Southern Religion

‘Break’ time

If being a pastor is like herding cats, why not the life of Christ in cats?

If being a pastor is like herding cats, why not the life of Christ in cats?

I think this has been around the internet forever, but I we haven’t blogged it here before. [thanks boingboing]

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, The Arts | Comments Off on ‘Break’ time

U.S. Bishops demand a stern standard for full reconciliation

The price of full reconciliation of the four disastrously un-excommunicated, right-wing Catholic Bishops?

A full-throated end to their anti-Semitism and holocaust denial, demanded the The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the president of the group, also “called the statements by Bishop Richard Williamson ‘deeply offensive and utterly false’ and called the outrage from Jews and Catholics ‘understandable.'”

Specifically about full reconciliation, reported the Boston Globe, George said:

The Holy Father’s lifting of the excommunications is but a first step toward receiving these four bishops, and the priests who serve under them, back into full communion with the Catholic Church. If these bishops are to exercise their ministry as true teachers and pastors of the Catholic Church, they, like all Catholic bishops, will have to give their assent to all that the Church professes, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Mention of the Second Vatican Council is important here. because it resulted in the church’s renunciation of anti-Semitism and led to a historic warming of relations between Catholics and Jews.

Until Tuesday the U.S. Catholic bishops were largely silent on the matter, thus provoking criticism.

Now, they are apparently pushing back against any real or perceived Vatican impulse to give the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X any but the most exacting path to full reconciliation.

Pushing back is what service of their church requires, given the pope’s refusal to invest more heavily in quieting the waters he has whipped into an unrelenting storm.


Vatican demands holocaust-denier repudiate his positions.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | anti-Semitism, Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment


My Sister’s Keeper in the New York Times chronicles a lesbian “intentional religious” community, almost.

tmatt of GetReligion explains:

. . . we meet a community of women in the heart of Bible Belt Alabama that has no trouble maintaining its doctrinal standards, even while bumping into Southern Baptist neighbors. You see, these women are true separatists, practicing their own brand of fundamentalism.

The story is rich in religious imagery, although no religion as such is described. There apparently isn’t one. Instead the reader gets a community with a single, unifying principle. Again, as TMatt explains:

Most of all, these womyn are driven by one doctrine, which is that womyn are uniquely free of sin. Men, you see, are at the heart of what is wrong with this violent, fallen, sinful world.

The New York Times story is here.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Cultural | | Comments Off on Womyn?

RIP Habitat for Humanity cofounder Millard Fuller

Millard Fuller, who in 1976 with his wife Linda founded Habitat for Humanity, died Tuesday at the age of 74.

Former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement calling Fuller “one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known.”


GetReligion went to some trouble to explain (in a somewhat convoluted way) the denominational origins of Fuller’s work as portrayed in the book about him, his wife and their housing ministry: The House that Love Built.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Cultural | Comments Off on RIP Habitat for Humanity cofounder Millard Fuller

Should the Pope step down? [Updated]

An eminent theologian and an expert in religious history suggest that solution to damage done by Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial revocation of excommunications and other disruptive actions.

Reports the Globe & Mail:

Criticism following the pope’s January 24 announcement has been particularly cutting in Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime punishable with a jail sentence.

“If the pope wants to do some good for the church, he should leave his job,” eminent liberal Catholic theologian Hermann Haering told the German daily Tageszeitung.

The case of Richard Williamson, an English bishop who is on record as denying that six million Jews were gassed by the Nazis during World War II, has drawn the most criticism. CBS reported:

The internal damage is profound also, it seems:

“A pardon that tastes of poison,” wrote Franco Garelli, an expert in religious history, in Italy’s daily La Stampa on Monday.

“The trouble caused by this complicated affair is evident not only outside the church but within it,” wrote the academic, who spoke of the “profound discomfort stirred up by the lifting of the excommunication in numerous Catholic circles”.

If the pope were to step down that “would not be a scandal,” Haering said, for “a bishop has to relinquish his position at 75 years, a cardinal loses his rights at 80 years.”


According to Reuters today, top-selling German daily Bild said in a front-page editorial:

Pope Benedict XVI is inflicting great damage on Germany . . . The pope must correct his mistake, reverse his decision and excuse himself.

Agence France Presse reported today:

“Now every far-right extremist will be able to say: Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed back into the church a Holocaust denier,” Salomon Korn, vice-president of Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Spiegel weekly in an interview. “By taking [Williamson] back into the church, the pope has made a Holocaust denier socially acceptable and sent a disastrous message,” Korn said. “What Benedict has done is unforgivable.”

