Category Archives: Religion

Hey Liberals! Want to be Adopted by conservative Christians?

Well, now I’ve seen and heard it all! A conservative Christian group allied with Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University decided that, rather than condemning liberals like President Obama, they should adopt them instead. This is a radical change from the usual conservative Christian rhetoric about those with whom they disagree.  In addition to adoption, the Liberty Council wants its members to pray for the liberals as well.

Jerry Falwell
Jerry Falwell

And who makes the list? The usual suspects, like the President, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. However, there are others who might now classify themselves as liberal, like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

And what is President Obama’s sin? From the Liberty Council’s prayer initiative….

“President Obama has assembled what is arguably the most radically liberal administration in American history. His policy initiatives have favored socialism, the homosexual agenda, and the funding of infant genocide around the world. He has denied America’s Christian heritage but has openly praised Islam for its contributions to America and the world. He calls himself a ‘citizen of the world,’ a term that reflects his support of a ‘one world government.'”

So what exactly are they praying for? Do they think the President and his ilk will experience some sort of miraculous conversion? Now, just in case you think The Liberty Council’s approach heralds some new era of conservative Christian soft sell, consider that at last week’s “How to Take America Back ” conference, Obama was called “an enemy of humanity” by Arizona Cong. Trent Franks.

At that same conference, a former advisor to Mike Huckabee accused the President of staffing his administration with “professional infidels”. Sound familiar? That’s the same kind of language radical Islam uses. No matter. These folks believe they have right on their side, whatever right is.

So back to praying for liberals. At the church I attend, we pray for world leaders. When GW Bush was president, we prayed for him, as we do now for President Obama. And Qaddafi. And Ahmadinejad. And Kim Jong Il. We pray not in tongue-in-cheek humor, but because we want God to help guide their thinking and actions. At least, that’s what I’m praying for. When we pray for our Episcopal church, we include those people with whom we fundamentally disagree.

However, when the Liberty Council says they’re praying for Obama because he believes in some sort of one world government, they’re straight up lying. They also lie when they say the President has denied America’s Christian heritage. But hey, I’m nitpicking here. I guess the central question is whether there’s anything wrong with praying for liberals, since liberals do in fact pray for conservatives.

You tell me. Anything wrong with adopting a liberal?

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Muammar Qaddafi & Englewood, NJ? Why’s Libyan Leader Coming to My Town?

The international firestorm over Scotland’s decision to free Libya’s Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi shows no sign of abating, nor should anyone have expected it to. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny  MacAskill will be making a statement to that country’s Parliament. His appearance isn’t expected to be pretty.

The decision to send the only person convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing home to Libya was, one expects, not taken lightly. However, on the international stage, there are charges a trade deal was made to free Megrahi, and there are calls in the US for a boycott of Scottish and British goods and tourism.

No one can predict if such action will be taken, and if so, what its effect will be. Yet for me, and the city in which I live, the entire weight of the Scottish decision and Libya-US relations has taken a decidedly personal turn.

That’s because there’s word that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is considering a stay in Englewood, NJ, the city I call home. Qaddafi is due to speak to the UN next month, Englewood is about 10 miles as the crow flies from midtown Manhattan, and the Libyan mission to the UN owns a home in town.

Muammar Qaddafi
Muammar Qaddafi

As you might imagine, news of Qaddafi’s possible visit has touched off a wave of anger in Englewood’s large Jewish community. Many here consider him a continuing sponsor of terrorism, no matter what the rapprochement between Libya and the US in recent years. Residents cite as proof of Qaddafi’s imminent arrival frantic renovations currently going on at the little used property .

Of course, there’s little that can be done to legally stop Qaddafi from using the property while he’s in the US.

Libyan owned mansion in Englewood, NJ under renovation for Gadhafi's stay
Libyan owned mansion in Englewood, NJ under renovation for Gadhafi's stay

There are issues regarding international diplomacy, and the State Dept. doesn’t as a rule publicize where foreign leaders reside during visits. Qaddafi reportedly wanted to pitch a tent in New York’s Central Park, but that request went nowhere.

Already there are calls from some to “burn the house down”, which is at best stupid and at worst could merit a visit from authorities.

Certainly if Qaddafi does come to my town, I’d expect protests, large and vocal. Englewood is a diverse small city, and as such would tolerate a stay by Qadaffi, but certainly not in silence. And that’s as it should be. As Americans, we have the right of free speech and should show our outrage that a convicted murderer can return home to a hero’s welcome.

To the extent that Muammar Qaddafi condoned and organized that show of support, he should be the subject of protests, in Englewood, NJ and at the UN. If he chooses to stay among us, he’s got to hear us as well.

Cafe in Englewood, NJ
Cafe in Englewood, NJ

Isn’t that the American way?

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Should the Episcopal Church Let Dissidents Leave?

It looks like the Episcopal Church, the church to which I proudly belong, will end its moratorium on the appointment of gay and lesbian bishops.

The bishops themselves voted Monday to open “any ordained ministry” to them, thus ending a three year “moratorium” that angered both sides in this divisive dispute. The resolution has been written in such a way that dioceses can now consider candidates to become bishops, but there’s no mandate forcing any diocese to do so.

This sounds to me an awful lot like free choice.

Not being naive, however, I know the forces in the church that oppose the consecration of gay bishops won’t be happy. They’ve been fighting this battle since Bishop Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003.

gay.bishop

Sad to say, some of those most vocally opposed to equality for gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church are from Africa.

Here in the US, a number of dioceses have split off from the church over the issue. They’ve formed their own “Anglican Church in North America”. Many of the bishops opposed to rescinding the moratorium cited fears more dioceses will leave the fold. The central question facing the church now is whether to find another way to mollify the dissidents.

I must admit that at first, I saw all those opposed to the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy as little more than a bunch of throwback homophobes.

My initial reaction to the threat of breakaway dioceses was “Let ’em go! Who needs ’em?” It was this type of thinking that made me pull away from the church myself as a young man.

When discussing the issue with my former parish priest a few years ago, I was surprised by his calm approach to the problem. I expected him to be a fiery advocate for gay and lesbian clergy. After all, he is gay. Yet he counseled me not to overreact, not to condemn these folks as simple homophobes with whom no dialogue was possible. Instead, he expressed the belief that the two sides can find common ground. There may be some Episcopalians who would never accept gay clergy, he said, but eventually most would come to accept it.

I’m starting to think he was right. The fight for gay rights and equality has come further than I would have thought possible just a few years ago. In fact, some lay members of the church’s House of Deputies who voted three years ago in favor of the moratorium voted Sunday to rescind it. One woman who spoke to the New York Times cited the fact that no matter who decides to leave, inclusion is where the Episcopal Church is. Amen, indeed.

So it’s my personal hope that dialogue between these opposite sides will continue, and serve as an example to other Protestant denominations who look at this divide and wonder when it will come to their church.

What about you?  Should the Episcopal Church continue the conversation about the consecration of gay and lesbian bishops?

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