In a groundbreaking statement about homosexuality, Pope Francis says Christians and the Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gay people and others they have offended or treated poorly in the past.
CHR Comment: This article seems biased or poorly written. For example, the headline suggests that the Pope was speaking for all Christians. The actual quotation from Francis in the article speaks on behalf of Roman Catholicism and the doctrine in its official catechism. One also wonders about the description of Francis’s statement in 2013; as stated in the article, it might be interpreted to imply that God created human beings with a predisposition toward homosexuality, which would conflict with Catholic teaching about the purposes of marriage and family.
Source: Pope Francis says Christians should apologize to gay people
Property owners have asked Pastor Roger Jimenez to leave.
CHR Comment: A backlash, backlash, backlash development as persons in America reflect on the significance of the Orlando shooting. The Verity Church Website describes the beliefs of this independent Baptist congregation (see second link below). The third link is to Yelp reviews of the congregation, which include further backlash and a statement from Yelp that the review page will be cleaned up.
Source: Pastor Who Praised Orlando Shooting May Lose His Church
People in Orlando have dressed as guardian angels to protect the funeral of one of the Orlando shooting victims from homophobic protesters.
CHR Comment: The Westboro Baptist Church has about 40 members and is notorious for demonstrations at funerals. In this case they are protesting at funerals for the homosexuals killed at the Orlando club shooting. The church members seem unconscious to the offensive nature of their protests, which only seem to undermine the Christian message.
Source: ‘Angels’ protect Orlando funeral from anti-gay Westboro protesters – BBC Newsbeat
CHR Comment: The shooting in Orlando at a homosexual club is causing some religious leaders to reflect on the potential influence of religion in such mass murder events. The two examples I have linked below are (1) a blog post by Bishop Robert Lynch of the St. Petersburg Diocese and (2) an interview with Megachurch Pastor Joel Hunter. The bishop wrote:
“Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets…and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people.”
Both leaders express some sense of guilt about this horrifying event. As human beings we all have a gut reaction, that sickening feeling when we see something wrong, know it is wrong, and wish something could be changed. Hunter’s comments were introspective, worried that his preaching and teaching might unintendedly lead to harm. The bishop’s comments linked the horrible event directly to “religion, including our own [Christianity], which targets . . . and often breeds contempt.”
I do not recall ever meeting a fellow Christian who said that mass murder was an acceptable or even a considered response toward homosexuality. On the contrary, Christianity very clearly teaches that we should not murder. That commandment is repeated throughout the New Testament. I do not see that religion itself is to blame in this case. Sin, anger, and hatred are to blame—the very things that genuine religion would help us overcome. We need not less religion. We need true religion more than ever (James 1:26–27).
Source: Bishop Calls Out Homophobia In Religion… And He Isn’t Blaming Islam
Ordained in Virginia, Mpho Tutu-Van Furth’s situation reflects the split over LBGT rights in the Anglican Communion.
CHR Comment: The circumstances of the wedding are especially odd given that Van Furth is apparently an atheist and lives in Holland rather than South Africa. One wonders whether the arrangement is more political than a lifelong bond, given that the issue of same-sex marriage is to be discussed by South African Anglicans in the next year. Mpho Tut-Van Furth cannot currently serve in South Africa but can in the United States, illustrating differences across the Anglican communion.
Source: Desmond Tutu’s daughter married a woman, and was forced out of the South African clergy – The Washington Post
In ‘Queer Virtue,’ Rev. Liz Edman examines not only what it means to be a queer priest, but how Christianity is a queer religion.
CHR Comment: Edman’s comments in the interview show that she holds to a loose reading of the canon of Scripture in which some texts are ignored in order to emphasize other texts or “overall message” as she puts it. In this approach, the canon becomes no canon at all since the full canon does not actually rule or guide the reader. (“Canon” is from a Greek word for a reed that was used as a measuring tool in antiquity.) It’s a bit like rounding all your measurements up to feet and saying that the inches aren’t that important even though you can’t possibly have feet without inches. Such an approach to measurement would not work practically beyond very general estimates.
