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The Indian branch of the Catholic social welfare organization Caritas has announced plans to fight discrimination and recruit transgender people — a striking step for an official church organization.

Caritas India announced the decision earlier this month after holding internal talks about adopting a more inclusive policy. But officials stressed that doesn’t mean it supports gender change.

Bianca Louie 10-18-2016

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I looked around, and saw a collective of emerging disciples, evangelists, healers, teachers, artists, prophets, and peace warriors who loved God with all their hearts and earnestly longed for something new. Holding our own and each other’s wounds, I saw tears of lament that water the earth. I saw a community of spiritual orphans in exile, holding onto Christ while healing each other.

Image via RNS/Patrick Scriven/United Methodist Church PNW Conference

Undoing the election of the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church will be a primary goal when 1,500 Methodist evangelicals gather this week in Chicago to found a new renewal group, according to organizers.

At the inaugural meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association on Oct. 7, charter members will outline their expectations for a soon-to-be-appointed denominational commission to discuss the conflict over sexuality.

Stephen Seufert 10-05-2016

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A common misconception is that to be a pro-life Catholic, one simply has to be anti-abortion and anti-contraception. For years this “pro-life” definition has largely been unchallenged. That is, until recently.

A poll conducted in 2014 by the Public Religion Research Institute found a majority U.S. Catholics favor greater government involvement on economic issues via minimum wage increases, infrastructure investments, and universal healthcare. Furthermore, U.S. Catholics believe that to promote economic growth, the government should raise taxes. These aren’t just pro-growth policies, they’re pro-life policies.

Laura Jesson 09-23-2016

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I hear from others that telling our stories is the way to freedom. I keep hearing that sharing our testimonies is how we grow and change, connect and love. I keep hearing LGBTQ people say that coming out was the best thing they ever did. I keep hearing that hiding and pretending is harmful, dangerous and unhealthy. I keep hearing that it’s so much better to be real and live out your identity.

I hope they’re right.

the Web Editors 09-07-2016

Screenshot from Sia's 'The Greatest' music video.

Singer and songwriter Sia recently released a stunning music video for her song “The Greatest,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, that appears to be a tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. in June.

In the video, dancer Maddie Ziegler leads a group of 49 dancers in an energetic dance routine, 49 also being the number of people killed in the shooting at the gay nightclub.

The Rev. Cynthia Meyer. Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

The Rev. Cynthia Meyer has been placed on an involuntary leave of absence after coming out as a lesbian earlier this year to her rural Kansas congregation.

The leave allows Meyer, a United Methodist minister, to avoid a church trial and comes after she met for more than 12 hours on Aug. 1 with those involved in a complaint against her, according to the denomination’s Great Plains Annual Conference.

Image via REUTERS / Mike Segar / RNS

The 2016 Democratic National Convention party platform includes much that religious progressives from multiple faith backgrounds might like. Approved July 25, it calls for expanding LGBT rights, combating climate change, and narrowing the income gap. Here are some of the hot-button social proposals.

the Web Editors 07-21-2016

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The NBA is planning to pull the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, N.C. in protest of the “bathroom bill,” reports Yahoo Sports.

League sources told Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical that a formal announcement could come as soon as this week.

Bishop Karen Oliveto. Image via Patrick Scriven / United Methodist Church PNW Conference / RNS

Bishop Karen Oliveto felt called to ministry in the United Methodist Church when she was 11 years old.

But for years Oliveto refused to allow her name to be cast for the role of bishop because she “didn’t want to harm the church,” she said.

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In a section titled “Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary,” Republicans say they “condemn” the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Religious conservatives from several denominations also have opposed this ruling as the work of “activist judges,” a charge and a term echoed in the platform.

Bishop Karen Oliveto. Image via Charmaine Robledo / UMC Mountain Sky Area / RNS

The head of the United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops said the election of its first openly lesbian bishop last week “raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”

Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, said the executive committee of the bishops’ council “is monitoring this situation very closely.” The bishops are gathering July 19-20 in Chicago as part of the commission on sexuality called for by the General Conference.

Ron Csillag 07-14-2016

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Canada’s Anglican Church has provisionally voted to amend its rules to allow clergy to celebrate same-sex marriages, a day after it narrowly defeated the measure.

The General Synod will hold a second reading on the measure in 2019. If it passes, the Canadian church will join the Episcopal Church, which formally approved marriage ceremonies regardless of gender in 2015. As a consequence, the Anglican Communion placed temporary restrictions on the Episcopal Church.

Joe Kay 07-06-2016

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In the past year since the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality, many of my gay friends have thanked me repeatedly for being a straight ally. At first, I didn’t know quite how to respond. I’d say something along the lines of, “You’re welcome, of course! I’m just glad I could help in some way.” Somehow, though, that answer seemed inadequate.
Or I might have followed up with, “It’s just sad that it took so long and involved so much pain to get to this point. I’m sorry for that.” Which is better, but still lacking. Something more needed to be said.

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Long said that in her own experience, transgender scientists are sometimes called by incorrect gender pronouns and or not allowed to formally change their names in scientific publications.

To Dr. Ramon Barthelemy, a science policy fellow at AAAS, LGBTQ physicist, and co-author of the study, not being able to change a professional publication record is especially problematic in the sciences.

the Web Editors 06-30-2016

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced June 30 that the military would no longer disqualify transgender people from serving, effective immediately.

Back in July 2015, the Pentagon began a study to determine what it would take to lift the transgender ban.

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A bill wending its way through the California Legislature would limit religious colleges’ ability to claim an exemption from federal Title IX regulations that bar discrimination against LGBT students and faculty.

Only schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry would be allowed the religious exemption under California Senate Bill 1146 — which passed the state Senate in May and is scheduled for a hearing in the state Assembly on June 30.

As a nation, we expressed horror at the vile act of violence in Orlando, Fla., nearly coinciding with the one-year anniversary of more violence in Charleston, S.C. We mourn and debate stricter gun laws. Yet we ignore steps on the continuum to violence that has made such shootings almost routine.

Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

At its quadrennial meeting last month, the United Methodist Church decided not to take up contentious LGBT issues. But that’s not stopping its regional conferences from making decisions on their own.

Two U.S. jurisdictions will consider three openly gay candidates for bishop next month.

Ryan Hammill 06-28-2016

Image via Martin Witchger/League of Conservation Voters

"The shooting in Orlando shows how much we still need to work on and overcome in terms of violence and bigotry against LGBT people," Witchger, who traveled from Washington, D.C., to join the ceremony, said. "But how beautiful and moving it is to have Stonewall as the first national park unit to honor the LGBT rights movement."