Daily Archives: January 14, 2015

(RNS) Supreme Court weighs a church’s right to advertise services

The Supreme Court on Monday (Jan. 12) considered a tiny church’s curbside sign in a case that could raise the bar on government regulation of speech, and make it easier for houses of worship to advertise their services.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the advocacy group that represents Pastor Clyde Reed and his Good News Community Church, bills the case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, as a religious rights case. But their attorney mostly argued it on free speech grounds.

“The town code discriminates on its face by treating certain signs differently based solely on what they said,” attorney David A. Cortman told the justices. “The treatment we’re seeking is merely equal treatment under the First Amendment.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Reuters) Most British Jews feel they have no future in Europe: poll

A quarter of Jews in Britain have considered leaving the country in the last two years and well over half feel they have no long term future in Europe, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

Additionally, anti-Semitic beliefs are widely prevalent among the wider public with 45 percent of Britons agreeing with at least one anti-Semitic sentiment, the YouGov poll for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) group found.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Islam, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Reuters) Nigerian troops repel Islamist militant attack on town of Biu

Nigerian security forces repelled an attack by Islamist rebels on the northeastern town of Biu on Wednesday, killing several of the insurgents, witnesses and a security source said.

Several dozen fighters belonging to the Boko Haram militant group drove into Biu in pick-up trucks and on motorcycles, witness Yahaya Mshelliza told Reuters by telephone.

“They came shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) and shooting everywhere, but confronted by the soldiers for three hours, most them were killed,” Mshelliza said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

ENS Coverage of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council Meeting

There is a summary article there and a summary of resolutions here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council

The Bishop of Durham speaks yesterday on the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill

(For detailed information on the bill, you may go here)-KSH.

I shall not address the elements of the Bill in exhaustive detail. Others have far greater expertise in each of the areas concerned. However, I want to make some points about the Bill’s provisions in their own terms. As I do so, I believe that it is important to step back and see the proposed changes in the context of broader trends in how we live, govern ourselves and seek to ensure the security of our people.

I begin where local churches begin: trying, under God, to be agents of reconciliation; building communities marked by trust, mutual respect and care, and not by fear and suspicion. In many places, faith communities are coming together to build understanding and break down prejudice and stereotypes. Yesterday, in response to events in Paris, in my previous diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, faith leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other communities enacted a day of fasting as a sign of mutual commitment and dependence on God in seeking peace for all. They stood in solidarity with one another. In my current diocese of Durham, where the numbers of adherents to faiths other than Christianity are relatively small, work is continually done by the faith communities in places such as Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Stockton and Darlington to build strong community relationships. The Near Neighbours programme nationally has had a significant impact on every place in which it is run.

This groundswell of community building is, and is seen by faith groups as, the most powerful force against radicalisation, especially among young people, on whom so much of the sense of risk tends to be focused. The Department for Communities and Local Government is doing some excellent work supporting local initiatives in this field. Groups with wider knowledge than local churches, such as the Quilliam Foundation, emphasise that this type of work in the community is vital to the Prevent Strategy.

Read it all (starts toward the end of column 673).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

The C of E releases its official "Developing Discipleship" Paper

Developing Discipleship aims to renew and deepen a conversation about discipleship across the Church of England.

The conversation will begin in General Synod when we meet in February. I hope it will happen in local churches and in dioceses in the coming months.

At the February General Synod, the paper will provided a context for the important conversation and debate about the reports from the four Task Groups to be published later this week.

Read it all and please note the links at the bottom for the paper (a 12 page pdf) and the online discussion site as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Calgary Herald) Women make up majority of Canadians with Alzheimer's; most caregivers also female

In the new film “Still Alice,” Julianne Moore plays a linguistics professor in the prime of her professional and personal life who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after she begins forgetting words, misplacing items around the house and getting lost while out jogging.

The film underscores what is perhaps a little-known fact: almost three-quarters of the almost 750,000 Canadians with Alzheimer’s are women. It’s not that women have a greater risk for the disease than men ”” they don’t. But because females tend to live longer on average, a higher proportion end up developing the progressive degenerative brain disorder.

Still, advancing age isn’t the only factor. The film’s main character, Alice Howland, develops a rare genetic type of Alzheimer’s not long after turning 50. And such cases of early-onset dementia appear to be on the rise.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Canada, Health & Medicine, Women

(Wash. Post) Churches step in with alternative to high-interest, small-dollar lending industry

Every month for about three years, Nina McCarthy followed the same routine after payday. She’d go into a Check Into Cash near her home in the Richmond area, and pay off an open-end loan for $700 or $800 ”“ and then she’d take out a new one for the same amount, never accumulating interest in the process.

Then McCarthy’s overtime hours at work were cut. With rent, a car payment and a 3-year-old granddaughter to feed, McCarthy didn’t have $700 for Check Into Cash. McCarthy made a partial payment, but interest piled up rapidly, at a rate she recalls was 24.9 percent a month, or a nearly 300 percent annualized rate.

McCarthy estimated that she paid more than $1,100 on the bill in the first three-quarters of 2014, including payments that Check Into Cash began collecting directly out of her bank account. Then in September, she had a stroke. She closed her bank account and hasn’t made any payments since. When she went back to the Check Into Cash store on Friday, an employee directed her to the collection line that has taken over her account. McCarthy was told she still owes nearly $650 on the line of credit and doesn’t know when she’ll be able to pay it off.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Joseph Lieberman–What is Needed is a Global War on Radical Islam

A few important questions, following the terrorist atrocities in Paris last week: We are all Charlie now, but are we ready to fight to protect freedom of expression before another cartoonist is killed by Islamist extremists? Are we ready to do what is necessary to stop the killing of another police officer just because she is a police officer, and more Jews just because they are Jews?

In other words, can the inspiring unity that filled the streets of Paris on Sunday in defense of freedom be transformed into the mighty unity that is necessary now to defeat radical Islam before it kills more people and takes away more freedom?

In rapid order, the three attacks in France last week showed more clearly than ever that the international movement of violent Islamist extremism has declared war on Western civilization’s foundational values, which are embraced by so many people throughout the world. The murders of police officers, cartoonists and Jews were attacks against the West’s most central values and aspirations””the rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Radical Islam will continue to threaten what we hold dear unless it is fought and eventually defeated.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Crisis) Richard Becker–Rethinking the Age for Confirmation

To begin with, the language and culture of confirmation as a rite of passage isn’t going away any time soon, and so we might as well use it to our catechetical advantage. By dispensing with required confirmation preparation and reception, the sacrament can truly become a moment of conversion for Catholics, regardless of when it occurs. In this way, confirmation will take on particular importance for Catholics returning to the Church after being away for a time, especially when such a return coincides with significant life changes””like marriage for instance, or having that first baby. And young people who never drift away from the Church? They’ll likely seek confirmation in their teen years anyway. Thus, for all recipients, the sacrament will cohere with their actual lived experience of faith.

There’s an additional catechetical value to this approach: Confirmation classes will start to mix together maturing teens, young adults, and the retired””and everyone in between! Younger candidates will get to hear older Catholics share about their struggles and joys; in turn, those older Catholics will get to hear the younger candidates express their aspirations and enthusiasms.

I can’t think of a better way to foster the idea that confirmation (and Christianity) is really for grown-ups””grown-ups, that is, that humble themselves and come to Jesus.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(BBC) Assisted suicide law in Scotland 'needs clarity', MSPs told

Legal experts and the police said a law allowing assisted suicide in Scotland needed more clarity in order to remove the risk of someone being prosecuted.

There is a “fine line” between assisting someone killing themselves and an act of euthanasia which could result in criminal charges, MSPs heard.

The plans, contained in a backbench bill, have widespread public backing, said supporters.

But opponents believed such a move was “unethical and uncontrollable”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Theology

(WSJ) ECJ Adviser Says ECB Can Legally Buy Eurozone Government Debt

An adviser to Europe’s top court on Wednesday said the European Central Bank can legally buy large quantities of eurozone government debt to stabilize the currency area’s economy, delivering a key endorsement for the bank as it prepares another round of stimulus measures.

The opinion from the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Pedro Cruz Villalon, comes in response to a lawsuit brought by German opponents of loose monetary policy claiming that the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions program, announced in August 2012 and widely credited with saving the euro, violates the European Union treaty. While the opinion isn’t binding on the court, the judges usually follow the advocate general’s reasoning. A ruling is expected in four to six months.

A negative opinion could have thrown the ECB’s next stimulus efforts into turmoil. ECB President Mario Draghi and other officials have been drawing up “quantitative easing” plans, in which the bank would buy large amounts of eurozone government debt, to boost the economy of the 19-nation currency area and prevent an extended period of deflation, a broad-based decline in prices that can have disastrous economic consequences.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, European Central Bank, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to take the baptism of sinful men, and wast forthwith declared to be the Son of God: Grant that we who have been baptized into thee may rejoice to be the sons of God, and servants of all; for thy name’s sake, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest ever one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

–Ephesians 2:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

On the Atlanta fire chief war, as well as journalism ”“ left+right ”“ in the age of 'Kellerism'

…what happens when elite news organizations, ones that already lean toward “Kellerism” doctrines when covering moral and religious issues, have to quote the views of traditional religious believers? The results are often not very pretty.

Here is the key: When reading a story about a debate between the cultural left and right, readers may want to look for signs that the mainstream reporters listened to the voices of real people on the left (interviews, speeches, sermons, etc.) and only consulted websites and public-relations documents on the right. I mean, why do you need to interview cultural infidels (thank you Bob Dylan) on these kinds of topics and give them credibility as sources?

But wait: What if reporters tried to talk to the traditional believers and they declined to be interviewed? What if the sources on that side are only willing to talk to advocacy reporters on their own side of the sanctuary aisle? I am sure that this is happening more and more and, frankly, it’s a tragic side effect of the “Kellerism” trend.

Take, for example the latest New York Times story on the Atlanta case, the one in which Mayor Kasim Reed fired Fire Rescue Department Chief Kevin Cochran, a Southern Baptist, after he published a book in which he affirmed centuries of orthodox Christian doctrine on sex and marriage. Reed and Cochran are both African-Americans, which only complicates the political realities on the ground.

Read it all from Terry Mattingly at Get Religion.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Media, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Lengthy Church Times Article–Archbishops unveil 'urgent' reform programme for CofE

The note from the Archbishops, published on Monday, speaks of the “urgency” of the challenges that the Church faces. These include diminishing congregations – attendance has declined by, on average, one per cent a year over recent decades – with an age profile “significantly” higher than that of the general population, and ordination rates “well below” those needed to replace the 40 per cent of the parish clergy who are due to retire in the next ten years.

The current reliance on an increase in individual giving to keep financially afloat is not sustainable, it warns. “The burden of church buildings weighs heavily and reorganisation at parish level is complicated by current procedures.”

The Sheffield formula, introduced after the 1974 Sheffield report to determine targets for the number of stipendiary priests in each diocese, and taking into account congregation size, population, area, and number of church buildings, is “no longer generally observed”.

The distribution of funds under the Darlow formula (used since 2001 to allocate national funding to dioceses with the fewest resources to assist with their stipends bill) has “no focus on growth, has no relationship to deprivation and involves no mutual accountability”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture