Daily Archives: June 28, 2015

(Time) Mark Oppenheimer–Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions

Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens ”” but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.

Exemption advocates also point out that churches would be squeezed out of high-property-value areas. But if it’s important to the people of Fifth Avenue to have a synagogue like Emanu-El or an Episcopal church like St. Thomas in their midst, they should pay full freight for it. They can afford to, more than millions of poorer New Yorkers whose tax bills the synagogue and church exemptions are currently inflating.

So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(JE) Mark Tooley–The Eternal Victory of the Charleston Martyrs

So many social, political, and sociological assertions have been projected onto the story of the Charleston martyrs that their own story as not untypical followers and seekers of Christ has been obscured. Maybe their martyrdom is only the small part of a vast historical narrative about race and oppression across centuries.

But it’s also about small acts of faithfulness that led to global and eternal significance for God’s Kingdom. A demented young man, escaping his dysfunctional family, pursued darkness, unable to find kindred twisted spirits, instead finds sinister validation on the internet. Committed to murder, he unexpectedly meets friendly saints whose kindness gives him pause before he kills, hoping to spread his poison through publicity.

His crime is instead overshadowed by the faith and hope of his victims and their church. We should join the families of those victims in praying that the killer, before he leaves this world, hopefully in the administration of swift justice, accepts the God whom he defied, and can meet in Heaven the martyrs he sought to destroy, instead falling before them in holy sorrow and recompense, honoring them as the instruments of his own redemption.

The ultimate story about the Charleston martyrs is not about the sins of a particular culture or nation but about the far wider and exponentially more powerful demonstration that God’s love is undefeatable, even in a hail of bullets.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Christology, Eschatology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Susie Jackson remembered as family and church matriarch

“Though they might have nightmares, give them sweet dreams.”

Jackson was remembered as a gentle, loving figurehead.

“She was a mother to so, so many, this matriarch of the Jackson family,” church member Carlotta Dennis remarked.

Jackson, who was 87 when she died, sang in the choir, was a member of the Woman’s Missionary Society, attended Bible study regularly, was a trustee of the church and volunteered in myriad ways over her many years of constant faith and fidelity, Dennis said. She gave generously, to her church, to her family, even to strangers.

Jackson was deeply rooted in Charleston. She lived in an old single house within walking distance of her church. She attended Buist Elementary School and Burke High School and worked as a beautician and home health care provider. She was always thinking of others, her family said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Another Charleston Burial–Poet, hero Tywanza Sanders laid to rest

Tywanza Sanders was shot protecting his mother. As he died he reached to help Susie Jackson.

“You don’t have to do this,” he told the man who pulled a gun on the Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. “We are no harm to you.”

Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders, 26, was hailed as a hero Saturday at a funeral service for him and his relative Susie Jackson, 87, in the sanctuary. So many members of the large extended family were there that church leaders had to ask mourners to give up seats so that immediate family could be seated.

Felicia Sanders, his mother, who was at the Bible study but not shot, had to be helped to her pew. She paused to gaze at her son but could not bear it for long. She lingered, gazing at Jackson, then leaned over to kiss her forehead.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Local Paper) Family, friends, fellow librarians mourn Cynthia Hurd

Cynthia Hurd’s love of books couldn’t be limited to a single library, and her “homegoing service” couldn’t be contained in a single church.

Hundreds of mourners showed up Saturday morning for the funeral of the Charleston County librarian, as the city, state and nation continue to grieve for her and the eight other lives lost in the June 17 shooting inside Emanuel AME Church.

Mother Emanuel filled quickly with mourners, and about 200 people unable to get in watched via a video feed from inside the nearby Second Presbyterian Church.

Assistant Democratic Leader U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, said he is a longtime friend of Hurd’s brother, former North Carolina Sen. Michael Graham, and one of his daughters considered Hurd her best friend, “This is a family that makes us all proud,” Clyburn said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(First Things) Dominic Bouck–An America Without Churches?

As the Supreme Court prepares to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, religious people are wondering: will we lose our tax-exempt status for our religious institutions? Justice Samuel Alito raised this question during the oral arguments, citing the 1983 Supreme Court case that ruled Bob Jones University could lose its tax-exempt status if it continued to oppose interracial dating and marriage.

The solicitor general, arguing the case for same-sex marriage, responded that it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.” This sort of reply should do nothing to calm the nerves of those who object to same-sex marriage. When the conscientious objectors become a minority of the voting population, will our rights be protected?

The issue of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations is already a hot topic in some quarters. Those in favor of taxing religious organizations point out the huge financial impact that it would have, anywhere from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

The confiscation of church property is no new thing.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

An interesting Look back to May 2008–The Roman Catholic Bps respond to the State Supreme Court

From here:

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love””a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage””and can never be marriage””as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Alford

O God, who hast taught us that in thy mysterious providence suffering is the prelude to glory, and hast made much tribulation the entrance to thy heavenly kingdom: May we learn from this thy will, and also from creation around us, to wait for our deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” –in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” But the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

–Romans 4:13-25

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Episcopal Church Elects Michael Curry, Its First Black Presiding Bishop

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(CT Gleanings) InterVarsity Regains Access to Cal State Campuses

Update (June 22): InterVarsity has given CT more details about its reinstatement at 19 California campuses.
“Cal State has not changed the language of their ‘all comers’ policy,” said Greg Jao, vice president of campus engagement. “They have clarified that the policy only requires that (a) we allow all students to become members, which we have always done, and (b) we allow all students to apply for leadership positions.
“We have been assured that we can have a rigorous selection process which reflects InterVarsity’s mission and message as a Christian ministry,” he told CT. “We’re confident in our ability to choose leaders who reflect our mission and message.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

The Archbishop of Canterbury responds to attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait

All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Daughters write heartbreaking letter to slain Charleston pastor

The young daughters of the slain Emanuel AME pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney wrote heartbreaking letters to their father. The letters were included in the funeral program distributed Friday during services at the College of Charleston arena, where President Obama eulogized Pinckney.

Thousands of mourners flipped through the programs which included photos of the family smiling. One snapshot shows the older daughter wearing a yellow sun dress; her hair twisted with yellow barrettes. The younger daughter with a pink rose hairclip poses in front of Emanuel AME church.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence