Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rev. Elizabeth Eaton ready to take the plunge as first female bishop of ELCA

From Cleveland-

The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton loves roller coasters, but as the newly elected bishop of the 4-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the nation's largest Lutheran body, she knows she’s headed for the ride of her life.

“I have a sense that I’m almost to the top of the hill and you know how it feels, when you dangle there before you go down, and that's a little adventure, a little frightening," Eaton said during her waning days in the bishop’s office of the ELCA’s Northeast Ohio Synod in Cuyahoga Falls.

Eaton, 58, of Ashtabula, has served as the local bishop since 2006, but will be transferring to the ELCA national office in Chicago to assume her new duties in November.

More here-

Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania’s pastor plans to retire

From Pittsburgh-

A new chapter opens next year for Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania.

March 31 is the 67th birthday of CASP executive director the Rev. Donald B. Green, and the day he retires.

“I've built a network of relationships with government, foundations, special interest groups, unions and interfaith organizations,” said Green, who joined CASP 11 years ago. “That has enriched the whole ministry of Christian Associates and given us much more visibility in the community.”

The 43-year-old CASP covers 26 judicatories (dioceses, presbyteries, etc.) of 16 faith traditions with a million members in 2,000 congregations across 10 counties.

For two years, Green said, CASP's council of bishops and judicatory executives tackled a “discernment process, addressing the reality of Christianity in our region.”

That includes shrinking church membership that requires more funds to keep local congregations going.

Its impact on Christian Associates prompted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to assume the cost of running the CASP cable TV station through June 2016.

Green came to the interfaith agency after serving as an assistant to the Rev. Donald J. McCoid, then bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

More here-

Hulls Cove minister, wife head to Uganda in retirement

From Maine-

The former Episcopal priest for the Church of Our Father in Hulls Cove and his wife could have kicked off their retirement next month by renting an RV and taking a cross-country trip.

Instead, the Rev. Chuck Bradshaw, 62, and his wife, Beth Bradshaw, 61, will be working for the next three years at the

The priest will become principal at the school and Beth Bradshaw, a former ed tech at the Connors Emerson Elementary School in Bar Harbor, will teach English and music.

Bradshaw said Wednesday that he first heard the call to become a missionary while in the seminary in Pennsylvania in the early 1990s.

“One of our neighbors was a student from Uganda,” the minister said. “I was to quit school and go back with him but Beth and I had three small children then.”

Lutaaya Theological College and Vocational Center in Uganda. The school, associated with the Worldwide Anglican Communion, is located in Mityana, a city made up of refugees and merchants about 50 miles west of the capital Kampala.

More here-

Walking a sacred path: Labyrinth enthusiasts join for gathering in Oklahoma City

From Oklahoma (with video)

Labyrinths, which came into their own in the Middle Ages, are now attracting more attention in the metro area, possibly due to the need for peace and tranquility amid busy lifestyles, a local religious leader said.

The Rev. Susan Joplin, canon at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 127 NW 7, and the cathedral recently hosted “The Day of the Labyrinth,” focusing on the “pattern with a purpose.”

The Aug. 17 event, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, was designed as an introduction to labyrinths, Joplin said.

The event included a guided labyrinth walk featuring an 11-circuit portable labyrinth made of canvas. She said the portable labyrinth was made in the Chartres-style, featuring probably the most well-known labyrinth pattern that is on the nave floor of the Chartres Cathedral in northern France.

“Of the 65 people who participated, about half of them were walking the labyrinth for the first time, which was great,” she said.

More here-

Federal judge dismisses Episcopal Church complaint

From South Carolina-

A federal judge Friday dismissed a trademark lawsuit filed by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina against Bishop Mark Lawrence, who left the church last year.

VonRosenberg and his lawyers had argued in the federal suit that Lawrence had no right to retain use of the diocese name and marks since there could be only one bishop overseeing local Episcopalians and since Lawrence was no longer part of The Episcopal Church.

In a separate suit filed in the circuit court of South Carolina, Lawrence has asked for protection of his corporate name, “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” and seal.

U.S. District Judge Weston C. Houck’s decision effectively combines the two suits into one, acknowledging that authority rests with the state circuit court.

“The sum of all disputes and conflicts arising in the wake of the diocese’s estrangement from (the Episcopal Church) are more appropriately before, and will more comprehensively be, resolved in South Carolina state court,” Houck said, denying vonRosenberg’s motion for an injunction.

“While we are disappointed at recent legal developments, we recognize that our journey involves many, many more steps than only this one,” vonRosenberg said in a statement. We are involved for the long haul. And, as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, our mission most definitely will not be defined by court decisions and legal processes but, rather, by the call and direction of our Lord.”

More here-

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ordinariate welcomes four new members during Gainford service

From England-

A CONGREGATION made up of ex-Anglicans has welcomed four new converts to Catholicism.

They were received into the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, whose Darlington group is based at St Osmund's Church, at Gainford, and brings the total number of new converts so far this year to nine.

Father Ian Grieves welcomed Brenda Shaw, Heather Baker, Glenn Blowfield and Rev Ian Westby, a former traditional Anglican communion priest.

Fr Grieves said: “The sense of occasion was heightened by the choice of music - Gounod's Messe du Sacré Coeur dé Jesus; Brahms’ How lovely are thy dwellings fair; and Elgar’s Imperial March.”

More here-

National Cathedral Still Shaken by Earthquake That Struck 2 Years Ago

From Washington DC-

It was two years ago Friday that a rare earthquake shook the nation's capital, leaving most buildings in the Washington area unharmed but taking a toll on two of the city's most iconic structures—the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.

Perched atop Mount St. Alban and visible from most points in the city, the cathedral sustained significant damage, from the cracking of rooftop finials to the toppling of pinnacles and the opening of cracks in flying buttresses of the apse.

Much like the monument, the soaring Gothic edifice remains shrouded in scaffolding two years after the quake. Cathedral administrators outlined the progress of the restoration efforts during a press conference Thursday. From the unique vantage point of a "dance floor" platform 60 feet above the west balcony over the cathedral's nave, the magnitude of the task is clear: The nave stretches approximately one-tenth of a mile.

One year ago, masons placed one of the first stones to be repaired atop the central tower. Andrew Hullinger, senior director of finance and administration, noted that the move was largely symbolic, as "we've done very little work up there since then." Instead, the focus has shifted toward a comprehensive assessment of the scope of the damage and to planning for restoration.

More here-

York hunts for files of paedophile priest

From the Church Times-

THE Church's treatment of a York Minster Canon who confessed to sex offences against children is being investigated by the office of the Archbishop of York.

Canon Emeritus John Norman, who died in 2005, was cautioned and placed on the Sex Offenders' Register in 2004, the York Press  reported on Wednesday. He was not prosecuted.

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said: "In 2004, North Yorkshire Police investigated historic allegations against an 88-year-old man regarding a sexual assault on a boy. The man was arrested and interviewed and a full investigation was carried out, during which the man admitted the offence.

"A prosecution file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision and, as result, the suspect was issued with a caution and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for two years."

More here-

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Anglican church a ‘drunk man’ staggering ever closer to the edge of a cliff, Archbishop says

From The National Post-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the Anglican church is tottering on the brink of disintegration amid disputes between liberals and traditionalists.

In his most stark comments yet about divisions over issues such as homosexuality, the Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church was coming perilously close to plunging into a “ravine of intolerance”.

He even drew parallels between the crisis afflicting the 77-million-strong worldwide network of Anglican churches and the atmosphere during the Civil War. And he likened the collective behaviour of the Church to a “drunk man” staggering ever closer to the edge of a cliff.

Yet he added that many of the issues over which different factions in the Church were fighting were “incomprehensible” to people outside it.

He spoke out during a sermon in Monterrey, Mexico, which he was visiting as part of a plan to travel to every province of the Anglican Communion at the start of his ministry.

The Archbishop, who took office in February, inherited a Church deeply divided at home and abroad.

At home, he has been attempting to resolve the seemingly intractable disagreements within the Church of England over women bishops. But the worldwide Anglican Church has also been split between liberal provinces, particularly in North America, and more conservative regions for several years after the US Church consecrated its first openly homosexual bishop.

More here-

42 Christian churches attacked in Egypt

From Fox-

An international human rights group has chronicled attacks on 42 churches, dozens of Christian institutions and schools as well as homes and business owned by Christians amid an intimidation campaign believed to be waged by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

In a new report, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Thursday that authorities are "largely absent or failed to intervene" when churches or properties come under attack. The campaign picked up on Aug. 14 when police violently cleared two protest camps set up by the deposed president's supporters in Cairo. The crackdown sparked nationwide violence that left hundreds dead and thousands injured.

