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 >>
Close to 100 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders in the U.S. have united in a message calling on Christians to act on their "moral obligation" to fight climate change, which they also called a pro-life issue, following on Pope Francis' environmental encyclical released last week.
"As Catholic and evangelical leaders, we are deeply inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical addressing our shared responsibility to be prudent stewards of creation. Pope Francis has issued a bold call to action, and the clock is ticking on a challenge that requires a collective effort in service of the global common good," the religious leaders said in a full-page advertisement on the back page of Politico.
"As citizens of the most powerful nation in human history, we have a unique responsibility to promote sustainable development, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a thriving culture of life that protects human dignity," they added. more >>
Nick Vujicic, popular Christian motivational speaker born without limbs, has recently added a new accomplishment to the list of activities he might have otherwise thought impossible — getting behind the wheel of a car for the very first time.
Thanks to several engineers, the 32-year-old married father was able to do what many people otherwise take for granted — drive. The momentous occasion was revealed in the TLC one-hour special, "Man Born Without Limbs."
"Ever since I was a kid, the burning desire in me was to do what everyone else can do," Vujicic said in a promotional clip for "Man Born Without Limbs." 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 >>
Evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen shared in an interview this week that "a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims" recently visited his nondenominational megachurch in Houston, Texas, and indicated that his inspirational messages on "how to live a great life" resonate with people "in Muslim countries."
"I have Muslims that attend our church and my books sell a lot in Muslim countries as well," Osteen said during an interview with Jeremy Hobson for the "Here and Now" radio program published online Monday.
Hobson had mentioned that he heard Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel express the opinion that Christianity and Judaism had not done "a good enough job keeping an open conversation with Muslims" in the U.S. He then asked Osteen if he has conversations with Muslims, which prompted the preacher to share that he "certainly" does. 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.