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Science or Religion?

Gabbie Rhodes Oct 23, 2014

In 2012 a Pew Foundation Survey on religion showed that 20 percent of Americans placed themselves in an “unaffiliated” category. Additionally, a book that covers this topic also explains that these “unaffiliated” people are generally not hostile towards having a scientific approach to life. In fact, this percent of people embrace the scientific aspect of life but as they do this they also look at life in awe and amazement, which is perceived as being spiritual. Now, the main point of this is that essentially 20 percent of Americans are trying to understand the relationship between the world of science and our spiritual experiences. They want to know how spirituality and science can work together without adding in any type of religious influence.


So, I want to know whether or not you think spirituality can have any type of relationship with science or if it only relates better with religion?

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, gives a report to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting on June 11, 2014. RNS photo courtesy Matt Miller via Baptist Press

Southern Baptist seminary clears president after dispute over Muslim student

Adelle M. Banks Oct 23, 2014

(RNS) The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have affirmed the school’s president, Paige Patterson, after investigating his decision to admit a Muslim student into the school’s Ph.D. program.

Patterson, one of the most revered Southern Baptist figures and an architect of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention a generation ago, faced heavy criticism from some Baptists who accused him of violating the standards of his school in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We join with our fellow Southern Baptists in appreciation for and admiration of the evangelistic heart of our president, Paige Patterson,” the trustee board said in a statement Wednesday (Oct. 22) as it concluded its fall meeting.

“Any violations of the seminary bylaws were done in a good-faith enthusiasm to pursue the seminary’s purpose, as set forth in its articles of incorporation.”

The trustees have closed their investigation, and Patterson told Religion News Service after the meeting that the Muslim student, Ghassan Nagagreh, is no longer enrolled at the seminary.

Pope Francis prays at Western Wall in Jerusalem

The Francis Dilemma: leading without leaving your community behind

Timothy Carson Oct 22, 2014

It is almost a ludicrous comparison but I will make it anyway: I understand Pope Francis’ dilemma. There, I said it. It is obvious that this Protestant pastor is neither Catholic nor a bishop, certainly not the Bishop of Rome. Yet we share many things in common. The scale and context is different, of course. But certain matters cross every ecumenical line.

Francis just completed a major conclave with his many bishops. The focus was on the Christian family and how the Church might teach and shepherd a confused flock in these turbulent times. This is no easy task, period. We live in a baffling era. Faith, belief and practice have shifted, no matter the doctrinal convictions of the ages. And how contemporary Christians and families view the church, what they need from and are able to offer to the church has changed. The Prince of Rome has his work cut out for him.

On the surface of appearance one might assume that every Cardinal and Bishop is in lock step with their Pontiff. Such is not the case. A Pope might attempt to rule with an iron fist. But a global manifestation of church resists such micro-managing. Those many bishops were handpicked for their roles under different Papal administrations. There are the traditionalists and the progressives. Whatever posture a Pope might take he is shepherding an unwieldy group of shepherds. This came to the fore during the most recent gathering.

Though the Nicene Creed confesses that there is one church universal, that one church is in no way unified around LGBTQ matters. Putting aside the complicating cloud of recent clergy sexual abuse cases that often involved priests with boys, the church is not of one mind on either sexual identity or orientation. The ecclesial wheels of change grind slowly and unevenly, continent by continent. Whereas Pope Francis has advocated for a much more pastoral and open invitation to gays in the life of the church, the bishops resisted, scaling back that invitation and the change it represented. The Pope went public, bringing to light the difference between original drafts of the statement and how it was revised by more cautious bishops.


10 Signs You Are Meant to be a Youth Leader

Anna Sutterer Oct 21, 2014

You have choreographed moves for any popular dubstep, T-Swift or christian rap (preferably Lecrae) song

Catholic priest giving Holy Communion. Photo courtesy of via Shutterstock

Ebola prompts hands-off Mass in Fort Worth, Texas

Lauren Markoe Oct 20, 2014

The Blood of Christ will not be offered during Mass. The Host will be placed in the hands, not on the tongue. And the faithful should not hold hands while reciting the “Our Father.”

These are but a few of the guidelines the Diocese of Fort Worth — not far from the Dallas hospital where three Ebola cases have been diagnosed — has sent to its parishes to calm fears about the deadly disease and to prevent the spread of flu.

While the diocese is perhaps the first in the U.S. to send around such a memo thanks in part to Ebola, such restrictions are common during flu season in Catholic and other churches that offer Communion.

“It’s the same guidelines we have used in past years,” said Pat Svacina, communications director for the Diocese of Fort Worth. “This is just a normal thing. There is no panic whatsoever.”


“You are part of a system:” Individual Responsibility within Systemic Sin

Meg Hegemann Oct 17, 2014

I am part of a system that kills young black men. I am part of a religion that has abandoned young people, poor people, black and brown people and has worked diligently to destroy indigenous cultures. I could go on. I claim this because the first step toward recovery is to recognize there is a problem; the first step toward repentance is to name the sin; the first step toward grace is to recognize the need for it.

The congregation I serve is celebrating 100 years in ministry. During those 100 years we have been guilty of sins of racism, sexism, heterosexism and classism. The fact that I have only been a part of this congregation for four and a half years does not negate my responsibility within a sinful institution. We name these sins as a part of our history; as part of our commitment to leave them behind us as we strive toward the kingdom of God.

This is the context from which I went to Ferguson on Monday to participate in a clergy protest. I needed to be with other people of faith to name our own sinfulness, our own complacency within sinful systems. I needed to confess, repent and make a commitment to pursuing a new direction. After this work, our task as clergy members was to approach an individual officer and offer him or her the same opportunity. “You are a part of a system that killed Michael Brown. I call you to repentance and offer to hear your confession.” I had the opportunity to directly approach two officers. Both of them responded to the statement with tears in their eyes. We looked into each other’s souls. What I saw was pain; a need to release the doubt and guilt and confusion and fear that so many of us feel right now, and a need to be overwhelmed by the grace of God who can take that all away.

Politics And Religion Are Never A Good Mix

Gabbie Rhodes Oct 16, 2014

According to an article in The Gazette, religious leaders are starting to voice their frustration with the IRS. Lately, the government agency has been threatening to take away religious leaders tax-free status if they fail to avoid political speech. The threats also take into consideration the religious leaders influence on abortion, environment, and other political policies. Daniel Blomberg, the lead counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. said, “If you’re a pastor, you can’t be sure unless you just don’t say anything at all. That’s how most of them respond. They steer clear of politics and public policy entirely.” However, despite these threats, religious leaders are generally allowed to advocate unnamed politicians on a basis of their values.


Do you think religion has a say in politics and is threatening to take way religious leaders tax-free status is too harsh of a punishment?


Megachurches to consider using Apple Pay for tithing

Caitlin Kerfin Oct 16, 2014

Online giving and even mobile, kiosk giving is not new for a lot of megachurches. With so many members and campuses they have to be innovative and tech-savvy to keep up with daily donations and events. Pastors and musicians often use iPads for their services and Mac books for their behind-the-scenes technology.

Apple Pay is said to debut Monday as a new mobile payment service, but will this one catch on while others have failed? Some major credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa as well as banks and restaurants like Citi, Bank of America and McDonalds are already set to accept the contactless payments. Consumers may pay with their Touch ID by simply holding their iPhone near a reader, which is supposed to be secure and private.

If this technology catches on, it could make tithing even more convenient and less expensive.

“We prefer e-checks rather than credit card payments because of processing fees, so it saves us money,” said Cassie Schumacher, lead administrative assistant at Bethlehem Baptist Church.


The Fight to Save United Methodist Camps

Heather Adams Oct 15, 2014

Brittanee Jacobs, 24, has been attending United Methodist Camps since she was 8 years old, accepted Christ there at age 10 and continues to love and fight for the camps, even 16 years later.

But on Sept. 5 the Missouri Annual Conference Camping Board announced they would be closing the four camps after ending the year in a $48,428 deficit. Soon after, many, including Jacobs, took to the Internet and social media to express their confusion and disappointment.

Jacobs is now helping spearhead the campaign, SaveMOUMcamps. The organizers created a website, a Facebook page and started a petition.
She says she didn’t originally know this many people would sign the petition but that she’s also not surprised, calling the campsites home.

“When that was put together, I had never dealt with anything on before and wasn’t really sure how everything worked. And at first we didn’t really have a goal, just trying to get that information out there and see how many people cared,” Jacobs said. “And then the numbers just kept going up and up and up.”

An aerial shot of Aldai E. Stevenson High School, located in the northern suburb of Lincolnshire, one of the few high schools in Illinois that moved football action to Thursday.

Choosing between Yom Kippur and Friday Night Football

Reese Johnson Oct 14, 2014

Being the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur ought to be treated with the same reverence as many institutions treat Good Friday. Yet, outside heavily populated Jewish communities in the U.S., the vast majority of businesses, stores and schools do not alter anything if Yom Kippur falls during a weekday.

This scenario occurred this year, as Yom Kippur began at sundown on Friday, October 3rd lasting until sundown on Saturday, Oct. 4.

During the fall, Friday nights are reserved for the exciting action of high school football throughout the country. However, for many Jewish high school football players, this particular Friday presented a two-fold conflict.