Christian religion – Hardy Presbyterian Thu, 29 Sep 2022 22:53:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Christian religion – Hardy Presbyterian 32 32 China: Appreciation of “light religion” Thu, 29 Sep 2022 17:24:21 +0000 Tushanwan Museum – artist view During a trip to Shanghai last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Tushanwan Museum, a place I had heard about a few years ago. Located just two blocks from St. Ignatius Cathedral in the bustling central district of Xujiahui, the museum is an example of what happens when […]]]>

Tushanwan Museum – artist view

During a trip to Shanghai last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Tushanwan Museum, a place I had heard about a few years ago. Located just two blocks from St. Ignatius Cathedral in the bustling central district of Xujiahui, the museum is an example of what happens when Chinese historical appreciation meets Church history.

Standing in front of the museum entrance, it took patience to find a way to use my cell phone to scan the codes to generate an entry ticket and also to view proof of a recent negative Covid test. The stumbling effort gave time to have a humorous conversation with the service people at the entrance. After negotiating the electronic barrier, a transfer to another era quickly made itself felt.

The newly renovated museum is a thoughtful presentation of Shanghai’s Church history. The late 19th century photographs are accompanied by written explanations in Chinese and English, with an occasional area having an explanation in French. Different sections focused on the dedicated efforts of the Church in its pioneering work in education, art, orphan care, health care, stained glass, printing as well as the development of faith.

Perhaps a space restriction led to omitting the pioneering work of Jesuit missionaries on the outskirts of the city to set up China’s first seismic monitoring center and large-scale observatory in Sheshan, which are both well registered on their respective sites. A surprising part of the Tushanwan Museum’s positive presentation of the Church’s contribution to life in Shanghai is that the museum is a project in which the local government is the key player.

There seems to be a flexibility in the Chinese collective mind to place the history of a religious institution in a neutral and safe category, a category that can be seen as quite different from the discussions of civil authorities on the current role of the same religious institution.

A similar historical perception seems to apply in the heart of Beijing where a detailed explanation of Christianity’s first known arrival in China is displayed in the National Museum. A large scale hard copy of the text of the famous 8th century Christian stele in a museum in Xian is accompanied by explanations describing how the three meter high stone sculpture was carved and engraved to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the the arrival of Christianity, the religion referred to at the time as the “religion of light”.

The National Museum is located on one side of the historic city square that forms the heart of Beijing, the other side of the same square being the location of the huge assembly halls where the largest political rallies take place and where decisions on the future direction of the nation are approved.

What is acceptable in big cities ultimately seems to give a subconscious nod to what may happen in other parts of China. In the Hanyang district of Wuhan, a recently planned large-scale commercial and residential development has been designed to preserve three ancient buildings, each part of the history of the Church in the area. Their historical significance was enough to save them from demolition. An old church, a convent and a school of embroidery are therefore integrated into a project in which the French architect Hugh Dutton participates; the Louvre Museum in Paris being the location of some of his architectural designs.

In addition to work underway throughout this year to preserve the three ancient buildings, plans are in place to have a museum that will showcase the contribution made by missionaries in this part of China.

Colorful brochures and infographics already highlight what might be available to visitors in mid-2023. While ideas for possible exhibits are being discussed, a focus on the life of Columbanus co-founder Bishop Edward Galvin is emerging as a possibility for the new museum. His 30 years lived through contrasting eras in this part of China being an appropriate choice to highlight missionary experiences. Discussions between property developers and Chinese Church personnel continue in an effort to find suitable mission magazines, books, photographs and artifacts that would help present missionary history to the public.

The new museum is conveniently located at the intersection of two subway lines in the heart of the city’s Hanyang district. It is planned to be part of the former Hanyang Diocesan Sisters Convent and the setting is preceded by a public plaza and close to the large number of new apartments in the development. The planning for the museum is being done by people not traditionally connected with the Church, their efforts leading to what appears to be a positive presentation of Church life in this part of China.

In Old Testament times, the people of Israel understood God to be the God of history. Even in our time, the same vision of God remains fundamental, with events from generation to generation eventually revealing a pattern of meaning that touches the hearts of the community in unexpected ways. In such a perspective, it would seem that there is also room for a contribution to be made in China by the civil authorities who shed unexpected light on the history of the Church. For those with a deep concern for the life of the Church, there can be bewildered smiles as the civil authorities use their considerable skills to present the life of the Church in a meaningful way to the public. This is a new audience that otherwise would not have the opportunity to see the Church in such a positive historical unfolding.

Father Dan Troy is a member of St Columban’s Missionary Society. He lives in China.

Politicians must reduce the importance of religion in campaigns – President of Ondo APC Wed, 28 Sep 2022 04:07:09 +0000 The President of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, in this interview with PIERRE DADAtalks about the party’s preparation for the 2023 general election, among other political issues in the state and nation Campaigning for the 2023 general election begins today, how prepared is your party with regards to election activities? […]]]>

The President of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, in this interview with PIERRE DADAtalks about the party’s preparation for the 2023 general election, among other political issues in the state and nation

Campaigning for the 2023 general election begins today, how prepared is your party with regards to election activities?

You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. As a party, we have been doing our normal things since the beginning of the party primaries. What we are not allowed to do is open campaign. Now that the campaign begins today, we are fully prepared to do our part and ensure that our party wins the election. The most important part is the regular meeting of people and we had our regular meetings every day.

We have regular meetings at local government, ward and unit level. The APC is an ideological party. We have principles and what it takes to govern society. This is why we have structures in the units and cadres in the 4,000 units of the State. We have our excos in all 203 wards and 18 local government areas and all of these excos meet regularly.

Recently, we began our visits to the three senatorial districts of the state, and it is for our party members to share ideas, discuss how to strengthen the party and plan what to do to make our happy people. In all these meetings the attendance was very high and people are joining in the fun daily.

