Former President Gerald R. Ford, praised in death as a low-key healer for the nation in the troubled aftermath of the White House Watergate scandals and the Vietnam War, was eulogized in a succession of Episcopal services at the turn of the new year.
The Templeton Foundation has often described its principal grant-making interests using the expression “science and religion.” “No more,” says Pamela Thompson, Templeton’s vice president for communications.
“It's never been easy to make ends meet while putting out a progressive Christian publication. But in an ironic twist, a re-energized religious left may be making a tough task even harder. . . . At least five progressive periodicals—including four with a 30-plus-year publishing history—have either disbanded or undergone a radical makeover in the past three years.”
In the aftermath of Ted Haggard’s sexual immorality scandal, analysts may wonder how much the misdeeds harmed the evangelical–White House alliance or the National Association of Evangelicals, which the megachurch pastor led as president for three years.
Pentecostalism and related “Spirit-filled movements” are rightly seen as a hard-driving engine fueling the global spread of Christianity, but their adherents are often wrongly seen as apolitical, otherworldly enthusiasts bent on “speaking in tongues,” according to two separate studies on the century-old phenomena.
John Kerry, reticent about his religious beliefs during his losing 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush, poured out his testimony last month—not to fellow Catholics but to an evangelical audience in Malibu, California.
After varied efforts by Democratic leaders to convince mainstream churchgoers that they share common moral values, a Baptist ethicist has suggested that the Democrats focus instead on core biblical issues of compassion and begin long-term contacts with centrist clergy at local levels.
The lurid and violent world of World Wrestling Entertainment, with an audience of 50 million worldwide, includes microphone-grabbing diatribes by rival wrestlers, “candid” camera shots from the locker rooms, and the ringside connivance of wrestlers’ girlfriends. This blue-collar opera also draws on biblical images and themes. Hugh S. Pyper, senior lecturer in biblical studies, says the Bible provides “a ready set of imagery . . . of power, destruction, revenge and judgment. . . . I cannot now read the book of Judges without casting the characters in a WWE extravaganza.”
When Justice Hugo Black wrote in 1948 for the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between the church and the state which must be kept high and impregnable,” he was acting to bar required religious classes from public schools, in a case called McCollum v. Board of Education.
As bombs and rockets rained from the skies in Lebanon and Israel, the American presidents of international Lutheran and Reformed fellowships joined with the World Council of Churches to plead for an immediate cease-fire, saying that “the world cannot wait for signs of ‘a new Middle East’ to stop the killing.”
“I have become profoundly disenchanted with our General Assembly process . . . the unsatisfactory way we were dealing with difficult and complex theological issues . . . and the toxic by-products of perpetually creating winners and losers, friends who are with us and enemies who oppose us.”
At the end of April, a new TV ad financed by the Episcopal Church will show 30-something Paige Blair of Maine talking casually about how during tough times, church provides her “some solace and perspectives that help me understand, reconcile and forgive.”
One Sunday morning in 1960, the Episcopal pastor of a 2,500-member parish in suburban Los Angeles told his congregation that he and 70 other members had been “speaking in tongues." At the end of the service, an assistant priest pulled off his vestments and stalked out, saying, “I can no longer work with this man!” Tumult reigned. One man stood on a chair, shouting, “Throw out the damn tongue-speakers!”
The heresy-fighting bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, France, mentioned the Gospel of Judas about 180 AD, linking the writing to a Gnostic sect. Some two centuries later, Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, criticized the Gospel of Judas for treating the betrayer of Jesus as commendable, one who “performed a good work for our salvation.”
A large, progressive Episcopal church in southern California, warned by the Internal Revenue Service that its tax-exempt status may be at risk over a preelection antiwar sermon delivered last year, says it intends to fight what it calls “unsupported” assertions by the federal agency.
Before John Roberts was approved by the U.S. Senate as chief justice, backers of the federal judge, an active Catholic, warned that the nominee should not be put to an unconstitutional “religious test” in evaluations of his suitability.