Daily Archives: August 8, 2007

In Spain a new Secular Civics Class is riling the Roman Catholic Church

According to Victorino Mayoral, a Socialist lawmaker and president of the CIVES Foundation, which was involved in crafting the course, students will receive a mix of ethics, civics and study of human rights. Based on the values enshrined in Spain’s 1978 Constitution, the course will cover issues ranging from domestic violence to dangerous driving, which claims thousands of Spanish lives every year.

But the course will also deal with issues like gender, sexuality and the family, and the church is up in arms.

Catholic bishops say the new course usurps the family’s freedom to shape a child’s morality and will impart values that in some instances diverge radically from their own. The Episcopal Conference has called on parents to protest the new syllabus by any legitimate means, and several bishops have called for a boycott.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Paris wedding tourism booms among Japanese

The American Cathedral performs around 80 Episcopal ceremonies a year, the American Church in Paris will host 200, while an Adventist church outside Paris takes pole position with 300 weddings per year.

Hawaii is still the number one overseas wedding destination for Japanese, but Europe is gaining ground, with around 20,000 marriage ceremonies last year.

However, these picture postcard trips and ceremonies, costing anything from 2,000 Euros to 4,500 Euros (roughly £1,360-£3,000), are not strictly weddings, but “blessings” or “thanksgiving” ceremonies. They use many of the familiar wedding vows but as most couples have already been married in civil ceremonies in Japan, the words are changed to “I have taken you to be my wife” instead of the present tense.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Marriage & Family

Gay Lutheran clergy lead fight against church's celibacy rule

The celibacy rule is expected to be voted on tomorrow or Friday at the 4.9 million-member denomination’s Churchwide Assembly in Chicago. The Evangelical Lutherans also will vote on whether to authorize blessings for same-sex unions.

The Word Alone Network, a conservative Lutheran group, opposes the proposals on the belief that gay sex, and all sex outside of marriage, is sinful, according to a spokesman.

Debate over the status of gay people has roiled other mainline Protestant denominations in recent years. In 2003, the Episcopal Church’s decision to ordain a noncelibate gay man as bishop nearly caused a split in that church and has led to division within its worldwide body, the Anglican Communion.

Two other Lutheran ministers from New Jersey also came forward yesterday: the Rev. Gary LeCroy, of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Teaneck, and the Rev. Bruce Davidson, director of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey.

LeCroy, 46, said he has not been in a committed same-sex relationship since he became a pastor in 1991. “I’m technically in accordance (with the celibacy rule),” he said. “But I have no intention of staying that way.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

An article on Bishop's Lee's recent Deposition of a Number of Clergy

“I’m saddened by Bishop Lee’s unnecessary action,” said Rick Wright, rector of The Falls Church in the town of the same name. “It demonstrates not only the division in the diocese between us and them, but between the Episcopal Church and Anglican community.”

Jim Oakes, vice president of ADV, echoed Wright’s comments, saying it seemed the diocese was following a “scorched-earth policy.”

Diocesan spokesman Patrick Getlein said the move was merely procedural, as the churches’ decision to leave the Episcopal Church set in motion a six-month process. At the end of this process, if the clergy in question have not retracted their decision to leave the church, they are removed from ordained minister status.

“They were priests of the Episcopal Church,” Getlein said. To align with something other than the Episcopal Church would mean they are no longer priests of that denomination, he added.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

2 G.O.P. Contenders Duel Over Religion

Over the last several months, the Republican presidential field has been consumed by the near-collapse of Senator John McCain’s campaign, the question of whether Fred Thompson would enter the race, and whether Rudolph W. Giuliani’s appeal would endure.

But on the ground in Iowa, which holds the first nominating contest, a pitched battle has broken out involving two lesser-known candidates who are trading accusations of religious bigotry and hypocrisy. The battle has become the most heated and personal rivalry in the Republican field.

The fight is for second place in the Aug. 11 Iowa Straw poll, a traditional bellwether that signals the strength of Republican campaigns, and it pits Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, against Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. And it could mean life or death to either of their candidacies.

