Pope Francis: The Church Has No Right to ‘Interfere Spiritually’ With LGBT People

Building a reputation as the most LGBT-friendly Pope in history, Pope Francis said in an interview published today that the Church should not interfere spiritually with LGBT people, nor seek to cause them any harm.

According to CNN’s highlights of the interview, published in several languages and 16 countries:

“Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”

Francis said that someone once asked him if he “approved” of homosexuality.

“I replied with another question,” he said. “‘Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”

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Because if Anyone Knows About Clinging to Sacred Theories…

Reader DeAnne was driving through Huber Heights, Ohio when she passed Free Methodist Church… and turned around to double check the sign… and turned around again just to get a picture.

It was worth it. It’s not that often that a church takes a shot at science only to have it backfire this badly:

They were good for the first two lines… until you realized what they were trying to do. And if anybody knows about clinging to sacred theories no matter what the evidence says, it’s the people in a church. [Read more...]

Because You Can Never Have Too Many White People in Your Church…

Makeda Pennycooke, executive pastor of operations at Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, sent an email to church members this week introducing a new policy regarding which people she wanted to welcome newcomers at the front door.

White people.

Only white people.”

Carmen Thomas, a volunteer at the church for two years, couldn’t believe it:

“I was floored. Like it was a jaw dropper. You can put a white face all over the front door. But when you come through those doors, you’re going to see African Americans, you’re gonna see Asians. You’re going to see people of color.”

The justification for Pennycooke’s new policy was that “first impressions matter.” Her email explained that she wanted “the best of the best on the front doors.”

Apparently the non-white parishioners didn’t make that cut. One has to wonder if skin color was the only criteria for being “the best.” What about attendance levels? Volunteer frequency? Personality traits?

Complicating this story even more is the fact that Pennycooke herself is black.

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Catholic TV Program Answers the Question, ‘What the Hell?’

Thanks to a tip from reader Ed, I can present to you the following video clip from an Eternal World Television Network (ETWN) program describing Hell, as best as the Catholic Church currently accepts and understands it.

Most of it will be familiar, descriptions of souls suffering from shame, regret, and despair (which sounds like real life so far), but also notes that damned souls are “continually tormented in all their senses, but in priecely what way, we do not know. [Click headline for more...] [Read more...]

Ask Richard: How Was Church on Sunday, Richard?

I went to church yesterday.

Don’t worry, I’m still your friendly neighborhood atheist, and “neighborhood” is the operating term here. I’m literally the friendly neighborhood atheist because back in February two families right on my street were in the audience when I first spoke publicly as an atheist at the Master’s College. Everyone on the block knows, and so far, things are still friendly, but I must do more in the wider neighborhood of my home town:

Since starting the “Ask Richard” column three years ago, I’ve received hundreds of letters from atheists facing difficult conflicts with their religious co-workers, friends, and most often their families. Some of their stories are sad, frustrating, or infuriating, and some are downright appalling. They can be heartbreaking because the strife and suffering is so often unnecessary. The particular issues and situations in the letters vary, but one overriding theme hovers above almost all of them: The co-workers, friends, and families react to the atheist with fear, anger, hurt, and rejection because they believe the stereotypes, misconceptions, and outright lies about atheists that are heard and repeated, heard and repeated, with no one to challenge them, no one to say, “Hey, that is not actually true about atheists.”

Well, I’m tired of only responding to these letters, only being reactive, trying to fix messes that could have been prevented. I want to get out ahead of the letters, be proactive, and bring accurate information to the religious public about atheists before these families explode, before so much love is needlessly thrown away.
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