On Saturday, Scott Anderson became the first openly gay person to be ordained as a minister by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the nation's 10th-largest denomination. But the ceremony actually marked his second ordination, after he was forced to step down from the pulpit, under threat of blackmail, 20 years before. At the time, Anderson had donated his pastoral stole to the Shower of Stoles Project, including over 1000 items representing LGBT people of faith barred from the ministry. Saturday's ceremony also marked the first time that a donated object was returned to its owner. [more inside]
If ever a band demonstrated a sense of humor, it's the Foo Fighters. Watch them decide to take on the Westboro Baptist Church in a manner that completely confuses them. When the Westboro Baptist Church decided to picket a Foo Fighters concert, the Foo Fighters happily entertained then with a new tune, "Keep it Clean."
Church forgives abortion during Pope's visit to Spain Special powers have been given to all priests in Madrid to absolve women who confess to abortion in the sacrament of penance during Pope Benedict's four-day visit to the church's World Youth Day event. [more inside]
Irish PM condemns Vatican interference in sex abuse cases. Enda Kenny, the new Taoiseach of Ireland, has scathingly criticized the Vatican, citing the Cloyne Report and a recently-leaked Vatican letter intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public, despite their public policy of reporting all abuse claims to the authorities. (Similar claims of the Vatican not reporting recent child abuse cases have also been made in the US.) Ireland's Minister for Justice has cited an extensive list of The Church's failures to comply with their policies, and is supporting legislation to make it a crime not to report child abuse claims. The Vatican's envoy was asked to report to Parliament and explain The Church's position on this matter quickly, with the implied threat that they might be forced to testify. Today, the Church, citing "surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions" has recalled their envoy. "(This) should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) Government."
Since 1998, Christian Humor Magazine Ship of Fools has been sending Mystery Worshippers to churches to write reviews. [more inside]
But I kept all of my gay theology books hidden in a box in the top of my closet, and I tore the book covers off in case someone should walk in while I was reading them. Gay man leaves fundamentalism, finds alcoholism, and is rescued by Anglicanism.
Vatican officials unveiled a new Internet portal Monday, a service that will aggregate the latest news from all its various media in a campaign to reach a growing online congregation across the world. [more inside]
In 2002 a Mrs. Soile Tuulikki Lautsi, a Finnish/Italian woman and member of the Italian Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists objected to the crucifixes on the wall of her child’s public school. [more inside]
Artist Al Farrow uses ammunition, parts from firearms, and selected other materials to build miniature churches, synagogues, and mosques.
'These children don’t recognize the flags of their home countries, but they can all sing "Jesus Loves Me."'
The Douglass Blvd. Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky has voted to stop signing marriage licenses until gay marriage is legalized by the state.
The Truth About Race, Religion, And The Honor Code At BYU. Deadspin has released an exposé on Brigham Young University's Honor Code, which prohibits students from having sex or drinking alcohol. The article accuses the University of selectively punishing minority (and especially African American) athletes who violate the Code. Co-authored by Darron Smith, a former BYU instructor. Responses from former BYU students at Religion Dispatches, the Deseret News and the Provo Daily Herald. (Previously) [more inside]
The earliest preserved, figuratively painted wooden ceiling in Europe can be seen above the nave of St Martin's Church in Zillis. It features beheadings, temptations, naked people, and lots and lots of fish tails.
"In a letter last May, Pope Benedict XVI urged priests to help people see the face of Christ on the Web, through blogs, Web sites and videos; priests could give the Web a 'soul,' he said, by preaching theology through new technology." Well ... it was only a matter of time. Are you a sinner? There's an app for that. "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" isn't supposed to replace the actual confessional booth, but instead offers "a personal examination of conscience." Sounds great, but the Vatican would like to remind you that you'll still need to drop by an actual church to make it count.
