Writing in The Christian Post, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, warns megachurches may be housing a new, gospel-denying “liberalism” within a Christian façade. “The current cultural context creates barriers to the Gospel even as it offers temptations,” Mohler writes. “One of those temptations is to use the argument that our message has to change in order to reach people.” He argues that to focus more on gaining members than preaching Christ’s gospel allows for the acceptance of lifestyles and ideologies known to be antithetical to Biblical teachings (e.g. “the normalization of homosexuality”).
Last week, FreedomWorks For America endorsed Mia Love, the Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th congressional district. The daughter of Haitian immigrants and a Mormon convert, Love is running to unseat the Democratic incumbent, Jim Mattheson. Love’s unique background and conservative bonafides have made her a favorite of the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Russ Walker, National Political Director for FreedomWorks for America, says, “Mia will represent the best interests of Utah taxpayers in Congress, strengthening the Republican majority in the House, and expanding the coalition of fiscal conservatives within it.” If she is elected, Love, who is currently the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, will become the nation’s first black Republican congresswoman.
In The Washington Post, Matthew N Schmalz writes that if the president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has his way, the Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring insurers to cover contraception prescriptions. Schmalz writes that the key to overturning the mandate will be to frame it as infringing on religious liberty: “Given that the Catholic bishops have consistently emphasized the First Amendment issues raised by the revised mandate, the Supreme Court would seem to be an appropriate venue for addressing them. The Catholic bishops are also doubtlessly aware that there are Catholics on the Supreme Court who would be amenable to their position.”
At The Daily Beast, Harry Siegel and Matthew DeLuca live-blogged yesterday’s Occupy Wall Street “May Day” protests. After a winter of “hibernation,” the Occupy Wall Street movement marked “International Worker’s Day” by returning to the streets of New York, and on several occasions scuffling with the NYPD.
The Washington Post‘s Lisa Miller calls on the Catholic Church to start employing Mary, mother of Jesus, its “best ambassador.” She writes, “When I see American bishops wanting to make rules about sexuality and contraception for ordinary people, I think about Mary.” She concludes: “It is time for the men in charge to let Mary speak.”
Religion News Service’s Omar Sacirbey reports that last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, ordered a review of the curriculum for courses on Islam taught to senior officers. The order came after several officers complained that course materials contained inaccurate and inflammatory information about Islam. Dempsey canceled a class entitled, “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” taught as an elective at the Joint Forces Staff College, after learning the course asserted Islam was at war with the west.
Last Friday, the White House released new guidelines on public/private partnerships between governmental agencies and faith-based groups, reports Adelle M. Banks. The director of White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood partnerships, Joshua DuBois called the new guidelines “an important step” towards clarifying what religious-based social service organizations can do (e.g. display religious art, scriptures and other symbols in their facilities) without jeopardizing federal funding sources. Yet the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, says these new guidelines fail to address critical questions, most notably whether faith-based groups can discriminate in their hiring and firing practices.
For the second time in a decade, New Hampshire Episcopalians may elect a gay man to become bishop of the state’s diocese. The senior associate rector at Boston’s Trinity Church, the Rev. William W. Rich, a gay married man, is one of three finalists the diocese’s search committee has nominated to replace the retiring Bishop Gene Robinson. In 2003, the election of Bishop Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, sparked an ongoing rift in the Anglican Communion, with many conservative Episcopal congregations splitting from the American church and joining Anglican churches in Africa.
Mitt Romney is beating President Barack Obama for the “very religious” vote (54 percent to 37 percent), so reports a new Gallup poll released last week. However Obama leads the Mormon Romney among “moderately religious” (54 percent to 40 percent) and “nonreligious” (61 percent to 30 percent) voters. During the GOP primary campaign, Romney lost the “very religious” vote to the conservative Catholic Rick Santorum. Self-described “very religious” voters make up half the electorate.
Praying Americans will find they have non-theistic company on the “National Day of Prayer,” scheduled for this Thursday. Religion News Service‘s Kimberly Winston reports, “The National Day of Reason—or ‘NDR’ in the shorthand of the nontheist community—will also be held May 3, part protest, part celebration and totally godless.”