Let’s Just Throw Them To the Lions

CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

At least the ancient Romans were good at one thing: they did not waste all their undesirables and public enemies. No, they turned them into fodder for entertainment instead. Thus the masses were heartily entertained as Christians and other recalcitrants were thrown to the lions, burned alive as human candles, or otherwise used and abused for the crowds’ pleasure.

We are not all that far away from such things today. Sure, the lions may not be around, and the entertainment aspect may not be there – at least not yet. But the public persecution and crack down on Christians and others who dare to defy the PC dictates of state are hotting up big time.

Indeed, since it has been at least a week since I last listed some gruesome examples of all this, I have a lot of catching up to do. Here are five new shocking cases of anti-Christian bigotry, state intolerance, and homosexual tyranny. They all exemplify the truth that when special rights – including marriage rights – for homosexuals are granted by the state, everyone else may well suffer.

The first comes from Canada: “A Christian university in British Columbia wants to add a law school – but the Council of Canadian Law Deans opposes it because the school would follow biblical principles on homosexuality. Trinity Western University, located near Vancouver, is no stranger to controversy. Employees, instructors, and students must sign a covenant that, in part, says they will refrain from homosexual conduct. ‘In keeping with biblical and TWU ideals, community members voluntarily abstain from … sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,’ it reads.

“Yet homosexual ‘marriage’ is legal in Canada. Anyone violating the school’s covenant is subject to dismissal or expulsion, yet no such action has been taken in the school’s history. However, if the school were to take action, it would violate Canadian law.”

It is not just new religious institutions which may never see the light of day, but existing ones may be forced to close, or at least curtail their services. Consider this case from Scotland: “St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society in Glasgow was found to discriminate against homosexuals by giving higher priority to couples who have been married for at least two years.

“The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) reviewed the practices of the adoption agency following a complaint from the National Secular Society. Despite concluding the charity provides a valuable service to the public, its investigation found St Margaret’s was operating in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

“It has until April 22 to comply with the legislation or will lose its charitable status, which means it does not pay corporation tax and receives a substantial discount on its rates. The ruling came after the SNP administration decided to press ahead with the introduction of gay marriage despite two-thirds of respondents to an official consultation being opposed.

“John Deighan, the Scottish Catholic Church’s parliamentary officer, said the decision was an example of the ‘equality extremism’ that will become more evidence when same-sex marriage is introduced. ‘This proves the concerns have been valid. The adoption society has done an outstanding job throughout the years,’ he said. ‘It seems quite absurd that can be written off and the charity regulator can say it doesn’t provide a public benefit. That’s not the reality for all the children and families it has helped over the years’.”

Individuals will also be forced to violate their own conscience, and many small businesses will be targeted. Take this case from the US: “The Oregon Department of Justice is looking into a complaint that a Gresham bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a same sex marriage.

“It started on Jan. 17 when a mother and daughter showed up at Sweet Cakes by Melissa looking for the perfect wedding cake. ‘My first question is what’s the wedding date,’ said owner Aaron Klein. ‘My next question is bride and groom’s name … the girl giggled a little bit and said it’s two brides.’

“Klein apologized to the women and told them he and his wife do not make cakes for same-sex marriages. Klein said the women were disgusted and walked out. ‘I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God,’ said Klein. ‘A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife … that to me is the beginning of marriage’.”

Back in the UK we have all sorts of individuals being targeted by the militants. Get a load of this headline: “Over 40,000 teachers ‘face sack’ over gay marriage”. The story proceeds: “More than 40,000 teachers say they will probably refuse to teach about ‘the importance of’ same-sex marriage, according to a new poll. And 56 per cent of teachers believe any colleague who takes such a stance risks damaging their career.

“The survey has led to concerns that tens of thousands of teachers may face being sacked or disciplined over their views, because of how legislation is worded. It comes ahead of an important vote on redefining marriage in the House of Commons tomorrow. The poll, conducted by ComRes, found that one in ten teachers say they are likely to refuse to teach about gay marriage.

“It also uncovered that a further 17 per cent of teachers, 74,000, said they would probably teach the importance of gay marriage but ‘wouldn’t be happy about it.’ The results come as a leading employment lawyer warned of the effect redefining marriage would have on teachers.”

And in the US, we have another example of how the American President has become the most militant pro-homosexual activist ever to occupy the White House. You would have heard by now that he is insisting that the Boy Scouts be made to allow homosexuals into their ranks.

Here is an organisation founded by a religious man to help mould young boys into good citizens, and now the President wants to make sodomy a very real prospect for these young children. Baden-Powell would be rolling over in his grave right now. Robert Knight explains just how worrying all this is:

“A press release on Jan. 28 by Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said, ‘This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs.’

“In other words, sponsoring organizations could now coerce Scout troops to accept openly homosexual men and boys. Scout councils in liberal jurisdictions would lose the national shield. Those who resist would be kicked out of schools and other locales. This ‘local option’ would signal surrender and destroy the Boy Scouts. Without parental trust, the Boy Scouts, founded in 1910 and which have been instrumental in helping millions of boys transition to manhood, would implode like a popped balloon. Does anyone other than left-wing ideologues and America’s enemies think this would be good for America?