Ondo State has many support groups for the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. What are you doing to ensure good coordination of these groups so that there are no long-term clashes?

All of these support groups are members of APC. As I told you, the party has structures in all units and neighborhoods, but these support groups must complement the party structures. Support groups are not political parties; I find them like NGOs. Since they are not a registered political party, they only support the party. If you have a support group, you register either with the state or with the national headquarters of our party and when you register with the headquarters, they give the green light to the group with the aim of strengthening and creating synergy with the party in their state. . So when the groups arrive in the state, we double-check their letters and direct them to the local government where they came from.

How sincere do you think these bands are? Don’t you see them as trying to take advantage of people and campaign funds?

With all due respect, some are genuine, some are not. We will work with those that are genuine and reduce those that are not.

How will you identify those who are not authentic?

Well, their authenticity will make them comply with the order asking them to return to their local government and complete the structure there. But if they want to work in isolation, without dragging the party, you know they have ulterior motives. As long as they synergize with the party, you know they are genuine.

There is a problem with your party on the issue of the same religion ticket. Christians are the majority in Ondo State and we have heard that some party members are unhappy with this arrangement. How are you handling the situation?

In us, at the APC, Christians and Muslims coexist and we do not discriminate. What we are looking for is good governance. All religions are good. A Muslim, as well as a Christian, seeks good governance, even the traditional faithful. It now depends on who can direct them properly. You are not going to rule on the basis of religion. So we are together and we coexist. Our goal is good governance. Again, I believe you are not placing your candidacy on religion, but rather on performance. You can choose Christian/Christian and you do better than a Muslim. Also, you can choose a Muslim/Muslim and have better results than a Christian. It is therefore about individual capacity. For me, there needs to be less emphasis on the issue of candidacy based on religion.

Akeredolu in Ondo state built a mosque in the government house. There is a church and a mosque and there is no problem. So we should emphasize religion less.

There are many problems in the country, especially those of insecurity and the economy. Some say that your party’s presidential candidate may have nothing to say to Nigerians during the campaign. Do you think the APC will do better after the 2023 general election?

Well, I can tell you that out of all the presidential candidates right now, I don’t know of tomorrow or future, ours, Tinubu is the best in terms of background, performance and ability. He played as a governor and a senator. Asiwaju is a man who believes in the materials around him. If you look at his environment, he opts for the best materials. By the time he takes office, Nigeria will be better than where we are now.

Some fear that northerners will pull out to vote for themselves in the election. What do you think ?

Who is their own person? Is it the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party who comes from the North?

What about the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party who is also from the North? Has Atiku freed Adamawa since he entered politics? What these people say is only insinuation. The APC is a party that transcends religions. Most of our supporters come from the North. You should know that the national president of APC is from the North region. Our party believes in fairness while the presidential candidate is from the south of the country. So everyone will vote for their party. The national president must deliver the North. Isn’t our national president their people? He was governor of Nasarawa for two terms and a senator for three terms. Of all the political bigwigs in the North, no one can claim to be more popular than him. So he will deliver. When we talk about northern politicians, we must first reckon with our president. He has never lost a state since the beginning of this dispensation. So isn’t Nasarawa part of the northern region? Forget the insinuations, we’re getting there.

We have heard that some of your members in Ondo State are aggrieved especially some aspirants who thought the outcome of the appeals committee was silent after appealing the result of the primary election. What’s your reaction ?

Well, I don’t know what you mean by aggrieved wannabes, but I can tell you with authority that the APC in the state is one family. No one is harmed and we all work together. Notice, I told you that we have our regular meetings at all levels in the state. Look at the political parties in the state, the APC under Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is the only party with cohesion. You can go into the nooks and crannies of our party in Ondo and you will find that there is not a single splinter group or faction.

How were you able to solve the problem surrounding the result of the last primaries in certain constituencies?

One thing about our members in the state is that our primary focus is good governance. Our main objective is to elevate the party towards the Promised Land by placing party interest above individual interest. Yes, we may see aggrieved members, but the party interest is paramount in our minds.

Aren’t you worried that these aggrieved members might move on to another party at the last hour?

Our members believe in the interest of the party. What they have in mind is how to sustain and strengthen the party. I can tell you that of all the political parties in the state, the APC is the only organized party. Nobody leaves. People come to the party everyday. those we need and we do them quietly.

What do you think of Governor Akeredolu’s appointment as South West Coordinator of Tinubu/Shettima Camping Organisation, what do you think qualified him ahead of other APC Governors in the region ?

Well, in terms of boldness and outspokenness, he’s a man who fits in. Additionally, he is the only governor in the South West to have won the election with 55% of the total votes cast. No one has this record. His record is what he needs in the race to the remaining part of the South West to see APC win in the next election. And being the president of the South West Governors Forum, he is the one who coordinates the governors of the South. He can reach out to other opponents who are not in the APC. I guess those are the areas the leaders looked at before selecting it.

What is your message to your members there?

My message to APC members in the state is that they must go to work for the success of the party. They should come out and mobilize and make sure our party comes out on top in the next general election in 2023. I thank them for always being there and standing with the party.

Church of the week | Religion Sun, 25 Sep 2022 12:30:00 +0000 State Representative Regina Young presented Pastor Alfred S. Parker, Jr. with a check for $60,000 made out to Mt. Zion CME Church located in Sharon Hill. “We are so grateful to receive this blessing, which will benefit the Mount Zion Food Bank Ministry and all the families in the communities we serve,” Parker said. Funding […]]]>

Are Brigham Young’s sports controversies about sports, religion, or politics? —GetReligion Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:45:54 +0000 I have a journalism question, which will require time travel. Let’s take a look back at the 2021 football game between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Baylor Bears, which took place in Waco, Texas, an interesting town known to many as “Jerusalem on the Brazos.” After BYU’s first score, a significant number of Baylor […]]]>

I have a journalism question, which will require time travel. Let’s take a look back at the 2021 football game between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Baylor Bears, which took place in Waco, Texas, an interesting town known to many as “Jerusalem on the Brazos.”

