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March 18 Current Events
Religious News Service

Leaders representing more than 35 million Anglicans said the English church’s decision to allow clergy to bless marriages and other unions of same-sex couples would further split the worldwide Anglican Communion.

February 16, 2023
By Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — Conservative Anglican archbishops in Africa are challenging a decision by the Church of England to allow clergy to bless same sex couples’ marriages, warning that the move puts the worldwide Anglican Communion in further jeopardy.

The leaders are reacting to the Feb. 9 vote at the Church of England’s General Synod to permit the offering of prayers and liturgies at civil marriages. The compromise measure included the church’s desire to “lament and repent” its failure “to welcome LGBTQI+ people and for the harm that LGBTQI+ people have experienced — and continue to experience — in churches.”

The church has not changed its doctrine that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, but the archbishops of Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria are rejecting the decision to bless the unions as contrary to the teaching of the Bible. The Church of England joined the Episcopal Church of America, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church of Brazil and a few other member churches in recognizing all civil marriages.

The archbishops, who together represent more than 35 million Anglicans, posted their responses to the Church of England’s decision on their diocesan websites.

“The Church of England is very good at making contradictory statements and expecting everyone to believe both can be true at the same time. That’s what they have done with this decision,” said Archbishop Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu of Uganda in his statement.

Kaziimba said that despite the English church’s insistence that it was not changing its doctrine on marriage, it is doing exactly that, the only significant difference being the terminology of wedding versus a service of blessing.

“The Church of England … has now departed from the Bible and their message is the opposite,” said Kaziimba. “They are even offering to bless that sin. That is wrong. As the Church of Uganda, we cannot accept that. God cannot bless what he calls sin.” After the Episcopal Church in America supported the installation of Bishop Gene Robinson, a gay man, as a bishop of New Hampshire, Kaziimba said, the Uganda province broke fellowship with the American church and has since maintained it was the latter that left the Anglican Communion.

“We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the Anglican Communion,” the Ugandan primate said, referring to the Global Anglican Future Conference, known as GAFCON, and the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans, coalitions of socially conservative Anglican dioceses that formed in response to LGBTQ acceptance elsewhere in the church.

“There is no way we are walking together,” said Kaziimba. “These are the provinces that have walked away, but we pray for them to repent.” In his statement, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, the primate of the Church of Kenya, attributed the move to “the unfortunate rise of devious liberal churchmanship within Anglican Communion.”

Said Ole Sapit: “We make a humble request to these churches: Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead.” According to Archbishop Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba of Nigeria in a statement on Sunday (Feb.12), “History is about to repeat itself. The Anglican Church is at the threshold of yet another reformation, which must sweep out the ungodly leadership currently endorsing sin, misleading the lives of faithful Anglican worldwide.” The primate urged the GAFCON diocese and other orthodox groups within the communion to remain resolute in defending the faith.

The news from England pleased LGBTQ activists in Africa, including some who are Anglican clerics.

The Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, a former bishop in the Anglican Church of Uganda and a founder of Integrity Uganda, an advocacy group for LGBTQ people, said the Church of England had allowed the blessing of partnerships, not marriages.

“It is expected that when two people come together in a love relationship, they are going to have children, but as time goes on, it is realized that two people can be in love when they are not going to have children. I think that’s where we have to think hard about what human sexuality really is,” Senyonjo told Religion News Service in a telephone interview. “We should not just condemn the action (by the Church of England) without a very careful consideration of what love relationship is.” The Rev. Michael Nzuki Kimindu, a former Anglican priest who is now president of Other Sheep Africa, a Christian organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights in Christianity and Islam, criticized the African hierarchy’s attempt to paint the Church of England’s action as a Western anomaly.

“Homosexuality is not a Western issue,” Kimindu told RNS. “It is a human condition found in every culture, geographical area and religion. It’s just fair that people should understand that it is not going anywhere no matter how much we bury our heads in the sand.”


March 11 Current Events


Driving kids to Vacation Bible School would become a misdemeanor in Nebraska if a recent proposal by Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt (D) passed into law. Hunt proposed to "amend" a bill that would protect children from adult-themed drag performances (LB371) by striking all the language and replacing it with similar language to bar children from attending a "religious indoctrination camp" instead.

