"It is things like this that are enfeebling the Church at the moment—the concentration on things that don't matter and missing the things that do," commented Catholic author and activist Lynette Burrows. "What is pitiful as well as demeaning is that the Church is running after homosexual opinion but nothing is going to make homosexuals like the Catholic Church. This is because the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a disorder and whatever the bishops say will not change that." [dailymail.co.uk, 11/29/08; UPI, 11/29/08] read more
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In 1952, Docherty heard his 7-year-old son recite the pledge—which he
was unfamiliar with at the time—and decided to preach a sermon urging
that the pledge to the flag be amended. "To omit the words 'under God'
in the Pledge of Allegiance is to omit the definitive factor in the
American way of life," he said, adding that the Godless pledge was just
as applicable to the then-communist Soviet Union. "I could hear little
Muscovites recite a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag with
His original sermon did little to change things. But on Feb. 7, 1954, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in attendance, Docherty repeated his message—only this time with near-instant results. Congress introduced a bill that same week, and Eisenhower signed the "under God" act four months later.
In his later years, Docherty addressed those who criticized the inclusion of God's name in the pledge as a violation of church-and-state separation. He believed the phrase "under God" was broad enough to include "the great Jewish community and the people of the Muslim faith," yet he pulled no punches when it came to atheists. "An atheistic American is a contradiction in terms," Docherty said in his sermon. "If you deny the Christian ethic, you fall short of the American ideal of life." [washingtonpost.com, 11/30/08; AP, 11/31/08] read more
In the last month, archaeologists in the Middle East have unearthed a trio of biblical-times finds that offer important glimpses into both ancient Holy Land culture and the early Christian church.
Earlier this month, an Israeli archaeologist digging amid ruins of an ancient town outside Jerusalem discovered a pottery shard containing the oldest Hebrew inscription ever found. Penned almost 3,000 years ago, the five lines of text on the ceramic piece use proto-Canaanite characters, a precursor of the Hebrew alphabet. Artifacts found around the shard were carbon-dated to between 1,000 and 975 B.C., which corresponds with the time King David ruled in Jerusalem. Although the writing has not been completely translated, Yossi Garfinkel, the Hebrew University archaeologist in charge of the dig, believes it already indicates that a powerful Israeli kingdom existed at the time of King David.
Last week another Israeli archaeologist digging outside Jerusalem found what he believes are the 2,000-year-old remains of two tombs that once held a wife and daughter-in-law of King Herod—the same Herod that the Gospel of Matthew says conducted a mass slaughter of male infants around the time of Jesus’ birth. Along with the tomb artifacts, additional relics found by Ehud Netzer, who is a Herodian excavation expert from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, seem to further his case for discovering Herod’s tomb last year. “I would eat my hat if it were someone else’s tomb,” Netzer said.
Almost 300 miles down the road in Syria, a Syrian-Polish archaeological team unearthed the remains of an eighth-century church. Although the church is the fourth found in the ancient city of Palmyra, which is almost 150 miles northeast of Damascus, it is the largest such discovery to date. Walid al-Assaad, head of the Palmyra Antiquities and Museums Department, said that besides an amphitheater used for gatherings and services, the church contains at least “two rooms that are believed to have been used for baptisms, religious ceremonies, prayers and other rituals.” [AP, 10/31/08; AP, 11/17/08; Reuters, 11/19/08] read more
Despite a sagging economy that’s (literally) leaving more people out in the cold, New York City officials have ordered at least 22 churches to stop providing shelter for homeless people. As temperatures drop below freezing, more churches will be prone to open their doors for those on the streets, yet officials reminded these and other churches that they must be provide beds at least five days a week to be considered an official faith-based shelter. “We really don’t want people sleeping on the streets, on grates, on church steps. We want people sleeping in beds,’ said the Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Robert Hess, who added that the city has 8,000 beds waiting for bodies.A church in Pittsburgh, however, recently had to fight against county officials for its right to care for the homeless. This summer, a zoning officer for Brookville Borough in Jefferson County cited pastor Jack L. Wisor of First Apostles Doctrine Church for a code violation of “group housing” by allowing three homeless men to live in his church’s parsonage. The pastor was fined $500 in August, while the church was instructed to not house any more homeless individuals. As a reply, Wisor recruited—of all things—the American Liberties Civil Union to help him file a federal lawsuit and argue that sheltering those living on the street is fundamental to the church’s Just for Jesus Challenge Homeless Outreach ministry. The result? A day before the case’s hearing, the Brookville Borough council gave the church permission to house up to eight homeless individuals (along with two staff members). Currently the church and borough are meeting to discuss future plans with the homeless ministry. [wcbstv.com, 11/22/08; post-gazette.com, 11/24/08] read more
this month, the campus of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, well known for
its neo-Gothic, 6,000-seat sanctuary, is one of the largest religious
facilities currently available in the United States, said Matt Messier,
a Florida broker and principal of CNL Real Estate Services of Orlando,
Fla., according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
recent years, membership at the Cathedral at Chapel Hill has declined
from 10,000 regular attendees to roughly 1,000 after a series of sexual
misconduct allegations against Paulk, 81. Current pastor D.E. Paulk,
who grew up believing Earl Paulk was his uncle but recently learned he
was his biological father, said the sale was triggered in part by the
church’s evolving mission to be inclusive of people of diverse
religions and sexual orientations.
we have become a ‘radically inclusive’ church our need for space has
lessened considerably. ... If we were to preach an exclusive message we
would need more space,” D.E. Paulk said. “The mission of the Cathedral
has not changed, only expanded to include all of God's
creation—Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, gay, straight, etc.”
Paulk, who also leads a group called the Pro-Love Organization, has
advocated for gay rights in recent years and is an associate of the
controversial preacher Carlton Pearson, who teaches that all people,
not just Christians, are saved. In an interview with Charisma magazine,
D.E. Paulk also alluded to universalism, saying the Cathedral does not
seek to convert but to “convince everyone of Christ’s love.”
believe that Christ was successful, not a failure,” D.E. Paulk said.
“Christ came to ‘reconcile the world to God,’ and we confess that
Christ succeeded and ‘finished’ this work. If Christ was successful
then the world was converted at Calvary. Salvation, then, becomes an
awakening to God's free gift—not a conversion.”
Paulk, wife of D.E. Paulk and a pastor at the Cathedral, said the
church property was valued at $31 million two years ago, but the price
was lowered because of the economic downturn. She told the Journal-Constitution
that the facilities were not being sold to pay legal expenses related
to civil actions involving Earl Paulk, who has been hounded by claims
of sexual misconduct since he was accused of committing adultery in
February, a judge dismissed the most recent action against Earl Paulk.
The lawsuit filed by Mona Brewer and her husband, Bobby, alleged that
Paulk coerced the woman into a 14-year affair. The couple and their
attorney were ordered to pay more than $1 million in legal fees. They
are appealing the decision.
Although Earl Paulk remains archbishop of the church, he is not active in its daily operations. [charismamag.com, 11/13/08] read more
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