British rabbi stands to defend America’s first freedom

When Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks arrived in America recently representatives of the United States government did not greet him with a demand that Great Britain's former chief rabbi remove his yarmulke while in public.That's a good thing. But there are places -- France leaps to mind -- where this would not be the case. In fact, religious liberty is under siege in many corners of Europe, said Sacks, a member of the House of Lords."In Britain we have seen a worker banned from wearing a small … [Read more...]

The quest for safe, generic, ‘ceremonial’ prayers

As the members of the Town of Greece Board prepared for business, a local Catholic priest rose to offer a short prayer."Heavenly Father, you guide and govern everything with order and love," said Father John Forni, of St. John the Evangelist parish. "Look upon this assembly of our town leaders. ... May they always act in accordance with your will, and may their decision be for the well being of all. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. … [Read more...]

Porn again — Facing denial in conservative pews

The Rev. Heath Lambert usually hears one of two responses when he tries to get pastors to be candid about the impact of Internet pornography in their churches.Response No. 1 sounds like this: "Pornography isn't a problem in my church."That answer drew laughter at a recent conference on faith and sexuality, organized by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Lambert, a seminary professor who leads the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, … [Read more...]

Dueling saints from the Second Vatican Council?

History will show St. John XXIII was a pastor with an "exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit," while St. John Paul II will be known "as the pope of the family."That was as close as Pope Francis came to providing the sound bite all the so-called Vatican experts were waiting to hear during the historic St. Peter's Square rites in which he -- with the retired Pope Benedict XVI looking on -- elevated to sainthood two popes who did so much to shape modern Catholicism.The media mantra called … [Read more...]

Year 26: Frustrated Catholics playing ‘Name that pope’

Soon after Pope Francis skyrocketed into media superstardom, some frustrated Catholics started playing an online game that could be called "Name that pope."Most of them were not upset with what their charismatic shepherd from Argentina was actually saying and doing. Instead, they were frustrated with the media storm portraying him as radically different -- in substance -- from his predecessors.Frankly, this is one of the strangest stories I have seen during the many years -- 26 as of … [Read more...]

An honest Easter with doubters and the ‘nones’

It's the first thing people do after meeting strangers in coffee shops and clubs favored by the young professionals now flocking into Austin, Portland and America's other trendy postmodern cities.Job one is to define themselves in terms of what they do and what they believe. "I am an accountant," one will say. "I am a vegetarian," or "I am gay," or "I am a techie," others will reply. Hipsters don't need to say, "I am a hipster," because everyone can see the obvious."Usually, our identity … [Read more...]

Building a new monastery in the isles of Celtic giants

Father Seraphim Aldea is so committed to building the first Orthodox monastery in the Scottish isles in more than a millennium that he did something no monk searching for solitude would ever, ever do."I learned how to use that dreadful Facebook thing," he said.The Romanian monk has already been handed an abandoned Church of Scotland sanctuary on Mull Island. While Kilninian was built in 1755, it appears in 1561 records as a site associated with the great Monastery of St. Columba on Iona. … [Read more...]

The World Vision same-sex marriage wars of 2014

When church historians review the 2014 World Vision wars over gay marriage, they will ponder several puzzling statements by the man caught in the crossfire."We do know this is an emotional issue in the American church," said World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns, in the recent Christianity Today interview that revealed his organization's decision months earlier to employ Christians in same-sex marriages. "I'm hoping not to lose supporters over the change. We're hoping that they … [Read more...]


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