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Southern Religion

Southern Contrived Chicken

The North Carolina Biblical Recorder didn’t become Chick-fil-A central, although one of its articles helped heat the grease for the heapin’ helpin’ of Southern Contrived Chicken that followed.

The BR editor did pretend injured innocence by blaming mainstream media for “distortion,” yet it did nothing to inform its readers about the principal sources of the outrage (Chick-fil-A’s ties to anti-gay groups).

We recommend the full account here.

August 3, 2012 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , | Comments Off

Evangelical Protestants are in the declining minority on gay marriage

Religious Connections has the years of Pew Forum polling data and commentary.

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Poll | , | Comments Off

Clerical sexual offenders are different (perhaps not in the ways you think).

They are more likely to use force and may be apprehended later in their predatory careers, or not at all.

July 27, 2012 Posted by | children, Religion | , , , | Comments Off

The (irrational) politics of religion prevailed in South Carolina

A private gathering of 150 unnamed religious activists tried to throw the South Carolina evangelical vote to Santorum. That gathering was held at the ranch of a Southern Baptist Convention conservative takeover heavyweight – retired Texas Judge Paul Pressler. As Interfaith Alliance head Welton Gaddy said on the Jan. 21 broadcast, it had all the hallmarks of Pressler’s manipulations of the SBC:

The eventual victors touted the movement as the “conservative resurgence” and claim that it rescued the nation’s second-largest faith group from liberalism and decline. Gaddy, who was active in SBC leadership until the 1980s, said he called it “political fundamentalism,” which he defined as “a manipulation of theological issues and church loyalty to advance purposes latched on to interests in politics, money and power.”

The politics of religion still prevailed in South Carolina, albeit without being bent to Pressler’s will by handing the primary to Rick Santorum.

Mark Silk found that the evangelicals instead chose Catholic Newt Gingrich as their alternative to Mormon Mitt Romney:

The Mormon Gap killed Mitt Romney. Defined as the percentage-point difference between the evangelical and the non-evangelical vote for a given Mormon candidate in a Republican primary, it turned out to be 16 points; i.e. Romney won 38 percent of non-evangelicals but only 22 percent of evangelicals. By contrast, Newt Gingrich won 44 percent of evangelicals, as opposed to only 33 percent of non-evangelicals.

New York University Professor Jay Rosen parses Republican views as reality vs reality-denial. Similarly, an irrational anti-Mormon religious reflex may be seen as having had a determining effect in South Carolina. It may do so again in Florida.

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off

Rector of thousand-year-old greek monestary arrested/charged with embezzlement

Ten police officers went to the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos in Greece on Tuesday to arrest the, Father Ephraim as though he were “a gangster,” raged The Voice of Russian. But as Angeliki Koutantou and Harry Papachristou of Reuters explain:

The abbot of one of Greece’s richest and most powerful monasteries went to jail on Wednesday awaiting trial for hoodwinking the government in a high-profile land swap deal six years ago. Cypriot-born Efraim, 56, chief of the Vatopedi Monastery at the monastic community of Mount Athos, is accused of inciting officials to commit acts of fraud, perjury and money-laundering, a charge that can fetch him a jail term of several years.

The government is said to have lost tens of millions of euros in a series of land swaps with Vatopedi, a monastery with many prominent fans in Greece and abroad including Britain’s Prince Charles, who is a frequent visitor. Exposure of the scandal precipitated the fall of the country’s then conservative government in 2009.

Louis A. Ruprecht writes:

It is obvious that the most visible religious institutions — from the Vatican, to Mount Athos, to the Southern Baptist Convention — are enormous bureaucracies virtually swimming in cash. Their relative immunity from taxation and the normal rules of fiscal oversight are troubling. But this case is especially jarring for the contrast it draws out between the grinding poverty of the Greek people under their new program of enforced austerity and the immeasurable wealth of the Orthodox Church. The same contrast will be drawn out in coming months in Rome, and I dare say in the U.S. as well.

