You remember the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell's evangelical assault on our 1980s political system? For those of us who were alive during those times, it became abundantly clear that if you were a Christian, you were a Republican. If you were a godless heathen, the Democratic was your party.
The Moral Majority went belly up in the late 80s, leaving its followers to be scooped up by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition of America. Robertson then passed the evangelical torch to President George W. Bush.
We all saw how well that went.
And now, those people who want to use Christians to political ends may be out of luck.
From Christianity Today:
A new CNN-Opinion Research poll finds that a majority of Americans think government should not promote "traditional values," the first time in the past two decades that support for promotion of traditional values has been below 50 percent. The June poll finds that more Americans now believe that the government should stay out of the values business.
Since 1992, CNN's pollsters have found that the majority of people feel that the government is "doing too much." The only exception to that was in the days after September 11, 2001, but other than that anomaly, Americans have polled consistently that they want government to stay out of their business.
And now, this year, they also are polling that they want government to stay out of their morality. But why? Did Americans suddenly become a bunch of drunken baby-killers? No, as Christianity Today goes on to point out, a recent Gallup poll showed that, overwhelmingly, Americans are not happy with the state of our country's moral character.
The shift in opinion does not mean that Americans like the current values in society. A January Gallup poll found that seven in ten Americans were dissatisfied with "the moral and ethical climate" in America. This was up from 62 percent a decade ago.
So what's going on?
The theory that is floated by CT, which is a good one, goes something like this: Conservative Americans, the kinds of people who would have been ripe pickings for the moralizing crowd, have become so completely fed up with government, so completely convinced that anything government touches turns into a bureaucratic soul-crushing nightmare, that they now want said government to stay out of everything. Period. End of story. Go crawl into that bathtub and die.
That's one theory. Another, of course, is that the Right is starting to see that legislating morality is a non-starter. With New York just legalizing gay marriage and the lifting of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the hardcore religious right certainly can't feel like they are gaining ground. Perhaps they are just changing tactics?
Personally, I like the former theory more, mostly because it gels with what I have been witnessing, from the local Liberty movement, and its poster girl, Sarah Anderson, to the conversation I had about NYS's gay marriage bill with a Republican organizer that went something like this:
Me: You don't support gay marriage? But you are all about personal liberties, government non-intrusion into private matters, blah blah blah. What gives?
Him: I don't care if gay people get married, but I don't want government making that decision. In fact, I don't want government in charge of licensing marriages at all. Get rid of all government-sponsored marriage licenses and leave it to the churches and the lawyers.
Has the fear of big government overtaken the fear of our immoral neighbors?
CT does a good job laying out the argument:
The turn away from values-promotion may be part of a more general movement favoring less government. The poll found that for the past two years the public increasingly think "the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses"; a shrinking number think "government should do more to solve our country's problems." Sixty three percent said government was doing too much, up from 52 percent when Obama was elected President. The current support for less government is the highest in the past two decades.
In his sermon a week ago today, Pastor Glenn Packiam was making what seemed to me to be the hard sell. The product was New Life Church's latest social justice venture, the Dream Centers of Colorado Springs.
DCCS is a free women’s health clinic on Montebello Drive founded by New Life, which is footing most of the bill. The clinic will provide all forms of primary care, from screenings for heart diseases to referrals for cervical exams.
"There might be this thought in the back of your mind or maybe somewhere deep inside your heart,” Packiam was saying. “Maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, you are thinking, 'Eh. Why are we doing this? That's sort of cute, but whatever happened to old-fashioned preaching? Shouldn't we just get everyone saved? ... What is our motivation? What drives us to think about, or care about, justice? To care about the plight of the poor and needy?”
These are good questions, and for the most part they echo the doubts from us in the secular world. Why would New Life open a health clinic for uninsured or underinsured women? Is it a recruiting tool? A chance to preach anti-abortion?
“Isn’t this just about evangelicals trying to launch a big PR campaign?" Packiam asked rhetorically. "I mean isn’t this kind of like Christians in America realized, ‘OK, we’ve earned a bad rap for being anti-abortion and anti-gay … man, the world thinks that we’re so harsh and mean.’ … Is that what this is? Is this about saving face?”
At its core there is a deeper motivation, says Packiam, and if you are interested in his explanation, you can watch the video of his 40-minute sermon at this link. I would recommend it, especially if you are thinking about forming an opinion on their actions or motives.