Hunt's amendment (AM74), filed on January 23, defined a religious indoctrination camp as "a camp, vacation Bible study, retreat, lock-in, or convention held by a church, youth group, or religious organization for the purpose of indoctrinating children with a specific set of religious beliefs."

The amendment would prohibit anyone under 19 (Nebraska's age of majority) from attending such a camp and declared anyone 19 or older who "knowingly brings" someone under 19 to a religious indoctrination camp to "be guilty of a Class I misdemeanor." The amendment would also prohibit anyone under 21 from a "religious indoctrination camp" with alcohol, "regardless if such alcoholic liquor is being served as part of a religious ceremony." Finally, the amendment slaps a $10,000 fine per offense on "any business, establishment, or nonprofit organization that hosts a religious indoctrination camp" and permits underage persons to attend.

The amendment specifically targets Christian parents, churches, and faith-based organizations in its sweeping ban on virtually all youth outreach efforts -- including communion, in some denominations. The legislator who introduced the amendment said she did it "to make a point." "It won't pass," tweeted Hunt. "I would withdraw it if it had the votes to pass."

Somehow, she expects others to take her point seriously when she doesn't even take her own job seriously. But it's not immediately obvious what point Hunt was trying to make.

One option is that Hunt is legitimately concerned about the safety of children. This option is suggested by the one subsection of her amendment that does not parallel the language of the original bill:

"There is a well-documented history of indoctrination and sexual abuse perpetrated by religious leaders and clergy people upon children. Abusers within churches and other religious institutions often use events like church or youth-group-sponsored camps and retreats to earn children's trust and gain unsupervised access to such children in order to commit such abuse."

In other words, because some wolves don sheep's clothing, Hunt suggests shepherds should never gather the flock. It's hard to consider this amendment with a straight face. Ultimately, by declaring that she would withdraw the amendment if it stood a chance of passing, Hunt herself admits that child safety isn't her true motivation.

Another option suggested by this added subsection is that Hunt's point is mere "whataboutism." If you think kids are being groomed at drag shows, says Hunt, what about grooming in the church? Sadly, sexual abusers do target children in the church, and every crime is one too many. But Hunt tries to prove more than the evidence will justify. Words such as "well-documented" and "often" imply that everyone knows that abuse is rampant at church camps. But if that were really true, parents would keep their children home.

In reality, most church camps come off without incident, and many churches observe child protection policies to prevent abuse. Additionally, the phrase "indoctrination and sexual abuse perpetrated ... upon children" insinuates that religious instruction and sexual abuse are 1) equally bad for children and 2) related. Yet not even Hunt attempts to prove that religious instruction harms children. Charity requires us to find this explanation unsatisfactory also.

A third option is that Hunt introduced the amendment to demonstrate a parallel between church camps and drag shows. That may sound surprising -- nay, offensive -- but it's actually quite revealing.

Imagine for a moment that the LGBT ideology is really a religion -- not an independent religion, mind you, but a photonegative, cult mockery of Christianity. It has its own deity -- the self -- and core doctrines, such as "identity is self-determined." It has its own system of positive and negative morality, requiring affirmation and rejecting all constraints on sexual expression. It has its own community, which, like a church community, cares for its own. The parallels could go on.

In this analogy, a religion built around sexual perversion -- and therefore hostile to procreation and family -- must find some way in which to sustain itself, and it does so by imitating Christian evangelism strategies. Just like a church camp or Vacation Bible School proclaims the gospel and other Christian teaching to children (including some who wouldn't otherwise hear), so an "all-ages" drag show exposes children (including some who wouldn't otherwise be exposed) to the doctrine and values of the LGBT religion: sexual promiscuity, defiance of gender norms, and celebration of "uninhibited" self-expression.

LGBT apologists often distinguish themselves by their uncompromising religious fervor, and Ms. Hunt is no exception. In addition to AM 74, Hunt proposed an array of amendments -- more creative than sincere -- to challenge and parody the drag show bill LB371. One amendment (AM204) ordered that "No manufacturer shall distribute chocolate-coated candy" to minors "without ... explicitly identifying the candy's gender assigned at birth on the packaging." That amendment is a clear nod to the short-lived M&Ms female "spokescandies" campaign, but it makes no sense in the real world. She introduced two amendments that would forbid minors from watching R-rated movies (AM206) or "any television program depicting sexual themes or violence" (AM178).

