Public School Principal Proselytizes Students in SC

The ACLU reports that: A public school in South Carolina flagrantly violated the Constitution recently by holding a Christian rap concert for students on school property during school hours. While most people would go to great lengths to avoid being caught breaking the law, footage of the event, believed to be taken by the event's organizers, was posted online....A school-sponsored performance of this nature would be unconstitutional by itself, but the list of transgressions doesn't stop … [Read more...]

Letter to the Editor

There have been quite a few letters to the editor in response my letter a few weeks ago, which was written to refute a letter titled "Homosexuals choose not to follow God’s word.” Now they've published my response to the responses: Jesus taught us to love human beings In the letter to the editor “The Bible is clear on marriage” (Sept. 2), Marcus Eugene Atkinson refers to the unchanging “principles” about marriage that he believes are in the Bible. Although this argument is frequently made, its … [Read more...]

Atheists May Have a Point on Clergy Tax Breaks

Many news outlets have reported in recent days about a group of atheists who have filed a federal lawsuit to end tax breaks for clergy.I’m on record as strongly supporting the separation of church and state as outlined in the first part of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” I’ve also said a number of times over the years that I wasn’t sure the government-sponsored tax break for clergy was a grea … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Biography of Abd el-Kader"

John W. Kiser, Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader (Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book, 2008), 365 pages.In these weeks following the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Patheos has wisely chosen a book club selection that highlights the life of a Muslim held in high-regard on the world stage -- in this case the 19th-century world stage.  Too much Christian-Muslim dialogue is characterized by a lack of historical knowledge, and this book seeks to make a contribution toward … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World"

Bradley Wright, Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2011), 256 pages.Bradley Wright, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin and who is currently a Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, has written an audacious and impressive book. This week the focus of our nation has been on, among other things, President Obama's speech to a Joint Session of Congress to promote his proposed "'American Jobs … [Read more...]

Keep Government Out of Worship Planning for 9/11 or Anytime

CNN reports that, "Progressive Christians Join Controversy over Excluding Clergy at 9/11 Event." In contrast, while I consider myself a Progressive Christian, I applaud Mayor Bloomberg's courageous stance for the separation of church and state.According to Sojourners, one of the Progressive Christian organizations interviewed for the article, Mayor Bloomberg made an understandable but regrettable decision. Religion, and religious leaders, have caused a lot of unnecessary conflict and co … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "The Betrayal of Charity"

(Matthew Levering, The Betrayal of Charity: The Sins that Sabotage Divine Love, 2011, 219 pages.)As a lifelong Protestant, it is often a refreshing change of pace to step into the world of Roman Catholicism. Sociologist Andrew Greeley, in his book The Catholic Imagination, beautifully describes some of the differences between the religious worlds of Catholicism and Protestantism. Many Protestants grow up worshipping in brightly-lit sanctuaries with stark, blank white walls. In contrast, many … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics"

(Alisa Harris, Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics, 2011, 230 pages.) In the 2007 teen film Juno, the title character, after finding out she is pregnant, nonchalantly phones Planned Parenthood and announces, "Hi, I'm calling to procure a hasty abortion." When she arrives for her appointment, she unexpectedly encounters Su-Chin, one of her classmates, protesting in front of the clinic: "All babies want to get borned! All babies want to get borned!" Her classmate is, in turn, su … [Read more...]

Letter to the Editor: "God Does Change"

(The following letter to the editor was published on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 in the Calvert Recorder.)I am writing in response to Gloria Hawkins’ Aug. 17 letter, “Homosexuals choose not to follow God’s word.”Ms. Hawkins says that, “God doesn’t change,” and she implies that the Judeo-Christian conception of sexual ethics hasn’t changed “for more than 2,000 years and always will be until the end of time.” Both points are highly dubious.Limiting myself to the Bible (which Ms. Hawkins … [Read more...]

“Costly Truth, Costly Forgiveness” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on Matt 18 for Sept 4, 2011)

I. Anne Taylor’s Saint Maybe, part oneChristian ethicist Stanley Hauerwas has made the important connection that we can learn a lot about the Christian practice of forgiveness from the character Ian Bedloe in Anne Taylor’s novel Saint Maybe.As the story goes, one day a plate glass window attracts Ian’s attention as he walks down the street. The window reads, “The Church of the Second Chance.” He can hear a hymn being sung by inside. He almost keeps walking, but instead quietly ent … [Read more...]


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