After BYU’s first score, a significant number of Baylor students are heard chanting “F*** Mormons!” again and again. Or maybe, since we’re talking about folks at a Baptist college, the chant is “Convert Mormons!” The chant doesn’t focus on the “Cougars,” but on BYU’s obvious heritage with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The chants were loud enough to be heard on broadcast media, and within minutes clear audio recordings were posted on social media.

My question, which I posed during this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (CLICK HERE to settle this): Would this unpleasant and rude event be considered valid reporting? In national coverage, would the religious ties of the two schools – soon to be rivals in the Big 12 – be discussed? In other words, would it be a report on religion, as well as a report on sports?

I think it’s pretty obvious that the answers would be “yes” and, again, “yes”.

That brings us, of course, to two BYU sports stories from the past few weeks — one that received massive national coverage and one that, well, didn’t get quite as much ink. I think it’s valid to ask “Why?” in both cases.

Before we share some links to coverage of both stories, let’s pause and consider this related report from the Religion News Service: “Nearly 200 religious colleges deemed ‘unsafe’ for LGBTQ students by Campus Pride.” Here is the opening:

Dozens of religious colleges across the country, including Seattle Pacific University in Washington and Brigham Young University in Utah, have been listed as unsafe and discriminatory campuses for LGBTQ students by Campus Pride, a national organization that advocates for inclusive colleges and universities.

According to Campus Pride, less than 10 of the 193 schools on the list released Thursday, Sept. 8, were unaffiliated with a religion or did not state a religious affiliation.

The lengthy Campus Pride report on BYU opens with this statement (the shorter Baylor article appears here):

Brigham Young University qualified for the worst list because it has an established and well-documented history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination that endangers victims of sexual assault and has resulted in a call for it not to not be included as a Big 12 school.

The key word, of course, is “endangers”.

The big deal, of course, is that BYU is a doctrinally defined private school with a lifestyle commitment requiring students, staff, and faculty to strive to uphold (or, at the very least, not not attack) the teachings of the Church of Jesus. Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Both liberal and conservative private schools tend to have such moral and cultural beliefs – often clearly stated in public documents. The problem, of course, is that BYU’s doctrines clash with those of Campus Pride.

A pertinent question: does this affect media coverage?

BYU’s recent sports story which received major national coverage and, therefore, will be familiar to many readers, was summarized in a report by the Independent (as opposed to LDS-linked) Salt Lake City Grandstandwhich began like this:

Duke women’s volleyball player Rachel Richardson was repeatedly called a racial slur by a fan at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse Friday night, according to her family.

Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s godmother, said that every time Richardson served the ball during the game between Duke and BYU, a fan from the BYU student section would shout the racial slur. At some point during the game, Pamplin said, Richardson was also “threatened by a white man.”

Separation of Church and State in America? No problem ! Unless… Wed, 21 Sep 2022 20:47:08 +0000 At Bangor Christian School in Maine, ninth graders are taught to “refute the teachings of the Islamic religion with the truth of the Word of God.” To work in the school, a teacher must affirm that “he/she is a ‘born again’ Christian who knows the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour” and “must be an active, […]]]>

At Bangor Christian School in Maine, ninth graders are taught to “refute the teachings of the Islamic religion with the truth of the Word of God.” To work in the school, a teacher must affirm that “he/she is a ‘born again’ Christian who knows the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour” and “must be an active, tithing member of a church believing in the Bible”.

Similarly, at Temple Academy in Maine, teachers sign a contract acknowledging that “God acknowledges[s] homosexuals and other deviants as perverts” and that “deviation from biblical standards is grounds for termination”. Temple will not admit children who identify as gay or who come “from homes with serious differences from the biblical basis of the school.”

Putting aside any opinion about what schools teach one way or the other, many taxpayers might feel uncomfortable paying for schools whose moral outlook differs from their own and which, as school policy, will only allow those who follow a certain religion teachings into their service. Yet that is what the Supreme Court decided in Carson v. Makin of this summer. Maine must use its taxpayer-funded public funds to support the inculcation of a worldly and moral view of a religion.

The Supreme Court has thrown the hammer, but as with many such sensitive cases involving the present and future of so many, the jury is still out in the court of public opinion. Is freedom of religion in better shape than ever? Has the wall of separation between Church and State remained sharp and clear?

Church-state separation expert Charles Haynes, for his part, is at a loss as to what to do now. Haynes, who, according to the Washington Post“literally wrote the book on the subject for the U.S. Department of Education with partners as diverse as the National Association of Evangelicals and the American Civil Liberties Union,” worries that decisions such as Carson v. Makin and the highly publicized Kennedy v. Bremerton School District’s decision in which the high court ruled in favor of a football coach praying on the 50-yard line on a taxpayer-funded public football pitch, blurs the line between government and society. religion to an almost unrecognizable blur.

“What am I supposed to say now?” What am I saying?… We’re now at the point where you wonder if there’s any establishment clause left,” Haynes said of the first 10 words of the First Amendment that prohibits laws “establishing” religion.

With America becoming more diverse day by day, the perception of many is that the Supreme Court has indeed opened the door. But to what? Towards a better recognition of the needs of all religions, and not just one? Will we now see devout Muslims rolling out their prayer mats on high school football fields? Will Hebrew Orthodox schools now be fully funded by state revenues? Or will it be, as critics point out, just another excuse to bully and harass minority students who don’t go with the crowds — like at West Virginia High School earlier this year when a Jewish boy was coerced to attend a Christian prayer meeting against his will? Her mother said: “I’m not undermining their faith, but there’s a time and a place for everything – and in public schools, during the school day, that’s not the time and place.

