Ocean Grove N.J., a one square mile town along the North Jersey seashore, is known for its state and national historic designation as having the largest aggregate of Victorian and early 20th century structures in America. Founded in 1869 during the holiness movement by a group of ministers and friends, its mission is to establish a permanent Christian camp meeting community with the purpose of providing opportunities for spiritual birth, growth, and renewal through worship, education, cultural, and recreational programs for persons of all ages in a Christian seaside setting.
While much has changed since its founding in 1869, much remains the same. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Christian ministry organization, owns all of the land in Ocean Grove and leases it to homeowners and businesses for 99-year renewable terms. It's still a dry town and the beach is still closed on Sunday mornings. 114 tents, which are occupied from May to September, continue to frame the Great Auditorium just as they have done since 1869.
However, a drive through the town of historic Victorian homes reveals more than latticed rooftops and widow's peaks. On many homes hang blue flags with yellow equal signs, which indicate support for same-sex couples being allowed to have civil union ceremonies on Camp Meeting Association property, such as the boardwalk pavilion. Historically, the pavilion has been used for bible studies, church services, gospel choir performances, and weddings. more >>
The writer Upton Sinclair, commenting on his loss in the 1934 California gubernatorial election, wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
Sinclair's quote came to mind after reading a piece entitled "The World Can't Hear Us On Marriage" by theologian Peter Leithhart. It was the second of two pieces about the "difficulties that Christians have, and will continue to have, defending a biblical view of marriage to the American public."
These difficulties don't arise from a lack of good, even compelling, arguments for the idea that true marriage is the union of one man and one woman. It's that the culture is increasingly incapable of hearing these arguments, much less making sense of them. more >>
Let me humbly admit that I may have had a Starbucks latte in my hand on the morning my staff told me the unfortunate news. Starbucks doesn't want my money anymore.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message that he does not care about the business of anyone who believes that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman, pointedly telling one such investor at Starbucks' annual shareholders meeting, "You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company."
Throwing sound business principles out the window, Schultz essentially stated, "I do not want your business." Seeing as this outburst reportedly followed Schultz's statement that he wanted to "embrace diversity of all kinds," it's clear his diversity does not include individuals who uphold the institution of marriage. So what are conservative coffee connoisseurs to do? This dilemma has left many believers and non-believers questioning if a boycott would be effective or even "Christian." more >>
Religious liberty groups are mobilizing to defend the chaplain of George Washington University's Newman Center after gay students launched an effort to have the priest fired because he preaches against homosexuality and abortion.
"It's discrimination against Catholics," said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society. "Secular colleges are fast becoming a very unsafe place for Catholics who hold true to their faith. This is a very, very sad situation."
Two gay students at George Washington told the GW Hatchet student newspaper that they want Father Greg Shaffer removed from campus over his anti-gay and anti-abortion views. more >>
During the arguments before the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage last week, it struck me that what may end up mattering most in the dispute in these two cases over gay unions was addressed the least.
The real issue for people who hold a Christian worldview may well be the extreme lengths to which they could be penalized if the High Court gets it wrong. The audacity of the arguments to legitimize homosexual marriage, and the apparent receptivity of Justices Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer, is an example of the federalization of American culture – the ever-expanding grasp of secular federal power over issues that historically have belonged to the states and to their citizens. Implied in this debate also is the privatization of religious expression and rights of conscience – the drastic shrinking of that sphere within which people of faith are allowed to express and live out their beliefs. In fact, I would suggest a corollary here: as federalization increases, religious liberty decreases.
In the Proposition 8 case, lower court federal judges vetoed the popular ballot initiative of the people of California who overwhelmingly supported a traditional definition of marriage in their state. more >>
"Love Free or Die," the documentary film about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in a major Protestant denomination, has been denied the "family approved" seal by the Dove Foundation, one of the biggest family movie and video review websites on the Internet.
"There are not many people who take middle ground when it comes to the debate on homosexuality and its place in the church. Although conservative voices speak up in this documentary, it is slanted toward the acceptance of gay leaders in the church, a stand which many of our Dove conservative viewers will have a hard time swallowing," Dove explained in its review of the movie, which runs at 82 minutes and won the "Special Jury Prize for an Agent of Change" at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
The film chronicles the now retired bishop's life and challenges. The synopsis states: "Gene Robinson confronts those who use religion as an instrument of oppression, and claims a place in the church and society, not just for LGBT people, but for all." more >>