same-sex marriage

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The primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion will face another tough test next week when they gather in the U.K. to grapple with the Scottish Episcopal Church’s backing of same-sex marriage, among other issues.

The bishops will meet in Canterbury two months after the first gay Anglican wedding took place in Scotland, following the SEC’s June vote to alter its canon law, which had previously defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The Editors 7-25-2017

IN THE TERM that begins this fall, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The nine justices will decide: Is a baker with sincerely held religious objections to same-sex marriage obliged—by anti-discrimination laws—to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple?

But underneath the frosting, the case exemplifies a much broader conversation in which religious liberty is pitted against civil liberties. In this ongoing fight, sides are often split down partisan lines, with conservatives championing religious liberty and liberals defending civil rights.

This religious-freedom-vs.-civil-liberties split is frustrating to many. After all, religious liberty isn’t just for conservatives; the First Amendment offers important protections to all people of faith, from Muslims who seek permits to build mosques to Christians who are conscientious objectors to war. At the same time, we care deeply about civil rights, especially in an era when so many Americans face discrimination because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity. In a nutshell, we want to support religious freedom for all while also protecting the civil liberties of LGBTQ folks and other minorities. But is that even possible?

Baptist minister and constitutional lawyer Oliver Thomas is optimistic, but not naive. In “Clash of Liberties,” he explains how religious liberty laws morphed from bipartisan efforts to ensure religious liberty for all into tools used by conservatives and liberals alike to press their own advantage. If we’re serious about protecting both, Thomas writes, we’re going to have to do something that’s easier said than done: lay aside our ideological differences and work for the common good.

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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.

A man sells rainbow flags near The Stonewall Inn, on the eve of the LGBT Pride March, in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, June 24. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

White evangelical Christians were the most opposed to same-sex marriage, with 35 percent approving it, but the support more than doubled from 14 percent a decade ago. Younger evangelicals were far more supportive, with 47 percent of those born since 1964 approving gay marriages, compared with 26 percent of their older counterparts.

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After a quarter-century, the Rev. Barry Lynn is retiring as head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In court, in congressional hearings, and on cable television, Lynn has led the fight against school-sponsored prayer, religious symbols on public property, and any law that allows government to privilege people of faith.

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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.

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According to the lawsuit, Country Mill is the only business to have been prohibited under the market’s anti-discrimination policy.

In a statement, the city of East Lansing said the farmer’s refusal to host a same-sex wedding violated a “long-standing ordinance that protects sexual orientation as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling that grants the right for same-sex couples to be married.”

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The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled that the consecration of an openly gay pastor as bishop is against church law.

But, in a somewhat muddled ruling that could reflect the ongoing struggle to determine how great a role LGBTQ members can play in the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the court also ruled that the Rev. Karen Oliveto, its first openly gay bishop, “remains in good standing.”

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John, a 64-year-old theologian and dean of St. Albans Cathedral, has made no secret of his own homosexuality, and is in a civil partnership with another priest, a relationship he says is celibate. He has also made clear his support for same-sex marriage.

That has made John the subject of hard-liners’ ire. Supporters say his honesty about his homosexuality, and his views about same-sex marriage, have cost him the bishop’s seat, while some other bishops are known to be “quietly gay.”

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The former U.S. religious freedom ambassador told a congressional subcommittee that leaked language of a proposed presidential executive order on religious liberty could cause “constitutional problems.”

“I think it raises very serious equal protection issues,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, who recently ended his tenure at the U.S. State Department.

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“This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this ‘Amazing Grace’ calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness, for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short.”

John Gehring 1-09-2017

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Sessions has long been, in the words of one prominent immigration advocate, the “most anti-immigrant senator in the chamber.” When George W. Bush, a self-styled “compassionate conservative” and born-again Christian, pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 that was supported by many business and law-enforcement officials, Sessions railed against what he called the “no illegal alien left behind bill” and led the charge against the failed effort. “Good fences make good neighbors,” he said at a press conference the year before.

Cindy Brandt 12-29-2016

I want to err on the side of love and inclusion over doctrinal borders. I want to stand with the marginalized against the status quo. I want to be an ally because gay rights are human rights.

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.

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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.

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 7-14-2016

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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.

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.

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