The takeaway is this: Helping the needy is Christ-like. And who can argue with that? Most of the time I hear secular criticism of the Christian church, it's someone saying the church ought to stay out of politics and focus on living out the teachings of their messiah, teachings that even those of us in the secular realm can appreciate and respect.
For someone who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, watching preening, smug televangelists give way to massive suburban churches that preached a watered-down, feel-good gospel of self-admiration, this migration from condemning culture to helping the poor has been a real eye-opener.
But it is the trend that we have seen over the past few years. As Dr. Scott Todd, with Compassion International, put it when talking with the Indy a couple months back, the Christian world is re-awakening to the plight of the needy.
He points to Rick Warren’s 2003 book, Purpose Driven Life. Hugely popular, it sold 30 million copies in four years.
And yet, Todd notes, the word “poverty” was not mentioned once in the book. The word “justice” was used only once in a casual reference, while “the poor” were mentioned twice.
Only a few years later, Warren has become fully engaged in the poverty crisis in Africa, he says. “Rick Warren has become a key evangelical leader in the space of concern for the poor. He is sending thousands of members of his church to Africa every year.”
And as New Life Pastor Matthew Ayers, the executive director of DCCS, says:
“I think that it has been a wake-up call to a lot of Christians, that there has been an imbalance in the terms of how we live our life. I think that people are realizing that we have become unbalanced. There is a movement all over the world of the church waking up to that reality.”
Evangelicals doing good works is an exciting development.
So when I first heard about New Life’s clinic, I called up a pastor friend of mine to find out what he thought.
He sounded skeptical.
There are 30 Jehovah's Witnesses from the Western Slope of Colorado and Colorado Springs? Never would have guessed that.
Well, there are, and apparently they will soon be trekking to Pueblo, to the Colorado State Fairgrounds, for their own “Let God’s Kingdom Come!” Convention.
If you're interested in what this whole witness thing is all about, you're invited to join them in their celebration:
Jehovah’s Witnesses are inviting all in the area to attend a program focusing on a government that millions, perhaps billions, pray for. God’s Kingdom government, which is requested in the world-famous model prayer taught by Jesus Christ, will be the focus of the 2011 “Let God’s Kingdom Come!” District Convention to be held at Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo, Colorado.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the request for God’s Kingdom in the model prayer, recorded in the Bible at Matthew 6:10 (also known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father), has profound meaning. They also believe that the answer to that prayer will bring significant changes to the earth and mankind. The Witnesses’ convention program promises intriguing details from the Bible’s explanation of such developments. Starting June 16th, and continuing for the next couple of weeks, Jehovah’s Witnesses will put forth extra effort to extend a personal invitation to everyone from Aspen, Carbondale, Grand Junction, Montrose, Norwood, Hotchkiss, Gunnison, Falcon, Fountain, Colorado Springs, and Woodland Park to attend the convention with them. The three-day event to be held in Pueblo, Colorado will begin Friday, July 1, 2011, at 9:20 a.m. The daily themes are based on passages of Scripture including Matthew 4:17, Matthew 6:33, and 2 Peter 1:11. Strengthening one’s faith in the reality of that Kingdom will be the focus of the program. There is no admission fee. Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported entirely by voluntary donations.
Locally, the area’s 30 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be supporting the activity of distributing printed invitations to the convention. An estimated 3,400 people will come to the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo, CO for the Bible-based program.
Throughout the United States, there will be 381 conventions in 98 cities. Worldwide, there are over 7,500,000 Witnesses in more than 107,000 congregations.
In the interview that became this week’s cover story, Focus on the Family leader Jim Daly and J. Adrian Stanley covered a lot of ground. While most topics were represented in the final printed version, a lot of pretty good stuff ended up on the cutting-room floor, so to speak.
For those interested in reading more about the current state of Focus, here are some of those additional questions and answers (with the occasional interjection from Focus PR guy Gary Schneeberger).
ON 'THE DAY OF DIALOGUE'
Indy: I’m wondering about the “Day of Dialogue,” which was meant to counter the “Day of Silence,” a day meant to honor and observe kids who are bullied because they are LGBT. A lot of people see the Day of Dialogue as an endorsement of the bullying that the Day of Silence is meant to counter. And, of course, with the bullying-related suicides we’ve been seeing lately, this is a sensitive issue. I’m wondering, how do you view the Day of Dialogue?
