The Common Good

God's Politics

Duggars Reeling from Josh’s Sex Abuse Scandal

The Duggars, the reality television family famous for its progeny (19 Kids and Counting) and its conservatism, are reeling now that oldest son, Josh, has been forced to acknowledge he was investigated for molesting underage girls when he was a teenager in Arkansas.

Josh Duggar apologized Thursday and abruptly resigned his job at the Family Research Council in Washington, one of the leading conservative groups fighting abortion and gay marriage among other causes.

 

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Nebraska Lawmakers Vote to Abolish Death Penalty

Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill May 20 to abolish the death penalty by a big enough margin to override a threatened veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The measure passed 32-15 in the state’s unicameral Legislature. It would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison.

If lawmakers override the expected veto, Nebraska would become the first conservative state to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.

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Boy Scouts Chief Says Ban on Gay Scout Leaders Should Be Lifted Nationwide

The president of the Boy Scouts of America on May 21 called for an end to the group’s ban on gay troop leaders.

Robert Gates, a former Secretary of Defense, said in remarks prepared for a meeting of the organization’s leadership that “we cannot ignore the social, political, and judicial changes taking place in our country.”

Gates said he was not proposing a formal rule for the group — yet.

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Who Said It: Fox News or Jesus?

During a broad conversation on how to overcome poverty at Georgetown University last week, President Barack Obama made a few comments about how Fox News talks about poor people. Here’s what he said:

“ … over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there’s been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction. … I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad … They’re like, I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obama phone — or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative … very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress — which is much more typical — who’s raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills.

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Restoring Dignity in the Midst of Poverty and Human Trafficking

I love the story of Shirley. Her family was struggling to survive in the Philippines—a nation plagued with poverty and modern-day slavery. Her husband Ramir took whatever small jobs he could to help the family, but without land, his only options were to work helping on a rice farm or a fishing boat. The pay was irregular and unsustainable, so he made the tough choice to look for work in a bigger city and send money back to Shirley and their three kids. Shirley applied to work at Dignity. She was skeptical as she had never worked with a team and doubted her abilities. When Dignity hired her, it changed her life and her family. Shirley was able to make a consistent income from Dignity. The cycle of poverty and human trafficking was stopped in its tracks.

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Finding Cracks in the Walls of Ecclesiological Separation

JERUSALEM — One out of four Christians today is Pentecostal or charismatic, which means one of every 12 persons living today practices a Pentecostal form of Christian faith. This, along with the astonishing growth of Christianity in Africa, are the two dominant narratives shaping world Christianity today. Further, the gulf between the older, historic churches, located largely in the global North, and the younger, emerging churches in the global South, often fueled by Pentecostal fire, constitutes the most serious division in the worldwide Body of Christ today.

One can also frame this as the divide between the global Pentecostal community, and the worldwide ecumenical movement. Each lives in virtual isolation from the other, and both suffer as a result. I call it ecclesiological apartheid, with its own endless, winding walls of separation. And these walls need to come down, for the sake of God’s love for the world.

It’s become my passion, in whatever small ways, to make some cracks in these walls.

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Franklin Graham’s Facebook Prayers Target Supreme Court Justices on Gay Marriage

Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse charity, describes Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the subject of his latest post, as the daughter of immigrants who made good on the American dream.

“Unfortunately,” the post continues, “she is also an example of someone who seems to be very misguided on the issue of same-sex marriage. She voted to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2014, and homosexual advocates consider her an ally in their fight to make same-sex marriage the law of the land.”

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Ireland’s Gay Marriage Referendum a Sign of Roman Catholic Decline

“In Ireland,” says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, “the people is the Church, and the Church is the people.”

But not so much anymore.

On May 22, voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country’s constitution should be amended to allow for gay marriage. If the amendment passes, Ireland will become the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote.

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But What About Intersex? 'Sex Difference in Christian Theology' Questions Churches' Views

Some children are born without being clearly one sex or another, usually in the case of having ambiguous genitals. Even as puberty progresses, a few medical conditions can arise that make it impossible to label a child a boy or a girl. These children, usually referred to as intersex, have faced shame and alienation from society and sometimes even painful and invasive surgeries to “correct” the way they were born. Sadly, this trauma is often inflicted by Christian communities.

Megan DeFranza’s Sex Difference in Christian Theology challenges that treatment. Written primarily for Christians with more conservative views on sexuality, the book shows how the demographically small but pastorally significant question of intersex people points to larger problems within a Western conservative theological anthropology. If we understand the Trinity to be reflected in our sexual or marital relations, we end up with some seriously problematic theological and pastoral implications for our broader treatment of gender and sex.

DeFranza’s key pastoral goal is to enable conservative Christians to hear the voices of intersex people and to understand their concerns over non-consensual surgeries and exclusion from the life of the church.

 
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YouTube Didn’t Have to Yank Anti-Muslim Film, Court Says

An appeals court has overturned a controversial ruling that required YouTube to take down a video that disparaged Muslims.

One of the actresses in the film sued to take it down and won, but an appeals court ruled May 18 that she didn’t have the right to control the film’s distribution.

When it was released in 2012, the short film, titled Innocence of Muslims, sparked violence in the Middle East and death threats to the actors.

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