Notes on Religion

The Birmingham News at the end of last year had an article on the religion page about what a pivotal year 2007 was. Too bad I can’t find a link, but the article mentioned the deaths of James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner as a “passing of the guard among religious conservatives”.

The article also mentioned The Christian Coalition sitting out the 2008 presidential race, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals stating that he’d rather conduct a funeral (or wedding) than meet with presidential candidates and Pat Robertson’s coziness with Rudy Giuliani as indications that things are changing.

But are they really? Here’s a few thoughts on recent stories in the news.

Baptists

Kentucky Southern Baptist Seminary president Albert Mohler Jr. is being considered to head the denomination. Remember this is the guy who wants to carry the Ex-gay movement into the womb, suggesting that changing the sexual orientation of fetuses would be acceptable. What next, Albert? Examining fetuses and changing their race, gender and handedness to produce only straight white right-handed males? After all, their view of denomination domination includes treating women as second class citizens too.

I hope Baptists find a more compassionate, peace loving and tolerant person to lead them. But that would mean following the teachings of Jesus. That would require a paradigm shift for the Baptists and I don’t think they will go that route.

Methodists

North Alabama Conference Bishop William Willimon led a revival of sorts among Methodists urging a return to the roots laid down by John Wesley. Pretty good suggestions. “Wesleyans believe that our relationship with God is totally dependent on God,” Willimon said. “Wesleyans believe you are here because of God. God is an active force…We believe everybody is being loved and attracted by God even if they don’t know it.”

“He (Wesley) believed in religion of the heart, but he believed that the test of the heart is religion of the hands, not only how we believe in Christ, but how we follow Christ.”

My roots are in Methodism also, and I can’t argue with Bishop Willimon. Whether one is a Methodist or other denomination or no denomination or whoever, this statement, “the test of the heart is religion of the hands” is worth consideration.

Mormons

The Mormons are trying to play catch up as they change the words of their sacred text so match what science has shown us: that Native Americans are not direct ancestors of a lost tribe of Israel.

Previous editions of The Book of Mormon stated “After thousands of years all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the ancestors of the American Indians.”

Then came DNA, evidence of which contradicted their scripture. So now the scripture says the Lamanites “are among the ancestors.”

So the Mormons are conceding that science is accurate? Then when will they accept the science regarding sexual orientation and stop excommunicating members who are gay?

I’m not holding my breath, but we did buy one of these.

Episcopals

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefforts Schori is in town to preside over the consecration of Rev. John McKee Sloan as suffragan or assistant bishop for the diocese of Alabama.

Here is what Jefforts Schori says about the war. “My understanding of Jesus’ ministry is that he told us not to go to war, and that he is at heart a peacemaker. We understand our mission as a church to be reconciliation. There may be times when it is appropriate to go to war. I’m not convinced of that, but we live in a world that is not perfect.”

“We pray for the troops constantly, even as we pray for peace and reconciliation in Iraq.”

She has a daughter who is a first lieutenant in the Air Force who was recently deployed to the United Arab Emirates, so I am sure she has given lots of thought to this war and war in general.

Give credit to the Episcopals for promoting peace.

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