annually, and we cannot assume that they will take ours.
However, the Epistle of James reminds us that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” and as Christians, we can be sure that the judge of all the earth will do right. To this end, I want to invite you to join me at noon on June 7 in the Church for a special prayer service led by Bishop Lawrence. It will be a time for us to ask for forgiveness, to pray for deliverance, and to seek the Lord’s guidance for our parish and diocese. Prayer is one of the greatest privileges we have as believers, and we can approach our Heavenly Father with confidence. To borrow a phrase from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
We will have a nursery available for children ages five and younger, and I strongly encourage allparishioners to make this service a priority. It is not just the future of St. Philip’s that is at stake; it is the American right to worship freely that is in jeopardy. In the meantime, let us not lose heart, but let us carry on with the work the Lord has given us to do, confident that even now, He is doing for us “greater things than we can ask for or imagine”!
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Jeff+
Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Supreme Court

A Day of Coming before the Lord

You may find the bishop’s letter about this there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer on June 6, 1944

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here and today of all days is the day to do that. Also, there is more on background and another audio link there.–KSH.

Posted in History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Archbp Justin Welby–Christian Presence and Witness in Europe An address to the Assembly of the Conference of European Churches

Europe is not in danger of falling. And there is no sense in which I suggest that Brexit or other crises currently around will derail the European Union or bring about the downfall of
Europe. To suggest that would be akin to the old English saying that when there is fog in the Channel then the continent is cut off. But Europe, like other parts of the world, is in a
fragile phase. Current geo-political uncertainty is unsettling. In my part of the continent there is a nation attempting to leave the EU, on the other edges of the EU such as here there are countries and peoples keen to get in.

For Augustine the fall of Rome showed the specious nature of putting faith in the earthly city. For Augustine the benefit of being a Christian is citizenship of an eternal city. This
comes through faith in Christ.

That cannot lead to complacency. The fact that Christianity survived in Europe does not indicate that it is indestructible, but that God protects the Church that he created and loves.
Christian survival within Europe is not an objective of the Church, rather it should be for the Church to be obedient to the pattern of Christ, to be Christ’s hand, mouth and love in this
world today.

Jesus told his disciples that they were to be salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-16), both the means of preserving the society in which the Church exists and also the source of illumination that reveals both shadow and truth, that unveils what seeks to be hidden, and illuminates what inspires.

For the Church to be effective and to continue to be blessed by God, it must speak truth to the societies that it sees around it and act in a way that is consistent with the truth it
speaks….

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, England / UK, Europe, History, Religion & Culture

Masterpiece Cakeshop Analysis (II): Douglas Laycock and Thomas Berg–Scotus Decision not as narrow as may first appear

The Supreme Court has announced a powerful ideal. Even when a law has no explicit exceptions, hostile enforcement is unconstitutional. Single-issue agencies that enforce state civil-rights laws must approach claims to religious exemptions with tolerance and respect. And this is apparently an absolute rule; the court does not consider whether hostility might be justified by some state interest, compelling or otherwise.

But a requirement of tolerance and respect, or even the avoidance of hostility, is difficult to enforce. The opponents of religious exemptions will now start doing the sorts of things done by many other government officials resisting constitutional mandates. They will seek doctrinal and rhetorical manipulations to cloak their hostility to the constitutional right, and their unequal treatment of objectors they agree with and objectors they don’t.

Those manipulations began in the state’s briefs and in the concurring and dissenting opinions. Kagan and Breyer said that the state’s discrimination could easily have been justified with a different explanation: The protected bakers would not have sold an anti-gay cake to anybody, but Phillips would sell wedding cakes to opposite-sex couples.

As Justice Neil Gorsuch explained, this reaches the preordained result by manipulating the level of generality. An “anti-gay” cake is distinguished only by what it displays on the outer surface. So the category is not cakes, or wedding cakes, but cakes with particular messages. If a same-sex couple wants a cake with two grooms, two brides, a rainbow, or any other indication of approval of same-sex marriage, that is a cake that Phillips would not sell to anybody. If they want a cake that could just as appropriately be used for an opposite-sex wedding, then at the surface, Kagan’s rationalization holds — but it is still a rationalization. Everyone would still know what is really going on: The commission agrees with the protected bakers and disagrees with Jack Phillips.

Masterpiece states an important ideal. But the Supreme Court has not been good over the years at identifying government bias or hostility that is the least bit shrouded. In a case without smoking-gun expressions of hostility, objectors will need evidence of inconsistent treatment of tester cases.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Theology

Masterpiece Cakeshop Analysis (I): Amy Howe–Opinion analysis: Court rules (narrowly) for baker in same-sex-wedding-cake case [Updated]

…the critical question of when and how Phillips’ right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion. Here, Kennedy observed, the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised” by comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. At one hearing, Kennedy stressed, commissioners repeatedly “endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.” And at a later meeting, Kennedy pointed out, one commissioner “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” “This sentiment,” Kennedy admonished, “is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.” Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes “with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage.”

Here, Kennedy wrote, Phillips “was entitled to a neutral decisionmaker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided.” Because he did not have such a proceeding, the court concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.”

But the majority left open the possibility that a future case could come out differently, particularly if the decisionmaker in the case considered religious objections neutrally and fairly. Other cases, the majority emphasized, “must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court

Ryan Anderson–Supreme Court Upholds Baker’s Right to Disagree With Same-Sex Marriage in Marketplace

…as Justice Neil Gorsuch notes (in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito), either all four bakers violated the Colorado anti-discrimination law, or none did. Gorsuch writes:

[T]here’s no indication the bakers actually intended to refuse service because of a customer’s protected characteristic. We know this because all of the bakers explained without contradiction that they would not sell the requested cakes to anyone, while they would sell other cakes to members of the protected class (as well as to anyone else).

