Pope Francis has said that it's the devil himself who keeps evangelicals, Catholics, and Christians from other denominations divided, and rejected the notion that it's heretical to believe that all Christians are one.
"Division is the work of the 'Father of Lies,' 'the Father of Discord,' who does everything possible to keep us divided," Francis said in a video message to a gathering sponsored by the John 17 Movement, according to Catholic Herald.
"I feel like saying something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps," he added. "But there is someone who 'knows' that, despite our differences, we are one. It is he who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom." more >>
A United Methodist body approved proposed legislation that would, among other things, allow clergy to perform gay marriage ceremonies and local conferences to ordain non-celibate homosexuals.
The Connectional Table voted 26 to 10 in favor of proposed legislation that would allow clergy to perform gay weddings without concern of facing church discipline or to be "openly self-avowed practicing homosexuals."
While the proposal was passed by the Connectional Table, the General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking assembly, will determine if it becomes official policy when it meets next year in Oregon. more >>
The number of congregations belonging to Presbyterian Church (USA) fell below the 10,000 mark during 2014, according to statistics released by the denomination.
PCUSA earlier this month reported that it had 9,829 congregations in 2014, which represents a decline from the 10,038 congregations it had in 2013.
110 congregations were listed as dissolved and another 101 were dismissed to other denominations. In contrast, in 2014 PCUSA had 15 new congregations organized. more >>
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, responded to the new Pew Study survey documenting the decline of Christians and rise of religiously unaffiliated, by calling the "increasing strangeness" of Christianity "good news" for the church.
"Christianity isn't normal anymore. It never should have been. The increasing strangeness of Christianity might be bad news for America, but it's good news for the church. The major newspapers are telling us today that Christianity is dying, according to this new study, but what is clear from this study is exactly the opposite: while mainline traditions plummet, evangelical churches are remaining remarkably steady," Moore said in a statement.
He added that the report shows that there are more honest atheists in America today, and that they are rejecting what Moore called "almost-Christianity," or traditions that "jettison the historic teachings of the church as soon as they become unfashionable." more >>
An extensive study by the Pew Research Center has revealed that Christians are declining sharply in America in terms of population share, while the religiously unaffiliated are rising, and now make up a larger share than American Catholics. The rise of religious intermarriages was one trend linked to the growth of the unaffiliated.
The report, which was released on Tuesday, stated: "The drop in the Christian share of the population has been driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. Each of those large religious traditions has shrunk by approximately 3 percentage points since 2007. The evangelical Protestant share of the U.S. population also has dipped, but at a slower rate, falling by about 1 percentage point since 2007."
Christians remain the largest religious group in America, but their share of the population fell from 78.4 to 70 percent between 2007 to 2014, Pew noted. more >>
The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev. Justin Welby said that the worst "poison pen letters" he receives are from other Christians. The leader of the Anglican Communion said that Christian groups are failing to show tolerance to one another, and said that religious leaders should look to confront the "profound differences" between faiths.
"The worst poison pen letters I get are from other Christian groups on the whole," Welby revealed during his address to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Independent reported on Sunday.
"The reality is that we do not as faith groups in our society always exhibit that secure tolerance to each other that enables us to speak powerfully of secure tolerance to the world around us. Christians are as bad as anyone at this – in fact, if I dare to be competitive, I think we're worse." more >>