Southern Religion

Miami bans Legionaries of Christ & Regnum Christi

Another archdiocese driven to solitary action. Archbishop Favalora of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has banned Legionaries of Christ (LC) and Regnum Christi (RC).

Regnum Christi

Thomas Peters reports:

Sources close to the situation tell me that this decision took place on Wednesday of this week, and that it was prompted largely by the letters of parents concerned that their children were being approached by members of Regnum Christi without parental consent and knowledge. These episodes, it was claimed, had mostly taken place in an affluent Archdiocese of Miami parish and school.

The notice on the Archdiocese of Miami Web site said:


The Legionaries of Christ are prohibited from functioning in the Archdiocese of Miami. Furthermore, Regnum Christi – a group of lay Catholics related to the Legionaries of Christ – is not and has never been approved by Archbishop Favalora to work in any parish, school or other Archdiocesan entity.

Unauthorized attempts to recruit young people are a continuation of the cult-like behavior which is the hallmark of LC/DC. Related behaviors have led one U.S. archdiocese after another to ban or restrict LC and/or DC.

John Allen of the National Catholic Review and Peters of American Papist together suggest that nine of the U.S. 32 Roman Catholic archdioceses have either banned or restricted LC and/or RC.

They are:


Provinces and dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States

LC is the subject of an investigation, called an “apostolic visitation,” is being conducted by Basque Bishop Ricardo Blazquez in Spain and by Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput in the United States. The order was founded by Marcial Maciel, who fathered several children, and it is clear that Legion of Christ superiors knew about the children at least 15 years ago. He also abused young seminarians over whom he had authority.

Vatican intervention was belated and reluctant although certainly appropriate. It is, however, so slow to action that archbishops are being driven, one-by-one, to individual measures. None of which will substitute, of course, for an overarching solution, like dissolution or refounding of LC/RC.



October 31, 2009 Posted by | Catholic | , , , | 3 Comments

Building Biblical fortresses for friendly-fire battles

When Christian groups argue — and some seen to thrive on the process — advantage goes to the side which claims the “biblical” high ground. If they can hold it.

Take for example this statement by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose president, Paige Patterson, is a well-known veteran of the Southern Baptist controversy:

While the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the only confessional document at Southwestern, the seminary also affirms the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. These statements clarify the seminary’s general posture on the the subjects of inerrancy and gender roles.

Several questions immediately come to mind.

If the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, is the school’s “only” confessional statement, why the other two statements?

The school says the other statements “clarify the seminary’s general posture” on inerrancy and gender roles.

The general posture?

What does that mean?

And why does it need clarifying?

If the other two statements are needed to “clarify” the school’s stance, then why not add them as confessional statements?

Or else, why isn’t the only confessional statement enough?

Yet the confessional statement is not enough, at least not enough for Southwestern seminary.

Turns out, it isn’t enough for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina either.

Tony Cartledge reported that Southeastern is making even the ministers who supervise students in practical ministry efforts sign all three statements, along with the school’s Abstract of Principles.

Cartledge is correct to say that seminaries have the right to draw their own lines of participation “as narrowly and fearfully as they want to.” But as he points out, such moves “exclude a number of capable, qualified, experienced ministers from the program, to the great detriment of their students.”

Cartledge says the Danvers statement “was adopted in 1987 by the ‘Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,’ which consists largely of people with close connections to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.” The document, he said, “attempts a response to the perceived danger of ‘feminist egalitarianism’ by affirming a belief that husbands should be the final authority in their homes (albeit humbly), and that wives should submit to their husbands.”

A closer look at the statement raises even more questions.

For example, item number seven of the statement’s affirmations includes the phrase, “In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women … .” Yet, in all the biblical texts given in support all 10 items, not a one is from the gospels, the section of the Bible where the life of Christ and his teachings are highlighted.

The eighth item of the statement insists that in “both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries.” Instead, the statement says, “Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.”

And in this instance, the schools get to decide the criteria used to override those calls, and it is the seminarys’ teaching that becomes authoritative.

Thus the seminaries complete the construction of a “biblical” facade around their interpretation of particular passages.

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Building Biblical fortresses for friendly-fire battles

This week’s H1N1 pandemic graph

CDC Influenza Positive Tests By Type

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Health, Medical Care, Uncategorized | , , | Comments Off on This week’s H1N1 pandemic graph

*poof* … CBN’s strange ‘evil candy’ story disappears

Counterfactual and theologically off the map, CBN’s story claiming “most” Halloween candy was bewitched in the worst way has, without benefit of a cloud of smoke, disappeared.

Thanks to Tommy Christopher at MediaIte, a Southern Baptist minister laid out the facts. Dr.Thomas Howe, Dean of Apologetics and Professor of Biblical Studies at the Southern Evangelical Seminary told Christopher that with regard to “time-release curses,” demon orgies, demonic candy and the like:

“None of (this is) considered main stream Christian beliefs. Beliefs in curses is occultic, not Christian. I am not aware of any evidence supporting any of these claims about Halloween, neither do I subscribe to the notion of a demonic trinity. This is not found anywhere in the Bible, and it is not a historic Christian doctrine.”


