Religion News Roundup, March 2, 2011

    Religion News

  • Judge: Town’s treatment of pagans may be discrimination: A judge has found that a group of self-described witches may have gotten special treatment from the town of Catskill – and not in a good way. In a strongly-worded decision issued on Tuesday, Judge George J. Pulver, Jr. of the Greene County Supreme County ruled that the town’s denial of a property tax exemption for the Maetreum of Cybele smacks of discrimination.
  • Foster parent ban: ‘we have not received justice’: There is no place in British law for Christian beliefs, despite this country’s long history of religious observance and the traditions of the established Church, two High Court judges said. Here is the statment from the couple at the centre of the judgement.
  • The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Harvard minister, dies at 68: The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard theologian, author and Baptist preacher who, after announcing two decades ago that he was gay, became a powerful voice against using the Bible to justify discrimination, died Feb. 28 in Boston of complications from a stroke. He was 68.
  • Lawyer: Ex-Wis. archbishop’s letter ‘smoking gun’: A 2003 letter from then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan shows he was more concerned about the church’s reputation than the actions of an abusive priest, an attorney for nearly two dozen alleged Wisconsin sex abuse victims claimed Tuesday.
  • Assange complains of Jewish smear campaign: A report published by a British magazine on Tuesday said the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, suggested that British journalists, including the editor of The Guardian, were engaged in a Jewish-led conspiracy to smear his organization.
    Hate Groups

  • Christian Pakistan minister shot dead by gunmen: Shahbaz Bhatti was a Christian who had been threatened by Islamist militants in the past because he has spoken out against the country’s blasphemy laws.
  • 11 Muslims sentenced to death for arson attack on train which killed 60 Hindus: The 11 were among the 31 Muslims who were convicted last week of being part of a criminal conspiracy that led to the deaths of 60 people in the fire on the Sabarmati Express train coach packed with Hindu pilgrims in western Gujarat state in 2002. Judge P.R. Patel sentenced the remaining 20 defendants to life in prison, prosecutor J.M. Panchal said.
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Christianity isn’t dying, it’s being eradicated: It’s official: Britain is no longer a Christian nation. In banning Eunice and Owen Johns, a devout Christian couple, from fostering children, Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson declared that we live in a secular state, and that the Johns’ religious convictions disqualified them from raising citizens of that state. We’ve outgrown Christianity, the judges professed. Instead, we have graduated to the status of a multicultural nation, blessed by a plurality of faiths.
  • Christian Institute responds to foster carer court case: Much media reporting on this issue, and even some comments by Christians, have, in our view, been wide of the mark. The impression has been given that the High Court has ruled that Christians who believe that homosexuality is morally wrong cannot foster children. This is not true. No such ruling has been made.
  • Was a Vanity Fair Editor Secretly Working for the Church of Scientology?: John Connolly is a well-known, and well-liked, character in New York media circles. He’s a former NYPD detective and stock broker who landed a third career as an investigative reporter for Vanity Fair, where he is a contributing editor, Radar, the Daily Beast, Gawker, and other outlets. And according to Marthy Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the two highest ranking Scientology officials to ever leave the church, he’s been a paid informant for the cult for two decades.
  • Why Did Gawker Refuse to Run John Cook’s New York Observer Article on Scientology?: Atop the article listed above is a purposefully placed Observer editor’s note in italics that reads, “Gawker.com, where the author is employed as a staff writer, declined to publish this story.” Right away, the note sparked the discussion it was likely meant to: Why didn’t Gawker want a big, exclusive and original story, especially in light of its admitted struggles with a new redesign and stated thirst for unique and scandalous features?
  • Rob Bell’s Upcoming Book on Heaven & Hell Stirs Blog, Twitter Backlash on Universalism: Mars Hill pastor Rob Bell drew significant attention on Twitter and blogs today after Justin Taylor penned a blog post titled “Rob Bell: Universalist?” on Bell’s upcoming book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. See also: Universalism
  • Evangelicals take to Twitter to debate the doctrine of hell Rob Bell’s book entitled “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” won’t hit shelves until March 29, but that didn’t stop a group of conservative bloggers from speculating about its contents. Justin Taylor, vice president of editorial at Crossway, wrote a blog post suggesting that Bell had become a universalist and was moving “farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity.” (Universalism asserts that all people will be saved and that an eternal hell is not a part of God’s plan for a new heaven and new earth.) Rob Bell is one of the leading figures in the Emerging Church movement.
    Also Noted

  • Sex Symbol and Christ Follower: A classic interview with Jane Russell, who died yesterday.
  • Retired judge recalls encounter with cult leader: News of the death of convicted cult leader and murderer Roch “Moses” Theriault at a New Brunswick prison reminded retired local Judge George Inrig of the time the infamous cult leader appeared before him in a Lindsay court.
  • Bishops boot ‘booty’ from revised Bible: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has ordered up a new translation of the Bible, one it says is more accurate, more accessible and more poetic. Now “booty,” a word that sets off snickers in Sunday school, will be replaced by the “spoils” of war when the newest edition of the New American Bible, the English-language Catholic Bible, comes out on Ash Wednesday, March 9.

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This post was last updated: Aug. 27, 2013