“The policy change would pose a real and present danger to the boys, as vividly illustrated by the still-simmering scandals involving serial boy molester Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Although homosexual activists try to camouflage the real issue by saying that it’s about pedophilia, not homosexuality, most of the victims were male teens and young men. Now, the Boy Scouts seem to be on the verge of going in the wrong direction.”

As I have said dozens of times now, when homosexual activists get their way, everything changes. We are all adversely impacted by these radical social engineering moves. Freedoms of all sorts are stamped upon, and democratic governance is chucked out the door, replaced by the jackboots of militant homosexuals and their supporting elites.

The only question to ask is this: just how many more such examples need to be provided before we snap out of our slumber and start to stand up for our freedoms before we lose them all?

NRO Interview: “Evangelical Catholicism”

National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews author George Weigel.Evangelical Catholicism

“Lukewarm Catholicism has no future; submitting to the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit is no longer optional,” George Weigel writes in his new book, Evangelical Catholicism. We live in a time when “religious faith, commitment to a religious community, and a religiously informed morality can no longer be taken for granted. . .  The Son of Man, coming as the Risen Lord returning in glory, would find the usual human confusion, in the midst of which he’d also find a lot of faith: some of it remarkably compelling and attractive, like the faith of a John Paul II; some of it full of sheer heroism, like the faith of persecuted Christians in Islamic lands and in China; much of it a bit catechetically unformed, despite various expressions of piety; all of it struggling against the usual enemies — the world, the flesh, and the devil. And he would find a Catholic Church leaving one phase of its history — the Church of the Counter-Reformation, in which the faith could be absorbed by osmosis from the ambient public culture and then sustained by simple, question-and-answer catechesis and devotional piety — and entering another: the Church of the New Evangelization, ‘Evangelical Catholicism,’ in which Biblically literate and sacramentally formed Catholics, who have a clear understanding of their missionary vocation as baptized persons, are offering their families, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow citizens the Gospel: friendship with Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life.”

Cultural Pandering No Boon for Shriveling United Church of Christ

The Episcopal Church should take note. This is your future

By John Lomperis
www.theird.org

(Photo credit: Blue Dolphin)

Advocates for churches and Christian institutions reconsidering biblical teaching on sexual morality frequently claim that such cultural accomodationism is “needed” if Christian communities are to have any hope of surviving in an America whose secular culture is increasingly intolerant of moral boundaries for sexual expression (beyond consent).

If one is going to take such arguments seriously, it makes sense to consider how well that has worked in the denomination that has most prominently pioneered enthusiastic abandonment of biblical values on marriage and sex.

The United Church of Christ (UCC) attracted heaps of polarized public attention in 2005 with its embrace of a strong pro-same-sex-marriage stand, for church as well as society. But this was really a sadly unsurprising development in a denomination whose leaders had by that point already harshly excluded evangelicals (within the limits of the UCC’s congregational polity), aggressively promoted secular sexual values, and even allowed local congregations to dually affiliate with the Unitarian Universalist Association for many years.

UCC denominational officials defended high-profile homosexuality-affirming actions in the middle of the previous decade by, among other things, boasting of a presumably controversy-driven increase in traffic to the find-a-church section of the UCC website. To paraphrase this argument: “You naysayers protested, but just you wait and see all the people who will come flocking to our churches as a result of this.” In a rather similar vein, Chicago United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck defended her recent promotion of same-sex marriage in Illinois (in which she notably misrepresented the UMC’s official position), by framing it as something that will attract non-Christians to attend United Methodist congregations.

So how has such pandering worked out for the UCC?

As of this writing, the UCC stands poised to finally dip below the benchmark of one million members, which is less than half the size it had when it was founded (by merger) in 1962.

According to the most recently available annual report of the denomination’s own Pension Board, the denomination has shed a whopping 37 percent of its congregations since that year, and just in the first decade of the new millennium, it saw a decline of 35 percent in membership, 41 percent in church-school attendance, and 12 percent in the number of congregations.

And prospects for the future do not look much brighter. Contrary to optimistic predictions by progressives that departing conservatives would be replaced by an influx of sexually liberal newcomers, the UCC Pension Board report admits that “the rate of decline is accelerating.” Furthermore, of the remaining congregations, over 40 percent have annual budgets smaller than the “bare minimum for sustaining full-time ministerial leadership and the minimum necessary for mission and ministry.”

This will inevitably take an accelerating toll on beloved, generations-old denominational institutions. Last month, the final convocation was delivered at Bangor Theological Seminary, one of the UCC’s seven seminaries. Last year, in the face of falling enrollments and growing financial pressures, the trustees unanimously decided to cease the seminary’s operations as a degree-granting school after this June, just one year shy of its 200th birthday. So far, there has been talk of continuing the institution as a shadow-of-its-former-self theological center, but the details of this are still undecided.

At least some UCC liberals drew the line at John Thomas, the UCC’s crusading liberal president and general minister for most of the last decade, carrying on an affair with a much-younger subordinate staffer, for whom he eventually divorced his wife. But that is apparently not too much for one of the UCC’s remaining seminaries, Chicago Theological Seminary, where Thomas remains a role model for the denomination’s clergy-in-training as Senior Advisor to the President and Visiting Professor in Church Ministries.

This is a striking fate for a denomination once considered “mainline” in American society. More of the now “sideline” denomination’s seminaries and other institutions will probably shutter their doors within the next decade or two. In all likelihood, I will personally never drive past the construction site for a new UCC congregation. Within my lifetime, I expect to see the 40-year-old Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) eclipse the UCC in membership and worship attendance. It is questionable whether or not the UCC will even survive the twenty-first century. Perhaps it may try to buy some time through merging with the Disciples of Christ, the Metropolitan Community Churches, or even (why not?) the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The spiritual and existential end of a Christian denomination with such a rich heritage should drive any disciple of Jesus to mourn.

In my own denomination, the United Methodist Church, a very vocal minority repeatedly claims that UCC has set a courageous, future-building example for us to follow. Recently, some voices have argued that if non-mainline evangelical churches are to survive among younger generations of Americans, they too must move their approach to sexual morality closer to that of the UCC.

In light of the above, the best response this young adult can offer is: Seriously???

Report on the first part of the debate on the Same-sex Couples Bill

By Canon Chris Sugden

Chris Sugden
Canon Sugden

This afternoon, Maria Miller, the Media and Culture Secretary, opened the second reading of the Same-sex couples bill in Parliament. She had written in the Times on Monday that the State should not stop two people who love each other, gay or straight, from getting married. Her arguments are considered here.

The debate in Parliament revealed a number of issues and implications. First, the bill will allow same sex marriages to be carried out in British consulates and British army bases in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. All teachers will be required to explain same-sex marriage to children in school. A distinction (without a difference) is being drawn that they will not be expected to endorse it. Are teachers required to explain (neutrally) how to smoke cigarettes (of which they might disapprove) to children without having to endorse smoking?

The bill claims to promote equality but enshrines inequality. It does not provide for consummation or adultery, which still apply to heterosexual couples. Thus it is unequal in promoting and requiring faithfulness for heterosexual couples while not requiring it for same-sex couples. This does not build up marriage but rather undermines it as the pressure for “equality” as “uniformity” will surely result in the removal of adultery from heterosexual marriage.

There will be no reasonable accommodation for any public servants, such as registrars, who would not wish to conduct same-sex marriages. And yet, such reasonable accommodation is being provided for churches on grounds of their beliefs. This is a contradiction at the heart of the bill. State employed or regulated doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, marriage counsellors, marriage registrars and youth workers will also be denied “reasonable accommodation.”

The culture secretary was challenged by David Burrowes, who is leading the opposition by up to 120 Conservative MPs, to say whether, should it be shown that the so-called “quadruple lock” protection will fail, she would withdraw the bill. She did not answer…

Read here

Churches stepping into void in recession Britain

By John Bingham, Telegraph

THE scale of Britain’s reliance on churches to meet social needs is set out in a report showing more than half of Anglican parishes run services such as food banks, homework clubs and even street patrols.

More than 6,500 Church of England parishes now provide special services for elderly people, schoolchildren, parents and new immigrants, a study by the Church Urban Fund shows.

And eight out of 10 reported that individual parishioners give up their spare time to provide informal help to people struggling with issues such as isolation, family breakdown, drug abuse, domestic violence or spiralling debt.

The figures do not include large numbers of projects run by Roman Catholic churches, Methodists and other faiths.

It comes after the new Archbishop of Canterbury called on the Church to step into the void to do things the state has “run out of the capacity to do” in the wake of the financial crisis.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said last week that the Church could be facing its “greatest moment of opportunity since the Second World War” to reach into communities.

Read here

Sarah Teather’s statement: why I voted against gay marriage

From Catholic Voices

The following is a statement by the Lib-Dem MP for Brent and former minister, Sarah Teather, a Catholic, explaining why she voted against the redefinition of marriage. Only 4 Lib-Dems voted against. Ms Teather’s stance is vote is even more striking because of her strong track record on equality as minister.

This evening I voted against the second reading of the same-sex marriage bill. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever taken. As a life-long liberal and a committed Catholic I spent many months reflecting on this issue in the lead up to the vote. I wanted to explain to people why I took this step.

I have previously taken a very public stance in support of gay equality in a whole range of areas, including supporting civil partnerships legislation in 2004 (which I was very proud to do), voting for all stages of equality legislation passed in the last two parliaments, working with schools to address homophobia and lobbying the Home Office for fairer treatment of gay people seeking asylum from countries where they fear persecution. I feel strongly about these issues and have devoted considerable time to campaigning on such matters over the last ten years.

However, changing the definition of marriage for me raises other more complex issues.

Read here

Read Gerald Howarth’s speech here