Cathleen Falsani 8-24-2018

Photo courtesy Greg Fromholz

Whenever people try to exclude LGBT Catholics from the life of the church, they are “tearing apart the body of Christ,” Fr. James Martin told the standing-room-only crowd that packed a tented hangar Aug 23. at an international meeting of Catholic families in Dublin, Ireland. “At the World Meeting of Families, this is an important aspect: By not welcoming, by excluding LGBT Catholics, the church is falling short of its call to be God’s family."

Da'Shawn Mosley 6-01-2018

TO BE A FATHER is to be an example, and the writer Silas House knows this well. His latest novel, Southernmost, is the story of a father and pastor named Asher who strives to do what’s right, while his young son, Justin—who is distrustful of the church—watches.

But Asher’s quest for morality places him on a path of unwanted attention and threatens to separate him from Justin, until Asher makes the questionable decision to take his son with him on a journey for which neither of them are prepared.

Rarely have the church’s tensions about homosexuality—and how deeply those tensions can fracture a family—been explored in fiction. But with this, his sixth novel, House explores how Asher’s relationship with his wife, Lydia, disintegrates when, to Asher’s disgust, she turns away a gay couple in need of shelter after a flood. House examines Asher’s heart, which is broken over his failure to defend his brother Luke when they were young, forcing Luke to go it alone in dealing with societal hatred over his sexual orientation. In Asher’s heart, House finds hope and desire for a faith that welcomes more than it excludes.

Austen Hartke 5-30-2018

Image via Nicholas Kwok/Unsplash

Christian ministries have been a part of the prison reform movement for decades, and Barna polls like the one conducted by Prison Fellowship tell us that 89 percent of practicing Christians agreed with the statement, “It’s important that prison conditions are safe and humane, specifically because I believe every person has intrinsic value and worth.” Our Christian belief that every single person bears the image of God within them informs the actions we take to support each other.

Dani Gabriel 5-22-2018

Image via @lil_bear_photo/Unsplash

"We experience being known in many different ways: in baptism, whether as infants or children or adults, in confirmations, in ordinations, in weddings. We haven't had anything for people who have transitioned to change their name or ask that we use different pronouns for them. Yet this is obviously a really profound shift in who they understand themselves to be. It’s important for the church to affirm that identity, and name it as good."

Dani Gabriel 4-24-2018
MY CONGREGATION, All Souls Episcopal Parish, is in a college town. In the summer when students and faculty go on break, our numbers thin considerably, so we move the pews to create a more intimate space in the round. But today was not an average summer Sunday. The pews were overfull. People were sitting on the sides, and there were extra chairs in the back.

My son Samson stood in front of our pew. One of the men in the congregation knelt and fixed his bow tie. The Sunday morning sunlight was streaming through the stained glass and the skylight. I hugged friends.This is going to be good, right? I prayed . Please, Lord, I hope we’re doing the right thing.

On Aug. 13 we renamed and blessed my son, Samson Red Gabriel. Samson is transgender. That week we had gone to court to legally change his name and gender, and that week he turned 10. That Sunday held the joy of five baptisms, all the hilarity and devotion that goes along with that, and this incredible rite that had never been done before in the Episcopal Church. As far as we know, nothing like it had been done for a child in a mainline church before, period.

Da'Shawn Mosley 3-23-2018

Illustration by Faith Zamble

Bio: Bruce Schoup was pastor of Peace Congregational United Church of Christ in Clemson, S.C., when the church started a new outreach project. The goal: Build a mobile “tiny house” to serve as temporary residence for LGBTQ people kicked out of their homes due to their gender and sexual identities. Nationally, 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

Website: thepeacechurch.org/tiny-house-project

1. What inspired the tiny house project? Peace Church was founded with the intention of reaching out to the LGBTQ community, communicating the message that there are Christians in the area who not only welcome LGBTQ individuals, but affirm them. One day, I saw a tiny house on wheels built by an individual in the area and said, “You know, we can do that.” And lo and behold, right about that same time, a grant offer came along [from the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries] for new initiatives in peace and justice. And the two ideas just sort of clicked together in my head: What a wonderful place that could ultimately be a safe house for LGBTQ people and lift up several concerns. It’s a project that’s easily replicable—tiny houses are a relatively inexpensive space that a person can claim as their own.
 
Betsy Shirley 9-18-2017

Erica Lea. Image via Erica Lea.

Albuquerque Mennonite Church will announce today that they have called Erica Lea to be their pastor — the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as a lead pastor in the Mennonite Church USA, a denomination that claims more than 70,000 adult members in the U.S.

Layton E. Williams 9-13-2017

FILE PHOTO: Plaintiff Edith Windsor greets the crowd outside after arguments in her case against the Defense of Marriage Act at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Edith Windsor died at the age of 88 this week. Her legacy in bending the arc ever more toward justice — nationwide and indeed within the faith community — cannot be overstated.

In 2013, Edie won her Supreme Court case in a landmark victory for LGBTQ rights in the United States. I was newly out, trying to become a minister in a denomination that had just begun allowing the ordination of LGBTQ people. Even as my church still struggled to be fully inclusive toward LGBTQ people, many of us saw hope and possibility in stories like Edie’s. That hope kept us faithful — both to God and to our own queer identities.

Image via RNS/Sally Morrow

Almost every Christian denomination in the U.S. shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Sept. 6 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

And American evangelicals — once seemingly immune to the decline experienced by their Catholic and mainline Protestant neighbors — are losing numbers and losing them quickly.

the Web Editors 8-31-2017

On Tuesday, a group of 150 Evangelical leaders representing the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a document called the “Nashville Statement,” which delineates their conservative theological position on human sexuality and gender. The statement not only condemns those who are bisexual, lesbian, gay, and transgender, but also anyone who supports them — claiming that agreeing to disagree on human sexuality is sinful in itself.

Though little in the document is new, the response from countless other Christians — ranging from evangelicals to progressives — has been swift and emphatic.

Image via Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The opposition Nationalist Party backed the introduction of same-sex marriage, despite fierce criticism from some conservatives, who said it marked a damaging departure from the party's Christian-Democratic principles.

the Web Editors 7-10-2017

Image via Reuters/Brendan McDermid.

Sexual orientation change efforts — more commonly known as "reparative therapy" or "conversion therapy" — are currently legal in the United Kingdom. While the government condemns the practice, conversion therapy is not illegal. In March, a petition seeking to change the practice's legal status failed to garner enough signatures to be considered in Parliament. 

the Web Editors 6-30-2017

1. Who Gets to Use Facebook's Rainbow 'Pride' Reaction?
“Is Facebook’s rollout of rainbow flags a case of algorithmic hypocrisy, user protection, or something else? Using their ability to detect people’s location and interests, the company's algorithms are choosing which people get the rainbow flag while hiding it from others.“

2. As Climate Changes, Southern States Will Suffer More Than Others
Maine may benefit from milder winters. Florida, by contrast, could face major losses, as deadly heat waves flare up in the summer and rising sea levels eat away at valuable coastal properties.

David Beltrán 6-12-2017

Visitors sign a wall outside Pulse Nightclub on the one year anniversary of the shooting in Orlando, Fla. Image via Reuters/Scott Audette.

Rosado was one of the first people to be called the morning of June 12. The body count from the Pulse nightclub shooting was still unconfirmed, but as names started to be released, it was clear that most of the victims were Latinx, particularly of Puerto Rican descent. Many of their families only spoke rudimentary English, a secondary tongue not suitable to communicate the nuance of such tragic news. Rosado remembers how most of the hospital staff did not speak Spanish, and consistently mispronounced the Hispanic names of the victims.

Eliel Cruz 5-11-2017

Image via ep_jhu/Flickr

“I just wish we could have had more conversation before funds got dropped from 20-plus backing churches and organizations,” Hale told Sojourners. “Rather than the conversation, we went straight to protocol. And that’s a sad reality of the way big business and denomination operates.”

the Web Editors 3-22-2017

“It is not my practice to censor the invitations to campus from any of our theological centers or student organizations,” Barnes said in a letter addressed to the seminary community. “Yet many regard awarding the Kuyper Prize as an affirmation of Reverend Keller’s belief that woman and LGBTQ+ persons should not be ordained… In order to communicate that the invitation to speak at the upcoming conference does not imply an endorsement of the Presbyterian Church in America’s views about ordination, we have agreed not to award the Kuyper Prize this year.”

Image via RNS

Enrollment has dropped at more than a quarter of Jewish Community Center preschools since a wave of threats against JCCs began in early January.

“I’m starting with the most difficult news, which is simply that more JCCs indicated something of a decline — but the majority have not,” said David Posner of the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, sharing the results of the umbrella group’s latest member survey.

Image via RNS/Adelle M. Banks

In her sermon on the last Sunday of Black History Month, the Rev. Maria Swearingen preached about her belief that black lives, “queer lives,” and immigrant lives matter.

And since it also was Transfiguration Sunday, she pointed to the story in the Gospel of Matthew where God declared Jesus “beloved.” That is a term, she said, that can be used for everyone.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool

A day after his first speech to Congress, President Trump was still basking in unexpected praise from the public and some pundits, who saw in his delivery a man who finally came across as measured in tone and downright “presidential,” as some put it, even if his few policy prescriptions reiterated the hard line, nationalist agenda that propelled him to office.

But there is one key constituency that might not be as enamored with the address: social conservatives, whose support was arguably most critical to Trump’s election.

Image via RNS/Adelle M. Banks

The Rev. Leah Daughtry stood in front of fellow black Christian leaders and told them they will need to work harder for social justice.

“If you’ve been feeding them, now clothe them,” said the Pentecostal pastor and 2016 CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee at a conference last week. “If you’ve been clothing them, now console them. If you’ve been at a march, now lead the march. If you’ve been at a rally, now organize the rally.”