Category : Religion & Culture

(The State) Chuck Croft Chimes in–SC Supreme Court got it wrong on Episcopal Church dispute

I am outraged by the recent S.C. Supreme Court decision that strips the title of 28 churches in the Diocese of South Carolina and awards them to the national Episcopal Church. As acting Justice Jean Toal wrote in a dissent: “The First Amendment prohibits civil courts from resolving church property disputes on the basis of religious doctrine and practice.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(CT) Jim Tonkowich –Ten Things We Should Have Learned Since September 11, 2001

3. We must develop a Christian worldview in order to survive.
In writing about the differences between the Western and Islamic cultures and worldviews, it is very tempting to assume that the Western worldview, derived from Christendom, is synonymous with a Christian worldview. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chuck Colson and other Christian worldview thinkers regularly critique the prevailing secularized and postmodern Western culture and worldview.

Our embrace of multiculturalism and the simultaneous denigration of the structures and values of our own national, political, and religious life will leave us without the intellectual tools and the corporate will to fend off threats like Islam. The often-rapacious commercial culture that feeds our consumerism will continue to make us the enemy of people who, at the same time, feel used by and envious of our way of life. And our willingness to tolerate dictators and gross human-rights violations in order to maintain trade will continue to plague us internationally.

The responsibility of the Christian is to be salt and light to the Islamic world and to the Western world that, while it still maintains vestiges of the Christian past that shaped it, continues to devolve into barbarism. A critical part of being salt and light is our worldview. Christians must develop biblically informed structures of thought and use those to critique and transform Western culture in such a way that it can meet the challenge of Islam.

4. Evil is real.
Following the attacks of 9/11, the morality of the attacks was debated at a major American university. One professor talked about being uncomfortable calling the terrorists evil. “After all,” she reasoned, “we’ve sinned too.” A student asked the professor whether the Nazis were evil. She responded, “That’s a difficult question….”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.
Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ”˜Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way ”” it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope ”” hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian ”” I’m speaking for the Christian now ”” the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon” my righteous ”” on “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, History, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(ABC R+E) John Ozolins–Why the Argument for Same-Sex Marriage is Not Sound

The main argument put forward in favour of altering the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman is that this discriminates against relationships between individuals of the same sex and hence constitutes a violation of their right to have their relationship recognised as having equal value.

In short, the argument is that it devalues their love.

The question I want to examine is whether this is a sound argument.

One way of encapsulating the logical form of the argument is the following:

1.All love between all persons is equal (Assumption – that is, an assertion that is taken as given).
2.Love is recognised through marriage (Assumption).
3.Marriage is a human right (Assumption).
4.Human rights apply to all human beings (Assumption).
5.Marriage is a human right of all human beings (from 3 and 4).
6.Love between gay individuals is equal to other forms of love (from 1).
7.Love between gay individuals is recognised through marriage (from 2 and 6).
8.Marriage between gay individuals is a human right (from 5 and 7).

The question now becomes one of determining whether the argument is sound, since it appears to be a valid argument – that is, assuming the premises from which it begins are true, the conclusion is true. On the other hand, if any of the premises are false, then the conclusion is false, though the argument is still valid (since the form of the argument is valid). It is another matter whether the argument is sound. It is not sound if any of the premises are false, since the conclusion will not be true.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

(NT News) Activist for the new Sexual Morality Rodney Croome urges respect in debate and praises Tasmania Anglican Bishop’s pastoral letter as the way the No case should be argued

There are fears debate during the $122 million postal survey process could turn nasty.

“Even though I very much disagree with Bishop Condie’s views on marriage equality, his pastoral letter on the issue is a very good example of how the ‘no’ case should be conducted because it is respectful and based on principle,” Mr [Rodney] Croome said.

“I urge marriage equality supporters not to casually throw around the word ‘bigot’ and I urge those against the reform not to use offensive terms like ‘stolen generation’ to describe the children of same-sex couples.”

Bishop Condie’s letter said that, for Christians, marriage had always meant a commitment of one man to one woman voluntarily entered into for life.

“We shun actions and words that demean and marginalise; we reject discrimination, and especially grieve the way people who identify as homosexual have been treated in our society and churches,” the letter said.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bp of Tasmania’s Pastoral Letter on Marriage

Our prayer books set out the purpose of marriage: the procreation of children; a remedy against sin and fornication; and mutual support, help and comfort.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) As Myanmar Muslims flee crackdown, the U.S. is wary of involvement

Don’t expect the United States to step in and resolve what is increasingly being described as an ethnic cleansing campaign against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

Not wanting to undermine the Asian country’s democratic leader, the U.S. is cautiously criticizing what looks like a forced exodus of more than a quarter-million Rohingya in the last two weeks as Myanmar’s military responds with hammer force to insurgent attacks.

But neither Trump administration officials nor lawmakers are readying sanctions or levying real pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. A bill making its way through Congress seeks to enhance U.S.-Myanmar military cooperation.

“Further normalization of the military-to-military relationship with Burma is the last thing we should be doing right now,” said Walter Lohman, Asia program director at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. “What a terrible signal to be sending.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Princeton University President Eisgruber asks Senate committee to avoid ‘religious test’ in judicial appointments

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

I write, as a university president and a constitutional scholar with expertise on religious freedom and judicial appointments, to express concern about questions addressed to Professor Amy Barrett during her confirmation hearings and to urge that the Committee on the Judiciary refrain from interrogating nominees about the religious or spiritual foundations of their jurisprudential views.

Article VI of the United States Constitution provides explicitly that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” This bold endorsement of religious freedom was among the original Constitution’s most pathbreaking provisions. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), holding that the First and Fourteenth Amendments render this principle applicable to state offices and that it protects non-believers along with believers of all kinds, is among the greatest landmarks in America’s jurisprudence of religious freedom. Article VI’s prohibition of religious tests is a critical guarantee of equality and liberty, and it is part of what should make all of us proud to be Americans.

By prohibiting religious tests, the Constitution makes it impermissible to deny any person a national, state, or local office on the basis of their religious convictions or lack thereof. Because religious belief is constitutionally irrelevant to the qualifications for a federal judgeship, the Senate should not interrogate any nominee about those beliefs. I believe, more specifically, that the questions directed to Professor Barrett about her faith were not consistent with the principle set forth in the Constitution’s “no religious test” clause….

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NR) Did Senators Durbin and Feinstein try to Impose a Religious Test for Office when questioning nominee Amy Barrett?

A judicial confirmation hearing this week stoked fears among conservatives that it is becoming acceptable on the American left to voice intensely anti-Christian sentiments.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Amy Coney Barrett — a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and President Trump’s nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals — during which two senators, Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), suggested that Barrett’s Catholic faith might disqualify her from serving as a judge.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

Durbin, meanwhile, criticized Barrett’s prior use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” he asked her outright.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Theology

(Atlantic) Emma Green–The Non-Religious States of America?

Over the last few decades, religious disaffiliation has been rising relative to earlier points in the 20th century. In 2014, Pew Research Center found that the share of unaffiliated adults in the U.S. had grown from 16 to 23 percent over a seven-year period. While roughly 70 percent of American adults identify as Christians, the so-called nones—people with no religion in particular—have been growing as a share of the population.

The new PRRI data shows that this is happening more noticeably in some places than others. Roughly 41 percent of Vermonters and 33 percent of those from New Hampshire aren’t affiliated with any particular religion, carrying the banner of secularism for the Northeast. This was also true in the Pacific Northwest, where more than one-third of residents in Oregon and Washington didn’t claim a specific faith.

But there were some surprises in the geographic break-down, too, including states that don’t fit regional stereotypes about secular, coastal elites or hippie-ish mountain terrain. Non-religious people compose the largest share of the populations of Hawaii and Alaska compared to other faith groups. In general, the non-religious states of America are concentrated west of the Mississippi River, according to PRRI, spanning Arizona to Nebraska to Wyoming.

Non-religious Americans are often portrayed in stereotypical fashion. They’re the white, yuppie city dwellers of Portland; the blue-haired atheists who attend Skeptic conferences; or the godless youth at progressive political rallies. While these images aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re incomplete. Non-religious Americans come from a range of income, education, and racial backgrounds.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CEN) New Research Suggests the Church of England faces an exodus of young people

New figures show a collapse in the number of Anglicans in England.

Just 3 per cent of those aged 18-24 described themselves as Anglican, compared to 40 per cent of those aged 75 and over, according to the research.

Figures from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey on popular religious affiliations has revealed that just 15 per cent of people in Britain consider themselves Anglican, half the amount in 2000.

According to the figures 40 per cent of those surveyed as far back as 1983 identified themselves as either Anglican or Church of England. By 1993 the figure stood at 32 per cent and while the figure fluctuated between 32-26 per cent between 1995 and 2005.

The figure dropped to 22 per cent in 2006 and remained steady until 2013 when it decreased to 16 per cent.

Meanwhile the proportion of people identifying themselves as Roman Catholic in the same period has remained relatively stable between 9-12 per cent.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults

Brad East Pays Tribute to Robert W Jenson RIP (1930–2017)

Jenson passed away yesterday, having been born 87 years earlier, one year after the great stock market crash of 1929. He lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Roe v. Wade, the rise and fall of the Religious Right, the fall of the Soviet Union, September 11, 2001, the election of the first African-American U.S. President, and much more. He also lived through, and in many ways embodied, a startling number of international, ecclesial, and academic theological trends: ecumenism; doctrinal criticism; analytic philosophy of language; Heidegerrian anti-metaphysics; French Deconstructionism; the initially negative then positive reception of Barth in the English-speaking world; the shift away from systematics to theological methodology (and back again!); post–Vatican II ecclesiology; “death of God” theology; process theology; liberation theologies (black, feminist, and Latin American); virtue ethics; theological interpretation of Scripture; and much more.

Jenson studied under Peter Brunner in Heidelberg and eventually spent time in Basel with Barth, on whose theology he wrote his dissertation, which generated two books in his early career. He was impossibly prolific, publishing hundreds of essays and articles as well as more than 25 books over more than 55 years.

Initially an activist, Jenson and his wife Blanche—to whom he was married for more than 60 years, and whom he credited as co-author of all his books, indeed, “genetrici theologiae meae omniae”—marched and protested and spoke in the 1960s against the Vietnam War and for civil rights for African-Americans. His politics was forever altered, however, in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. As he wrote later, he assumed that those who had marched alongside him and his fellow Christians would draw a logical connection from protection of the vulnerable in Vietnam and the oppressed in America to the defenseless in the womb; but that was not to be. Ever after, his politics was divided, and without representation in American governance: as he said in a recent interview, he found he could vote for neither Republicans nor Democrats, for one worshiped an idol called “the free market” and the other worshiped an idol called “autonomous choice,” and both idols were inimical to a Christian vision of the common good.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Lutheran, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CT) 1 in 3 American Evangelicals Is a Person of Color per the PRRI Survey

A massive compilation of surveyed Americans across all 50 states offers a rare look at minority Christians.

While Protestants in the United States remain mostly white, the share of Protestants of color has grown steadily from 17 percent in 1991 to 33 percent in 2016, according to a report released today by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

“The American religious landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade, and is more diverse today than at any time since modern sociological measurements began,” reported PRRI on its 2016 American Values Atlas, based on more than 101,000 bilingual surveys between January 2016 and January 2017.

In fact, the number of nonwhite Protestants has grown so large that the group has surpassed white mainline Protestants, and has nearly caught up with white evangelical Protestants.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(AP) PRRI Survey says White Christians are now a minority of US population

The share of Americans who identify as white and Christian has dropped below 50 percent, a transformation fueled by immigration and by growing numbers of people who reject organized religion altogether, according to a new survey released Wednesday.

Christians overall remain a large majority in the U.S., at nearly 70 percent of Americans. However, white Christians, once predominant in the country’s religious life, now comprise only 43 percent of the population, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI, a polling organization based in Washington. Four decades ago, about eight in 10 Americans were white Christians.

The change has occurred across the spectrum of Christian traditions in the U.S., including sharp drops in membership in predominantly white mainline Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians and Lutherans; an increasing Latino presence in the Roman Catholic Church as some non-Hispanic white Catholics leave; and shrinking ranks of white evangelicals, who until recently had been viewed as immune to decline.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Guardian) UK’s economic model is broken, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Britain’s economic model is broken and produces widespread inequality, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned in a report backed by business leaders.

Justin Welby said the UK needed to make fundamental choices about the direction of its economy, in a study that found the gains from growth are being diverted into profits rather than wages.

“Our economic model is broken,” said Welby. “Britain stands at a watershed moment where we need to make fundamental choices about the sort of economy we need. We are failing those who will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilising.”

The report by the IPPR thinktank’s commission on economic justice, which features senior business and public figures alongside Welby, stressed that all political parties needed to reject the current patterns of economic growth that delivered most of the gains to corporations and the richest in society.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture