Daily Archives: June 9, 2012

(NPR) A North Dakota 'religious liberty' measure sparks debate

Next week, North Dakota voters will decide whether to add an amendment to the state’s constitution that supporters say will guarantee religious freedom. But the ballot measure has prompted debate over precisely what it safeguards; opponents argue that it’s a solution in search of a problem and worry about its consequences.

Measure 3 is worded this way: “Government may not burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty.” Its supporters call it the Religious Liberty Restoration amendment; they say it’s needed because of a 22-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision they believe has put limits on religious freedom.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Amid Economic Crisis, Spain Ponders Taxing Catholic Church Property

Although they have rented it out to a restaurant for the past five years, the owners of one building in Aspe have never paid property tax. Nor have they ever paid tax on the apartments that house two of their employees. But that may be about to change. Last week, the city’s government voted to partially rescind the exemption that the Catholic Church, landlord of those three properties and another eight more in town, has long enjoyed. And thanks to the crisis that threatens to upend Spain’s economy, it’s not the only place demanding change.

Three different laws, including a 1979 agreement with the Vatican, exempt the Catholic Church from paying property tax in Spain. The same provision holds for other recognized religions and non-profit organizations like the Red Cross, yet because Catholicism is the dominant religion in Spain, and because the Church’s holdings there are so vast (España Laica, a pro-secularism group, estimates that were it not for the exemption, the church would annually owe 2.5 to 3 billion euros in property taxes), critics have long argued that the arrangement is part of the preferential treatment granted the Catholic Church. It’s only now, however, with austerity measures bearing down and a European bailout looming, that anyone has thought to put that criticism into action. Economic pressure, in other words, may well accomplish what 33 years of democracy have not.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Church/State Matters, Economy, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain, Taxes

(NY Times Beliefs) Across Religions, Persistent Battles Over What the Faithful May Read

…the [recent Margaret Farley] episode raises anew the question, always lurking in the cathedral, of who decides what we’re allowed to read, and how we’re supposed to read it. In religion, who controls the books?

In the Reformation, Protestants were persecuted for making the Bible available in vernacular translations, so that laypeople, in addition to priests, could read it. But translation was just one battleground in the war over who controls religious literature. And while the battles have been particularly fierce in the Catholic Church, they are not unique to Catholicism, or Christianity.

“The papacy was not the first to begin this idea of censoring books,” said John W. O’Malley, a Jesuit priest and historian at Georgetown University. “The indices of books that were prohibited, at the universities of Paris and Louvain and so forth, started in the 16th century. It all began with printing.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Scottish Episcopal Church says No to the Anglican Covenant

The Scottish Episcopal Church has rejected an agreement backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury that could have seen sanctions imposed on them if they diverged from the Anglican Communion’s rulings on issues such as the ordination of gay bishops and same-sex unions.

The church’s General Synod, currently meeting in Edinburgh, overwhelmingly rejected the covenant, stating that it threatened its independence and went against the spirit of the communion.

It had been asked to sign up to the Anglican Covenant, an agreement intended to bring unity to the worldwide communion by introducing a measure of discipline and accountability into relationships between its 38 independent churches.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church

Central Pennsylvania bishop faces decision on blessing same-sex unions

[Nathan] Baxter, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, will announce his decision this weekend at the 142nd annual diocesan convention in State College. Three-hundred people from the 66 parishes in the 24-county diocese will attend.

Although the Episcopal Church has ordained openly gay bishops in the United States, it has not taken an official stand on gay marriage.

“The Episcopal Church says that homosexuality in and of itself is not a sin,” Baxter said. “We are called to love and respect all persons as being loved by God. I am listening to all views as I discern whether to approve blessing same-sex unions.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Sunyani Anglican Bishop urges issues based campaign

Bishop Asuamah emphasized that no political party was bigger than Ghana and that all parties must put a high premium on the relative peace Ghanaians were currently enjoying and do everything possible to sustain it before, during and after the general election.

He reiterated that the youth also had a part to play to make the election violent free by being circumspect and not allowing the political parties to use them to foment trouble or carry out any diabolical agenda, which would disrupt the elections, maim people and disturb public peace.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Province of West Africa, Anglican Provinces, Ghana

Sharapova wins French Open, completes career Grand Slam”Ž

Maria Sharapova, who once described her play on clay as a “cow on ice,” defeated Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2 Saturday to capture her first championship at Roland Garros and complete a career Grand Slam.

“If it was my only one it would be just as special as wining my fourth,” a jubilant Sharapova told the crowd in Court Philippe Chatrier not long after falling to her knees and clasping her face when Errani’s final shot in the 1 hour, 29 minute contest fell into the net.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports, Women

(Baltimore Sun) Three Episcopal priests to be ordained Roman Catholics today

The three former Episcopal priests said they found themselves more aligned with Roman Catholicism and less with increasingly liberal stances taken by Episcopal leaders. The nation’s sixth-largest Protestant denomination has been divided in recent years over the ordination of [non-celibate] gay men and women and same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church has made efforts to draw Anglicans interested in conversion; even Anglican priests who are married can be ordained.

“It really boils down to understanding of Scripture,” said Vidal, 52. “We believe that the Catholic Church is following the early church teachings more consistently.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

War May Be Ending, but Fight Isn’t Over for Soldiers in Remote Afghanistan

Until they leave, Colonel [Shawn] Daniel warned them sternly, they have a difficult job to do.

“Afghanistan will have the best chance possible to stand on its own feet,” he said. “Until then we have to look after ourselves.”

America is preparing to end its longest war. It is already getting ready to draw down its troops so that in two and a half years nearly all will be gone from this country. Back home, the attention of most Americans has long since shifted elsewhere.

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Columba

O God, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant Columba didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we beseech thee, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show forth our thankfulness to thee by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Scotland, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God of love, who hast given us a new commandment through thine only begotten Son, that we should love one another even as thou didst love us, the unworthy and the wandering, and gavest him for our life and salvation: We pray thee to give to us thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Coptic Liturgy of St. Cyril

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

–Galatians 3:23-29

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Nadal, Djokovic to meet in French Open final

The top two players each won in straight sets Friday ”” second-seeded Nadal in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 whitewashing of sixth-seeded Ferrer and top-seeded Djokovic in a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 3 Federer that didn’t feel that close.

Sunday, “Rafa” and “Nole” meet and someone will make history: Either Nadal will win his seventh French Open to break the record he now shares with Bjorn Borg or Djokovic will become the first man in 43 years to win four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.

And while they’ll have trouble putting on a better show than their last Grand Slam final ”” the nearly six-hour, five-set drama Djokovic won at the Australian Open”” it shouldn’t be hard to stage a more competitive day of tennis than what happened in the semifinals.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports