Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that two for profit corporations with sincerely held religious beliefs (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties) do not have to provide a full range of contraceptives at no cost to their employees pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.1
As detailed by ABC News, "In a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito the court held that as applied to closely held corporations the Health and Human Services regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "2
Upon hearing the news American Evangelicals broke out in a collective shout of "Hallelujah!" and took to praising God via social media; while in the streets of an otherwise secular society there was wailing and gnashing of teeth.3 more >>
Wesleyan and Anabaptist perfectionisms are the emerging dominant forms of Christian social witness in America, according to this fascinating piece in First Things by Dale Coulter of Regent University. He's certainly right about their pervasive influence but unduly optimistic about their plausibility and sustainability, much less desirability.
As a Methodist, I hope thoughtful Calvinists will provide a corrective dose of realism and sturdy doctrine to the social cul-de-sacs and Utopianism towards which both perfectionist traditions seem to spiral when untethered from church teaching about the limits of fallen humanity. It's not fair to fault Methodism exclusively for the excesses of the Social Gospel, whose key early proponent, Walter Rauschenbusch, was a liberal northern Baptist. It was fueled by German romanticism and New England, post-Congregationalist Unitarian transcendentalism. But Wesleyanism, once liberalized and unhinged from supernatural teachings about Christian cosmology, generously watered the roots of the Social Gospel movement and ultimately fully embraced it.
Methodism as a mass movement provided much of the activist machinery for Social Gospel energy if not much of the intellectual formation. This storyline is often repeated. Wesleyans are more comfortably doers than deep thinkers, Much of official Methodism, as it transitioned through its Prohibition crusade, easily abandoned traditional Methodism's affirmation of human nature's total depravity and complete need for transformation through the new birth. The new imperative, displacing evangelism and holiness, became earnest intent and constant activity for societal improvement. No human condition was beyond the reach of social and political reform. more >>
A Polish doctor who refused a woman's request for an abortion procedure because of a "conflict of conscience" with his Roman Catholic beliefs has been fired from the hospital he works at.
The case, which sparked a nationwide abortion debate and prompted Prime Minister Donald Tusk to tell Warsaw obstetrician Bogdan Chazan that he must choose the law over his faith, began in April when the doctor refused a pregnant woman an abortion at Warsaw's Holy Family Hospital.
The woman had came to Chazan to ask for an abortion because her own physician had diagnosed her unborn child with grave health problems, Reuters reported. The obstetrician, however, told the woman that he could not agree to such an abortion in his hospital, and referred the woman to a hospice where the child could get palliative care once born. more >>
The Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Colombia has decried the human rights abuses continuing to take place in the country, where Christians are sometimes killed for offering a different way of life than joining drug trafficking groups.
"The situation is very delicate, and we as Bishops are the voice of those who have no voice, so we need to highlight that we are not living in human conditions in this area. We are forgotten by all, we have no protection, people live in anguish and without hope," said His Exc. Mgr. Julio Hernando García Peláez, Bishop of Istmina-Tado, according to Fides News Agency.
The region of Chocò was highlighted as a particular concern, where drug traffickers often prevent the presence of the services of the state. Mgr. Garcia added that security forces in the area also bare a good deal of responsibility for the violence, and claimed that some security members use civilians "to protect themselves from the fire of illegal armed groups, and innocent people die in these deadly clashes." more >>
The World Evangelical Alliance recently voiced its disagreement with Hispanic evangelical leader the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez's claim that the merger of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Conela, a Latin America-based organization that serves more than 487,000 Latin churches globally, gives representation to perhaps the largest network of evangelicals in the world and is the representative of evangelicals in Latin America.
"The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has been surprised to read in recent weeks of claims about evangelical networks seeking to represent evangelical Christians in Latin America and beyond," a statement from the organization read. "Following these claims, the WEA has been asked by the leaders of the 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America to publicly contribute to clarification."
In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Rodriguez said that NHCLC/Conela, which is the new name of the group merge, has more than 500,000 churches and "may very well be the largest evangelical network in the world." He said he came to his conclusion by looking into current studies by researchers. more >>
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a group of "continuing Episcopalians" within the Diocese of South Carolina, has embraced a rite that would bless same-sex relationships. Its leaders are involved in a legal battle over property against a diocese that broke away from the denomination.
"Our covenantal life with God is expressed in relationships of commitment and faithfulness, including those of same-sex couples," a document from the group about the rrelatively new rite states. "It is the Church's joy to celebrate these relationships as signs of God's love, to pray for God's grace to support couples in their life together, and to join with these couples in our shared witness to the gospel in the world."
The Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, sent out a letter Tuesday allowing for priests to perform the rite known as "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant." more >>