The Battle Hymn of Sarah Palin. (SLYTAWESOME)
Dmitar Sasselov is an astrophysicist, Director of the Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard and a co-investigator of the Kepler space telescope project to find Earth-like planets around the Cygnus constellation and discover extraterrestrial life. But no matter how successful the Kepler project may be, it still won't answer the most fundamental questions of astrobiology: How diverse is life in the universe? If alien life exists, will it have Earthly DNA and proteins? Or will it run on something else? So Dr. Sasselov has decided to collaborate with two synthetic biologists, asking them to create a life form based on mirror-image versions of what we know as the essential building blocks of living things on Earth. [more inside]
Record-breaking numbers of Finns leave the national church of Finland following a gay rights panel discussion on TV. [more inside]
Less than a year after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States detonated the fourth and fifth nuclear weapons under the name Operation Crossroads in July 1946. Beyond testing the capabilities of nuclear bombs, the Navy said it wanted the Bikini tests treated like "the story of the year, maybe of the decade, and possibly of a lifetime." Only two of the three bombs were detonated, and the project was shut down over the next months. To celebrate the efforts of Operation Crossroads, a cake in the shape of a mushroom cloud was featured at a publicized event on November 5, 1946. In response to this display, Reverend Arthur Powell Davies, the minister of the Unitarian All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., gave a sermon on the "utterly loathsome picture" and the message it sent to other nations. That sermon set off a flurry of replies and reactions, that extended around the world, including a connection formed between Reverend Davies' All Souls Unitarian Church and school children in Hiroshima. [more inside]
Did the Vatican just equate ordaining women with molesting children? Sure sounds like it to a handful of women priests. The church is backpedaling a bit today, but not very hard.
Pope Benedict XVI has announced the establishment of a new Vatican department dedicated to tackling what he called 'a grave crisis in the sense of the Christian faith and the role of the Church." The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelisation will (per Archbishop Vincent Nichols,) focus on countries "in which, even though the Christian Gospel has shaped an entire culture," secularism now reigns, in what the Pope termed an "eclipse of a sense of God." [more inside]
On Saturday the crown princess Victoria of Sweden will be married, and her father King Gustav of Sweden will walk her down the aisle. This goes against the Swedish church tradition, where the couple walk together. The arch bishop Anders Wejryd has issued a public statement expressing his disapproval , and some are calling it a sexist wedding. If you're going to break with tradition, why not add a new twist to the aisle-walk, or maybe the groom can pull some moves, perhaps bop down the aisle to Love Shack? P.S. don't forget to update your facebook status while you're at it.
Families, everyone's got to have one (or two, or three) Christopher and Peter Hitchens. Brothers.
[pdf] Clergymen in the closet -- not because they are gay; because they don't believe in God. Here's a followup.
The Pope was drawn directly into the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal last night as news emerged of his part in a decision to send a paedophile priest for therapy. The cleric went on to reoffend and was convicted of child abuse but continues to work as a priest in Upper Bavaria. [more inside]
Church, state, basketball and Mennonites. For the first time in 116 years, Goshen College, a small Mennonite school in Indiana, will play an instrumental version of the Star-Spangled Banner before college sporting events. As a college in a "peace church" tradition, this decision has not come without controversy. [more inside]
Malaysian Catholic newspaper Herald was recently involved in a major lawsuit against the Malaysian government, stating that their constitutional rights were violated when they were stripped of their license to publish in East Malaysian indigenous language Kadazandusun. The ruling was overturned, amidst support by state ministers and protests by the Government, the Islamic Opposition party, and Muslim activists - some of whom have spent the past week attacking churches and convents through firebombs, Molotov cocktails, paint, and bricks thrown at glass. [more inside]
Mass: We Pray is an exciting new project from Boston based game developer Prayer Works Interactive. Watch the trailer for examples of the 24 different services you and your family can participate in. Don't listen to the sites that claim this is a hoax. Preordering begins today!
"All of which is a long way of saying that, to construct a new church of anatomical horror and to do so out of stone, as Al-Mehdari seems to be suggesting, is a fascinating idea. " - Body Baroque
"Jesus is to be mass-produced, imprinted on metal, given a reflective coat and sold for money." The Florida Senate is considering a bill to put Jesus Christ on a license plate. Governor Charlie ("No H.") Crist has come out in support of the bill (or at least in support of not vetoing it). [video]
Welcome to Lily Dale the largest spiritualist community in the world. Just an hour south of Buffalo, NY-- it boasts an extensive summer program of lectures, workshops as well as the world’s most powerful mediums. Stop by for a reading, hunt for ghosts and see the house where the Fox Sisters first got started. [more inside]
Baptazia! And more... and more! The Holy Spirit descends, accompanied by Drum & Bass. See also, the first runner-up in MTV Latin America's "Make Your Radiohead Video" contest.
Volunteers from the general public working together with researchers to advance personal genomics. 10 volunteers, among them noted author and cognitive psychologist Stephen Pinker, have open sourced (so to speak) their genetic information. [more inside]
At the risk of heresy, let it be said that setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister -- no matter how beloved -- is supremely wrong. [more inside]
The music of the People's Temple. Five years before Jim Jones coerced 900 of his church members to commit suicide in Guyana, the People's Temple cut an album. [more inside]
Rasa von Werder is the current name of one Kellie Everts [NSFW], stripper for God, bodybuilder, and church-founder. During the 70's she toured the nation on the novel concept that a stripper could save souls, and during the same time helped establish female bodybuilding as a legitimate sport. Nowadays she tends the followers of her female empowerment doctrines via the University of MotherGod Church, Woman Thou Art God! [NSFW] website and her Matriarchy RAMANA MAHARSHI Mother God Worship Femdom YouTube channel. [more inside]
Canada has apologised for forcing more than 100,000 aboriginal children to attend state-funded Christian boarding schools aimed at assimilating them. Controversial former Minister Kevin Annett has written two books on the subject of residential school abuse in Canada [Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust and Love and Death in the Valley]. Unrepentant - Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide reveals Canada’s darkest secret - that the Canadian residential school system, the Christian churches along with state authorities implemented a policy of genocide against Canada's native population. Related: Deliver Us From Evil
Sammy Davis Jr—entertainer , photographer... camwhore... SATANIST!!!??? Did hanging out with this guy make Sammy bad? Or was he just selling his soul to be groovy? [more inside]
Sacred Steel is a pedal-steel guitar style that evolved in the African-American Pentecostal denomination The House of God, Which Is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth. Brothers and lap steel players Willie and Truman Eason, inspired by the electric blues and Hawaiian steel guitar of the 1920s and 30s, brought the sound to two branches of the church, the Keith and Jewell dominions. Its hallmark: "talking guitar," in which the sliding steel emphasizes and mimics the words of preachers and singers. In the 1970s, a new "Motor City" tradition began, featuring the more complicated pedal steel guitar. This body of music was known mainly in church circles until two things happened: first, folklorist Robert Stone became interested in the music and relased several CD collections. And then, church player Robert Randolph (and his Family Band) began taking Sunday morning's music out onSaturday night. [more inside]
The Hillsong Church has been a controversial church in Australia for quite some time (13mb mp3 link). From questions over its political influence to claims that they were stacking the votes in Australian Idol to concerns about the way it uses its donations, Hillsong continues to inspire much debate over whether it is a force for good or whether it is corrupt. In the latest controversy to surround the church, they are now claiming that they can cure homosexuality. Hardly a first for a Christian church except that Hillsong, which has a strict doctrine that teaches homosexuality is an affliction that can be cured, is so obsessed with ensuring that there are no homosexuals under their roof that it is running the program for its own disciples... even those who aren't gay. Allegedly, they are going so far as to issue "separation contracts" to young women who simply make friends with each other and which prevents any form of physical contact between residents. [more inside]
A church in Tampa, FL has issued a 30-day sex challenge: If you're married, have sex every day (PDF of daily workbook). If you're not married, don't have sex at all (PDF of daily workbook). There's a blog, there's a billboard, there's a lot of press. [more inside]
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), is the largest church in the world1. Completed in 1990 for about $300 million by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny - with profits skimmed from the slave labor best cocoa (chocolate) industry - in the small rural town of his birth, it sits today in the bush a vast empty palace of marble and crystal gawked at by the occasional backpacker. Among other trappings it has the only airport big enough in Africa to take the Concorde, a presidential palace with a lake stocked with scores of Sacred Caymans (crocodiles,) and a mansion next to the Basilica reserved exclusively for the Pope on visits from Rome (used once). The President enjoyed his complex for less than 3 years before dieing in 1993.
Reviving an ancient practice, churches are exposing sinners and shunning those who won't repent. Unfortunately, some of the worshipers are expelled not because of willful or unrepentant sins, but for criticizing the pastor on matters of church polity. "A lot of times, flocks aren't willing to submit or be obedient to God. If somebody is not willing to be helped, they forfeit their membership."
Brooklyn Storefront Houses Of Worship. Amateur photos of 100 storefront houses of worship in Brooklyn, NY.
Thanatorama [flash] You died this morning. Are you interested in what comes next? Webdocumentaire.
I knew it would eventually happen. I didn't expect it so soon. The Church of Google.