Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Religious News Roundup for Wed., August 4th

Another Wednesday, another fistful of links.

Religion and Homosexuality

It has not been a good day for gays and lesbians. You may have heard already that Missouri passed a ban on gay marriage in the state. More here. Then there's this: a Methodist pastor in suburban Philly faces a church trial for coming out to her congregation. She says she discovered her lesbianism while attending Bryn Mawr. Huh. Who would have thunk it?

On a similar front, a choir director in Florida was fired for writing an op-ed piece supporting gay marriage. He says "choir members and others in the church knew of his sexual orientation." Really? A gay choir director? Who would have thunk it? In any case, it's a classic example of how "don't ask, don't tell" operates in the world of the church.

Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs continues to follow in the path of Saint Richard John Neuhaus by writing an article for the diocesan newsletter urging legal protection for marriage defined as "one man, one woman." Key quote:

"If marriage means only what any given person says it means, it means nothing," Sheridan writes. "This opens the door to polygamy and any number of other perversions . . . there will be no turning back."

A conservative Catholic who parrots Rick Santorum? Who would have thunk it?

One ray of hope: a speaker at the World Alliance of Reformed Churches argued that a person's sexual orientation does not justify human rights abuses against them. Voicing that in Accra, Ghana is a bit braver than it might seem at first blush.

Wingnut Religion

Kos notes Pres. Bush's address to the Knights of Columbus (motto: "We wear funny hats for the Pope!") convention in Dallas last night. Apparently, he must have said something right: at last count, there were 204 comments on the diary. Another take here and one more here.

Dissident Voice has a good summary of the religious excesses of the Bush administration, while Maureen Farrell writes at BuzzFlash about the Religious Right's latest tactics in undermining the constitution. Hint: they're trying to tie courts' hands when it comes to matters of religion. The Greenville Sun of Tennessee reports on similar tactics being advocated by backers of Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument, and Karen Armstrong writes about scapegoating in modern practice. Killer graf:

The scapegoat ritual is rooted in a profoundly dualistic worldview. It makes it clear that while the pharmakos is doomed, all those who stand with the community are safe and pure. As Bush put it: "He who is not with us is against us."
Memo to Bush: never piss off an academic as smart as Karen Armstrong. Never. (Thanks to The Revealer for the last three links.)

"Collaboration of Men and Women"

Reaction is starting to come in to the Vatican's pastoral letter countering "aggressive feminism." The National Catholic Reporter has pros and cons, and since the "cons" are written by a Benedictine nun, it's probably worth reading. No word yet on Bishop Sheridan's take.

Outrages Not Otherwise Specified:

Fellow Kosopolitan DCDemocrat relates the story of a Baptist Peace Group having trouble getting a banner through airport security. Looking at the banner, it's easy to see why it might have attracted the wrath of the TSA:

(Thanks to bdfstl2 for the image.)

And in the "suckup to Kos" category, our blogfather reports on a Sikh student hassled for doing what students from far-off places like to do: namely, take pictures of the campus.

This 'n' that

Mostly from/about the Middle East: Christianity Today summarizes the plight of Christians in Iraq, and the NYT reports that Muqtada al-Sadr has joined Ayatollah Sistani in condemning recent attacks on Iraqi churches. Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News has a piece on the government's failure to understand what's at stake in our current battles with Islamic nations. The Revealer, as usual, picks out an interesting quote:

Because we in the secular West have made God a mere hobby, we don't comprehend how devout Muslims perceive reality. Our materialist-minded leaders prattle on about solving the "root causes" of terror - poverty, illiteracy, lack of democracy and so forth - because we cannot fathom the idea that hundreds of millions of people believe that obeying the God of the Quran is the most important thing in life.

As someone had to point out to me, this is not a plea for understanding of Muslims. It's a statement of agreement with the (mostly evangelical) view that we are locked into an ideological battle between the Christian West and Islamic East. Props to Bill Rehm for correcting Pastor Blockhead on this one.

The PresbyNews reports on a coalition of nuns pressuring Caterpillar to stop supplying armored bulldozers to the Israeli army.

McCormick Theological Seminary President Cynthia Campbell provides food for thought in adressing how people of different faiths can live together in close proximity. She lays out a set of choices:

* Conflict and competition * "We can wage a fight to the death among fundamentalisms."

* Resignation * "We can give up religion entirely as doing more harm than good."

* Mutual religious respect * "We can enter into the search for common ground by acknowledging all others as God's beloved children."

Ite roundup est. Go forth into the world.


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