News for Week Ending 11/24/2014
New anti-gay law proposed in UgandaAlthough Uganda’s draconian anti-gay law was struck down for having been passed by Parliament without a quorum having been present—see Pittsburgh Update story here—new legislation to replace the popular measure is up for consideration. A bill has been introduced in Parliament that targets the “promotion” of homosexuality. Penalties are reduced in the new bill, but it also broadens defined offences. The Lead described the bill and summarizes comment on it.
Seizure of Bibles in Malaysia resolvedLast January, Islamic authorities in Malaysia seized 321 Bibles from the Bible Society of Malaysia because the bibles used the word “Allah” to refer to God. (The seizure was reported January 2, 2014, by Reuters.) Such usage among Malaysia Christians is not new, but a Malaysian court had ruled several months earlier that the word could only be used by Muslims. The Malaysian Insider reported November 20, 2014, however, that the Bibles had been delivered to the Association of Churches of Sarawak, an arrangement devised by Sultan of Selangor Sharafuddin Idris Shah. The Bibles are only to be distributed in Sarawak, which was the destination intended by the Bible Society in the first place.
Male evengelical clergy are a block to CoE unityArchbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has a vision of a Church of England that is tolerant of divergent views, particularly on issues of sexuality. A recent survey commissioned by the Westminster Faith Debates, however, suggests that male evangelical clergy may be a roadblock to unity. The survey found that, although most clergy are willing to tolerate opposing views, this is not true of male evangelicals. (Women evangelicals are considerably more tolerant.) A majority of male evangelicals believe that there should be greater uniformity in the church or the church should divide over strongly held beliefs. Details are at Thinking Anglicans.
ACNA archbishop asks bishops and clergy not to sign Marriage Pledge—at least not nowAnglican Church in North America’s Archbishop Foley Beach has asked his bishops and clergy not to sign The Marriage Pledge pending a review of its legal, theological, and sociological ramifications. The Pledge is the brainchild of the Rev. Ephraim Radner and the Rev. Christopher Seitz of the Anglican Communion Institute, which has no official connection to the Anglican Communion. It asks clergy to not perform marriages as a representative of the state. Ironically, this has long been an idea of the Episcopal left, but the rationale of The Pledge is to avoid any endorsement of the civil “redefinition” of marriage. VirtueOnline reported this story November 22, 2014. Jim Naughton has provided useful background on the authors of The Pledge at The Lead.
Presiding Bishop issues statement on Obama immigration planPresiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a statement November 21, 2014, in response to President Obama’s action on immigration. She wrote
Permanent and comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system through congressional action is still urgently needed, but the President’s action is a constructive step toward a system that honors the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being.Her complete message can be found here.
16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence begin on November 25The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence begins November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and runs through December 10, 2014, Human Rights Day. This year, a video has been made of male Anglican leaders urging the elimination of violence against women. The video includes 10 men, including bishops from Canada, the U.S., Wales, Zimbabwe, and Brazil. ENS covered the Days of Activism last month. The video can be seen here.
Episcopal priest arrested in FergusonMail Online reported November 20, 2014, that an Episcopal priest, the Rev. Rebecca Ragland, was arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, where she was trying to defuse tensions as residents awaited the decision of the grand jury considering whether to indict Darren Wilson, who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August. Ragland clearly believes she was treated badly by police. The Mail Online story includes numerous pictures.
Church creates Department of Public Engagement and Mission CommunicationEpiscopal Church Chief Operating Officer, Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, announced the creation of a new Department of Public Engagement and Mission Communication. The department will be headed by Alex Baumgarten, Episcopal Church Director of Government Relations/Justice and Advocacy Ministries. According to a press release, there will be four teams in the new department. The teams and their leaders are:
- Communication (Anne Rudig, Director of Communication)
- Public Affairs (Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer)
- Justice and Advocacy Ministries (Alex Baumgarten)
- Episcopal News Service (Alex Baumgarten)
Minnesota, Bexley Seabury form partnershipOn November 19, 2014, a partnership was announced between the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) and Bexley Seabury Theological Seminary Federation that will bring the resources of Bexley Seabury to ECMN in the areas of Christian formation and leadership development. Details can be found here.
The new partnership appears part of a new emphasis on mission in Minnesota. (See, for example, the ENS story on new deans for Minnesota cathedrals.) It is not clear what the significance is of dioceses beginning to call themselves the Episcopal Church in Wherever, Minnesota and Connecticut have re-branded themselves voluntarily. South Carolina was forced to do so by a court.