As I argue in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, “Disagreement is not always discrimination.” And this is true when it comes to disagreements about same-sex marriage.

Phillips didn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation when he refused to design and bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. He didn’t take his customer’s sexual orientation into consideration at all. He declined to use his artistic abili­ties to create a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding because he objected to same-sex marriage, based on the common Christian belief that such partnerships (along with many other relationships—sexual and not, dyadic and larger, same-sex and opposite-sex) aren’t marital.

Nowhere need Phillips’ reasoning have even referred to the partners’ sexual orientation, much less any ideas or attitudes about gay people as a class (good or bad, explicit or not).

It wasn’t his customer’s identity that motivated Phillips at all. It is even clearer that Phillips’ reason for refusing to bake the wedding cake was not the invidious discrimination of avoiding contact with others on equal terms. As Phillips said to the same-sex couple, “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.” He sought only to avoid complicity in what he considered one distortion of marriage among oth­ers—as shown by his refusal to create divorce cakes as well.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court

(ABC) How a same-sex wedding cake controversy made it all the way to the Supreme Court

Aided by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy organization, Phillips petitioned the Supreme Court to take his case, saying the state of Colorado violated his First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and expression.

“What we’re asking the Court to look at is creative professionals, should they be forced to violate the First Amendment, our deeply-held religious beliefs, to create art that violates those beliefs. Which is more important?” he said before the court’s decision. “What I do, I paint on cakes. I sculpt cakes. It’s clearly art. It’s clearly protected.”

Phillips said he couldn’t just create a generic wedding cake available to any customer.

“That would be side-stepping the issue. That’s still the government forcing me to create cakes for ceremonies that go against my faith,” Phillips said.

Mullins said he felt the issue was about whether he and Craig were treated differently based on sexual orientation.

“This isn’t about a cake,” Mullins said. “It’s about the right of the people to receive equal service at a place of business that anyone else would.”

Read (or watch) it all and see how balanced you think it is.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court

(PD) Gerard Bradley–The city of Philadelphia’s recent decision about Catholic Social Services: Learning to Live with Same-Sex Marriage?

The everyday challenge of Obergefell is whether those of us who hold the “decent and honorable religious” conviction that it is impossible for two persons of the same sex to marry will be accorded the legal and social space we need in order to live in accord with our convictions. The question at hand is whether we will instead be forced to contradict our convictions in word and deed, day in and day out. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in Obergefell:

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples.

Just so.

Catholic Social Services vs. the City of Philadelphia

Last week (on May 16), Catholic Social Services and several foster care parents sued the city of Philadelphia to settle one of those “hard questions.” CSS was recently ranked by the city as the second best of the twenty-eight agencies with which it contracts for foster care placement and support. Its record of finding homes for difficult-to-place children is unsurpassed. On March 15 of this year the city announced that it was nonetheless suspending referrals to CSS. Because the city monopolizes these referrals, its decision was tantamount to closing down CSS’s foster care operation.

The hanging offense? Even though CSS avers in its complaint (prepared by lawyers from the Becket Fund, the great religious liberty firm) that it has never received a complaint from a same-sex couple, it does adhere to Church teaching about marriage. The complaint makes clear enough that CSS would conscientiously refuse to do the work prescribed by law to certify a same-sex “married” couple as foster parents. CSS would, however, refer them to other agencies that would.

Philadelphia is trying to drive these “decent and honorable” people from the field. The mayor is quoted in the CSS complaint as declaring that “we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against” people in same-sex marriages. “It’s just not right.” The city council professed to be shocked—shocked!—to discover that some contracting agencies have policies, rooted in religious beliefs, that prohibit placement of children with “LGBTQ people.” But the Catholic Church’s position on marriage is no secret. The CSS complaint even points out that the “City has been aware of Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs for years.” For example, the city waived repeatedly for CSS the obligation of city contractors to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Urban/City Life and Issues

Christianity Today Asks Several Religious Liberty Experts to Weigh in on the Implications of Yesterdays Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court Decision

Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at religious liberty firm Becket:

Becket urged the court to decide the case on the basis of the free exercise clause, and that is what the court did. And because of that, this case has broad implications for other religious liberty conflicts, involving not just wedding vendors, but many other religious people too.

The decision breaks new doctrinal ground in a couple of places … For example, Justice Kennedy adopts the two-Justice part of Lukumi and turns it into newly binding precedent in this passage: “Factors relevant to the assessment of governmental neutrality include ‘the historical background of the decision under challenge, the specific series of events leading to the enactment or official policy in question, and the legislative or administrative history, including contemporaneous statements made by members of the decisionmaking body.”

What this means as a practical matter is that in a variety of situations it will matter much more what the legislators, adjudicators, and government officials say about the religious beliefs and practices in question, and much less what those same officials think about whether those religious beliefs and practices offend someone. The court used a fairly broad definition of what constitutes hostility toward religion, so referring to “hateful beliefs” could get an anti-discrimination law invalidated. And saying that someone was offended will be no justification for a law.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Local Paper) Churches nationwide eye pivotal moment this week in SC Episcopal dispute

For years, top legal minds have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle property fights between big national churches and breakaway congregations.

For years, they have been turned away before ever reaching the court’s marble steps.

Whether a South Carolina case becomes the one that finally lands in the high court is a question that soon will be answered. The case could make history and carry implications for disputes that have divided other religious denominations throughout the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina