All eyes should be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. At 81, Kennedy is the longest-serving, second oldest justice on the court and is a conservative — except when he’s not.
Kennedy has sided with the court’s more liberal justices on several landmark cases, as he did in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that made same-sex marriage the law of the land. But he also sided with the conservative judges in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a ruling that the Christian-owned chain of craft stores could deny contraception coverage.
Lost amid the ongoing furor over President Trump’s travel ban, and the ecstasy (and agony) over his first pick for the Supreme Court, was another move on Jan. 31 that is starting to give social conservatives pause: Trump’s continuance of the executive order by President Obama’s policy that protects gay and transgender employees from discrimination while working for federal contractors.
And not only did Trump extend the protections, but he did so in powerful language that used the community’s own “LGBTQ” identifier, while vowing that Trump would be “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights.”
For much of its long history in the U.S., the Catholic Church was known as the champion of the working class, a community of immigrants whose leaders were steadfast in support of organized labor and economic justice – a faith-based agenda that helped provide a path to success for its largely working-class flock.
In recent decades, as those ethnic European Catholics assimilated and grew wealthier, and as the concerns of the American hierarchy shifted to battles over moral issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, traditional pocketbook issues took a back seat.
If President Obama’s appearance at the Notre Dame commencement in 2009 sparked an unprecedented uproar among American Catholics, imagine what inviting President Trump to graduation might provoke.
That concern is making Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, think twice about making a pitch for the incoming U.S. president to receive an honorary degree, an appearance that almost any school would normally covet — and one that the iconic Catholic university has been more successful than others in securing.
The daughter of Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa has given up her clergy credentials after marrying a Dutch woman.
The Rev. Mpho Tutu told the local media that since her church did not recognize her wedding, she could no longer serve in the country.
Bishop Jackson Nasoore Ole Sapit, a traditionalist who nonetheless steered clear of gay issues, has been elected the new archbishop of Kenya.
Ole Sapit, 52, who headed Kericho Diocese in western Kenya, will replace outgoing Archbishop Eliud Wabukala and also serve as bishop of All Saints Cathedral, the national seat of the Anglican Church.
The Rev. Jerry Kulah has nothing but gratitude for the United Methodist Church.
In 1833, American Methodists sent their first missionary to his country, Liberia, which was founded for freed American slaves. Melville B. Cox died four months after he arrived in Africa, but the missionary’s legacy lives on in the United Methodist Church’s fastest-growing region, and in his words to his own church back in North Carolina: “Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up.”
"Dear church, our prayers are with you, with all of us, in the coming days. May we all be surprised by the Spirit who continues to breathe new life in unexpected ways."
A Gordon College philosophy professor is suing her employer for allegedly breaching her free speech rights and retaliating after she publicly criticized the Christian school for its policy of not hiring sexually active gays and lesbians.
In the early 1990s, the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family raised the ire of LGBT groups by backing Colorado’s Amendment 2, a measure — ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court — that would have allowed local governments to discriminate against gays.
A quarter-century later, that episode was history as Focus President Jim Daly and gay activist Ted Trimpa sat down together to celebrate their friendship and more recent collaboration on sex trafficking laws at an evangelical conference in Denver called Q, which stands for questions.
A United Methodist pastor who recently came out as gay may be a step closer to a church trial, just weeks before the United Methodist Church’s General Conference is expected to take up the question of gay clergy and gay unions.
The Rev. Cynthia Meyer said she was “called by God to be open and honest” about who she is. So, during her first sermon of 2016, Meyer broke the news: She loves another woman.
“I’ve been praying, and in a process of discernment for some time, particularly over the past few years, once I entered into a relationship,” said Meyer, pastor of Edgerton United Methodist Church.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is describing the recent censure of his church over allowing clergy to perform same-sex marriages as a “fair” move by the wider Anglican Communion. Anglican primates voted last month in Canterbury, England, to remove the Episcopal Church from votes on doctrine and to ban it from representing the communion in ambassadorial relationships for three years.
In an about-face that has surprised many of his allies, a prominent gay rights campaigner has criticized a court’s decision in Northern Ireland to charge a bakery with discrimination for refusing to ice a cake with a slogan in support of same-sex marriage. Peter Tatchell of Great Britain, a leading voice on LGBT issues, came to the defense of the Ashers Bakery in Belfast with a column published on Feb. 1 in the Guardian.
The Anglican Communion’s worldwide leaders, finishing up four days of heated discussions, sought to project a sense of unity despite a move to exclude the Episcopal Church from key policy decisions over the American province’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, overall leader of the global body, stressed at a news conference on Jan. 15 that the church had chosen to remain together, albeit effectively as a house divided.
Various factions within the Anglican Communion are jockeying for position as bishops of the world’s third-largest Christian tradition gather in Canterbury for the start of a six-day meeting to discuss the future of their communion.
But averting a split may not be possible.
Religion inspired countless other acts of forgiveness, mercy, and hope this year. But religion — or perversions of it, some would say — also inspired horrific violence: the “faith-based” cleansing of ancient lands, and bombings and shootings motivated by scriptural justifications. It was a year also of religious-inspired activism, seen perhaps most prominently in a pope who advocated for the poor and for a solution to climate change. Here is an overview of some of the most consequential religion stories of the past year, with thoughts on what to look forward to 2016.
Because their Catholic faith is against same-sex marriage, Bryan Victor and Thomas Molina-Duarte made their wedding vows this summer before a Protestant minister in a Detroit Episcopal church.
Those in attendance included many family members, including Victor’s uncle, who is a Catholic priest and Macomb County pastor. The Rev. Ronald Victor did not officiate but was there because, he told his nephew, the Catholic Church “needs more examples of gay holiness.”
When Victor and Molina-Duarte attend Mass every Sunday, the couple go to a Detroit Catholic church, where Bryan Victor’s mom and dad join them in the pew. In their shared Catholic faith, Victor and Molina-Duarte find spiritual sustenance. And at their parish, they’ve also found acceptance.
“We do not remember days,” the Italian poet Cesare Pavese said, “we remember moments.”
Pavese’s words have come to mind often as I’ve thought about Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States, particularly when people have asked me what the “best part” of covering the papal visit was for me.
My answer is always the same: hands down the best part was watching people see (and sometimes meet) Pope Francis in person for the first time.
A federal judge ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis into the custody of federal marshals Sept. 3 until she is ready to resume issuing marriage licenses.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning said fines were not enough to force her to comply with a previous order to provide the paperwork to all couples. Bunning said allowing her to defy the order would create a “ripple effect.”
“Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” he said.
“Oaths mean things.”