JD: I think the Christian community, in our history, understands bullying. I mean, Christians, in centuries past, certainly have lost their lives for what they believe. So, it’s not new, and we would just categorically say bullying of all sorts is not a standard that any culture should embrace.
And so the Day of Dialogue is that attempt to actually do the exact opposite, to have a discussion where people may have an opposing view, but can still express it. ...
When you look at the Day of Dialogue and the temperament that’s being expressed, I think it’s very civil. I don’t see it as creating an opportunity for people to bully other people.
Get a Taste of Colorado Springs, support local foster care families or take in the stars on a midnight bike ride through Garden of the Gods in this week's Indy Minute with Jack Ward.
Tune in to the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.
If you're led by a preacher who copped a plea after being accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from another church ... where better to gather than a place known as Syn?
St. George’s Anglican Church is eyeing the historic stone building at 217 E. Pikes Peak Ave., which was built as an Episcopal church in 1901. Most recently, though, it housed the Syn nightclub — one of the rowdiest places downtown. It closed in March 2010 after the city revoked its liquor license for violations.
St. George’s broke away from Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church several years ago amid an investigation of the Rev. Don Armstrong’s handling of church funds. The congregation moved from Grace, 601 N. Tejon St., after a judge ruled the diocese, not St. George’s, was the rightful owner. Armstrong’s group relocated to 2760 Fieldstone Road, which is owned by a bank.
Parish member Bob Balink, El Paso County’s treasurer, says a group that helps people with autism is interested in buying the Fieldstone property.
And frankly, St. George’s wants to get back downtown, Armstrong says.
“I like it a lot because it’s centrally located for our congregation,” he says. “Because it was once a church, it looks and feels like a church.” The windows are arched, the ceilings vaulted, and it's very roomy, he notes. He also says St. George's is interested in the parking lot north of the building.
“We’re already in talks to see if these pieces fall together,” Armstrong says, adding the church will know more in 30 days.
Given its downtown location, Armstrong predicts the church might initiate more events, such as a lenten lunches program, or evening gatherings. Oh, and the building’s former identity isn’t lost on Armstrong, who says, “We can turn Syn into a place of redemption. That will be kind of fun.“
The New York Times is reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold an Arizona scheme that awarded tax credits up to $500 for donations to fund scholarships to religious schools.
The court broke on a 5-4 decision, with the issue of whether or not a tax credit constituted the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to support specific religious sects.
The program itself is novel and complicated, and allowing it to go forward may be of no particular moment. But by closing the courthouse door to some kinds of suits that claim violations of the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion, the court’s ruling in the case may be quite consequential.
Justice Elena Kagan, in her first dissent, said the majority had laid waste to the doctrine of “taxpayer standing,” which allows suits from people who object to having tax money spent on religious matters. “The court’s opinion,” Justice Kagan wrote, “offers a road map — more truly, a one-step instruction — to any government that wishes to insulate its financing of religious activity from legal challenge.”
We'll see how long it takes for this ruling to have an impact in Colorado — starting, of course, in Colorado Springs.
I've been feeling wonky lately. And, frankly, everyone I work with seems to be a bit overwhelmed and out of sorts, too.
I came across this fascinating piece about the earthquake in Japan and our collective consciousness by Rev. Ahriana Platten, currently the acting minister at Unity Church in the Rockies, and also the director of the local Colorado Ecospiritual Center.
It made a lot of sense to me. Perhaps it will ring true for you as well.
Earthquake in the Mind of Humanity
I awoke this morning to find out about an Earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunamis around the world. My niece and her husband are in Japan so step one was checking in on them. It appears that they are okay. Step 2? Check on friends in Hawaii who might be affected by the resulting tsunami. They seem to be fine. Step three — write to my Spiritual Community and ask them to pay attention to how they feel.
That would be the purpose of this letter.
If you are someone who understands the power and purpose of mass consciousness — if you meditate regularly — if you pray on a regular basis — if you do yoga — or take time to still yourself — or if you are a person who strongly connects to the earth through your spiritual practices, I am asking you to pay special attention to your current and future state of being.
Immediately following the Haiti earthquake and soon after the earthquake in Chile last year, I began to notice an escalation of emotion in the people around me. People were highly emotional and had no idea why. I wonder if the reason might be our connection to global consciousness. When millions of people are “shocked” by an earth happening, it affects all of us. The "mass consciousness" is flooded with fear, concern, pain and sorrow. Not only are we affected by a flood of emotions from the area affected, but also by the emotions of all the people who have loved ones they cannot reach, all the people concerned about business implications, and all those who are simply sensitive to earth changes. Our animal instincts tell us there is danger and we react emotionally. All of that emotion exists in the field of mass consciousness and we are all affected by it on some level.
