Religious liberty vs. LGBT Discrimination

Gordon College, a respected Christian institution, is under fire for asking for a religious exemption from the president’s executive order that no one doing business with the government may discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  The Hobby Lobby decision allowing a religious exemption for Obamacare contraception coverage explicitly said that the ruling did not apply in cases of discrimination.  David Skeel, in a discussion quoted after the jump, says that the Gordon College controversy would be the next major religious liberty issue.

The administration has made it clear that the president’s executive order  does NOT exempt religious groups.  A previous policy allowing an exemption for grants still stands.  World Vision and various other ministries receive grants, rather than contracts, so they would not be affected.  The president’s order did, however, leave intact a provision allowing religious groups to have a preference for hiring those who share their religious beliefs.  Perhaps that could include  religious beliefs about homosexuality.  [Read more...]

What percentage of Americans are gay?

According to the first large-scale study of the question, only 1.6% of American adults identified themselves as being gay or lesbian.  Almost half as many, .7%, said they were bisexual.  It had earlier been assumed that the percentage of homosexuals in the population was at least twice this number. [Read more...]

Pope says 1 in 50 priests is a pedophile

In another controversial interview, Pope Francis said that Vatican research has found that 2% of priests–including bishops and cardinals–are pedophiles.  That comes to 1 in 50 of the 414,000 priests.  He also said that he planned to find a “solution” for priestly celibacy, noting as Protestants have always said, that the requirement was not instituted for the first 900 years of Christendom. [Read more...]

Presbyterians (USA) vote to allow gay marriages

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to revise its Book of Order to redefine marriage as being between “two persons” rather than between a man and a woman, thereby fully sanctioning gay marriages and gay weddings.  The revision must be approved by a majority of presbyteries, but congregations in states that have legalized gay marriage may now perform them. [Read more...]

Pastoral care for the transgendered?

The latest Time Magazine cover story announces  that “another social movement is poised to challenge deeply held cultural beliefs”; namely, that of  the transgendered (men who feel they are women, and women who feel like men, often undergoing surgery accordingly).

A few years ago, seminary professor and now head of the Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission talked about how to minister to a transgendered convert or member of your congregation.  I’m curious if you agree or have a better idea.  But is it the pastor’s job to try to “fix” a particular kind of sinner, or is it sufficient to preach the Word in law and gospel, employ confession and absolution, and administer Baptism and Holy Communion, leaving the outcome to God as with everyone else in the congregation?

[Read more...]

Hollywood, desire, & the Santa Barbara murders

Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday on the Santa Barbara murders:

As deranged manifestos go, the final YouTube video made by suspected Isla Vista, Calif., mass murderer Elliot Rodger was remarkably well-made. Filmed by Rodger in his black BMW, with palm trees in the background and his face bathed in magic-hour key light, the six-minute diatribe — during which he vows revenge on all the women who rejected him and men who were enjoying fun and sex while he was “rotting in loneliness” — might easily have been mistaken for a scene from one of the movies Rodger’s father, Peter Rodger, worked on as a director and cinematographer. [Read more...]