Indeed, it has been a hot summer with reactions to High Court rulings ranging from the scathing denunciation of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “The court’s unscrupulous approach to the coach’s prayer will encourage those who seek to proselytize to the public schools to do so with the blessing of the Court;” to the exultation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “This is a historic day in the life of our country, a day that awakens our thoughts, our emotions and our prayers”.

The debate on the question of how far is too far the State and the Church has existed for as long as the Republic. In 1785, in a rebuttal to a bill strikingly similar to Carson v. Makin who allegedly allocated public funds to a Christian school and therefore could have been interpreted as favoritism or sponsorship of that religion, founding father James Madison wrote an impassioned “Memorial and Remonstrance”. Against Religious Evaluation,” which states in part regarding freedom of religion: “This right is by nature an inalienable right. It is inalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own mind, cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is also inalienable, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty to the Creator.

Thanks to the agitation of James Madison and his friend Thomas Jefferson, the bill was never ratified and the law never passed.

Jefferson drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty in 1777 and coined the phrase “wall of separation between Church and State” in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association as a concise explanation of freedom of religion.

Are the foundations of this wall stronger than ever? Do they still guarantee genuine freedom of religion for all religions – minority, majority and all religions in between?

It depends on who is talking. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo) addressing a church service in Colorado, said, “The church is supposed to run the government. The government is not supposed to run the church. This is not the intention of our founding fathers. I’m sick of this separation of church and state that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinky letter and it doesn’t mean anything they say.

Historically, statesmen and legislators in our country have been unanimous in agreeing, at least in principle, that state-sponsored religion is a bad and dangerous idea, harmful to religion itself. even one which should be supported by its members, governed by its own codes and doctrine and completely free from any governmental interference, including economic. As Benjamin Franklin commented, “When a religion is good, I conceive that it will sustain itself; and when he cannot support himself, and God does not care to support him, so that his teachers are compelled to call for help from the civil power, it is a sign, I fear, that he is bad.

Discussion on ethics and religion: how can I convert to your faith? Mon, 19 Sep 2022 21:28:40 +0000 Reverend Ray Lanning, retired pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, responds: “’Conversion’ is a word with more than one meaning. There is the divine activity of the Holy Spirit in regeneration as He works faith in the heart using the preaching of the gospel. No human being has control over this operation […]]]>

Reverend Ray Lanning, retired pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, responds:

“’Conversion’ is a word with more than one meaning. There is the divine activity of the Holy Spirit in regeneration as He works faith in the heart using the preaching of the gospel. No human being has control over this operation of the Spirit, and it is most often a process with a beginning, middle and end only in the next life. Every true Christian is somewhere in this process, and he or she can only observe its effects and fruits in the inner man and in the outer life. For some, the onset may seem quite sudden; for many others, it is experienced over a longer period. The “sudden conversion” is in fact almost always only a critical point in a much longer process; it is certainly not the end point.

“There is also a human process by which those who have come to personal faith in Christ are recognized and accepted as members of the church. A large part of the job of every Presbyterian or Reformed minister is to counsel and instruct these people on the basics of our faith and what is expected of communicant members of the church. Candidates for membership are reviewed by the governing body of the local church, known as the session or presbytery. If their profession of faith is deemed credible, that is, intelligent, sincere and unforced, they are recommended to the Church for public profession of faith and baptism, if they have not been baptized. This human activity is also a process. Public profession and baptism are not end points, but only the beginning of a life of growth in knowledge, grace, personal holiness and Christian service.

Father Kevin Niehoff, OP, a Dominican priest who serves as Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Grand Rapids, responds:

“I start by assessing the sincerity of the request. If the person is serious about becoming a Catholic, recommend that they speak to the parish Director of Religious Education (DRE) to begin the investigative process in the Catholic Church called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) or the rite of Christian initiation. children (RCIC).

“The Catholic Church recognizes and teaches that the process of becoming Catholic has changed over the past two millennia. However, one constant remains the need to go through a process. When I entered the seminary many years ago, the rector told us that you all came here for the wrong reasons (this is intentionally vague because they are different for each person). The training process helps a person determine and find the right reasons (again, it’s vague because it’s different for each person) to stay and become a priest.

“It is the same for all the faithful. One becomes Catholic for the wrong reasons and one remains so because everyone finds the right reasons.

Reverend Sandra Nikkel, senior pastor of the Conklin Reformed Church, responds:

“Yes, conversion can take place on the spot, but it can also be the result of a long process of exposure to God’s truth. In the case of an “on the spot” conversion, I would first make sure they knew what they were doing and clarify any questions they might have. Then I would lead them through prayer and explain to them the benefits that come with their salvation and the privilege they now have of modeling Christ in the world. In both cases, the conversion “on the spot” and that resulting from a longer process, I would ensure that the person obtains the discipleship necessary to grow and mature in his faith. In Christianity, we see conversion as the beginning of an exciting journey where one can grow in faith, in joy, in peace, in self-control, in practicing kindness, service and selflessness in abiding in Christ and in his Word. So I would make sure they understand the importance of obedience and nurturing their faith by reading God’s Word daily so they can grow in grace and knowledge. Then I would encourage them to be part of a family of faith – a church – so they can have the support and encouragement they need to persevere.

Reverend Colleen Squires, pastor at All Souls Community Church of West Michigan, a Unitarian Universalist congregation, responds:

“An act of conversion is not part of unitary universalism. We celebrate religious diversity, which means that each individual has their own religious beliefs. We do not dictate a set of doctrines to which one must subscribe or submit. It would be important for someone new to our faith to understand the basics of our faith tradition, especially in accepting the differing beliefs of others and encouraging them to explore and challenge our own understanding of the big questions in life.

