Religious Liberty vs. Nondiscrimination

Where the Public Stands on Religious Liberty vs. Nondiscrimination

Two-thirds say employers should provide birth control in insurance plans, but public is split over same-sex wedding services and use of public bathrooms by transgender people

The U.S. public expresses a clear consensus on the contentious question of whether employers who have religious objections to contraception should be required to provide it in health insurance plans for their employees. Fully two-thirds of American adults say such businesses should be required to cover birth control as part of their employees’ insurance plans, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, while just three-in-ten say businesses should be allowed to refuse to cover contraception for religious reasons.

When it comes to views about employer-provided birth control, services for same-sex weddings and use of public restrooms by transgender people, there are large differences between some religious groups.

Read more here.

Evangelical Pastor Explains What He Sees As The Root Of Racism

Evangelical Pastor Explains What He Sees As The Root Of Racism

Antonia Blumberg     Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post

“White people can be so defensive about this subject.”
See video in sidebar.

Evangelical pastor Carl Lentz is taking white Americans to task for getting “defensive” when it comes to addressing racism.

In a recent conversation with Oprah Winfrey on SuperSoul Sunday, the television star asked Lentz what he sees as the “root of racism.”

The pastor responded, simply: “Ignorance.”

“Ignorance is a lack of information, which creates insecurity; insecurity creates defensiveness, and defensiveness creates attack,” Lentz, the lead pastor of Hillsong Church NYC, told Oprah. “It frustrates me that people want to act like this isn’t a conversation. White people can be so defensive about this subject.”

Read more here.

Female Priest Ban


Pope Francis Says Ban on Female Priests is Likely to Endure

NY times online   by Laurie Goodstein

Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests will probably go on forever said Pope Francis during his trip to Sweden. He referred to a letter written in 1994 by Pope John Paul II who said that Jesus only chose men to be disciples. Read more here and here.

Child Care Expense Causes Stress

Poll: Cost Of Child Care Causes Financial Stress For Many Families (are you surprised?)


Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Most parents have experienced sticker shock when they find out just how much it will cost to care for their infant or toddler full- or even part-time. For parents who have little choice, this can be a big financial strain.

In fact, the most common challenge parents face when looking for child care is the high cost. That’s the finding of a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Listen to the entire program here.

Need a subsidy to help pay for childcare?   Read the article in the CT Mirror:

State says bailout unlikely for Care4Kids child care subsidies

A bailout to close a major shortfall in a program that subsidizes child care so low-income parents can work is unlikely, the governor’s budget director said Friday.

Earlier this year the state suspended new enrollment by tightening eligibility requirements for the popular Care4Kids program, but the move did not reduce costs enough, and an $8.7 million shortfall lingers – a 15 percent structural deficit.

The state is now considering closing the remaining shortfall by further changing eligibility requirements to eliminate daycare help for about 300 families now in the program each month, a decrease of about 2,000 families over the year.

Read more here.

Why Can’t Churches Endorse Political Candidates?


Many churches can’t endorse political candidates. Here’s the long — and surprising — history behind the ban

Among the many policy positions embedded in the 2016 Republican Party Platform is a call to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a controversial Internal Revenue Service regulation that has come under fire from churches and religious freedom advocates in recent years.

The little-known tax provision applies exclusively to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, precluding them from endorsing — or campaigning against — candidates for federal elected office.

The rationale behind the Johnson Amendment is that nonprofit organizations and churches are exempt from paying certain taxes and, therefore, should not be permitted to show power or sway in the election of candidates.  Read more here.

Howard Thurman on Deception

Image result for howard thurman


Doing Political Theology in an Election Season: Howard Thurman on Deception


American elections, as we can see so clearly this season, are exercises in deception.

“Every argument and salvo for racial justice—however justice is imagined—is worth pondering for what it reveals about what kinds of justice are getting traction and public buy-in. Alongside this work of popular engagement, it’s also valuable to convey the riches of religious reflection on racial justice to broad audiences. Here, I have in mind the Southern-born, black bard of Christian mysticism, Howard Thurman,” states Wilkes. He goes on to say, “The prevailing frame of the ideal voter as middle class and the excessive attention given to our presidential candidates’ tax returns (or lack thereof) and Goldman Sachs speaking fees have obscured more pivotal realities on the other side of the asset and income scale: there is a class of citizens and residents who endure taxation without effective political representation.”

Read more here.

What is Halloween About?

What is Halloween About?

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening), also known as AllhalloweenAll Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. From some traditions, Halloween is believed to become from the harvest festival Samhain during which people believed the curtain between the living and the dead grows thin. Traditions for the holiday involved dressing up in costumes to trick vengeful spirits and observing rituals to honor the dead.

Around the 5th century, as the Catholic Church developed and moved into Ireland and Scotland, instead of adding a new day to celebrate, it took over the Samhain celebration. Nov. 1st became “All Hallows Eve” where all the saints of the Catholic church were honored. A later custom developed where people would go door-to-door on Nov. 2 requesting small cakes in exchange for the promise of saying prayers for some of the dead relatives of each house. This arose out of the religious belief that the dead were in a state of limbo before they went to heaven or hell and that the prayers of the living could influence the outcome. This may have been the precursor to Trick-or-Treat. Read more here.

Pope Sends Clear Message To The Church With New Cardinal Picks

Pope Sends Clear Message To The Church With New Cardinal Picks 

Many of the new cardinals come from developing countries, underscoring Francis’ belief that the church should become less Euro-centric.

ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS   Pope Francis reacts as he is greeted by Cardinals at the end of a mass for the Jubilee of Priests at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 3.

Pope Francis on Sunday promoted 17 Roman Catholic prelates from around the world to the high rank of cardinal, including 13 who are under 80 years old and thus eligible to succeed him one day.

Cardinals, who wear red hats and are known as “princes of the Church,” are the most senior members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy after the pope and serve as his principal advisers around the world and in the Vatican.

The new cardinal-electors come from Italy, the Central African Republic, Spain, the United States, Brazil, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Belgium, Mauritius, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.

Read more here.