Daily Archives: January 14, 2014

(RNS) 5.3 billion people face harsh religious freedom restrictions

Global religious hostilities reached a six-year high in 2012 and affected more people than government curbs on religious freedom, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest report on religious restrictions around the world.

The report, released Tuesday (Jan. 14) ahead of National Religious Freedom Day on Thursday, shows that 74 percent of the world’s population experienced high levels of social hostility toward religion, up from 52 percent in 2011.

The sharp rise is due to hostilities in China, which for the first time in the survey’s six-year history, scored a “high” level of religious strife. Home to more than 1.3 billion people, China experienced an increase in religion-related terrorism, mob violence and sectarian conflict in 2012.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Globe and Mail) Seven battles to watch in Quebec’s war over religious freedoms

On Tuesday, a National Assembly committee will begin hearings on Quebec’s secular charter bill, setting off another round of fiery public debate over freedom of conscience and religion versus gender equality. The proposals tabled by the Parti Québécois minority government ”“ which include prohibiting public servants from wearing overt religious symbols such as the hijab, kippa or crucifix ”“ have deeply divided Quebeckers, even within the sovereignty movement.

More than 250 individuals and groups have submitted briefs, and most requested to appear before the committee. With more than 200 hours set aside for the submissions, the hearings will last several weeks and could become a backdrop to an early spring election. Some groups and individuals have influenced the debate, even though they may not appear before the committee.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Universal Church of the Kingdom of God faces complaints over fundraising

The fundraising activities of one of the world’s wealthiest evangelical churches have come under scrutiny after dozens of complaints.
Members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God went house-to-house raising funds this Christmas “to keep the church doors open”, despite accounts filed last month showing that it had £2.7 million in the bank. Globally, the rapidly expanding Brazilian-based Church has assets estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Its British arm has sent hundreds of thousands of pounds to Brazil to help to build an “exact replica” of the biblical temple of Solomon at a cost of £130 million.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Brazil, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, South America, Stewardship, Theology

(Zenit) John Flynn–Slaughter of the Innocents: Questions About China's Family Planning Policies

Amid conflicting news reports over changes to the one-child family planning policy in China, disturbing reports continue to arrive about serious abuses of human rights.

On Dec. 31 the BBC reported that a Chinese obstetrician is on trial, accused of stealing newborn babies and selling them to child traffickers.

Zhang Shuxia was accused of selling seven babies, according to the BBC. Apparently she told the parents their infants were sick, and persuaded them to give the children to her.

Just the day before, Radio Free Asia reported that four Uyghur women in China’s north-western region of Xinjiang have been forced by authorities to undergo abortions””one of them nine months into her pregnancy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

A profile of TEC Parish Christ Episcopal Church Springfield, Illinois

What began as a woman’s request that her daughter be baptized has turned into a longtime downtown Springfield institution.

Christ Episcopal Church, at the corner of Kimbrough Avenue and Walnut Street, was founded in 1859 when Marie Burden asked the Rev. Montgomery Schuyler, rector of Christ Church in St. Louis, to help in the baptism of her daughter, Nellie, according to a history book published by Christ Episcopal.

Schuyler sent an assistant, the Rev. T.I. Holcombe, to Springfield. He baptized Nellie, and that was the beginning of the church.

Christ Episcopal celebrates its 154th Christmas this year with services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

(IBD) Businesses Threatened By Raft Of New Affordable Care Act Taxes

As 2014 dawns, ObamaCare’s most disruptive changes to the health care system are just now getting under way. For American businesses, that means a raft of new taxes that will pose devastating consequences for their employees and the broader economy.

Paramount among them is a new tax on health insurers (HIT) that’s projected to “hit” them for more than $100 billion over the next decade. ObamaCare’s architects intended to eat into the margins of insurers with this levy ”” and even set it proportional to each company’s market share, so that bigger insurers pay more.

But the truth is that firms in every sector will pay it, as insurers will simply pass the tax along to employers in the form of higher premiums.

Indeed, premiums are expected to jump 2% to 3% over the course of this year thanks to this tax. By 2023, they could be about 4% higher.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance

Osborne’s view of poor ”˜out of a Victorian novel’, says Manchester Bishop Dave Walker

Something is going right with the British economy, and Chancellor George Osborne is keen to take the credit, “The plan is working”, he announced a few days ago in a speech in the West Midlands. But for many of those I meet, as I visit church supported projects across the Diocese of Manchester, if the plan really is working, then it’s the wrong plan.

I can offer one cheer for the chancellor. The figures for non-welfare related public spending grew year on year under the previous government in a quite unprecedented fashion, one that could only ever be sustained by a continuous rise in national wealth. Once the banker led scandals of six years ago broke, and plunged much of the globe into deep recession, that was never going to remain affordable. Deep cuts in public expenditure became inevitable; someone would have to bear the brunt. As the chancellor said this week, there are no easy answers; tough decisions still need to be made. In an economy that can never be trusted to grow consistently it is fair to say that the proportion of national income spent by government will need at some stage to return to something closer to the historic post-war average. Whether it should be falling so quickly, and whether Mr Osborne has in his head a long term target for it rather lower than the norm, are matters worthy of public debate.

I can raise a rather bigger cheer for British workers and their employers. Unlike many previous recessions this one was not a result of a systemic lack of international competitiveness. And so the solution didn’t have to be, and wasn’t, mass unemployment. A combination of loss of overtime, shorter working hours, miniscule pay increases and early retirement has allowed many British families to tighten their belts and survive. The independent decisions of the Bank of England to keep interest rates, and thereby mortgage payments, low have played an important part too. All of this has placed the nation in a better state of readiness to expand output now that the global economic climate is becoming warmer.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Poverty, Theology

(SI) Ben Lyttleton–Ronaldo captures Ballon d'Or, a prestigious, yet checkered prize

The last time Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon D’Or, back in December 2008, it was a rather sedate affair. For starters, the prize came to him; the golden trophy was dispatched to his house in Manchester, where he posed with it and gave a long interview to the competition organizers from France Football magazine.