Additionally, her description of John 2:1–11 provides a thorough allegorical use of the passage. Allegory, which takes things symbolically, may be useful for illustration purposes but it is not a helpful tool for determining what something actually means. Allegory may illustrate doctrine but it does not establish doctrine as Edman seems to propose. Edman’s “progressive” methods result in a separation of biblical teaching from its original context.
Source: Exploring the Queerness of Christianity with Episcopal Priest Elizabeth Edman
CHR Comment: David Gushee’s opinion piece released by the Religion News Service notes that United Methodist conferences have been debating the issue of homosexuality and church life since 1972. Recently, activists in the Reconciling Ministry Network have stepped forward to declare themselves homosexual. This action challenges the existing United Methodist standards on the issue, opening the possibility that those who have outed themselves could be disciplined. Gushee also includes some brief listing of biblical texts and arguments about why the United Methodist Church continues to teach that homosexual acts are sinful and a cause for repentance.
Source: The Methodists gather to argue about gay people again | Religion News Service
The Anglican Communion suspended the Episcopal Church, it’s American branch, from voting and decision-making for three years on Thursday over its acceptance of same-sex marriage.
CHR Comment: What is happening in the Anglican Communion? Here is a long-view, historical explanation.
When the Anglican Church adopted its Thirty-Nine Articles of doctrine in 1563, it attempted to be both inclusive and exclusive. The articles were written in a form that embraced the conservative Reformation but spoke against the radicalism of the Anabaptists. The articles also distinguished the Anglican Church from the Romanism of the papacy.
The Lambeth Quadrilateral (1888) defined modern Anglicanism as a church, emphasizing inclusiveness and seeking union with other church bodies. Anglicanism went on to embrace and promote the most important theological movement of the twentieth century: ecumenism. Anglican inclusiveness looked for common ground between churches and deemphasized the differences. The result was that Anglicanism constantly played an important role in unifying, ecumenical events. Liberal inclusiveness became one of its most important values.
Ironically, that inclusiveness is now dividing the Anglican Communion. A majority of western Anglicans want to include homosexuals in church life without defining homosexual behavior as sinful or calling homosexuals to repentance. These Anglicans are acting in accord with their prevailing emphasis on inclusion as a virtue that overrides or overlooks longstanding Christian doctrine and practice. In contrast, Anglicans in the former British colonies of Africa and elsewhere are much more conservative theologically and morally. They are alarmed by the decisions of the Episcopal Church USA, which has redefined marriage. American Episcopalians are also undermining the unity and cooperation that Anglicans had achieved through the ecumenical movement since other Christian church bodies do not want to approve the marriage of homosexuals.
Which view of Anglican theology and identity will prevail? Only time will tell but an important factor to consider is the rapid growth of Anglican Churches in Africa and in other former colonies. The more conservative Anglicans resent the old “colonialism” of England and the “imperialism” of the U.S. As they grow in numbers while the English and American churches decline, the churches in the former colonies will likely become more and more influential in defining the future of their church body.
Source: Anglicans suspend Episcopal Church over stance on same-sex marriage
While its viewership won’t come close to that other famous British drama Downton Abbey, we are about to begin a new season of the real life soap opera we’ve come to think of As the Anglican World Turns.
CHR Comment: Susan Russell’s opinion piece anticipated the tensions that are currently affecting the meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury this week. According to a Christian Today article (link below), a sizeable number of bishops are not attending worship sessions and are unhappy with the planned discussion. Key Issues involve homosexual rights advocated by Europeans and Americans in contrast with the conservative views of bishops in former colonial nations, who also sense that the “mother” church is manipulating them.
Source: ‘As the Anglican World Turns’ | Rev. Susan Russell
Pope Francis traveled to Uganda’s holiest shrine on Saturday, paying tribute to 19th century Christian martyrs killed for their faith.
CHR Comment: The 47 Ugandan martyrs were burned by King Buganda Mwanga II. One issue was the king’s homosexual advances toward boy pages in his court. Martyr Charles Lwanga was killed for trying to protect these boys. The story of this martyr intersects with current issues of homosexuality. Uganda has passed strong laws against homosexual acts, though western officials have regarded such laws as repressive.
Source: Pope Francis Visits Ugandan Shrine Amid Gay Rights Debate – NBC News