In fact, Hunt has introduced ridiculous amendments to numerous bills that would protect children from exposure to the LGBT religion. The Let Them Grow Act (LB574) prohibits the performance of "gender altering procedures" on minors. Hunt introduced an amendment (AM72) to change the phrase to "gender affirming procedures."

She introduced another amendment (AM71) to change the bill so that it prohibited gender altering procedures on "a legislator appointed by the governor." That amendment takes an ill-informed swipe at the bill's sponsor, Kathleen Kauth (R), who was appointed by the governor to fill an empty seat before winning reelection in her own right.

Additionally, Hunt proposed an amendment (AM73) to LB575, a women's sports bill, that would replace the word "violation" with the word "compliance" in a phrase allowing a student to bring "a civil cause of action against the school committing such violation," which would completely reverse the meaning and contradict the bill's overall purpose.

Hunt's progressive activism extends to the abortion issue, too. She has introduced a whopping 34 amendments to mock or derail the Nebraska Heartbeat Act (LB626), including amendments as petty as "Strike the enacting clause" (FA7). You might say that Hunt proposes bill amendments serially, and you'd be correct; her amendments to LB626 bear the filing numbers AM13-AM27, AM29-AM42, and AM59-AM62 (she also filed AM71-AM74 on the gender bills). In fact, of the first 75 amendments to receive an "AM-" number, Senator Hart filed 37 -- all goofy.

Hunt has moved to indefinitely table all four bills, LB371, LB 574, LB 575, and LB626. All that means is the legislature will have to vote down that motion before beginning floor debate -- a motion that will have little effect if the bill is likely to pass anyways.

Hunt offered another motion that would have sent LB626 to a different committee; as soon as the motion failed, she offered a motion to reconsider it, which also failed. It must be hard to serve as a progressive Democratic legislator in a chamber with a permanent Republican majority, but surely Senator Hunt could do better. With all her energy and creativity, there must be some way she can work to improve the lives of her constituents in a way that is respected by her GOP colleagues.

Instead, she simply works to gum up the legislative gears with a paste thick with bitter irony. Her pro-LGBT worldview and value system -- one might even say, "her religion" -- stands so entirely opposed to the state's conservative majority that she believes obstructionism is the most productive use of her time.

How else do explain an amendment that proposes, instead of barring kids from attending drag performances, let's ban them from attending Bible camp and VBS instead?

Originally published at The Washington Stand

Democrat Senator Wants To See Children Protected From Vacation Bible School (prophecynewswatch.com)

March 4

February 11, 2023

We recently asked Black members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the reason they left Christianity. Here are their insightful replies:

Warning: This post contains mentions of sexual abuse.

1."First, I never wanted to go to church, it was something my mom made us do. Second, homophobia. The last time I went to a church it was a lovely and inspirational sermon until the pastor started disparaging gays for absolutely no reason. Even at my grandfather's funeral, the pastor there managed to blame gays for the state of the world. Just random unnecessary hate."


2."When I was younger, the pastor at the family church was allegedly involved in a scandal with a child and no one would do anything because he was a 'man of God.' I was instantly turned off of organized religion after finding out. That was the catalyst and the more I grew up and did some soul-searching, the more I realized I could not believe in a God that would protect a monster over a child (amongst other things as well)."


3."I stopped believing because my ancestors were forced to convert to what their masters believed. Plus, we pray so much and are some of the hardest believers, yet our lot in life remains the same generation after generation. I didn't understand why we were suffering so much even though we went to church and prayed so much. So, I stopped believing, stop praying and start doing and became very successful."


4."The amount of gossiping that went on in my church was astounding to me, even as a child. I always felt I had to be perfect or else I would give everyone else even more to talk crap about. The irony of the 'judge not lest ye be judged' Christians being the judgiest people I ever met was lost on them, but it made me really evaluate if I actually believed or if it was just putting on a show so I could fit in. I found out it was the latter."


5."I was raised Catholic but as I got older, I questioned the church and its teachings more and more. A lot of it started to not make sense. When I discovered that I was nonbinary and pansexual, the church responded by forcing conversion therapy on me rather than accepting me. A God that supposedly loves everyone is not going to force that sort of hell on anyone."