Back then, he had scored 42 goals and helped Manchester United win the Premier League, the Champions League and the Club World Cup. He had studied the history of the Ballon D’Or, voted on by journalists from 52 European countries, and told France Football at the time: “I’ve now made a place in history and that’s not something everyone can do. But it does not mean I have reached the top. I want more. I’m going back to square one. I’m starting my career again now.”

Six years, five trophies and 283 goals later, at a glittering ceremony Monday in Zurich, broadcast live to 180 countries, a tearful, emotional Ronaldo reacquainted himself with the Ballon D’Or. The player was no longer the callow 23-year-old of 2008, but a global star; the award, too, had changed. This Ballon D’Or is not just a France Football production, but since 2010 has been called the FIFA Ballon D’Or, combining FIFA’s former World Player of the Year award with the Ballon D’Or. So as well as the journalists’ vote, FIFA also collects the votes of international coaches and captains.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Men, Portugal, Sports

(ACNS) Ecumenical Patriarch calls for Orthodox, Anglican student swap

The Ecumenical Patriarch said today he hoped for a continuing exchange of Orthodox and Anglican students to aid the two Churches’ relationship.

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church, was speaking today during his welcome of the Anglican Communion’s spiritual head Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

He said, “In the past, the rapprochement between our two Churches has been greatly assisted by the exchange of students, and we trust that this will continue. Our Theological School at Halki used to offer scholarships to Anglicans, and when it is reopened ”“ as will happen in the near future (so it may be hoped) ”“ we shall certainly wish to revive this tradition.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Education, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

A Kendall Harmon Sermon on the Baptism of Jesus and The Doctrine of Humanness

Listen to it all should you wish to.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Baptism, Christology, Psychology, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(BBC) Egypt referendum: Vote under way amid tight security

Egyptians are voting amid tight security in a two-day referendum on a new constitution, which could pave the way for fresh elections.

The new charter aims to replace the constitution passed under Islamist President Mohammed Morsi months before he was ousted by the army.

The military wants a strong Yes vote to endorse Mr Morsi’s removal.

His Muslim Brotherhood, now designated a terrorist group, is boycotting the vote and there are fears of violence.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Blessed Lord, who in the days of thy earthly childhood didst earnestly desire to be about thy Father’s business: Give us the grace of thy Holy Spirit early to seek thee and evermore to follow thee; that being continuously aided by thy grace, we may be exercised in thy service; who livest and reignest with the Holy Spirit, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will. For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.

–Hebrews 2:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Unscripted Episode 89

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger at Anglican TV

“00:00 2013 year in review
13:47 Our 2014 Predictions
22:14 Conversation with Archbishop Duncan
42:04 AS Haley on how to sue yourself
52:31 Closing and Bloopers”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

ACNA: Communique from the College of Bishops

January 10, 2014

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America met in Orlando, Florida from January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, to January 10th. We were blessed to be joined by the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, Pakistan.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

(BW) At the end of 2013 The U.S. health-care industry lost jobs

Payrolls dropped at nursing homes, home health agencies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. Outpatient care centers gained jobs.

This is only a single monthly jobs report. December’s decline in health-care jobs might be a blip that could be revised to a gain in future months. But the industry did slow hiring in 2013. A look at the average job gains in health care over the last 12 months shows the sector adding about 21,000 a month, compared with 25,000 per month the year before.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

An Interview with James Houston about his friend C.S. Lewis in honor of the Lewis Anniversary

James Houston knew C.S. Lewis well during their time at Oxford, and here he comments on the great impact of Lewis on Christian spiritual formation.

Listen to it all, conducted by Bruce Hindmarsh.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Books, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Irish Church Leaders Encourage Politicians To Sustain Momentum Generated By Haass Talks

Church leaders are encouraging politicians to sustain the momentum and energy generated by the Haass talks.

In a joint statement from the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches together with the Irish Council of Churches they applaud the ”˜strenuous and sincere efforts put in by all involved in seeking to find solutions to some of the most contentious issues we face’.

They also recognise the ”˜profoundly challenging’ nature of the issues to be addressed but firmly believe that ”˜a peaceful and reconciled society is possible’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ireland, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Violence

(Anglican Journal) Vancouver School of Theology sells its Iona building to UBC

The Vancouver School of Theology (VST) is selling its Iona Building, in the theological neighbourhood of the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, to UBC for an agreed price of $28 million.

The deal has yet to be finalized by both sides, but the schools announced in a joint press release that UBC plans to take possession of the building in July 2014 and begin using the facility, which will house UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics.

VST, an independent theological school, plans to use part of the proceeds of the sale to continue its existing operations as a theological college at UBC and to set aside a substantial portion of the remainder in an endowment that will generate income to support professional and pastoral training. It retains ownership of nearby Somerville House and Chapel of the Epiphany. The Iona Building was built in 1927 on land leased from UBC for 999 years.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology

Joan Algar reviews William McIntosh's "The Spiritual Journey of [S.C.'s] St. Philip’s Church"

Read it all (page 6).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Books, Church History, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Syria peace talks: Opposition 'risks US-UK support'

Britain and the US have warned they will rethink support for Syria’s main opposition group if it fails to take part in peace talks next week, a Syrian source has told the BBC.

The official from the Syrian National Coalition said the UK and the US were adamant the group must go to Geneva.

The coalition will hold a vote on Friday on whether or not to attend.

Syria’s opposition remains deeply divided nearly three years after the uprising began.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Theology, Violence