The very public arrest of Catholic priests in Belgium or the U.S. for sexual crimes is one thing; the revelation of the Greek (or Roman) Church’s complicity in white-collar theft, pork-barrel politicking and a form of nepotism whose sole purpose has been to line the clerical elites’ own pockets is something else again.

Without question, the sex crimes are more heinous, but even outside criminal court there is a perhaps growing interest in financial accountability and other kinds. A few arrests, even at the level seen in Greece, aren’t enough action.

December 30, 2011 Posted by | Catholic, Crime, Economy, SBC | , , | Comments Off

‘Weird’ Bible verse from Vintage Faith Church

If all Biblical scripture is “God breathed,” argues Pastor Dan Kimball of Vintage Faith Church, we can’t ignore any of them. Can we? Not even Samuel 18:27:

“David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage

Startling to some of us. Kimball covers the issues in reverent detail.

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Religion | | Comments Off

Eddie Long’s New Birth academy closes with students in the lurch

Baptist Bishop Eddie Long of the the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was hit by lawsuits, settled, dumped and now his church’s school is closing:

Dozens of parents said they are left scrambling to find a school for their children after leaders at New Birth Christian Academy said the campus will not reopen next week.

School officials told Channel 2 Action News that money and not enough students are the main issues, but some parents said they believe it’s more than that.

How much more than that?

The academy is housed inside the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. A spokesperson made it clear that the school closure has nothing to do with the sex abuse allegations against Bishop Eddie Long.

“I don’t believe that. I believe that this last straw with the divorce, the sealed settlement, it just does not look good,” said the parent.

Parents received the letter on Dec. 22. School reopens there on Jan. 4. The DeKalb County, Ga., school system has said it will help place the refugee students.

December 29, 2011 Posted by | children, Churches, Crime | , , , , | Comments Off

North Carolina marriage in what crosshairs?

Same sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina.

Even so, declaring themselves terrified that the courts may undo what the legislature hath wrought, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly imposed a May 8 referendum on whether to embed that stricture in the state constitution.

Rushing on from that contrived position, the Art Pope funded North Carolina Family Policy Council this week published an inflammatory image of marriage itself in the some phantom sniper’s crosshairs.

The image is rich in irony. Writing at Baptists Today, contributing editor Tony Cartledge notes:

Anyone who pays the least bit of attention has to be aware that the biggest threats to heterosexual marriage are the people who participate in them. People change. People make mistakes. People grow in different directions. People fail to communicate effectively. Heterosexual marriages end in divorce with uncomfortable frequency, but almost always with no assistance whatsoever from the possibility that the courts might one day overturn the state’s existing law against gay marriage.

Crosshairs image

N.C. Family Policy Council magazine marriage crosshairs image

A letter signed by hundreds of North Carolina faith leaders asserts that opposition to the amendment is as a matter of faith:

As people of faith, clergy and leaders in our faith traditions, we are mandated by God to demonstrate and protect love in all its forms and to stand for justice for all creation.

Supporters of the amendment, like Daniel L. Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, say the opposite. Writing in the same magazine with the crosshairs image, he argues:

The Bible defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman in a monogamous covenant relationship intended to last for life.

Christians can first of all model what a healthy marriage looks like following the principles of Scripture. Again, we have often failed in this area and I believe that is one reason why we have so much confusion today with respect to marriage. In addition, Christians can take public stands and vote their conscience in seeking to promote the kind of marriages that are reflective in biblical truth. Christians should go to the ballot box with biblical principles and truth.

Whatever your view of marriage, if this amendment fails, same sex marriage will still be illegal in North Carolina and the status of marriage itself will not have been altered. Marriage isn’t in the crosshairs on May 8.

Assertions that it is inflame an inevitably overheated debate and contribute to the incivility the Rev. Mark Harris, head of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, says he is against.

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Politics | , , | Comments Off

Civil marriage debate is owed balance and empirical evidence: Updated

The Charlotte Observer tells us that the Rev. Mark Harris, head of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, says he wants the a “civil” debate over same-sex marriage.

Yet they seem unsure about why he is leading a campaign to pass the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Although he and the BSCNC made that clear to them back in November. When the BSCNC took its official stand in favor the amendment (.pdf).

