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A Telegraph Article on the C of E House of Bps Guidance Released Yesterday–Civil partnerships should be no more than ‘sexually abstinent friendships’, Church of England Bishops rule

Civil partnerships should be no more than “sexually abstinent friendships”, the Church of England has stated.

Following a landmark legal battle, which resulted in the recent introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships, Bishops have now issued pastoral guidance to clergy on how to deal with the issue.

Religious leaders have concluded that sex belongs only within heterosexual marriage, and that Christians who are in either gay or straight civil partnerships should remain sexually abstinent.

The statement from the House of Bishops said that sex outside of marriage falls “short of God’s purposes for human beings” and concludes that those in civil partnerships – whether same-sex or opposite-sex – can be ordained, as long as they commit to celibacy.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Saint Michael’s Charleston’s Four Collars Podcast on Daniel and the Beast

Listen to it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbishop Greg Venables reveals his thoughts about the recent Partial Anglican Primates’ Gathering

We were all conscious of the awareness of the inevitability of some kind of a split in the Anglican Communion. We have already seen the reality of it in the formation of the ACNA [the Anglican Church of North America formed as a reaction against Episcopal liberalism] and the new Anglican Province in Brazil.

As encouraging as the solidarity of the orthodox Primates was, there was also sadness – which everyone recognized. Some of my friends who are close theological allies stayed away from the meeting out of conscience, namely [the Archbishops of] Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda.

Others – the Primate of the ACNA and the Primate of the new Anglican Province in Brazil – weren’t invited. The Primate of ACNA was invited to the Primates’ Meeting in 2016, but not to the October 2017 meeting nor this one. I don’t know who decided that. None of the Primates I have spoken with were asked about it. Both the Primate of the ACNA and the Primate of the new Anglican Province in Brazil are included as full members of the Global South [a movement of some of the Anglican provinces] and should have been invited to Jordan to help in this process of dialogue and discernment.

As many Primates commented on the inescapable truth that a separation is almost bound to happen, pretty well everyone in the room nodded and agreed. The biggest challenge was that we don’t know how to either avoid or accomplish it.

A key factor this time was that of our attitudes. Put simply, as a group, we have tried to move away from acrimony in personal relationships despite our disagreements. That does not diminish the vast differences in our theological positions, nor does it mean that there won’t ultimately be a divide. It is just the hope that we can do it with more kindness than was done with the Episcopal Church.

Photos with those with whom we don’t agree can reflect the kindness we hope to show to each other, but they should not be misunderstood to be interpreted that there is agreement or acquiescence on fundamental issues of Biblical faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Primates, Southern Cone

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sar’ai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

–Genesis 12:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(AI) Church of Uganda defends Biblical standards defining marriage

The Church of Uganda has issued a statement responding to criticisms issued by a mega-church pastor who charged the church’s stance on marriage was non-biblical. Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, who is currently estranged from his wife, said the Anglican view that marriage was between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life, was not found in the Bible.

Pastor Bugingo has made a declaration that the phrase ’till death do us part’ is not biblical, and that it is from Satan! In so doing, the pastor attacks the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches, associating them with what he calls a practice from Satan.

I can’t believe that these words are from someone who claims to be a pastor! Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that he is making such a statement after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness!

Bugingo claims that he has read the Bible a number of times he is not even able to count! That in itself is an interesting claim, which I wish he were humble enough not to associate himself with. Even if it was true that he has read the Bible countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand.

He states that no where does the Bible say that the married should not separate. Remember that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible, and innerant word, some versions of which he once set ablaze on an Easter Monday, claiming that they were deceptive!

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of Uganda, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Edition of the Parish Newsletter from Christ St Paul’s, Yonges Island, South Carolina

What is your response when you read this excerpt from John Eldridge’s book All Things New: Heaven, Earth and the Restoration of Everything You Love?

“One day soon you will step into a renewed earth, a young earth, sparkling like an orchard of cherry trees after a rain shower. Joy will be yours. How do we open our hearts to this after so much pain and disappointment? We have lost many things as we’ve passed through the battlefields of this war-torn world; our humanity has been stripped of such essential goodness.” (All Things New, Eldridge, p. 115)

Do you scoff with cynicism or cry out in wonder?

Read it again, stopping to consider your own thoughts of our future hope – The New Heaven and New Earth. We invited you to take advantage of one of the ways to further engage with this topic, to study, take in, and talk about something we don’t often talk about… what does eternity look like?

Or, pick up a copy of the book and “grab hold with both hands!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Eschatology, Parish Ministry

(Regent College) Dr. Amanda Russell-Jones–The Other Handmaid’s Tale

This year in my pondering of Mary’s Song I have had two companions along the way. My first companion has been another handmaid or, rather, many of them, in the shape of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; this time revisited in a powerful drama series created for television which incorporates Atwood’s book then extends it. In the dystopian world of Gilead, a highly religious patriarchy has been set up where the Bible is quoted tirelessly as the thread that knits together and mandates a unique way of life.

Women are divided into three classes—wives; Marthas, who perform the household tasks like cooking; and Handmaids—fertile young women assigned to a household and given a name based on that of their commander. Each commander impregnates his Handmaid against her will via a monthly ceremony. All this is justified by the argument that birth rates are so low and that this is due in large measure to the failure of women to know their place in the patriarchy and to fulfil their God given role of reproduction. No woman is allowed to read or dissent from the regime. Punishments include losing a finger or eye or tongue.

It is a tough watch, as all dystopian versions of Christianity are. Adding insult to injury, my favourite craft (and possibly the only skill for which I am an Olympic hopeful) comes in for criticism in one episode when a highly capable commander’s wife complains that she hates knitting. It was almost enough to cause me to put down my needles and throw the ball of wool at the screen. (For you fellow knitting fans who just cheered—it was a Christmas baby hat. I knew you would want to know. Keep knitting live!)

My other companion of some 10 years has been Josephine Butler, the English nineteenth-century Christian reformer. Butler’s use of the Bible in her arguments with church and state was the subject of my doctoral research and became and remains a great source of inspiration and joy. Butler was convinced that Jesus requires an absolutely equal standard of morality from everyone—male and female. In her time, it was expected that men would “sow some wild oats.” Women, however, were shamed and shunned for the smallest breaches of propriety. Men who frequented brothels or kept mistresses were excused for their behaviour, retaining positions of power and influence. In contrast, the women they used were permanently expelled from society with no opportunity for restoration. Butler pointed out the inconsistency, drawing on Christ’s words––“let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Prodigal sons were welcomed back when they repented, she observed, so why not prodigal daughters?”

If Mary had lived in the Victorian world, Butler asks, would she too have been cast out by a church and society quick to accuse and shun immoral women?

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Theology: Scripture

Civil Partnerships – for same sex and opposite sex and opposite sex couples. A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

7. It has always been the position of the Church of England that marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful,
committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other, is central to the stability and health of human
society. We believe that it continues to provide the best context for the raising of children, although it is not the only context that can be of benefit to children, especially where the
alternative may be long periods in institutional care.

8. The Church of England’s teaching is classically summarised in The Book of Common Prayer, where the marriage service lists the causes for which marriage was ordained, namely: ‘for
the procreation of children, …for a remedy against sin [and]…. for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.’

9. In the light of this understanding the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage:
a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.

10. The introduction of same sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships. A major study of this and other areas of human sexuality is underway (the Living in Love and Faith project). This work, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will then inform further deliberations of the House of Bishops. In the context, however, of the introduction of opposite sex as well as same sex civil partnerships, the teaching of the church on marriage remains unchanged.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(TGC) D Blair Smith–Why We Need, More Than Ever Before, a Theology of Mankind

At the turn of the 20th century, the Scottish minister and church historian James Orr famously proffered a theory about doctrinal development. God, he suggested, has given to each age of the church a concern for a particular doctrine. According to Orr, the second century was an age of theological prolegomena and apologetics. The third and fourth centuries were concerned with the Trinity, and the fifth through seventh centuries tackled the many nuances of Christology. Reflection on soteriology began in earnest in the Middle Ages with Anselm on the atonement, but was furthered in the 16th century through the reformers’ thought on justification, regeneration, and sanctification. Orr believed the modern era had been reserved for eschatology.

As the 20th century wore on, however, anthropology increasingly took center stage.

Whatever one might think of Orr’s particular historical schema, he intuits something about divine providence that seems apparent: God gives his people certain challenges and opportunities in theological reflection that reflect their age.

Whether it’s our infatuation with the concept of identity, or the increasing ethical questions surrounding AI (artificial intelligence), many in and outside the church will agree that our own age presents myriad questions about what it means to be human. This offers the church a significant opportunity to engage in theological anthropology of wide-ranging depth heretofore not seen in the history of theology.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology

Al Mohler–Why Mormonism should not be considered Christian

The most important question is this: should we consider the Mormon Church, the church known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as a Christian denomination? No, we should not. It simply fails every major test of Christian orthodoxy. It is itself at its very foundation a repudiation of historic Christian orthodoxy. It claims an authority of a living prophet, living apostles and the book of Mormon as a successor. They call it another Testament of Jesus Christ to the Bible itself. They deny the most basic Christian doctrine of all, which is the doctrine of the Trinity, and they also reformulate the doctrines concerning Christ not only in terms of the person of Christ but also of his work. They preach what the apostle Paul identified in the book of Galatians as another gospel. And this must be recognized.

At the same time this is also a very timely reminder to Christians that in the name of Christ and in the service of the gospel it is never wrong to live amongst our neighbors with mutual respect. But that respect does not mean it’s a respect at the expense of the truth. We should expect our Mormon neighbors to believe in Mormonism, and we should also protect their religious liberty to do so where religious liberty that is threatened for both Mormons and evangelicals. But at the same time our respect for religious liberty and our respect for our neighbors does not prevent us in any way from either the responsibility or the urgency of evangelism. And we should note that goes both ways. Mormons are seeking to evangelize biblical Christians even as biblical Christians are seeking to evangelize Mormons. That’s honest and it need not be disrespectful. Furthermore there should be the recognition of the fact that we in terms of the biblical doctrine of common grace are glad to find the affirmation of certain very essential moral principles and affirmations of the structures of creation wherever they are found. We should be very happy to find a rightly ordered family wherever that rightly ordered family is found. That’s simply a testimony to the goodness of God in the very structures of the creation that he made for human flourishing.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Mormons, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(1st Things) NT Wright–Loving to Know

As a historian, I knew that this either/or of “objective history” and “subjective meaning” was a gross oversimplification. In my 1992 book, The New Testament and the People of God, I suggested that we needed a better integration, one that transcended the antithesis of objective and subjective. I had been introduced to the idea of critical realism through the work of Bernard Lonergan, whom I encountered in the work of Ben Meyer. And in that context, I met what they thought of as “an epistemology of love.” Ever since then, I have tried to understand what that might mean and to put it into practice.

Along the way, I have realized that it isn’t only in biblical studies that the Enlightenment’s epistemological proposals result in false antitheses. In my Gifford Lectures for 2018, now published as History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural ­Theology, I laid out the ways in which so-called natural theology, on the one hand, and the historical study of Jesus, on the other, have become dangerously detached from each other. This isn’t because we have now discovered, in some objective sense, something about natural theology or the history of Jesus that requires them to be kept separate. It is because both studies, and any link between them, have been distorted by Enlightenment epistemology.

Enlightenment thought rejected Jesus’s resurrection, but not because of a new scientific awareness that dead people do not rise. Everybody has known from earliest times that dead people stay dead. The Enlightenment’s real reason for the rejection was that, if Jesus had risen from the dead, his resurrection would be the turning point of world history—a status the Enlightenment claimed for itself. There cannot be two such turning points. Here lies the crucial epistemological battle. The Enlightenment was in thrall to the split-level epistemology that, by insisting on hard facts and creaming off everything else into a subjective sphere, realized Francis Bacon’s maxim that “knowledge is power.” Knowledge of the Enlightenment sort—“we know the way the world is and we’re going to impose it on you”—became the instrument of the imperial projects of the modern West. But that kind of knowledge does not do justice to the ultimate realities of the world; and it fails to grasp, or be grasped by, the Ultimate Reality itself, which is the resurrection of Jesus as the launch of new creation in the midst of the old. As Wittgenstein said, “It is love that believes the resurrection.” Many of our current ills, social, political, and cultural, have emerged from our ignoring this or trying to bypass it.

My proposal is that paying attention to Jesus as a real figure of first-century history can point some ways forward for the Church and, through the Church, for our misguided and muddled world. And for all this—and for the multiple resultant tasks in theology and mission—we need to understand, and put into practice, new ways of knowing: specifically, an epistemology of love.

Read it all.