October 31, 2009 Posted by | Religion | | Comments Off on *poof* … CBN’s strange ‘evil candy’ story disappears

Briefly: H1N1 protection for your Trick or Treaters

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Health | | Comments Off on Briefly: H1N1 protection for your Trick or Treaters

Archbishop Dolan lays into the New York Times

Response is to be expected, although it isn’t a scandal that the New York Times refused to run Archbishop of New York Timothy M. Dolan’s allegations of anti-Catholicism on their own pages.

He oversimplifies complex issues, minimizing and emphasizing as conveniently as a Southern Baptist Convention executive explaining failure to create the church machinery to effectively protect Baptist parishioners against clerical sexual abuse.

No matter. Here it is.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Religion | Comments Off on Archbishop Dolan lays into the New York Times

Vatican pushes for a more civil Catholic/general online conversation

While Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights threw rhetoric bombs at “radical secularists” in a Washington Post comment, the Vatican aspired to a higher standard of online civility.

Italian Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, offering the example of Pope Benedict XVI’s argument that “Charity needs truth and truth needs charity,” said:

Anyone speaking publicly as a Catholic has to have those ethical values that are part of a serious, honest form of communication.

Although the focus of the Oct. 26-29 Vatican City gathering of cardinals, bishops and Catholic media professionals was the behavior of Catholics toward one another, discussion of the harsh overarching tenor of recent online communication was inevitable. In particular, Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, spoke of the “radicalization of rhetoric” on the Web. He observed that as a result of pervasively negative messages from so many online who describe themselves as Catholic, “Christians are known as the people who are against everything.”

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said bishops should be models for the Catholic faithful on how to hold a civil discussion, online or offline. Indeed:

You don’t have dialogue when people anonymously throw out their hatreds, their prejudices, their biases and always — in every case — end up attacking people.

Back at the Washington Post, John Gehring of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good wrote in response to Donohue’s railing:

We live in an age where the shrillest voices often drown out sober debate and thoughtful insights. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh watch their ratings soar with every outrageous remark. Bill Donohue gets invited on TV because he bellows and bloviates with the best of them. While some enjoy the antics, most of us are tired of the noise machine. Faith and reason are not enemies, but together can help illuminate our path through the dark forests of fear, ignorance and injustice. Sometimes we just need to turn down the volume and tune out the shouters to find our way.

No doubt someone will find a way to roll all of this into the alleged civility conspiracy to silence the loudest conservative radio and television voices. When it is clearly a bid for a more civil, productive dialog.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Religion, WWW | | 1 Comment

Christian culture’s stigmatization of depression

German artist Albrecht Durer's engraving "Melancholia" (1514)

German artist Albrecht Durer’s engraving “Melancholia” (1514)”

About Hictory Baptist pastor David Treadway’s suicide, Greg Warner writes for Religion News Service:

[A professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Matthew] Stanford, who studies how the Christian community deals with mental illness, said depression in Christian culture carries “a double stigmatization.”

Society still places a stigma on mental illness, but Christians make it worse, he said, by “over-spiritualizing” depression and other disorders — dismissing them as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness.

Polite Southern culture adds its own taboo against “talking about something as personal as your mental health,” noted Scoggin.

Suicide Survivor Resources

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Health, Religion, Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off on Christian culture’s stigmatization of depression

German Protestant Church puts a woman in charge


A federation of 22 regional church bodies, all of which practice the ordination of women and some of which bless same-sex marriages, the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) elected Bishop Margot Kaessmann, 51, its first female head Wednesday during a meeting of the Protestant body’s council in Ulm.

Other women who head denominations include Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church in the United States, National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins of the Christians (Disciples of Christ) in the United States.

Kaessmann, a divorcee and the Lutheran bishop of Hanover, commented after the vote that “It is a sign that we are saying: For biblical and theological reasons, it is possible for women as well as men to assume any office in the Protestant Church.”

“The election sends a signal to the Church worldwide that God calls us to leadership without consideration of gender, color or descent.” Rev. Ishmael Noko, [Lutheran World Federation] LWF general-secretary told the Ecumenical News International news agency at the synod in Ulm.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , | 1 Comment

Uzbekistan: The banality of oppression

Viciously sly government pretenses at freeom of religion that favor some while oppressing don’t look like the hate crime legislation President Barack Obama signed this week. They tend to be bureaucratic and inane, like the Uzbek approach Tony Cartledge described:

The Uzbek constitution contains provisions guaranteeing religious freedom and separation of church and state, but a separate law restricts religious expression to groups that are registered with the government. In a thinly veiled Catch 22, groups not in favor with the government are not allowed to register, rendering their activities “illegal” despite the official stance of religious freedom. Reportedly, no Baptist groups have been permitted to register since 1999.

Using those dicta, Uzbekistan this week convicted three Baptists of running a kid’s camp, the way Baptists do. More specifically, they were found guilty of tax evasion (their church activity was denied the aforementioned registration) and involving children in religious activities without their parents’ permission (although parents know the camp is operated by Baptists), fined and barred from doing what they do (administrative and financial activity) for three years.

Banal in implementation and unlike this country’s endless struggle over how best to prevent government from sponsoring or appearing to sponsor religious activities, that’s oppression.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | Comments Off on Uzbekistan: The banality of oppression