6."I am a 60-year-old heterosexual African male and was increasingly bothered by the comments and jokes about gay people from the pulpit. I was a devoted and tithing member of a non-denomination mega church. My childhood years were spent every Sunday in a southern Baptist church. But I began to feel more and more uncomfortable with rhetoric that was justifying why gay lifestyles were 'unacceptable.' In short, I asked myself is this what Jesus would say or do with anyone or any group? My answer was no. This caused me to have enough doubt to question a number of teachings and stories in the bible that I was now able to look at with open eyes." "I began to research the origins of religion and came to understand it is all about a belief, not facts. I then asked a basic question is there any area in my life where I operate on belief and not fact? With that in mind, I had to get honest and admit, I have no concrete data or facts that clearly show me there is a God. The idea of attributing what we don't understand to a God is no longer acceptable to me."


7."I grew up in church with pastors on both sides of my family. It's overwhelming as a child to be told all the things you can't do because it's a sin and you'll go to hell. Don't get me started on the teachings about relationships and sex. I wasn't allowed to date until I was 17 and once I turned 17, I was suddenly supposed to be okay with openly dating without feeling conviction. Religion played a huge part in me not dating or having significant relationships until my mid-20s and even then it still felt wrong." "Additionally, end-time prophesy teachings (the rapture) were genuinely traumatizing. I was under constant fear that the rapture would happen and I would be left behind for some unknown sin I committed. I now have a child of my own and I REFUSE to put any sort of religious teachings in her head and I've told my parents that I will decide what's appropriate for her until she's old enough to make her own decision about religion."


8."At a very young age, I was forced to attend church. It felt like a cult. I was cognizant of the so-called church body I convened with. All I did was look and listen. Attending church continued until I was in my early teenage years. After all that I have experienced and been through I made a conscious decision that I did NOT want to be in the same place with any of those people which I will never do."


9."I didn’t grow up in church or a religious household, I was just told God exists, sin exists, and went to a few summer bible schools. As an adult, I wanted to grow my faith. The more I started reading, researching, and contemplating, I called bullcrap. It took about three years of combing through Christianity, Black Hebrew Israelites, and belief in God with no attached religious text before I settled on atheism. Honestly, I never felt more at peace or free."


10."As I got older, a lot of things in the bible just didn't add up (no mention of dinosaurs, no one could give an exact timeline of the events in the bible, the fact that the whole origins of the bible itself are a matter of debate). Not to mention that Christianity was used to keep slaves in check. I definitely have been persecuted for my stance, but I will never go back to any religion."


11."I did research on the history of the church and became very knowledgeable on all its past. Once I understood the roots of the faith, it became impossible for me to logically subscribe to it."


12."I grew up in a Baptist church in a religious extended family. My belief in some higher power diminished because of multiple reasons. Multiple friends of mine died in the same year and I just can't fathom how a higher power allows so much grief and hurt (at a personal level as well as across all of society). Mass shootings, violence, homelessness, assault, and so many heinous acts get explained away by free will, but why let people suffer if an all-powerful being could make it better? Modern Christianity is so far from the teaching of the bible. Looking at the mega-churches and the pastor and their lavish lifestyles, they're businesses."


13."I was raised in the church and the older I get, the more it seems to me how religion is used just to control the less fortunate."


14."I would say that actually reading the bible for myself without someone else's interpretation led me out of Christianity. Once I read it fully, I saw how humans created a God in their image depending on their circumstances and state of mind. While Christians will believe their God is going to save us from ourselves, the work of being better stewards of the Earth and each other falls on us. We must evolve into better humans."


15.And "I was baptized at 12 and literally a year later I started to question my faith. So I read the bible in full. So many questions that many refuse to logically answer besides the usual 'Have faith.' I have not found anyone that can explain to me why God needed to kill all the animals except for the only two of own their kind on Noah’s ark when it was the humans who sinned. So many inconsistencies and not to mention man has touched the bible. What better way to control people than saying promises of heaven or being condemned to hell? I consider myself an agnostic atheist."

—Anonymous 15

Stories By Black People About The Turning Point That Made Them Leave Christianity (yahoo.com)

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