The North Carolina Family Policy Council understands that the BSCNC intends to create a church-by-church political machine to get the “preservation of marriage” amendment approved and to promote the decidedly unscientific Southern Baptist view of homosexuality:

The resolution on the Marriage Protection Amendment was introduced at the meeting by Jim Jacumin, president of the BSCNC Board of Directors. It expresses the BSCNC’s official endorsement of the proposed State Constitutional amendment, which would define marriage in North Carolina as only between one man and one woman, and will be on the ballot before voters at the May 8, 2012 primary election. The resolution (.pdf) also encourages “the churches of the Baptist State Convention to vigorously organize a strong effort among their members to support passage of the Marriage Amendment in the first primary election of 2012.” In addition to encouraging its member churches to engage in “loving, redemptive ministry to homosexuals,” it also states that the “North Carolina Baptists commit ourselves to… preach and teach the truth concerning what the Bible says about the creation of and divine nature of the institution of marriage, and against any government action to accept, sanction, approve, protect or promote same-sex marriage or legal recognition of same-sex relationships.”

The CO manages to get through the entire call for “civil” debate, by the leader of one side of that debate, without mentioning the North Carolina Psychological Association. Its position on the matter (.pdf) is a model of civility. The NCPA deals with the empirical evidence, and without the least hint of a raised voice or harsh word, explain that the best empirical evidence offers no support for banning gay marriage or any other such discrimination.

That’s as civil as debate can get, and proponents of it should have found a place in the otherwise thin, lopsided CO story.

Update:

The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families has responded:

We agree with Mark Harris’ assertion that we should keep the Amendment conversation factual – and do it in a civil way. Nevertheless, this type of discourse is something not seen in other states, especially from an industry willing to pit people’s religion – as well as gross misinformation – against families. We must be willing to honor the very real emotions, including pain and fear, that these types of discriminatory measures naturally evoke, especially when North Carolina’s particular Amendment is not only a permanent ban on marriage equality and civil unions – relationship recognitions that a majority of North Carolinians support – but also strips basic benefits and protections from loving couples, women, and children, and causes substantial economic harms to families, business and the perception of the state as a whole. No one of faith – or otherwise – will sit back while families lose their health insurance, domestic violence victims lose their protections, and loving couples lose their ability to see each other in the hospital. We can’t and we won’t let that happen. We will make sure that the families of NC are protected from this harmful, extreme amendment.

-Jeremy Kennedy, Campaign Manager, The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , | 1 Comment

Calling Franklin Graham to Romney repentance

Franklin Graham (son of Billy), who got in a bit of a tangle over the “blessing” of Sarah Palin past presidential time around, has pronounced Republican hopeful Mitt Romney’s Mormonism a nonproblem. Graham said:

Yes, the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon doesn’t bother me. I think when we are voting for president we need to get the person who is absolutely the most qualified. You can have the nicest guy and he can be a Christian and just wonderful but have absolutely no clue as to how to run a country, you don’t want that.

With that view, Graham put himself opposite the head of the South Carolina Southern Baptist convention and strayed from the more commonplace Southern Baptist view.

Predictably, Graham was called to repent. The call came immediately from Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries. In brief, Andrew said:

“Graham is misleading Christians to vote against Scripture for Mormon Mitt Romney. God cannot bless us for betraying Jesus and voting for a non-Christian. No one comes to God except through Jesus-this includes the USA,” said Pastor Steven.

Pastors are concerned. Scripture forbids hosting false teachers in our homes and Graham wants one in the White House?

For Romney as for Palin, Graham may have had little political effect. Except on himself. as Charles W. Dunn, a professor of government at Regent University’s Robertson School of Government suggested to Chad Groening:

“We can understand the political nature of the statement; we can understand the constitutional nature of the statement,” he states. “But from a practical standpoint of his being a religious leader, that statement I think was unwise because he didn’t have to make it.”

With a Mormon and a twice-divorced Catholic leading the Republican field, this debate among conservative Christian activists seems destined to become more strenuous.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off

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