One of the pastors counseling South Carolina gunman Dylann Storm Roof's family believes the white 21-year-old's confessed race-based massacre of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston indicates that the United States needs to "address the deep serious issue of racism in our society."
"We've got to work to build bridges among our congregations," the Rev. Herman R. Yoos of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Columbia told NBC News.
"We need (to) confront the reality of racism and work together to build honest communications, honest dialogue, prayerful conversations that help this be a turning point for our state," added Yoos, who's also bishop of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. more >>
As the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry, anxiety escalates among many religious believers, especially conservative Christians. Just last week, South Baptist Convention (SBC) president Ronnie Floyd and 15 other past SBC presidents issued a letter urging all pastors, educators, and other church leaders "to openly reject any mandated legal definition of marriage" that violates biblical standards. Yet a call for civil disobedience is not necessary. The Court will decide what the Constitution requires states to do–not what church leaders must do.
Religious leaders will still have the ability to choose the couples they marry. For example, some ministers currently refuse to marry couples who have not completed premarital counseling, while others opt only to marry couples who are members of their congregations. Even if the Supreme Court requires states to legally permit same-sex couples to wed, religious leaders will retain the right to determine which ceremonies they perform. The Constitution requires the government to be agnostic on such things; the Court's ruling will not change how churches function.
What might change, though, is how marriage operates as a legal and civil institution. In states that permit same-sex unions, homosexual couples enjoy the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities of heterosexual couples. They can adopt and raise children together, jointly own property, receive special tax and pension benefits reserved for spouses and families, and make medical decisions for one another in times of crisis. The government bestows these benefits–not churches. more >>
A Roman Catholic bishop in Jerusalem says he's afraid that Jewish extremists are now posing an increasing threat to Christians in the Holy Land after an arson attack last Thursday at a local church in Tabgha, an area believed to be where Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
The warning "all idols will be smashed" — an extract from a Jewish prayer — was also sprayed in red paint on a wall outside the church, according to a report from Aid to the Church in Need.
Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem told Aid to the Church in Need that the attack on the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves near the Sea of Galilee, which left a Benedictine monk and visitor with smoke inhalation, has heightened his concern that extremists are targeting other faith groups, particularly Christians. more >>
This weekend I was in Charleston for the first service at Emanuel AME Church after the brutal white supremacist terrorist attack of this past week. Walking around downtown, I was struck by the unity of the city.
People stood before the church, singing. The town's churches displayed signs of solidarity and rang their bells together in unison. And the one thing I heard talked about more than anything else was forgiveness, specifically the way the families of the victims said they forgave the terrorist even after the murder of their loved ones. Some saw this as commendable; others were taken aback.
On the one hand, this sort of forgiveness is the reaction most people would hope they would have to evil. At the same time, most of the people who talked about this with me said they couldn't imagine that they could forgive such a thing. Some even wondered if the note of forgiveness was morally right. After all, they reasoned, this is a murderer who should be brought to justice. more >>
Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of prominent evangelical preacher Billy Graham, who resigned as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida after confessing to an "inappropriate" relationship with a friend after he discovered his wife was having an affair, appears to be finding solace in electronic dance music.
"I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family," Tchividjian, 42, explained in a statement to The Washington Post Sunday.
"As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign," the statement continued. more >>
The wife of Florida pastor Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of prominent evangelical preacher Billy Graham, has issued a brief statement of her own after her husband revealed over the weekend that she, as well as he, each had an "affair."
"The statement reflected my husband's opinions but not my own. Please respect the privacy of my family at this time, thank you. I do thank everyone for the outpouring of love for my family as well during this difficult time and we appreciate all the prayers and support we are receiving," Kim Tchividjian said in a statement submitted to The Washington Post.