Posted in Philosophy, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

–Hebrews 6:11-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Leander Harding–the mission of a Cathedral to the modern world

In the remainder of this report I want to focus on responding to the immense missionary challenges that are facing the Christian Church in general and the Cathedral in particular. In November I gave a set of talks in the Diocese of Dallas on this problem entitled Modernity and Mission. The topic was the focus of my study and prayer for the Summer and Fall. I believe I have a better understanding of what is distinctive about the missionary environment in which we find ourselves and greater clarity about what an authentic missionary engagement with modernity looks like. I have been trying to share some of these thoughts in the Dean’s Forum. As a result of this study I believe strongly that The Cathedral of All Saints is uniquely positioned to be especially effective in reaching contemporary people for the sake of Jesus Christ.

There are many blessings of modernity for which to give thanks, modern medicine and a remarkable rise in the standard of living right across the world. Modernity is also characterized by what the old preachers called worldliness, a mentality which is preoccupied with the things of this world in which God is not so much denied as forgotten. The experience of transcendence, of holiness and otherness is rare. The experience of awe which leads to worship is rare and so modern people are in jeopardy of losing their souls and of losing that which is essential to our humanity: the worship of the one true and living God. It requires something powerful to break out of the captivity to this worldliness and the diminution and constriction of the human heart that must be its consequence. It requires something like a Gothic Cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Secularism, Theology

(Premier) When John Lennox met Dave Rubin

Justin Brierley has moderated hundreds of lively debates on Christianity and atheism, but when a renowned Christian apologist met a popular YouTube personality at a Californian megachurch, it turned out to be one of the most remarkable events the broadcaster has ever hosted

In the 14 years since I began my faith discussion show Unbelievable?, I’ve never witnessed a conversation quite like the one that took place in front of a 1,000-strong audience at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California.

I had invited John Lennox and Dave Rubin to join me for a live recording of The Big Conversation video series, in which Christians and atheists debate big questions about science, faith and philosophy.

Lennox is a longstanding Christian thinker whose background as an Oxford professor of mathematics has seen him debate high-profile atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Rubin is a rising star in the online world, regularly sitting down with various public intellectuals to debate culture, politics and – with increasing frequency – religion. His YouTube channel The Rubin Report has more than 1 million subscribers.

Lennox has often spoken and written about his own Christian convictions and why he holds them. What made this conversation unique was that Rubin’s views on religion are in a state of flux.

At one time he looked like a typical US Millennial. He had grown up in a culturally Jewish household but, as a gay, secular liberal, he adopted the atheist outlook of many of his peers. A turnaround in his political views occurred in his mid-30s, however, as he began to question the so-called progressive left-wing ideology and its effects on free speech. Rubin is now counted as a leading conservative voice in America’s culture wars. But could his political conversion be followed by a religious one?

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Religion & Culture, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.

–Hebrews 5:7-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.

–Psalm 148:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, while it is said,

“Today, when you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Who were they that heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? And with whom was he provoked forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

–Hebrews 3:12-19

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) For Christian Women, Persecution Looks Like Rape

Dali’s work serves but a tiny number of the millions of women around the world who suffer from persecution. Of the 245 million Christians attacked for their faith last year, many are women and girls who are specifically and most frequently targeted through forced marriage, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. These are the findings of Gendered Persecution, an Open Doors report that examined the differences in persecution by gender in 33 countries for women and 30 countries for men. (An updated report will be released this March.)

While forced marriage is the “most regularly reported means of putting pressure on Christian women” and “remains largely invisible,” when analyzing the data on female persecution, researchers Helene Fisher and Elizabeth Miller found that

Among all forms of violence… the one most often noted [for women] was rape. The research found it to be a common characteristic of persecution of Christian women in 17 countries, with other forms of sexual assault being listed for exactly half of countries with available data. There are no mentions of this form of violence against men, nor is domestic violence one of the pressures mentioned as a tactic used against Christian men.

Not only must Christian women like the Boko Haram captives deal with their own trauma, they often can’t find sanctuary within their faith communities when they come home.

“Unfortunately, it is all too common that Christian communities do not distinguish themselves from their surrounding cultures and, as a result, will stigmatize their women and girls who have been victims of violence,” Fisher and Miller, the authors of the report, wrote in a statement to CT.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NYT) Is the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scheme the apex of the cheating era? Or is it acknowledgement that it is just the way things are now in sports.

But the rules are there, and F. Clark Power worries that by flouting them, more is being lost than a sense of fair play. Power is the founder of the Play Like a Champion program, which promotes character education through sports and focuses on proper coaching instruction in youth sports, especially for at-risk children.

He likes to reference what he sees when he witnesses the joy of 7-year-olds playing hide-and-seek.

“Every one of them knows that to have a fair game, you’ve got to keep your eyes closed while you count,” said Power, who has taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1982.

“We need to understand, if we are going to endorse cheating as a means to an end, the children are watching,” he said. “So it becomes a question of how do you want to raise your kids? We can’t get much lower as a culture if cheating is no longer a moral issue but a form of coping. We need to change the conversation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports

A Great Theological Resource–Audio of Some Lectures from past gatherings at the Anglican Leadership Institute

If you do not know about this, you should–check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, * South Carolina, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.

–Hebrews 3:1-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CC) China’s attack on the Uighurs and their Muslim faith

To coerce behavior in Xinjiang, the Chinese government has employed thousands of security agents along with high-tech forms of surveillance, in­cluding security cameras and facial recognition software. Because the Chinese press is censored by the government, news of these abuses has filtered out of the region largely through foreign journalists and independent researchers. China denied the existence of the internment camps until classified government documents were leaked last year; since then, government officials have described the camps as “vocational centers.”

China’s role as scheduled host of the 2022 Winter Olympics offers the world a chance to speak up for the Uighurs and apply pressure on the government to relent. So far, China’s economic clout on the world stage has rendered many nations hesitant to respond. The US shows no signs of making religious freedom for the Uighurs a key issue in trade negotiations.

The US Congress is, however, considering a bill that would direct the Trump administration to identify Chinese officials involved in the abuses and to deny them entry to the US and freeze their financial assets. The bill would also impose sanctions on tech firms that supply China with equipment used in repression and surveillance. The bill passed the House of Representatives and awaits a vote in the Senate. As modest as it is, such a law would be one of the more significant international efforts to hold Chinese leaders accountable for their brutal and systematic assault on a religious community.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Wednesday Encouragement–After being bullied for his sneakers, teen donates shoes to those in need

Kyler Nipper started the nonprofit Kyler’s Kicks to make sure others with limited means can have a new pair of shoes. It’s a struggle Kyler knows all too well. The 14-year-old lives in a shelter with his family and says he was bullied and attacked for his worn-out sneakers

Watch it all from NBC.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Education, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Stewardship

(AI) Southwark vicar cleared of immigration fraud by criminal court, sacked by CoE for theft

In his first four years at St Jude’s, Mr. Ntege conducted 29 weddings. The pace quickened beginning in 2007 with nine weddings a day taking place on some Saturdays. In 2011 the UK Border Agency arrested him, charging him with facilitating immigration fraud. In Oct 2014 a judge at Inner London Crown Court threw out the trial after he determined UK Border Agency officers concealed evidence and lied under oath. Judge Nic Madge ruled “bad faith and serious misconduct” had fatally undermined the case against the vicar and six other defendants.

After the trial Mr. Ntege was permitted to resume his post at St Jude’s, but in 2017 the Archdeacon of Croydon initiated church disciplinary proceedings over the shortfall in fees collected at the suspect weddings but not remitted to the diocese. At the November 2019 hearing the panel found the vicar ‘had knowingly engaged in systematic wrongdoing over a period of several years” and “wrongfully retained substantial sums of money which he knew should have been remitted to the DBF and had done so over a sustained period of time.”

Mr. Ntege, who had been able to delay his hearing for over a year due to claims of ill health claimed he had not been properly trained by the Church of England upon his arrival from Uganda and was unfamiliar with his statutory responsibilities. The panel was not persuaded by this argument and further noted he had “not demonstrated any remorse in relation to his conduct.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(C of E) Bishop Alan Smith welcomes the credit card gambling ban

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has welcomed an announcement from the Gambling Commission that consumers will no longer be able to use credit cards to gamble from April 2020.

“This marks a significant step in progressive policy-making, reducing the risks to gamblers,” he said, following the announcement.

“For too long people have been vulnerable through gambling with money they don’t have, using credit cards, additionally incurring the costs of borrowing alongside any losses.

“I have been calling for this change as consultation turned into consultation, while gamblers were facing the consequences of delay.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Bishop Rachel Treweek responds to the Peter Ball documentary

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(C Of E) Response to BBC 2 documentary on Peter Ball

“The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: the Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.

“Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.

“It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.

Read it all and follow all the links.

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