In wake of Katrina, church agencies out-quicked government, secular groups

Religion News Service Dan Murtaught, Virginia Bridges and Guy Busby

MOBILE, AL – While some traditional disaster-response agencies have been faulted for acting too slowly in the face of Hurricane Katrina, religious organizations have quickly welcomed, clothed and fed thousands of storm victims.

Their no-red-tape response follows a trend of faith-based organizations playing an increasing role in functions traditionally performed by the government and secular charities.

And it has some Gulf Coast-area church leaders and government officials – emboldened by the large role that houses of worship assumed after the storm -saying they want congregations to do even more.

“We have seen a paradigm shift,” said Chip Hale, senior pastor at Spanish Fort (AL) United Methodist Church. “Before. in America, since the 1930s or 40s, we’ve thought the government was going to do it. Now we realize the church is going to have to do it.”
[Read more…]

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Stars, Stripes, Crescent: A reassuring portrait of America’s Muslims

Wall Street Journal BRET STEPHENS AND JOSEPH RAGO Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ever since it became clear that three of the four jihadis who bombed London on July 7 were born and bred in England, the British have been taking a hard look at their Muslim neighbors: Do they share the same values? How do they fare economically? Whom do they cheer when England plays Pakistan at cricket? And how many more would-be bombers are among them?

As it happens, Her Majesty’s government was well clued on these questions before the bombers struck: A 2004 Home Office study showed, for example, that British Muslims are three times likelier to be unemployed than the wider population, that their rates of civic participation are low, and that as many as 26% do not feel loyal to Britain. By contrast, the U.S. Census Bureau is forbidden by law from keeping figures on religious identification (although it collects voluminous information on race and ethnicity), so there are no authoritative data on the size and nature of America’s Muslim population. Yet if the U.S. is ever attacked by American jihadis, we will no doubt ask the same questions about our Muslim community that Britons are now asking about theirs.
[Read more…]

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The Episcopal Church Self-Destructs over Homosexuality

Breakpoint Allan Dobras

Episcopalians Defend the Consecration of a “Gay” Bishop

The Episcopal Church has been flirting with a disastrous schism for the last thirty-five years, and now a formal breakup seems inevitable following an unapologetic June 17–22, 2005, appearance before the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Nottingham, England. The purpose of the meeting was to hear the church’s defense of its consecration of “gay” Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

Over the years, the denomination continued to hang together as it blundered through several divisive issues while causing its rolls to plummet by about 1.3 million congregants, or nearly 40 percent of its membership. Remarkably, the church had managed to survive clergymen like Bishop John S. Spong, who institutionalized heretical teachings in the denomination, the failed heresy trial of Rt. Reverend Walter Righter, who opened the church to the ordination of homosexual deacons, and the church’s persistent embroilment in leftist politics.

Now, ramifications from the consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson are sending shockwaves through the Anglican community, and the denomination is on the brink of imploding. The June 2003 election of Rt. Reverend Robinson to the office of bishop was the final straw for the traditionalist-minded American Anglican Council (AAC) and a number of conservative prelates—primarily from Africa—who put pressure on the Worldwide Anglican Communion to respond to what they thought to be contrary to church doctrine.

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When Columnists Cry ‘Jihad’

Washington Post John McCandlish Phillips Wednesday, May 4, 2005; Page A19

I have been looking at myself, and millions of my brethren, fellow evangelicals along with traditional Catholics, in a ghastly arcade mirror lately — courtesy of this newspaper and the New York Times. Readers have been assured, among other dreadful things, that we are living in “a theocracy” and that this theocratic federal state has reached the dire level of — hold your breath — a “jihad.”

In more than 50 years of direct engagement in and observation of the major news media I have never encountered anything remotely like the fear and loathing lavished on us by opinion mongers in these world-class newspapers in the past 40 days. If I had a $5 bill for every time the word “frightening” and its close lexicographical kin have appeared in the Times and The Post, with an accusatory finger pointed at the Christian right, I could take my stack to the stock market.

I come at this with an insider/outsider vantage and with real affection for many of those engaged in this enterprise. When the Times put me on its reporting staff, I was the only evangelical Christian among some 275 news and editorial employees, and certainly the only one who kept a leather-bound Bible on his desk. As a professional insider (18 years of reporting, mostly general assignment work) and a spiritual outsider, I reaped some sweet rewards. Two Times editors, A.M. Rosenthal and Arthur Gelb, collaborated on a sketch of me. Responding to skeptics about the capacity of a “deeply religious man” to do such work, they concluded: “There are editors, indeed, who believe that if having a Bible on his desk has been of any help to Phillips, the Times might well be advised to form a Gideon society of its own for the benefit of other reporters.”

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Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation

Ed. These guys get it. Note Feder’s comment below.

Front Page Magazine
By Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation
Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation | April 27, 2005

The announcement of the formation of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation (JAACD) came at a press conference yesterday (April 21st) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Present were JAACD President Don Feder, and several members of the group’s Advisory Board — syndicated columnist Mona Charen, popular talk-show host Barry Farber, Rabbi Joshua Haberman, and Rabbi Yehuda Levin.
[Read more…]

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Large Kansas congregation leaves the Episcopal Church

The Victoria Advocate

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The 2,200-member Christ Episcopal Church in Overland Park has decided to leave the Episcopal Church and its Kansas Diocese and join another body in the Anglican Communion.

The congregation, which voted 873-211 on Sunday, had long-standing differences with its denomination over theology and interpretation of the Bible. Matters culminated with the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, after which Christ Church withheld most financial support from the diocese.

Bishop Dean E. Wolfe said “this is a sad and difficult time for the Diocese of Kansas because we are losing an important part of the body,” The Kansas City Star reported.

The Rev. Ron McCrary, the congregation’s rector, said “we welcome whoever wants to remain with Christ Church” but he and the bishop would help anyone seeking to join another Episcopal parish.

Under a deal not yet finalized, the renamed Christ Church Anglican would assume the current parish’s debt of $1.7 million and pay the diocese $1 million over the next 10 years.

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Some Religious Officials Favored Mrs. Schiavo’s Death

Institute of Religion and Democracy Mark Tooley

“Chaplains to a culture of death.”

A large group of radical “interfaith leaders” endorsed the court decisions that allowed Terry Schiavo’s husband to order the withholding of food and water from his disabled wife.

The statement, “Have They No Decency? Religious Leaders Call for an End to Selective Morality in Washington,” was organized by the Washington-based Center for American Progress, a new liberal think tank headed by former Clinton aid John Podesta.

Roman Catholic and evangelical leaders in the U.S. were largely unified in opposing the death of Mrs. Schiavo. Most mainline Protestant officials, who are usually liberal, were careful to say very little about the case. But the over 100 clergy and religious activists who endorsed the statement were bold in condemning the attempts to preserve Mrs. Schiavo.
[Read more…]

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Why Bush threatens secularism

THE WASHINGTON TIMES Julia Duin

Special Report: Second of three parts.

The weekend before President Bush’s second inauguration, 60 humanists, atheists and ethical culturalists gathered at a hotel just off Dupont Circle for an “emergency meeting” organized by the American Humanist Association.

“The situation is now as bad as we’ll ever see it,” Roy Speckhardt, the group’s deputy director, says afterward.

He predicts that Mr. Bush’s evangelical Christian views would be folded into government policy on judicial appointees, abortion, social services and other issues.

“A slim [election] victory is being interpreted as a mandate on moral issues, so we are concerned,” Mr. Speckhardt says.

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6 Episcopal priests warned of ouster

The purge of the traditonalists begins.
Boston Globe April 10, 2005

HARTFORD — Connecticut’s Episcopal bishop has warned six priests in the state who opposed the election of the first openly gay bishop that they could be removed as rectors of their parishes by Friday.

Bishop Andrew D. Smith said in letters sent to the priests that they had ”abandoned the communion of the church,” which would mean the priests would no longer lead their parishes. The priests could later be defrocked.

According to Smith’s letter, the dispute between the bishop and the rectors was put before the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese, which comprises clergy and lay leaders. The group concluded on March 29 that the six rectors were not in accordance with church canons and were out of communion, The Hartford Courant reported yesterday.

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Charles Colson on fear and God

Charles Colson writes in the WSJ (article available seven days only):

Americans are still spellbound by the saga of Ashley Smith, the young Atlanta widow held hostage by murder suspect Brian Nichols. Reporters covering the story seem mystified that anyone at the mercy of an escaped inmate — one who had that very day killed another woman and three men — could remain so calm…The reason was that, as she herself implied in later interviews, Ms. Smith had learned to trust God.

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African Anglicans Firm On Gay Bishop

From the The East African Standard (Nairobi):

African Anglican Archbishops yesterday rejected the apology by the American Episcopal Church over the ordination of a homosexual bishop and the wedding of gay couples.

The clerics, representing 50 million faithful, asked their American counterparts to repent instead.

“They have only apologised and not repented,” said Dr Reverend Bernard Malango, the Archbishop of Zambia.

“Apology does not make sense to us, the biblical word is repentance,” said Kenya’s Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.
[Read more…]

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Some Christmas reading

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pas, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter Two, Verses 13-20)

Every Christmas, it seems, NEWSWEEK or TIME magazine will come out with an article featuring the “latest scholarship” concerning the “authenticity” of the Christmas story. The scholarly authorities cited are consistently and incorrigibly one-sided, usually including scholars like John Dominic Crossan who dissent from Church teaching, or more ostensibly mainline scholars like Raymond E. Brown (now deceased) who have been quite thoroughly corrupted by the Humean philosophical presuppositions of the historical-criticism of the biblical narrative. The upshot is always the conclusion, or at least the suggestion, that the Gospel writers are unreliable and not to be trusted, and certainly not to be taken at face value. Just how ludicrous this all is can be seen by almost anyone with a bit of intelligence and familiarity with literature, mythology, and history. One of the best examples of a powerful antedote to this kind of foolishness is a little essay by C.S. Lewis entitled “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism,” which is available in a collection of essays by Lewis entitled Christian Reflections [Amazon link] (1967; reprinted by Eerdmans, 1994).

Read this entire selection on Dr. Philip Blosser’s blog.

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Two Presbyterian staff members who met with Hezbollah are fired

By John H. Adams, The Layman Online, Friday, November 12, 2004

Two high-level Presbyterian Church (USA) employees have been fired in the aftermath of their taking part in a controversial meeting with a representative of Hezbollah, a group blamed for murdering hundreds of Americans and Israelis.

Kathy Leuckert, deputy executive associate director of the General Assembly Council, and Peter Sulyok, coordinator of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, were notified that they were no longer employed by the Presbyterian Church (USA), according to a memo released Thursday morning by John Detterick, the executive director of the General Assembly Council.

Read the entire article on The Layman Online.

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