Imam Kip Curnutt, Director of Religious Education and Associate Imam of Masjid At-Tawheed in Grand Rapids, responds:

“Conversion to Islam is done by declaring the Shahada or testimony of faith. That is to say, someone says: “I testify that there is no god worthy of worship other than Allah and that Muhammad, peace be upon him, is his Prophet and Messenger. If anyone is interested in entering Islam, I will generally explain the basic implications of this statement, the Islamic view of God and of prophethood. If someone believes in these things, they are fundamentally Muslim and the only step left is to openly declare it in order to be recognized by the community. It can be done on the spot if someone is willing. Learning the details of the practice can come later, step by step.

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (minister of outreach) of the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

“Above all, it is my responsibility to ensure to the best of my abilities that the researcher makes the most judicious choice. It is more important to me to act as an unbiased counselor helping him discover the spiritual path that resonates the most. I have answered many calls from those who are dissatisfied with the faith of their ancestors and are looking for something else. Sometimes this leads them to attend a ceremony or meditation in a Hindu setting. Other times I might encourage them to experience a new denomination (if they are Christians), or maybe see what Buddhists are doing if they seem to be drawn in that direction.

“Traditionally, Hinduism has never had an official conversion ceremony similar to baptism. In recent years, some movements and sects have created their own rituals to welcome beginners. to be a Hindu, you become a Hindu. There is no dogmatic belief that one must adhere to, but there are some beliefs that are generally accepted. If a person is attracted to these beliefs and the practices that are encouraged, then not not much else is needed.

This column answers questions of ethics and religion by putting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders from the Grand Rapids area. We would love to hear about common ethical questions that arise in your day as well as religious questions you have. Tell us how you solved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

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Banditry is about money, not religion – Bishop Idowu-Fearon Sun, 18 Sep 2022 09:13:38 +0000 Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon is the General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). Before that, he served the Anglican Church of Nigeria as Bishop of Kaduna and Archbishop of Kaduna Province. He served as Bishop of Sokoto, Director of St. Francis of Assisi Theological College in Wusasa and Provost of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kaduna. […]]]>

Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon is the General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). Before that, he served the Anglican Church of Nigeria as Bishop of Kaduna and Archbishop of Kaduna Province. He served as Bishop of Sokoto, Director of St. Francis of Assisi Theological College in Wusasa and Provost of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kaduna. In this interview with some media, he talked about the Muslim-Muslim All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket, the insecurity in the country, the issue of gay bishops and the way forward.

Yesou were among those who supported President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, would you say he is leaving Nigeria better than he met it?

As a sociologist and director of the Kaduna Center for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations, I don’t think it would be right for me to do that. We base our answers on verifiable evidence and I did not. I am evaluating all facets of our society, starting with Kaduna and then the country. However, your question raises an important fact that Nigerians do not consider. Do you think I care who the president is? No. Do you think I care who my state governor is? Do you think I care who my advisor is? Yes, because that’s where I feel the impact of governance. Ask me about Kaduna and I have facts and figures to compare 2015 when El-Rufai came on board and today. I can easily answer this question because this is my condition; the effect of governance impinges on me and ordinary people.

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Many things have changed in Kaduna. Nigerians should actually think and work more locally. Look at the North and our governors; how many of them can compete with Zulum, the Governor of Borno State and El-Rufai? And I dare say they are Muslims.

No matter what religion you profess, Zulum and El-Rufai stand out in the country. I agree that banditry has become the order of the day but as I said we are complicit in this banditry in Kaduna State. Why do they come to Kaduna? Why do they attack pastors, priests? It has nothing to do with religion, it’s about money. They know the church will pay.

Nigeria is currently plagued by a high level of insecurity; considering that you and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Wilby, are friends of President Buhari, how worried are you?

This is very worrying and I know that Mr. President himself is not comfortable with the situation. I remember the last time I came to the country I had an audience with him and expressed our sympathy for the people who lost their lives and those who were kidnapped. He said, and I agreed with him, that “security is the responsibility of every citizen”. I know how things are in Nigeria, we lay all the blame on the incumbent government and the security agencies. But honestly, as a Nigerian citizen, I am sad that a good number of us do not take security as our responsibility.

The Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the ruling APC is said to be further polarizing Nigerians along the religious divide, what is your view on this?

This is very worrying and many of you have texted me asking for my feedback. I refrained from commenting because we are a very sick country. We are an informed people, but we are very ignorant. So my reaction is one of pity. I confess that all I have done is pray that Christians in particular will follow the path that the Spirit directs them to. I don’t speak prophetically but I do my things prophetically.

Whether we vote or not, we know who will win this election; therefore, my question is, what is the record of Christian leaders trying to convince Christians against such a ticket? We need to start thinking about the backgrounds of those who suddenly came forward to say they were Christians and asked Christians not to vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket?

Last year you laid the groundwork for the construction of the Kaduna Center for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations. How far did you go with the project?

We are progressing; we were able to raise 200 million naira outside the country. My plan is to get the president Buhari to inaugurate it in April 2023. I’m looking for half a million dollars, and we’re halfway to getting it.

What impact will the center have on relations between Muslims and Christians?

As our students graduate from the two-year program, we expect them to create small groups in their communities. We want to start with the basics. Once people know that although their neighbors are Christians or Muslims, they have faith in the same Almighty God, we can work together. If we see someone misbehaving, we must warn them, and if it is a criminal, we report it to the police.

The Anglican Communion has just concluded its Lambert Conference, how did it go?

The conference is held about 10 years in between, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to postpone it. A total of 650 bishops were present and about 450 spouses. However, Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda did not come because, according to them, the Archbishop invited gay bishops to the meeting. The idea of ​​inviting everyone is to give everyone the opportunity to express their opinion. So gay bishops were invited but not their partners, and because of this there were bishops from part of the Communion who were not present because their partners were not invited.