The group said that most of the anti-Christian attacks were concentrated in southern Egypt. At least three Christians and one Muslim were killed as a result.

As a result of the attacks, one Christian church in Egypt canceled Mass for the first time in 1,600 years on Sunday.

"We did not hold prayers in the monastery on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years," Selwanes Lotfy, the priest of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram Monastery in Degla, told the al-Masry al-Youm, according to The Times of Israel

Read more:

Ohio State pays church not to build housing

From Ohio-

A church’s plans to build a nine-story residential apartment on Woodruff Avenue were halted after Ohio State promised nearly $13 million in exchange for scrapping the project.

OSU is paying St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, located at 30 W. Woodruff Ave. across from Ramseyer Hall, more than $12.8 million to withdraw the church’s proposed project, according to an agreement released by the university in June. Other items in the agreement grant the university right of first refusal if the church, which has been at its current location for more than 80 years, decides to sell its property and permit the university to weigh in on any of the church’s future projects, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said.

The proposed project, which was originally being called the Lofts at St. Stephen’s, would have housed somewhere between 250 to 280 students, according to Rev. George Glazier, rector of St. Stephen’s.

“We were ready to break ground on building and the university did not want us to do that,” Glazier said, who added the housing was meant to “pull students closer in to this area.”

The church will receive a one-time payment of $7.5 million from the university with the remaining $3 million to be payable in 25 years at an interest rate of 5 percent, which is nearly $213,000 a year, according to the agreement.

In addition to the money, the church will get 100 parking spots inside Arps Garage on Sunday mornings, which will ease parking difficulties for churchgoers, Glazier said.

Lewis said the church’s project was not consistent with the university’s plans for the North Residential District.

“The university felt that the previously proposed high-density housing project would be a potential functional and aesthetic detriment to an important gateway into the campus and the North Residential District, which is now moving forward in support of our Second-year Transformational Experience Program,” Lewis said in an email.

More here-

North Carolina group explores partnership in Costa Rica

From ENS-

It may have been love at first sight.

On a recent Tuesday morning, a priest, a pediatrician, a judge and a schoolteacher walked into the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica’s Hogar Escuela, or “Home School,” in the Barrio Cuba section of San José to find 160 children aged six months to 12 years dressed in matching blue and white checked tops and navy blue bottoms.

“The program started here 50 years ago with 10 children, in four years there were 40… ,” explained Costa Rica Bishop Hector Monterroso, adding the school primarily serves children of single mothers in one of San José’s poorest neighborhoods where it’s not uncommon for drug dealers to work the corners.

“The children think that this is normal,” he said.

The school serves as something of an oasis; with everything from its covered playground – it rains nine months of the year in Costa Rica – to the paint colors that encourage calm and learning. By providing the children with the best possible care and environment for play and for learning, the school’s staff, which includes two chaplains, hopes to prepare them for a brighter future.
“We support the children with good education, nutrition, technology and values. By providing a safe place and a different environment [for the children], maybe we can break the cycle [of poverty],” said Monterroso.

More here-

An Episcopal response to gun violence

From Virginia-

Issues of gun violence and safety have been on the hearts and minds of Christians increasingly in recent months. In the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, we’re exploring how we can lend our unique voice to this important cause.

In 2013, the Diocese of Virginia passed two resolutions on the issue. “Response to Gun Violence” supports the strengthening and reinstatement of a federal ban on military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, while “Action to Reduce Gun Violence” calls for Virginia Episcopalians to make a pledge to commit to working within our churches toward reducing gun violence.

In addition, the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution at its 2012 General Convention, calling for parishes and diocesan places of work to declare their establishments as gun-free zones.

In short, the governing bodies of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church are committed to working against gun violence. In March of this year, I joined hundreds of Episcopalians in a Stations of the Cross walk to the U.S. Capitol, a powerful testament to the shared commitment to put an end to gun violence. I am also a member of Bishops Against Gun Violence, an ad-hoc group of Episcopal bishops with a common mission. We are exploring what responsible gun ownership looks like, and how it is promoted.

More here-

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Egypt's Christians Are Facing Jihad

From Christian Post-

Violent aggression by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, including those sympathetic to al-Qaeda, continues to be directed at one of the world's oldest Christian communities, following the military's break up last week of Brotherhood sit-ins. The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party has been inciting the anti-Christian pogroms on its web and Facebook pages.

 One such page, posted on August 14, lists a bill of particulars against the Christian Coptic minority, blaming it, and only it, for the military's crackdown against the Brotherhood, alleging that the Church has declared a "war against Islam and Muslims." It concludes with the threat, "For every action there is a reaction." This builds on statements in the article "The Military Republic of [Coptic Pope] Tawadros," carried on the MB website in July, about the Coptic Church wanting to "humiliate" Muslims and eradicate Islam.

The litany of attacks is long: St. George Church, St. Mary's Church, Good Shepherd's Church, the Pentecostal Church, in Minya; St. Therese Church, Church of the Reformation, Church of the Apostle, Holy Revival Church, St. John's Church, in Assiut; Church of the Virgin Mary in Cairo, St. Damiana Church, the Evangelical Church, and Joseph's Church, in Fayoum; Church of the Archangel Michael, St. Saviors Anglican Church, the Greek Orthodox and Franciscan churches, in Suez; Fr. Maximus Church and St. George's Church, in Alexandria. . .


Massachusetts Seeks Coadjutor

From The Living Church

The Diocese of Massachusetts will accept nominations until August 26 in its search for a bishop coadjutor. A nomination is not required, and qualified clergy have until September 23 to apply.

The bishop coadjutor will succeed the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, who in January announced his intention to retire and called for the election. In late May Bishop Shaw had surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor. He returned to work a month later.

David Urion, a member of St. Anne’s in-the-Fields, Lincoln, and chairman of the discernment committee, wrote in a letter soliciting nominations:

We very much appreciate the challenge presented by opening this process in the summertime, when perhaps so many are away on vacation, but we hope and pray that you may have anticipated this letter following Bishop Shaw’s announcement of his intention to retire, and have in mind whom you would invite into our process.

More here (including the profile)

Some black clergy not comfortable with LGBT movement sharing mantle at civil rights march

From The Washington Post-

Gay men and lesbians will be represented in the coalition of groups marching this weekend in commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington. But the question of whether gay equality is a “civil right” – the way Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of rights denied to people on the basis of their skin color – remains a matter of disagreement, particularly among black Christians.

The issue came up last week during a news conference for faith leaders involved in Saturday’s event. The conference was attended by mostly African American clergy, several of whom raised concern that a prominent presence of LGBT advocates at the event would be divisive for the civil rights movement.

Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson of the National Action Network, which is organizing the Saturday march, said at the news conference that it was alright to disagree on the topic.

“We have not thrown away our theology…Jews marched in the march in ’63, and they don’t believe in Jesus. If we can make room for those people, we can also make room for people whose gender selection is not in line with the church,” Richardson told the group  during the news conference. “This ain’t a march issue …. We gotta stay on point, because the devil wants us to get distracted … We have made room for the LGBT community to be present at the march while making it clear that this is not a platform to advance anybody’s agenda other than the agenda that we have in common.”

More here-

Historic chapel threatened with demolition

From Wisconsin-

A historic Episcopal chapel in Dunn County could be demolished if no one comes forward to claim it.

Once owned by the Episcopal Diocese, the chapel is on the property of Bundy Hall, a Menomonie mansion that spent three years on the market before being purchased for a retreat center.

The Buddhist organization that bought the hall uses the conference room for meditation, according to real estate agent Pat Sabota of Andale Real Estate.

They have no need for the chapel and can’t afford to maintain it, she said, so the buyers, Sabota and the Episcopal Diocese are seeking someone to move the structure off the property

Built in 1863, the chapel was later moved to Bundy Hall from its original home in Star Prairie in St. Croix County.

A shipbuilder and then-minister Rev. Peabody designed the building from wood and, to the best of a local historian’s knowledge, it is pegged together rather than nailed.

“The roof has a leak in it, but it could be easily restored,” said John Russell, who has helped with winterizing the chapel in the last couple of years.

More here-

Episcopalians near Idaho fires taking precautions

From ENS-

 In case anyone needed further evidence of how bad the wildfires are that are burning around Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley in Idaho, the number of people attending Sunday Eucharist at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum was a sure sign.

While the resort town parish normally welcomes about 230 worshippers on a Sunday this time of year, only 60 came to church on Aug. 18.

“That tells me that over half of our congregation has been evacuated or decided to leave because of the smoke,” the Rev. Ken Brannon, St. Thomas’ rector, told Episcopal News Service, via phone on Aug. 19.

Brannon said the service on Aug. 18 was different due to the small number of people who attended and the fact that there was no music because it was not clear if the music director would be able to stay “and many in the choir had evacuated”

“It was still the liturgy – it was what we always do – but there was a lot more space for silence and kind spontaneous prayer at the Prayers of the People,” he said.

Brannon, who said that St. Thomas often functions as the “village church” in Ketchum, added he wrote his sermon with the entire community in mind, not just the members of the parish.

More here-

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

iPhones, Social Media In Church Presents Opportunities And Challenges To Pastors

From RNS (via Huffington)

Tyler Woolstenhulme might be loath to admit it, but sometimes he’s not paying attention in church. He will happily confess that he’s not the only one.

The 31-year-old Mormon has more than once sat in the pew of his congregation in Sandy, Utah, and let his mind wander. When that happens, he pulls out his iPhone and sometimes plays his puzzle game, “1to50.” Or maybe he texts his friends across the aisle.

“I take the time in church to catch up with people I haven’t contacted in a while,” he said. “I text friends or family.”

The thing is, he says, about half the congregation also is on phones and tablets during a sermon.

“I see people play games all the time. I’ve seen them watch football games,” he said about other congregants and their mobile devices.

For many bored churchgoers, fiddling with smartphones or computer tablets is the 21st-century equivalent of playing tic-tack-toe or dozing off during services.

It can be a problem particularly with younger members, the first generation to know no life without cellphones or social networks and with whom digital devices are “like an appendage to their body,” said Colleen Gudreau, spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. “They don’t see it in the same context as the adults do.”

More here-

Virginia: Holy Cross Korean finds temporary home at Truro Church

From ENS-

Church of the Holy Cross Korean will begin worshiping in the chapel at Truro Church in September,  a temporary move that will re-establish an Episcopal presence in Fairfax City.

“This is an exciting time for the members of Holy Cross Korean as they look to the future,” said the Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff, bishop suffragan, who oversees the diocese’s Dayspring initiative. “The chapel at Truro will offer the congregation the space and flexibility it needs for worship and fellowship.” The initial agreement for Holy Cross’ use of the Truro space extends through the middle of next year.

The move to Truro will mark the end of Holy Cross Korean’s presence at St. Paul’s, Bailey’s Crossroads, in Falls Church, where the Korean congregation has been worshipping for 13 years.
“St. Paul’s and Holy Cross have forged strong ties and built meaningful relationships in their years sharing the same worship space,” said Goff. “Now, it’s time for Holy Cross to move to a new space, and I know that the congregation will be energized by this opportunity.”

More here-

Episcopal Leader: Membership Losses Are 'Spirit's Way of Pruning for Greater Fruitfulness'

From Christian Post-

The head of The Episcopal Church has stated that the declining numbers of her denomination could be the work of the Holy Spirit to create "greater fruitfulness."

TEC Presiding Bishop the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori made this statement last Thursday in remarks delivered at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh.  "Some have judged our smaller numbers as faithlessness but it may actually be the Spirit's way of pruning for greater fruitfulness," said Jefferts Schori.

"If we see ourselves standing at the foot of the cross, any such judgment will be far less important than our response."

Between 2010 and 2011, ELCA membership went from about 4.2 million to just over 4 million, representing a loss of more than 212,000 members.  During the same time period, The Episcopal Church had a decrease of over 28,000 members, causing the number of members in its domestic dioceses to dip below the 2 million mark.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Dozens tie the knot in New Zealand as same-sex marriage law takes effect

From New Zealand-

New Zealand has become the first Asia-Pacific country to legalize same-sex marriage, and the 15th in the world. Dozens of people across the country exchanged vows as the new law came into force.
Thirty-one same-sex marriages were expected to take place throughout New Zealand as the law took effect on Monday.

The country's parliament amended the Marriage Act back in April.

The New Zealand activist group Campaign For Marriage Equality hailed the introduction of the new law, saying it ended a historical injustice.

"A massive congratulations to the happy couples tying the knot today. Marriage equality has finally arrived in New Zealand," spokesman Conrad Reyners said.

Enquiries about holding same-sex weddings in New Zealand have come in from around the world, including Russia, the United States, Hong Kong, Britain, Singapore, Malaysia, Guyana and Burma.

The Anglican Church has asked its ministers not to conduct same-sex weddings for the time being, pending a report to its general synod next year.

More here

Praise for Anglican work with the poorest in Mexico

From Ekklesia-

As the first Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Mexico, Justin Welby has expressed “special appreciation” for the Anglican Church in Mexico's work with “some of those most marginalised by poverty and insecurity.”

During a two-day visit this week, Welby said Anglicans in Mexico are contributing to “the witness of the Anglican Communion as a whole on global challenges such as food security, sustainable development and climate change.”

His stay concluded a week-long visit to Anglican primates in the region which has included Barbados and Guatemala.

Travelling with his wife, Caroline Welby, the archbishop was visiting Mexico at the invitation of its new primate, Archbishop Francisco Moreno.

Arriving in Monterrey, Northern Mexico last week, Welby said: “I thank God for this opportunity to visit Mexico, to see something of this great nation and to share fellowship with my brothers and sisters of the Anglican Church of Mexico.”

Congratulating Moreno on his new appointment, he added: “I look forward to meeting many of our Mexican clergy and people, and to seeing the church’s work in action among some of those most marginalised by poverty and insecurity.”

Over two days the archbishop preached at a celebration of the Eucharist in Monterrey, and visited the Community of St. Jude in Juarez in the State of Nuevo Leon.

More here-

Religion, Intelligence, and Socialization

From Patheos-

The Independent just reported that “religious people are less intelligent.” Whatever remains of the “new atheist” crowd will argue that this study proves that education causes one to reject religion. Atheism is academic. Being enlightened or “bright” means you reject that dim-witted dogmatism of your fathers.

The problem is, of course, that atheism has been dominant in the academy for centuries. Take a group of impressionable young students— selected specifically for their intelligence—who care very dearly about academic approval, and send them to institutions where atheism is the de facto dogma. Have them marry each other, produce more clever children, and send them off to the same institutions. 

What would you expect besides a correlation between intelligence and atheism to develop over time?
The key matter here is this: intelligent people don’t simply reject religion because it’s wrong; they reject it because they are socialized to think it’s wrong. Most students don’t know the basic tenets of various world religions (even at a place like Harvard!). I’ve met many atheists who can’t tell me why they believe in evolution besides a dogmatic appeal to “it’s just science”—a blatant appeal to authority little different than that of religious creationists. Most people develop their beliefs due to social influence and not necessarily or just from intellectual investigation.

More here-

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Bible tells me so: Prospective jurors cite scripture, religion in death penalty case

From North Carolina-

One by one, dozens of potential jurors being picked through in a capital murder case have been queried about their opinion of the death penalty.

More will be questioned this week in preparation for Robert Dennis Dixon’s trial. Dixon, 49, could face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree murder, hiring men to kill his stepmother in 2007.

Since jury selection began Aug. 5, the standard question asked of jurors is whether they have “any moral, personal or religious beliefs” about the death penalty that would impair them from fairly hearing the case.

Their responses are varied and display deeply held beliefs, especially where religion is concerned. Most state they support the death penalty in limited cases based on a combination of personal and religious beliefs. A few people have been excused for strong religious convictions against capital punishment.

When religion is the basis for their beliefs — either for or against capital punishment — they often cite the Bible.

More here-

Meet the Woman Who Will Lead Evangelical Lutherans: “Religious but not Spiritual”

From Time-

Change has come to one of America’s largest Christian denominations. Last week the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected its first female presiding bishop, the church’s top office. Bishop Elizabeth Eaton won in a surprise 600-287 landslide at the denomination’s triennial Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh. A 4-million member denomination with nearly 10,000 congregations, the ELCA is twice as large as the Episcopal Church, which elected its first female presiding bishop seven years ago. Like most mainline denominations, however, the ELCA faces a membership decline–accelerated by its 2009 decision to allow openly gay pastors. Since then, half a million members have left the denomination.

Eaton, 58, is a Cleveland native and graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the College of Wooster. Her husband, Rev. Conrad Selnick, is an Episcopal priest. She will be installed on October 5, possibly at Rockefeller Chapel in Chicago’s Hyde Park, and her first day in office will be November 1. TIME caught up with Eaton shortly after her election. “I’m kind of stunned,” she says of her win. She opens up about gay clergy, spiritual direction, and, in true Lutheran fashion, jello.

Read more: