Presbyterian

Image via RNS/Reuters/Evan Vucci/Pool

Vice President Mike Pence — a onetime altar boy who became an evangelical Protestant — proclaimed President Donald Trump a faithful supporter of Catholic values at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an event that sought to set aside any friction between the president and the pope.

“Let me promise all of you, this administration hears you. This president stands with you,” Pence said to the 1,300 gathered.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Donald Trump thanked conservative Christians for their votes, and promised to protect their values in his first commencement address as president, at evangelical stronghold Liberty University.

“In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God,” he said to raucous applause at the graduation, at the nation’s largest Christian university, on March 13, in Lynchburg, Va.

Nate Pyle 4-24-2017

In the same-sex marriage discussion, people cite 2,000 years of church history to support their suspicions of affirming theology. But this same history offers plenty of examples of healthy theological shifts that actually counter tradition. Healing on the Sabbath went against thousands of years of history. Replacing circumcision with baptism went against thousands of years of history. Even the Reformation went against 1,500 years of history, with the Reformers’ claim that they better understood the church fathers than the church did. History reveals that the church is always learning, always engaging in a re-examination of core values.

Image via RNS/Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

“It seems like most congregations are eager for somebody else to do the work of reconciliation,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, “rather than embrace it for themselves.”

The vast majority of pastors (90 percent) said their churches would welcome a sermon about racial reconciliation. But almost three-quarters of pastors — 73 percent — say they have not been encouraged by church leaders to preach about reconciliation. A quarter (26 percent) said they have been urged to address the issue from the pulpit.

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/Jennifer Zdon/The Times-Picayune in New Orleans

Canadian researchers are revisiting a hotly debated sociological question: Why do some churches decline while others succeed?

Since the 1960s, overall membership in mainline Protestant Christian churches has been dropping in both the U.S. and Canada.

But some congregations have continued to grow, and a team of researchers believes it now knows why. It’s the conservative theological beliefs of their members and clergy, according to researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario.

Layton E. Williams 10-24-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Still, it’s rarely easy being a woman and a minister. We lean on one another, finding community in person and online in dedicated groups such as The Young Clergy Women Project and Rev Gal Blog Pals. And, occasionally, we rely on the cathartic release of a snarky internet meme, shared among fellow “Reverend Nasty Women.”

We keep at it, decade after decade, because God continues to call us to bring our stories, our gifts, and our whole selves to serve the church. And if progress is slow, it is nevertheless making a difference.

Renee Gadoua 9-23-2015

Image via /Shutterstock

In another example of Christian discord over gay inclusion, Presbyterian churches in Brazil and Peru have ended their partnerships with the Presbyterian Church (USA) after the U.S. denomination changed its constitution in March to allow clergy to celebrate same-sex marriages.

The loss of the South American partnerships comes on top of the 50 U.S. congregations that formally split from the 1.8 million-member denomination since the church policy changed, PCUSA officials say.

Mexico stopped partnering with the denomination after it allowed the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians in 2011.

Jerry Marter 5-07-2015

Presbyterians vote to accept marriage equality. 

Zionism Unsettled cover page. Photo courtesy of www.israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has removed from its website a booklet that many Jewish groups have criticized as hostile to Israel and denigrating to Judaism.

“Zionism Unsettled,” published in January by the church-chartered Israel/Palestine Mission Network, is a history and commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that paints Israel as the aggressor and describes Zionism as inherently racist and theologically flawed.

The booklet played a role last month in the denomination’s debate on divesting from three American companies that, divestment proponents say, profit from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

John Ragosta 1-16-2013
RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Matthew Harris Jouett. RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia

Today is Religious Freedom Day — a day to celebrate the adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom. Why celebrate it?

Celebrate because our government does not use our tax dollars to propagate religion, something Jefferson found “sinful and tyrannical.” This does not mean that you have a right to stop any government action that you happen to think violates your religious beliefs — a ridiculous claim repeated during last year’s battle over insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Daniel Burke 2-28-2012
Photo via Getty Images.

Photo via Getty Images.

The question now is whether these breakaway groups signal a seismic shift in American Protestantism, or just a few fissures in the theological terrain.

In some ways, the rifts are nothing new. American Protestants have been splintering since Roger Williams left Plymouth Colony in the 1630s, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.

Yet the schisms counter a 20th-century trend in which ethnic and regional Protestant groups merged to form big-tent denominations such as the ELCA and PC(USA). 

"What we may be experiencing at this point is the limit of that movement to draw a lot of diversity under one umbrella," said Ammerman, author of Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners.

Subscribe