This conference was special because the wives and husbands of women bishops had their own meeting. There were times when they stayed together, but for important decisions the wives were not involved.

Is there a biblical provision on the issue of support for homosexuals in the Anglican Communion?

The Church of England has taken a very clear position that, given the teaching of Scripture, we uphold fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman in a lifelong union, and we believe that abstinence is just for those who are not called to marriage. This is the position of the Anglican Church and it has not changed.

Would you return to Nigeria after your retirement this month?

Well, I got about four invitations to come and help in three churches; one in America and another in the UK. My main focus will be on the Kaduna Center.

What is your advice to Nigerians?

Our country is in a very difficult state, so the more money that is invested in making sure it is safe, the worse it gets. As I said, everyone should contribute to combating this banditry. Let every Nigerian, especially those of us from the North, stay away from religious sentiments.

Pastor Michael J. Brooks: Be Diligent in Business | Religion Fri, 16 Sep 2022 17:05:00 +0000 Many churches near interstate highways have funds set aside for stranded travelers. A local convenience store helps our church maintain an account and honor the vouchers we sometimes give to travelers. But I was surprised last week when an employee called and said he couldn’t help the lady we had just sent to him. “You […]]]>

Many churches near interstate highways have funds set aside for stranded travelers. A local convenience store helps our church maintain an account and honor the vouchers we sometimes give to travelers.

But I was surprised last week when an employee called and said he couldn’t help the lady we had just sent to him.

“You have a big bill,” she said. “We called you to come and pay. We cannot extend your credit today.

I tried to be nice but answered honestly that no one had called.

“Give me an hour, and I’ll be there,” I begged. The employee agreed.

When I arrived the manager met me and apologized.

“It wasn’t you,” she said. “It was another church, and we thought it was you who hadn’t paid for a while.”

Now, no disrespect to our sister church. I’m sure they honored their obligation as soon as they were contacted. As we all must.

The apostle Paul urged Christians not to be “lazy” in business (Romans 12:11). Churches and church members must pay what they owe as a spiritual responsibility.

A member of the church youth group I grew up with enrolled in a major college. An organization he was a member of wanted to bring in a well-known evangelist for an event on campus. They spoke with a few community business owners about sponsorship, but came to nothing. They learned that the evangelist had been a college student years before, started a business, and left town because of money. What a terrible example he has become.

I remember a childhood pastor who sometimes spoke from the pulpit about his financial difficulties. It was embarrassing for the church, and he should have been embarrassed to talk about it. My mother had a conversation with me after my involvement in vocation ministry.

“Never say anything like that when you preach! she warned me.

I listened.

A mentor pastor told me to have a “wallet-to-wallet” conversation with the personnel or finance team once a year, privately, and then not say anything more about my personal finances.

I listened.

Another mentor warned me about ministerial discounts.

“If a company gives you a discount, take advantage of it and be grateful,” he said. “But don’t ever let me hear you asking for a discount!”

I listened.

I was at a local business recently. The clerk asked me if I was entitled to a senior discount. I asked how she knew that, and she just smiled. I guess at this point it’s fine to ask for a senior discount, but never a ministerial discount!

Every Christian should manage his money wisely, pay his debts on time, and give a worthy share of his income to the work of God through his church.

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is

China’s Renewed Push to Tame Religion – Analysis – Eurasia Review Thu, 15 Sep 2022 01:15:47 +0000 By Kalpit A Mankikar and Amit Kumar Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, recently met with leaders of the Clergy Association. The deliberations appear to point to the future trajectory of organized religion in China. Wang stressed the need to build a contingent of “politically reliable” clerics to ensure that the […]]]>

By Kalpit A Mankikar and Amit Kumar

Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, recently met with leaders of the Clergy Association. The deliberations appear to point to the future trajectory of organized religion in China. Wang stressed the need to build a contingent of “politically reliable” clerics to ensure that the leadership of the Church remains with those who feel affection for their nation and religion. He told the representatives of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church of China that Chinese culture and language should be the basis for the interpretation of religious doctrines and that it was important to promote the “sinicization” of Catholicism. It is important to note that the leader who is number 4 in the hierarchy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants the Church to repel “infiltration by foreign forces” and protect “the security and development interests” of China.

The unease between CCP religion and organized religion is becoming apparent. While Chinese President Xi Jinping has refrained from overseas travel since the start of the pandemic, in the run-up to the Party Congress in October, he visited all the restive regions – Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. During his trip to Xinjiang, Xi stressed the need for Islam in China to conform to Chinese sensibilities.

At the National Conference of Religious Work held in April 2016, while emphasizing the need to develop a socialist theory of religion with Chinese characteristics, Xi Jinping reiterated patriotism and socialism as two cardinal virtues that every religion should adhere to. Furthermore, he also warned against any religious interference in the government administration and called for resolute guarding against any infiltration abroad through religious institutions. To further consolidate the party’s grip on religion, the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA), which previously oversaw religious affairs, was integrated into the United Front Department of the CPC Central Committee in 2018.

Cassock, carrot and stick

The CCP uses both coercion and co-option to ensure that organized religion does not threaten its existence and instead remains aligned with its interests.

Hong Kong had until recently remained relatively free from CCP control over religious affairs, due to its special status guaranteed by the Basic Law, but the island now appears to be the renewed focus of this project. . However, with the enactment of the National Security Law in June 2020, followed by changes to legislative and electoral procedures, Beijing has already tamed institutions it deems recalcitrant. Now it’s the turn of one of the last pockets of resistance: The cleric-activist. In an important interaction in October 2021, mainland bishops met their counterparts in Hong Kong to urge them to preach “religion with Chinese characteristics.”

Concerns over national security law in Hong Kong have led many places of worship to back off from holding the annual mass in memory of those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. However, a Methodist Ward Memorial , rebel, went ahead and organized a prayer meeting. Some people also remain unfazed. The retired head of the Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, regularly participated in pro-democracy protests and vigils to mark the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown. He also attended to trials involving activists and visited the prisons where they were incarcerated. Recently, Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested under the National Security Law and charged with colluding with foreign forces.

However, in 2018, Vatican City and China reached an agreement regarding the appointment of bishops in the Roman Catholic Church. Although the details of the agreement are still secret, it would grant the pope the right to appoint bishops to the Roman Catholic Churches in China from a pool of candidates nominated by Chinese authorities. Cardinal Zen had been at the forefront of opposing the deal and even visited the Vatican in 2020 to dissuade the pope from renewing it further. He accused the Holy See of betraying underground Catholics and selling them to the Chinese state. However, despite its objection, the Vatican extended the agreement for another two years which is due to expire in October 2022.

The agreement appears to have been to the CCP’s advantage as it advances the idea that members of the religious denomination can adhere to both Catholic preaching and Chinese-style Communism. Above all, it gives the CCP leverage over the internal dynamics of the Church.

Lessons on the Cold War

Part of the CCP’s paranoia about organized religion stems from the means employed by the United States in the 1980s that precipitated the downfall of its fraternal regimes in Eastern Europe. Edwin Meese, who served as US President Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, reveals that the West adopted a strategy of mobilizing resistance against communism without the use of powerful tools such as the military and the support of anti-Marxist groups . US National Security Advisor Richard Allen has called the Vatican-US axis “one of the great secret alliances of all time”.

This pact between the Vatican and the Reagan administration ensured that there was an osmosis of crucial intelligence inputs. Poland was chosen as the location for implementing this strategy because it was steeped in religion. Thus, a Polish trade union such as Solidarity received financial support from the United States and the Vatican.[i] As in Hong Kong, Poland then declared martial law and in a crackdown members of the Solidarity union were arrested, several activists have been arrested since the enactment of Hong Kong’s national security legislation in 2020 Poland had then severed communication with the outside world, and Today, Hong Kong is becoming more insular. This was compounded in both cases by centralized political authority and economic hardship (due to the COVID-19 outbreak and China’s response to it). At the time, in Poland, out of a population of 35 million, almost percent owed allegiance to the Church. Hong Kong government estimates reveal that in 2020, out of a total population of 7.2 million, the strength of the Protestant and Catholic faiths were 500,000 and 403,000 respectively.

National security quest

Renewed efforts to push the sinicization of religion on the island appear to have been motivated by an assessment that Hong Kong could become useful to the West as a beachhead against the CCP. This can be demonstrated by the political and security dynamics of the island. While in the past personalities linked to the civil administration or from trade and industry came to the head of the special administrative region, today, people close to the establishment or from the security services are increasingly more appreciated. The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO), an agency that supports Beijing in dealing with issues related to the island, is headed by Xia Baolong, who incidentally was responsible for demolishing Christian churches on the continent. Xia is an ally of Xi Jinping, and Xia’s newly appointed HKMAO deputy, Wang Linggui, is a national security expert.

Another facet that emerges is the ability of an atheistic CCP to co-opt even the teaching of the pious. The Church has followed a policy of “inculturation,” which seeks to incorporate elements of local culture into the faith. The CCP seems to take inspiration from it, but in reality, “Sinicization” underlines the primacy of the Party-state in the prerequisites of religion. Additionally, the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government – an agency that was established by Beijing in Hong Kong under the National Security Law – has called national security one of of the main requirements for the stability and stability of the city-state. long-term development of the “one country, two systems” framework in which it is governed. The need to tame the tastes of the activist cleric also stems from the priorities of the new Hong Kong administration.

Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city-state’s mini-constitution, it is incumbent on the Hong Kong administration itself to enact laws to prohibit acts that endanger national security. During the election campaign, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, John Lee, had indicated that the enactment of legislation, which would complement the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, was his priority. On previous occasions, such as in 2003, when the administration attempted to legislate Section 23, it drew protesters to the island. Lee’s predecessor, Carrie Lam, also toyed with the idea but dropped the issue as it remains a political hot potato. Religious freedom attrition in Hong Kong will continue as it gravitates toward greater political unity with Beijing and security dominates political discourse on the island.

[i] Tony Judt, Post-war: a history of Europe since 1945 (Penguin, 2005), p. 589.

The most recent Supreme Court battle over religion and LGBTQ rights in Yeshiva University v. YA Pride Alliance Mon, 12 Sep 2022 20:00:00 +0000 An Orthodox Jewish college in New York is the latest to join the war when religious faith provides an exemption to anti-discrimination laws — especially when those laws benefit LGBTQ people. On Friday, Judge Sonia Sotomayor issued a brief and unexplained order, which temporarily allows Yeshiva University to refuse to recognize a group of LGBTQ […]]]>

An Orthodox Jewish college in New York is the latest to join the war when religious faith provides an exemption to anti-discrimination laws — especially when those laws benefit LGBTQ people.

On Friday, Judge Sonia Sotomayor issued a brief and unexplained order, which temporarily allows Yeshiva University to refuse to recognize a group of LGBTQ students.

Although Sotomayor’s order was likely issued to give the court more time to consider the case, known as Yeshiva University vs. YU Pride Alliance – the university says its student club recognition process ends on Monday and that it would be forced to recognize the LGBTQ group if the Court does not act by then – this almost certainly foreshadows how the Full Court will decide this case . Even if Sotomayor ultimately does not side with the university, Nominated Republicans control six of the Court’s nine seats, and they have shown extraordinary concern for conservative religious litigants.

That said, this case presents some unusually difficult First Amendment questions. The group of students at the heart of the case want the university to recognize it as an official campus group – a status that the university complains would require it to “endorse” the group’s views.