The current tensions stem from an e-mail message sent to two Brownback supporters by Rev. Tim Rude, the pastor of an evangelical church in Walnut Creek, Iowa. In the message, Mr. Rude, a Huckabee volunteer, compared the religious backgrounds of Mr. Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, and Mr. Brownback, who is Roman Catholic.

“I know Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002,” Mr. Rude wrote. “Frankly, as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about his discernment when compared to the Governor’s.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

USA Today: Young adults aren't sticking with church

Protestant churches are losing young adults in “sobering” numbers, a survey finds.

Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 ”” both evangelical and mainline ”” who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.

“This is sobering news that the church needs to change the way it does ministry,” says Ed Stetzer, director of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“It seems the teen years are like a free trial on a product. By 18, when it’s their choice whether to buy in to church life, many don’t feel engaged and welcome,” says associate director Scott McConnell.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Universities Install Footbaths to Benefit Muslims, and Not Everyone Is Pleased

When pools of water began accumulating on the floor in some restrooms at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the sinks pulling away from the walls, the problem was easy to pinpoint. On this campus, more than 10 percent of the students are Muslims, and as part of ritual ablutions required before their five-times-a-day prayers, some were washing their feet in the sinks.

The solution seemed straightforward. After discussions with the Muslim Students’ Association, the university announced that it would install $25,000 foot-washing stations in several restrooms.

But as a legal and political matter, that solution has not been quite so simple. When word of the plan got out this spring, it created instant controversy, with bloggers going on about the Islamification of the university, students divided on the use of their building-maintenance fees, and tricky legal questions about whether the plan is a legitimate accommodation of students’ right to practice their religion ”” or unconstitutional government support for that religion.

“It’s an awkward thing,” said Alexis Oesterle, a junior. “If I’m sitting with Muslim friends, I wouldn’t want to bring it up. In this country, at this time, it’s not so easy to discuss the issues of Muslims in American society.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Stephen Noll: A Quick Response to Philip Turner

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology

Statement Issued By Petit Family

We are a family of faith. No one ever wants their faith tested, particularly by events such as these. When there is no ability to control your life events and you are required to deal with such great tragedy and loss, however, your faith is all the more necessary.

Although we will no longer have Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela physically present with us, and we do now and we will continue to experience an extraordinary sense of loss because of that, we firmly believe that their spirits and all of the goodness that defined their characters and beautiful personas will remain with us forever. We are committed to preserving those spirits and fulfilling their lives of promise, so tragically cut short.

Many ask what they can do….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

From tomorrow's (London) Times: Wealth Warnings

Gambling seriously damages your wealth. No one feels this razor-sharp truism more than the inveterate visitor to the high street turf accountant or the local casino. Gamblers’ weakness is not ignorance, it is to believe they will join the small band of punters who throw loaded dice and strike it lucky against all odds.

Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister who put the “no” in the Manchester supercasino. Now, at the eleventh hour, James Purnell, the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, has conjured a fiendishly complicated series of guidelines that appear to be a desperate punt to protect children from gamblers’ advertising. It is important. of course, to shelter tender minds. But rather than struggling to define when replica football shirts are not fit to be worn by lanky teenagers but are suitable for beer-bellied men, a straightforward wealth warning might have sufficed. How about a simple line on every advert truthfully telling how much profit the bookie makes from blockheaded punters? Whether it be 5p in the £1 or 50p, it would be sure to focus minds.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

Paul Kengor: Carrying the Cross In Iraq

Christians in Iraq are today facing serious persecution, as detailed in a number of recent reports, including in this publication.

Predictably, some of these accounts are filed by sources that were against the war in Iraq, dislike President Bush at a level bordering on hatred, and are more than happy to revel in another example of where they believe the White House has failed in Iraq.

On the other hand, to be sure, many of the accounts come from fair-minded observers with no political agenda ”” such as this publication ”” not to mention the actual victims of the repression.

One very alarming report by the Assyrian International News Agency cites hundreds of killings and an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, Religion & Culture