Daily Archives: January 29, 2020

(NR) The Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in a Key Religious-Freedom Case

Ultimately, the Court in Trinity rejected the fungibility argument, a position that Justice Stephen Breyer reaffirmed in the opening arguments of Espinoza. The proposition, Breyer said, that the state will “give police protection to all schools, all people, but no religious institution” is a facially “unconstitutional” one. Lawyers for the mothers suing in Espinoza agreed, arguing that the revocation of their children’s scholarships was an unconstitutional exercise in religious discrimination: the denial of a neutral public benefit — a scholarship to be used as they please — because of their status as religious persons.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s rejoinder to the respondents during opening arguments helps to explain the fundamental difference between Espinoza and Locke. While he conceded that “funding religion, funding religious schools generally or training of clergy is . . . an establishment clause-concern,” as argued in Locke, Kavanaugh claimed that Espinoza raises “a separate issue when you set up a neutral-benefit program — police, fire, or scholarships — and allow people to use those things, allow religious institutions to obtain the benefits of those things on a non-discriminatory basis.”

Kavanaugh’s assertion reaches the question at the heart of Espinoza: Is it constitutional for a state to withhold a neutral public benefit — here, a scholarship that parents can use at either a secular or religious private school — because the recipient of that benefit might use it in furtherance of a religious end? The plaintiffs acknowledge that states do not have an obligation to subsidize private education. If a state decides to do so, however, it has a constitutional duty to treat all of its citizens, religious and non-religious alike, with an even hand. That duty is what’s at stake here, and we won’t have to wait too long to know the outcome: A ruling is expected this summer.

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Supreme Court

(AJ) Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to retire

Archbishop Ron Cutler, diocesan bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, will resign from both posts July 31, with the intention of entering retirement.

In an email news update from the diocese dated Jan. 8, Cutler said he had made the decision after a recent time of prayer on his future role in ministry. His decision was based, he said, both on personal reasons and on the fact that the diocese had recently begun the process of developing a new mission action plan.

“Since April 2014, I have tried to lead the diocese in ways that would open up new avenues and resources in which to enter into God’s mission for this time,” Cutler said. “It is time for someone else to lead in the new vision for the diocese.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

(CEN) Bishop Alan Smith wants inquest law to focus on gambling

The Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill 2020 received its first reading in the House of Lords last Thursday.

“I have introduced this common-sense piece of legislation so the Government can begin to get a handle on the consequences of gambling-related harm,” Bishop Smith told the House of Lords.
“This new legislation will mean, for the first time, each instance where gambling is a factor in suicide coroners will record it in conclusions.

“I have met far too many families whose lives have been destroyed by the loss of a loved one, often young adults who have their entire lives ahead of them.

“As there is no accurate, up-to-date, data linking gambling with suicide, their desire to get the Government to take action has often been stymied,” he said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Gambling, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(CC) Stephanie Paulsell–Making a habit out of Epiphany

Epiphanies open the possibility that we might change and the world might change, for they offer an opportunity to create new ways of living from our fragments of revelation. In the moment of illumination, our experience is enlarged, the boundaries of our lives made more permeable. Existence itself seems to hold more possibilities than we had imagined. But epiphanies are evanescent—they shine out, and then they recede. How can we hold onto the possibilities of change we glimpsed, in ourselves, in the world?

We need practices that keep us grounded in our epiphanies, even when the Magi have returned to their country and we to our daily lives. We need ways to extend our vision even when we are too busy to remember we’ve had one.

One way to do this is to make living in the afterglow of that vision a habit, a commitment. Benedictines do this when they choose to welcome every guest as Christ among them—a choice grounded, surely, in an epiphany, but a choice that can be made even when the light of illumination has dimmed. The story of La Befana illustrates this way of making an epiphany last. If she cannot go with the Magi to see the Christ Child, she will choose to find Christ in every child.

How will we choose to respond to the illumination of Epiphany, which passes so swiftly into memory? What commitments can we make to keep the Magi’s epiphany in view? Will we choose to see the Christ Child lying on the floor of a detention center, covered in a foil blanket? Will we choose to see the Holy Family separated and caged? And if we choose to see, what will we choose to do?

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Posted in Epiphany, Theology

(CBC) How they lived: Families share memories of Quebec City mosque attack victims

The six men shot to death by a lone gunman who walked into a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017 had all made the choice to trade one continent for another.

They’d left behind friends, relatives and familiarity to make new lives in Canada.

All were husbands and fathers: 17 children lost a parent.

They were educated men who had come to Quebec City seeking opportunity, nature, peace and democracy.

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Posted in Canada, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Toronto Star) Amira Elghawaby–Too little has changed since Quebec mosque massacre shattered lives

The attack against the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec continues to symbolize the very worst manifestations of racism, social marginalization, and toxic online culture. Three years on, little has changed to assure us that no other community will ever again be targeted based on religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic.

In Quebec, divisive rhetoric and law are being used to justify the second-class treatment of religious communities. Bill 21 is the contentious legislation that prevents some people from holding certain government jobs because of their religious clothing.

Now, a group called Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ), granted intervener status in one of the legal challenges to the bill, is calling for its expansion to cover all public servants, not only teachers, police officers and crown prosecutors.

The Quebec government is also nonsensically moving to abolish its Ethics and Religious Culture course in primary and secondary schools.

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Posted in Canada, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Guardian) The power of celibacy: ‘Giving up sex was a massive relief’

In a world where you can get a sexual partner faster than a pizza delivery, it has never been easier to play the field. Yet, despite all that swiping right, a surprising number of people are not having sex at all – not for religious reasons, or because they can’t get a date, but because they find that celibacy makes them happier.

Some have never had much interest in sex, while others are taking a break to address personal problems, recover from bad dating experiences or change the way they approach relationships.

Catherine Gray, the author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Single, gave up sex for a year in 2014. “Between the ages of 16 and 34, I hadn’t spent more than a few months single,” she says. “I felt incomplete without a plus-one and constantly hunted approval. I reached rock-bottom after being disproportionately crushed by the failure of a six-month relationship, so I decided to give up sex and dating for an entire year.”

Although deleting her dating apps felt like “giving up a drug”, celibacy turned out to be a huge relief. “Instead of doing what my boyfriend wanted to, I discovered what I liked, developing a love for yoga, photography and travelling. I dressed differently and no longer cared about attracting men. I started to see myself as a person – rather than a girlfriend or a sexual plaything.” The period of celibacy changed how she approached dating; she is now in a healthy relationship. “I realised that I had an anxious attachment style and that, if I started dating again, I would need to change who and how I date. If I feel insecure in the early stages of a relationship, I know it’s because I’m dating someone who is emotionally unavailable, so I back away, rather than persist.”

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Posted in England / UK, Sexuality, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrei Rublev

Holy God, we bless thee for the gift of thy monk and icon writer Andrei Rublev, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a window into heaven for generations to come, revealing the majesty and mystery of the holy and blessed Trinity; who livest and reignest through ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O God, who art the God of peace, mercifully grant that, as much as lieth in us, we may live at peace with all men; and if our outward peace be broken, yet do thou preserve peace in our hearts; through him who is the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ our Lord.

—-Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

–Hebrews 9:15-28

Posted in Theology: Scripture