Category : * Religion News & Commentary

News and commentary from / about other (non-Anglican) Christian churches and denominations

(Spectator) Theo Hobson– Coffee House Justin Welby needs to get off the fence

He cheerfully admits that we can’t recreate a Christian-based social order – which was always a flawed thing anyway. But he cannot quite affirm our post-Christian social order, which privatises faith, and ‘leaves a vacuum’:

‘That is not to say at this stage that the answer is to reverse the privatisation of Christian faith (which is anyway not something within human gift) but rather that there is a need for a generous and hospitable meta-narrative within which competing truths can be held. It will be the suggestion of this book that Christian faith…provides the potential for such hospitable and generous holding.’

Is there an alternative to such awkward fence-sitting? As the leader of a Christian church he must say that Christianity is what the nation needs in order to reimagine the common good, but as this is the established Church of a liberal state he must also sound respectful of secular diversity. The problem is that his respect for secular diversity never quite sounds sincere. As I say, it sounds like he is reining in his dislike of it, forcing a cheerful smile.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(NYT) Can the Roman Catholic Church ‘Evolve’ on L.G.B.T. Rights?

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

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(GR) Julia Duin–When profiling ADF’s Kristin Waggoner, why not include facts about her Pentecostal roots?

There’s so much good in this story, as the details are the result of hours of observation by a keen-eyed reporter. It’s the stuff that got left out that drives me batty.

The story talks a lot about Waggoner’s friendship with Stutzman but doesn’t mention how Waggoner honed her craft through years of working in a law firm here in Seattle, where she got her fill of the liberal politics in this ultra-blue state.

I learned the details of her religious upbringing in Ken McIntyre’s Daily Signal piece where we learn Waggoner is the daughter of an Assemblies of God minister, Clint Behrends, who is on staff of Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, a Seattle suburb. She attended an Assemblies of God college in nearby Kirkland; clerked for a Washington Supreme Court judge, then spent 15 years with Ellis, Li & ­­­­­McKinstry, a Seattle law firm that includes many Christian lawyers. And ever since moving to Arizona to work with ADF in 2014, her star has gone straight up.

We also learn her husband is a lawyer and that they have three kids. Most importantly, she is a Pentecostal Christian. That’s what growing up in the rather moderate Assemblies of God means. Thinking back to 2008, when another female Pentecostal, Sarah Palin, climbed onto the national stage as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, reporters hadn’t a clue how to cover her church. Not much has changed.

I don’t know whether the Post reporter didn’t grasp Waggoner’s beliefs enough to ask her about them or whether she did include those details but an editor took them out. But if this woman’s faith renders her unflappable amidst some tough high-profile cases, not to mention the personal toll of overseeing dozens of lawyers working on similar cases while staying married with three kids, then we should know more about it.

Once again, what is the logic – in terms of journalism basics – for omitting this kind of core information?

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Media, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

Fulcrum Response to GAFCON 2018

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, GAFCON

(NYT Op-ed) Fred Rogers and the Loveliness of the Little Good

Once, as Tom Junod described in a profile for Esquire, Rogers met a 14-year-old boy whose cerebral palsy left him sometimes unable to walk or talk. Rogers asked the boy to pray for him.

The boy was thunderstruck. He had been the object of prayers many times, but nobody had asked him to pray for another. He said he would try since Mister Rogers must be close to God and if Mister Rogers liked him he must be O.K.

Junod complimented Rogers on cleverly boosting the boy’s self-esteem, but Rogers didn’t look at the situation that way at all: “Oh, heavens no, Tom! I didn’t ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.”

And here is the radicalism that infused that show: that the child is closer to God than the adult; that the sick are closer than the healthy; that the poor are closer than the rich and the marginalized closer than the celebrated.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ministry of the Ordained, Presbyterian

(Star-Tribune) Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations face unprecedented declines

For 100 years, Lutherans in this farming community on the Minnesota prairie have come to one church to share life’s milestones.

They have been baptized, confirmed and married at La Salle Lutheran. Their grandparents, parents and siblings lie in the church cemetery next door.

But the old friends who gathered here early one recent Sunday never imagined that they would one day be marking the death of their own church.

When La Salle Lutheran locks its doors in August, it will become the latest casualty among fragile Minnesota churches either closing, merging or praying for a miracle. Steep drops in church attendance, aging congregations, and cultural shifts away from organized religion have left most of Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations facing unprecedented declines.

“Sunday used to be set aside for church: that’s what families did,” said Donna Schultz, 74, a church member since grade school at La Salle, in southwest Minnesota. “Now our children have moved away. The grandkids have volleyball, dance on weekends. People are busy with other things….”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

(WSJ) Adam O’Neal–Taking an honest look Inside the Christian group to which Amy Coney Barrett’s belongs

Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court—a prospect that thrills many conservatives. A former Antonin Scalia clerk and Notre Dame professor, Judge Barrett, 46, seems an ideal choice. Yet her religious beliefs could lead to a contentious confirmation process. Would it be a risk to pick her?

Last year President Trump nominated Ms. Barrett for a seat on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Several Democratic senators pondered whether an “orthodox Catholic” would have dual loyalties. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said during Ms. Barrett’s hearing. “That’s of concern.”

Video of Mrs. Feinstein’s religious test quickly spread, provoking outrage from thousands of Americans. Yet a New York Times news story suggested she and her colleagues hadn’t gone far enough: The nominee’s “membership in a small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise never came up at the hearing, and might have led to even more intense questioning.”

Richard Painter, a law professor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota, loved the article. He recently tweeted the link, adding his own comment on People of Praise: “A religious group in which members take an oath of loyalty to each other and are supervised by a male ‘head’ or female ‘handmaiden.’ That looks like a cult.” As nonbigots do, Mr. Painter then added, “don’t even try playing the ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ card.”

It’s easy to make People of Praise sound terrifying. Isn’t there a TV show and novel about these “handmaid” people? Do Americans really want a cultist on the Supreme Court? Despite such insinuations from “resistance” conspiracy theorists, understanding the group requires more than a couple of tweets….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Supreme Court

(NPR) For A Church Defined By Tradition, Changing Catholic Doctrine Can Present A Problem

GJELTEN: Like other Catholic leaders, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki aims for a balance – serving his flock while also defending the faith. His emphasis is on what he calls the truth of church teachings over the years.

JEROME LISTECKI: To be consistent to that is important. Why – because when you start to push yourself away from that, that’s when you lose the uniqueness. If we’re supposed to be like everybody else in the secular world, then we’re not going to be the Catholic church.

GJELTEN: In fact, U.S. Catholics may already be less Catholic than they used to be. Fifty years ago, about half of all Catholic children in the U.S. were educated in Catholic schools. Now it’s less than 20 percent.

GAUTIER: It suggests a gradual social change occurring.

GJELTEN: Mary Gautier of Georgetown University.

GAUTIER: The American Catholic church I think is assimilating ever further into American popular culture.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(ACNS) Britain’s Methodists debate Church of England full communion proposals

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has debated proposals that could see it enter into a full communion agreement, including the interchange of ministries, with the Church of England. The proposals are contained in a report “Mission and Ministry in Covenant”, which was published last year. The C of E’s General Synod debated the report in February, and called for additional work to be undertaken on it. This morning (Monday), the Methodist Church adopted similar motion at its annual conference, which is meeting this week in Nottingham.

The proposals would see future Presidents of Conference being ordained as bishops in the apostolic succession and have the title President Bishop. As Methodist Presbyters in Britain are ordained by the Conference, this would mean that, should the proposals be accepted, future Presbyters would be ordained by a bishop in the apostolic succession. The C of E is being asked to recognise existing Methodist Presbyters, who haven’t been ordained in the apostolic succession, as a “bearable anomaly” until, over time, all future Methodist presbyters are ordained under the new system replace those ordained under the existing system.

There is division in the Church of England’s House of Bishops about the proposals, which were formulated by the Faith and Order bodies of both churches. The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, addressed the Conference this morning and acknowledged the lack of unanimity in the C of E.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(NCR) First report by Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 13 years considers authority, role of laity

The official commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches has published its first document in 13 years, focusing on how each global institution can learn from the other in balancing exercise of ecclesial authority at the local, regional and worldwide levels.

Among the considerations in the 68-page report, released July 2, are questions of how the Catholic Church might learn from the Anglican experience to empower local church leaders to act more independently from Rome at times, and to give more governing authority to consultative bodies such as the Synod of Bishops.

“The Roman Catholic Church can learn from the culture of open and frank debate that exists at all levels of the Anglican Communion,” the members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission state in one of the conclusions of their document, titled: “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church — Local, Regional, Universal.”

“The Anglican practice of granting a deliberative role to synods and of investing authority in regional instruments of communion indicates that the Synod of Bishops could be granted a deliberative role and further suggests the need for the Roman Catholic Church to articulate more clearly the authority of episcopal conferences,” the document continues.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Featured (Sticky), Roman Catholic

Gerald McDermott–Attack on the Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi


This was the third time that Muslims have attacked Jos Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi.
The first time they stole his cattle. The second time they came to kill him. He was gone and so they savaged his wife, assaulting her womanhood, and left her half-dead.
[Friday] night all of his cattle were stolen by (Muslim) Fulani tribesmen, and when his dear neighbor Ayuba heard and shined a light on the rustlers, he was shot dead….

Here is what the AB wrote on FB:
…Ayuba Dung..
…Ayuba Dung..
A simple driver of a COCIN (a Nigerian Christian denomination) chairman…
Has a family a wife and children, living in an uncompleted house of his own. The doors and widows waiting to be bought to be fixed. He had hopes of finishing his house and living peacefully with his family.
The story changed last night…
He was shot through the head because he flashed his light when he heard footsteps of cattle being rustled…
The cows were mine…
I was at the Archbishop’s home today. Some of his bishops and priests with their wives were there, along with Gloria his wife and their many adopted orphan children. They were there to consult, and to encourage him. There was no grimness. Many smiled warmly. The general attitude was, “This is what God has called us to–mission amidst persecution. We love one another, and the devil is driving us Christians closer together.”
One of those who called on him to offer condolences was a Fulani tribal leader, a Muslim. He showed that not all the Fulani agree with what these terrorists, their fellow tribesmen, are doing.
At the same time, one of his priests told me that these Muslim Fulani were making a statement: “We know who you are. Be on the alert.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

Gerald McDermott–Religious Cleansing in Jos

Christians here are incensed that the Nigerian president is telling the world that the explanation for this brutality is conflict between Fulani herdsman and farmers. As a Nigerian headline put it, “Bukhari [the president] says 300 Fulani cows were stolen.” In other words, the Fulani herdsmen retaliated because their cows were stolen.

There are several problems with this explanation. The Fulani herdsman, who are Muslims, have lived in peace with their Christian neighbors for decades. Also, they cried out “Allahu akbar [Allah is great]!” as they swooped in upon these villages with death and terror.

The real story, Christians tell me, is that Islamists from other countries (like Niger and possibly Saudi Arabia) have radicalized previously-peaceful Muslim herdsmen. And the government, which is controlled by a Muslim administration, is taking advantage of this to consolidate its hold on this Middle Belt of Nigeria. Right now Jos is majority-Christian. But if the government can use these radicals to drive Christians out, Jos can become a majority-Muslim area.

The world media is reporting this as an “ethnic clash.” Some call it ethnic cleansing. But it is really religious cleansing. As Anglican Archbishop Ben Kwashi (seen here preaching) told us yesterday, a mere “clash” does not murder women and children.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

([London] Times) Act now on civil partnerships, urge mixed-sex couple after court win

The extension of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples is one of the planks of The Times’s campaign with the Marriage Foundation to reform family law.

Lord Kerr, announcing the court’s decision, said the government “does not seek to justify the difference in treatment between same-sex and different sex couples. To the contrary, it accepts that the difference cannot be justified.” He said that the government sought “tolerance of the discrimination while it sorts out how to deal with it. That cannot be characterised as a legitimate aim.” He added that it was “salutary to recall that a declaration of incompatibility does not oblige the government or parliament to do anything”.

However, there is mounting support for the change. Tim Loughton, MP, who has led a campaign for a change in the law, said that he was seeking an urgent meeting with ministers to amend a private member’s bill that is going through parliament at present, and was confident of support. “We now have a decision; we need to act on it,” he said.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Secularism, Women

(Economist Erasmus Blog) For those who fight sex-trafficking, dark rituals compound the problem

People who campaign against the ghastly phenomenon of human trafficking and sex slavery soon become aware that they are contending not only with flesh-and-blood wrongdoers but also with invisible forces which, if nothing else, are very much alive inside people’s heads.

One of the most notorious North-South rackets involves transporting young women, often minors, for sex work in Italy and beyond from Nigeria, in particular the southern area around Benin City. That part of the country has a powerful Christian presence, from Catholic to Pentecostal, but it is also a stronghold of traditional animist practices, including witchcraft. Its sex-slave trade has existed for three decades but it seems to have burgeoned recently. The International Organisation for Migration estimates that in 2016, some 11,100 Nigerian women landed in Sicily, and 80% entered a life of forced prostitution.

Before she is spirited off to Europe, the bond between a victim and her trafficker is often sealed with a voodoo ritual in which she surrenders pieces of clothing, fingernails and body hair; these fragments may be combined with drops of blood into a mixture which the victim is made to drink. This terrifies the young woman into thinking that curses will befall her family unless the debt to the trafficker, which can be around $50,000, is paid off.

According to Eugenia Bonetti, a Catholic religious sister who heads an NGO called Slaves No More, one of the many tragic consequences of all this is that young Nigerian women who are expelled from Italy or are helped by charities to return home can find themselves ostracised by their own families. Christian religious orders in Nigeria try to look after these returnees but they are treated as social pariahs.

In March, an attempt was made to tackle this problem by fighting fire with fire….

Read it all.

Posted in Italy, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Washington Post) ‘What’s next?’ Muslims grapple with Supreme Court ruling that they believe redefines their place in America

“For all my life, I’ve felt that this is my country,” said [Ramy] Almansoob, a 34-year-old structural engineer who was born in the United States and raised in Yemen, returning in 2015 to the suburbs of Washington to build a new life for his family. “We all knew that the United States is the place where you have freedom, and that’s what I always had in my mind. It’s not how it used to be.”

Almansoob applied to bring his wife and daughters to the United States a few months before Trump took office in January 2017. The ban, which seemed to echo Trump’s campaign call “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” quickly followed. And after two amended versions and a number of court battles, the Supreme Court in December allowed for the temporary implementation of the ban on Yemenis, Syrians, Iranians, Somalis and Libyans.

Now the court has upheld the policy, a decision that added permanence to the sentiment among many American Muslims that the government views and treats them differently from other Americans.

“It has put me in the position of second-class citizenship,” said Abrar Omeish, a Libyan American in Virginia who recently ran for a spot on the school board in Fairfax County.

Civil rights and religious advocacy groups across the country reacted to the court’s decision Tuesday in a passionate uproar.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Supreme Court