German legal and political issues further complicate the matter. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany. State prosecutors in the southern city of Regensburg are investigating Williamson for incitement. German neo-Nazi websites and blogs have published contributions supporting Williamson’s stand.

Four years after the election of this German pope brought fourth a burst of national pride, general dismay over his missteps is, the evidence suggests, now growing.

According to the Associated Press, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the pope today to make a “very clear” rejection of Williamson’s Holocaust denials. In a decidedly rare demand she said she “does not believe” there has been adequate clarification by the German-born pope.

Late Tuesday, the Vatican rejected Merkel’s demand.

Deutsche Welle says “outrage” over the pope’s actions “is showing no signs of abating in the pontiff’s native Germany.”

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , | 8 Comments

Inquisition at a Southern Baptist Seminary?

Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson says today that Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, is using the economic implosion to dump Calvinist professors. Who will hit the street, and how soon, is not made clear.

John Calvin

John Calvin

Burleson, an outspoken former member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, does report there was a staff gathering yesterday at which some whose heads are on the block were cross-examined, albeit not quite stretched on the rack.

The details of today’s brief Burleson blog may be hotly debated. One commenter already says there was no such professorial gathering at SWBTS. Yet there is no denying that Anti-Calvinism has been on the march in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Someone should note that the Batholics and Cathists are merely continuing to destructively exercise the institutional power which came to their hands with the conservative takeover of the SBC as the result of a running battle from the late 1970s through the 1990s. The losing moderates predicted that conservatives would soon begin driving out the somehow insufficiently fundamentalist.

Burleson has, in this most recent blog and elsewhere, resisted that narrowing. He argues that doctrinal diversity is indispensable to a healthy SBC. He argues that a spirit which “demands doctrinal conformity,” like the demands he says are being made at SWBTS, is destructive to the entire denomination.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | 2 Comments

Religion is more important to black Americans

relative importance of religion

Black Americans are much more religious than Americans generally, concluded the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The analysis said:

While the U.S. is generally considered a highly religious nation, African-Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religion’s importance in life. Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans are among the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with fully 87% of African-Americans describing themselves as belonging to one religious group or another, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007 by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Latinos also report affiliating with a religion at a similarly high rate of 85%; among the public overall, 83% are affiliated with a religion.

The Landscape Survey also finds that nearly eight-in-ten African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S. adults. In fact, even a large majority (72%) of African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular faith say religion plays at least a somewhat important role in their lives; nearly half (45%) of unaffiliated African-Americans say religion is very important in their lives, roughly three times the percentage who says this among the religiously unaffiliated population overall (16%). Indeed, on this measure, unaffiliated African-Americans more closely resemble the overall population of Catholics (56% say religion is very important) and mainline Protestants (52%).

Additionally, several measures illustrate the distinctiveness of the black community when it comes to religious practices and beliefs. More than half of African-Americans (53%) report attending religious services at least once a week, more than three-in-four (76%) say they pray on at least a daily basis and nearly nine-in-ten (88%) indicate they are absolutely certain that God exists. On each of these measures, African-Americans stand out as the most religiously committed racial or ethnic group in the nation. Even those African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any religious group pray nearly as often as the overall population of mainline Protestants (48% of unaffiliated African-Americans pray daily vs. 53% of all mainline Protestants). And unaffiliated African-Americans are about as likely to believe in God with absolute certainty (70%) as are mainline Protestants (73%) and Catholics (72%) overall.

The entire analysys is here.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , , | 1 Comment

Human clones may be genetically viable

Cloning and Stem Cells magazine

Wired reports:

. . .
“We show for the first time that the same genes turned on in normal human embryos are the same genes turned on in human clones,” said Robert Lanza, scientific director of Advanced Cell Technologies and co-author of a study published Monday in Cloning and Stem Cells.
Lanza’s team inserted human cell nuclei into hollowed-out egg cells from both humans and animals, then stimulated them into development, a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), or more informally, cloning. When compared to a normal human embryo produced through in vitro fertilization, the animal-human hybrids didn’t develop normally, but the human-human cloned embryos displayed many of the genetic characteristics of healthy development.
The research is the first step toward therapeutic cloning — making embryonic stem cells from a patient’s own DNA capable of replacing diseased tissue, failing organs and even lost limbs. And, theoretically, the same technique could be used to produce a cloned person.
. . .

Read the entire story here.

Ethics of Stem Cell Research from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Stem Cell Research: At the Crossroads of Religion and Politics — a report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Science | , | Comments Off on Human clones may be genetically viable