The fall and the strange rise of liberal religion

The most recent Jewish Community Study of New York held few surprises for those who have followed the sobering Jewish trends of recent decades.Yes, the 1.5 million or so Jews living in New York City and surrounding counties included a rising tide of people living in interfaith relationships and some had even begun calling themselves "partially Jewish." Participation in liberal Jewish congregations declined, again. Jews who said it was "very important" to affiliate with Jewish institutions … [Read more...]

Fewer Protestants, but better Protestants?

After decades of sobering statistics about rising intermarriage rates, falling birthrates and their declining flocks, eventually Jewish clergy began talking about a future in which there would be "fewer Jews, but better Jews."Faced with sobering evidence that the number of priests was falling, along with statistics for Confession and weekly Mass, many Catholic leaders started talking about a future in which there would be "fewer Catholics, but better Catholics."Now, according to a new survey … [Read more...]

Yet another preying Presbyterian?

Once again, shocked onlookers painted from familiar palettes as they described the latest young man to march into the public square with his guns blazing.The alleged killer was a moody, quiet loner who excelled at school. He was a normal guy who loved movies and super-hero tales, only he cheered for the villains. When seen in bars, he was usually sitting alone.Journalists also quoted people who knew the family and said that James Holmes was once, as The Los Angeles Times noted, "heavily … [Read more...]

Maher says Obama’s faith is fake

The last thing the White House needed was another TV preacher questioning the sincerity of President Barack Obama's Christian faith.But there was a twist. This time it was HBO's Bill Maher -- sermonizing against religion has become his life's work -- who claimed that Obama is hiding a deep, dark secret. During the Feb. 11 episode of his "Real Time" talk show, Maher said he knows an unbeliever when he sees one and that Obama is probably an agnostic.This came a week after the president made … [Read more...]

Thumbs down for Obama faith, again

For those keeping score, let it be noted that the White House transcript from the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony says that President Barack Obama shouted "Merry Christmas" before adding "Happy holidays."In fact, Obama said "Christmas" eight times, twice as often as he mentioned "holidays." With his family at his side, the president also used an even more controversial word -- "Christian.""Each year we've come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia," he … [Read more...]

Shocking words for Presbyterians

Anyone who attends one of the national church assemblies that dot the calendar every summer knows that they are highly ritualized affairs.Officers will be elected.Political issues will be discussed. Lofty resolutions will be passed. At least one long business session will include a proposal about clergy benefits and salaries.In recent decades, gatherings in the "seven sisters" of mainline Protestantism have also -- to varying degrees -- featured battles over sex. These flocks are, in … [Read more...]

Voices of unbelievers, in pulpits

On Sunday mornings, you will find him leading hymns in one of the independent Church of Christ congregations somewhere in South Carolina.Call him "Adam." He is a church administrator, a "worship minister" and a self-proclaimed "atheist agnostic." That last detail is a secret. After all, his wife and teen-aged children are devout believers and he needs to stay employed."Here's how I'm handling my job. ... I see it as playacting. I kind of see myself as taking on a role of a believer in a … [Read more...]

Twin rocking chairs for ELCA gays

There was no way for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to affirm the ministries of clergy living in "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships" without attracting attention.After all, debates about the Bible and sexuality had rocked America's largest Lutheran flock since it was born in 1988 through the merger of three older Lutheran denominations. Similar fights have caused bitter divisions among Episcopalians, Presbyterians, United Methodists and other … [Read more...]


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