Religion News, Feb. 14, 2011

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  • Start-up Indiana church uses sex to sell message: New Day Church, a year-old congregation in Hendricks County, Ind., is finding that sex helps sell its message of faith. An edgy marketing campaign asking, “What happens when God gets between the sheets?” promotes a sermon series that started Sunday focusing on the link between sex and religion. Members of the congregation will hear Pastor Denis Roy discuss God’s take on topics such as intimacy, pleasure, sexual preference, pornography, adultery and even sexual healing during the next four weekends.
  • Malaysian Muslims warned against Valentine’s Day: As couples around the world ready for Valentine’s Day, Islamic officials in Malaysia have warned Muslims against celebrating something “synonymous with vice activities.” Our view: Too sad for words
  • Prison escapee hid with cult: Luke Hunter, one of Queensland’s most wanted fugitives recaptured yesterday after 15 years on the run is believed to have spent years hiding out with a cult — the North Queensland Jesus Group. A source with knowledge of the group yesterday said Hunter had been part of it for “many years”. It is believed he was required to take a name from the ancient Aramaic language within weeks of joining.
  • Pastor investigated in property transfer steps aside: A popular Chicago priest is stepping aside from his parish responsibilities as authorities examine the circumstances under which he became trustee of an elderly parishioner’s home last year. Rev. Thaddeus Dzieszko, pastor at St. Constance Roman Catholic Church on Chicago’s Northwest Side, has not been accused of wrongdoing in any court proceeding, and he told the Tribune the property transaction was completely innocent.
    Hate Crimes

  • Fury as anti-Semitic banker is invited to speak at LSE: A German banker who has said “all Jews share a certain gene” and described Muslims as “dunces” will speak tonight at the London School of Economics amid a row over free speech. Anti-facist campaigners vowed to demonstrate outside the LSE during Thilo Sarrazin’s appearance in a debte on multiculturalism. The former executive member of the Bundesbank caused outrage in Germany last year with his comments, in which he also attacked Basques. He was removed from the country’s central bank and raked down by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who called him “stupid”.
    UK: Gay Weddings in Church

  • Britain considering ‘gay marriage’ in churches: The British government said Sunday it was planning to change the law and allow same-sex couples to have civil partnership ceremonies in places of worship. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said such ceremonies could be permitted to include religious elements for the first time.
  • Gay wedding ban in church may be lifted: The move, likely to be announced by Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, would lift the ban on civil partnerships taking place in religious settings in England and Wales. Same-sex couples are currently not allowed to use hymns or Bible readings in civil ceremonies, but it is unclear whether this would change or whether civil partnership ceremonies in places of worship could formally be described as marriages.
  • Churches split over plans for gay marriage services: Religious groups have expressed concern at plans to allow gay marriage ceremonies in church. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said yesterday that such a ceremony “would never take place” in a Catholic church. Others expressed fears that although churches would not be forced to offer same sex ceremonies they could be accused of discrimination and face lawsuits if they did not.
  • Archbishop of York: don’t force churches to conduct gay weddings: Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and the second most powerful cleric in the Church of England, has warned against forcing vicars to conduct same-sex civil partnerships as the Coalition prepares to grant full marriage rights to homosexual couples.
  • A welcome blow against discrimination: If changes to the law force what is still the Established Church in England to clarify its muddled and often disingenuous thinking on the question of sexual equality, so much the better. But in an age when a growing number of marriages take place in civil settings and have no religious element to them at all, this is at the same time a peripheral matter.
  • Resistance mounts to gay couples being allowed to marry in church: Some faiths – including the Quakers, Unitarians and liberal Jews – support the change in the law and are expected to apply for permission to use their buildings to host same-sex “marriage” ceremonies. However, the Church of England has pledged not to allow any of its buildings to be used for civil partnership ceremonies, and last year Pope Benedict said same-sex marriage was among the “most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good”.
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Scientology: A Jonestown in the Making?: Recent and quite public recantations by people such as Paul Haggis and Josh Brolin, the actor, have begun to shine a light on the inner workings of Scientology and it may be that the cult is beginning to hunker down for a siege. And when this happens, it is good to remember the lessons of Jonestown: Cults under scrutiny do not do well in acting responsibly. That much we have learned from experience.
  • Superlative song: Scripture has a powerful response for those who think that God dislikes romance
  • The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gospel of Christ: Why Egypt’s Christians might actually be safer if the Muslim Brotherhood were a part of the ruling government.
  • Will Proposed ‘Ark Park’ Discriminate in Hiring?: As KY’s governor Steve Beshear and a group of investors continue to promote the job-creation possibilities of their Noah’s Ark theme-park, unsettling questions over discriminatory hiring by the fundamentalist ministry that will run the park remain murky.
  • Australia: Faiths rule on sex from staffroom to bedroom: Who the faiths employ in their pulpits is their own affair. If they want to tear themselves apart over the ordination of women or homosexuals, they are answerable only to themselves. But ever since anti-discrimination laws first appeared 30 or 40 years ago, the faiths have fought for exemptions to allow them to employ only the sexually virtuous in their welfare agencies, hospitals and schools.

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This post was last updated: Aug. 27, 2013