If the Pride Alliance were simply seeking access to meeting rooms or other facilities at Yeshiva University, then they would have a stronger case under applicable law. But the Pride Alliance campus is looking for more. They seek the imprimatur of the Orthodox Jewish University as “Yeshiva University Alliance of Pride. And that’s probably more than the student body can demand from a religious institution. Yeshiva University makes a strong argument that forcing it to lend its name to a group of LGBTQ students, even though a state court has determined that New York’s anti-discrimination law requires it to do so, infringes on his right to make “internal management decisions” regarding his own interpretation of the Jewish faith.

An open question is whether the Court will limit its ruling to similar disputes between religious universities and campus groups, or if it will return a broader victory to religious conservatives. In other words, will this Court take this case, in which a conservative religious organization raises a pretty strong legal claim, and use it to make deeper cuts than necessary in the fight efforts? against discrimination on campus?

What the current law says about campus discrimination

The Yeshiva University the case lies at the intersection of two distinct lines of legal precedent. One argues that the government has broad enough power to target discrimination on campuses. The other gives religious institutions considerable authority over matters concerning their own religious teachings.

According to the Supreme Court decision in Bob Jones University v. United States (1983), the government can refuse to subsidize universities that practice racial discrimination. And under Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010), a university (even a public university bound by the First Amendment) can prohibit campus groups from discriminating against students who seek membership. These decisions should not be challenged by a decision in favor of Yeshiva University.

In Bob Jones, the Court ruled that the IRS could deny tax-exempt status to a notoriously racist South Carolina university. “The government has a fundamental and overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education,” the court explained. And that interest is strong enough to justify denying a religious university a tax grant because of its policy prohibiting interracial dating.

More recently, in Christian Legal Societythe Court held that a public university may require student organizations that receive certain benefits from the university to accept all students who wish to become members, even if the organization has a religious objection to accepting certain students (in Christian Legal Societya student club wanted to exclude students who engaged in “unrepentant homosexual conduct”).

Read together, these cases establish certain propositions. The first is that the government itself can use its resources to overcome discrimination. It can deny grants and other benefits to discriminatory organizations and prevent such organizations from using the name and logo of a public university to promote its views. Universities may also have their own anti-discrimination policies and may refuse to recognize student clubs that violate these policies.

A pedestrian walks past the campus of Yeshiva University in New York on August 30.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Meanwhile, a second line of cases establishes that religious institutions have absolute control over certain matters of internal religious governance, even if that religious governance leads to discrimination that would be illegal elsewhere. As the Court recognized in Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral (1952), religious organizations have the “power to decide for themselves, without interference from the state, questions of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine”.

When the courts determine that a particular matter is a “matter of church government,” moreover, that is an extraordinarily powerful decision. The Court ruled, for example, that anti-discrimination laws do not apply at all to how religious institutions select their “ministers,” and it defined the term “minister” broadly to include not only members of the traditional clergy, but also many teachers at religious schools. That means a religious institution could fire a preacher — and potentially a math teacher — because it objects to that employee’s skin color.

Yeshiva University’s strongest legal argument is that its decision whether to recognize an LGBTQ group on campus is the kind of internal governance issue within a faith that eludes government regulation.

Suppose, for example, that a dispute arises within a Jewish synagogue over whether worshipers should display an orange on the traditional Seder plate that is a centerpiece of Passover celebrations (many modern Jews place an orange on the Seder plate as an expression of sympathy with feminism or LGBTQ rights, but this is a relatively new practice). The question of whether an orange belongs on the Seder plate is a fairly standard question of Jewish faith or doctrine. And so, under Kedroffthe government should not seek to resolve this issue one way or the other.

Yeshiva argues that whether it should recognize an LGBTQ student organization is also a matter of faith or religious doctrine, and they defend that position quite well in their brief. Significantly, the Pride Alliance is not just looking for access to campus meeting spaces. He seeks to use the name of the university and proclaim himself Yeshiva University Pride Alliance. This would suggest that the university endorses, or at least condones, the views of the Pride Alliance.

But the university says the Pride Alliance’s views are “incompatible with its Torah values” – that is, incompatible with the Yeshiva’s understanding of what the Jewish faith teaches. Thus, they raise a strong argument under Kedroff. A state law, even a state anti-discrimination law, may not define the limits of what a particular religion is allowed to teach.

Supreme Court Could Go Much Farther than Necessary to Rule in Yeshiva’s Favor

As stated above, cases like Bob Jones and Christian Legal Society give the government and individual universities great authority to fight discrimination. But the current Supreme Court is very mindful of the claims advanced by religious conservatives. There is therefore a risk that this Court will use the Yeshiva University cases as an excuse to give the religious right a wider victory than cases like Kedroff require.

In June, for example, the Court ruled in Carson v. Makin that the state of Maine must pay for education in religious elementary and secondary schools — including schools with anti-LGBTQ views — as long as it operates a tuition voucher program that funds non-public education religious. carson relied on the extraordinary proposition that government neutrality toward religion may itself be “discrimination against religion.”

Then, a few days after its transmission carsonthe Court rendered a decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District in which he appeared to deliberately distort the facts of the case in order to present them in a light more favorable to the religious right.

Likewise, less than a month after Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation gave Republican appointees a supermajority on the Supreme Court, that new majority has issued a transformative ruling in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn c. Cuomo (2020), undermining three decades of precedent that religious organizations must generally follow the same laws as everyone else.

In other words, the Court seems eager to move quickly and overturn much of its longstanding religious jurisprudence, and to do so in a way that delivers historic victories for the religious right. There is therefore no guarantee that this Court will not use the Yeshiva University cases to undermine past precedents protecting against discrimination on campus.

But such an outcome is not necessary for Yeshiva to prevail in his case. Under current law, as established by cases like Kedroffthe university has a strong legal claim.