There are two things to do — one for yourself and one for others:
For yourself — Take an assessment of your emotional state. Ask yourself what you are feeling and name the emotion. Take action to respond to your feelings. If you feel sad, acknowledge your sadness. Perhaps you can talk with a friend about it or journal about it. If you feel frustration or fear, ask yourself if you are in danger or if you are frustrated as a result of your own life or something outside you. If your emotions do not belong to you, either lay them down or allow them to flow through you for the benefit of the people who are so traumatized that they cannot feel at this moment. It is possible to consciously step out of the emotions that do not belong to you — and to do it, you must pay close attention to your own body and your own circumstances. Be aware of your emotions and do not ignore them. Take care of yourself. Feeling this strong emotional field is taxing and you may notice you are unusually tired. Rest. Eat lightly. Acknowledge the animal-self and soothe it in whatever way works best for you — music, a walk outside, or a comforting bath for example.
For others: Be gentle with the people around you. Those who are unfamiliar with the concept of collective consciousness may not be aware that they are being affected. All of us are likely to be short tempered or easily “set off.” You may choose to share this information with others — or simply be kinder and more forgiving than usual, keeping in mind that we may all be more "edgy" than normal.
If you want to do more to help those who are in “direct affect zones,” sit still and “tap in.” You may experience tears when you do this. Let them flow. Truly, when people are traumatized they often cannot access their own emotions. They become zombie-like and disoriented. We can help take the pressure off by making time to allow some of their emotions to flow through us. Beneath the emotions of anger and frustration, you will always find fear. Go to the fear and calm it. Let it move through you gently and easily. Release it with your breath, and with tears if the come. Surrender it to the Divine in whatever form you are most comfortable with. I like to gather it up into a cube and ask the angels to come and take it from me. Once you are done, think of the safest and most beautiful place you know. Allow your entire Being to be filled with the emotions of safety, gratitude and love. Feel the comforting presence of the Divine within you. Intentionally send those feeling into mass consciousness. Breathe them out into the world. Just as fear and sadness are filling the mind of humanity, we can send love and calming to meet it. Send what you can for whatever time you can. Even a few moments of calming energy sent to the group mind will be helpful.
Plan to continue this work daily for the next several months, whenever you think to do it. It will take awhile for things to settle. Anyone can do this work and any amount of time you dedicate to it will be helpful for you and for others. Know that whatever you do will be helpful.
Blessings and love,
The Rev. Don Armstrong won't have to serve any jail time for misusing funds while he was rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.
That ruling came Friday afternoon from 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner, who upheld an earlier plea agreement that gives Armstrong two concurrent four-year probation terms for no-contest pleas involving his stewardship of a Grace scholarship fund called the Bowton Trust.
Werner did order Armstrong to pay $99,247 in restitution to Grace for money that went from the Bowton Trust to pay for his children's college-related expenses. Werner singled out those funds because, he said, Armstrong had fiduciary responsibility over the trust as Grace's rector.
The judge also ordered that, during his probation, Armstrong will have to do 400 hours of community service outside his current church, St. George's Anglican Church. The 61-year-old rector also must disclose all of his current finances and is prohibited from managing the finances of any church or group in a fiduciary role.
"I do not believe jail time is appropriate," Werner said in his ruling from the bench. He cited "massive confusion" in Grace's record-keeping processes through the years, as well as the fact that lay leaders of the church co-signed checks for as much as $12,000 without questioning Armstrong. That amounted to implicit approval, in the judge's view, explaining why Armstrong faces no restitution for repaying hundreds of thousands in other allegedly misused funds that came from Grace and not the Bowton Trust.
Werner denied a request from the prosecution for Armstrong to write a letter of apology to Grace, saying such a letter would never satisfy everyone, "and I'm not going to go there."
"All of us feel this has been a painful episode in Grace's history, and we're ready now to move on," said Fr. Stephen Zimmerman, the Grace rector since November 2009. "I believe the judge felt constrained by limitations of the First Amendment."
About 40 Grace members, plus a handful from St. George's, filled the courtroom for most of the two-day hearing. After Werner's decision, the Grace crowd showed no emotion, while Armstrong appeared jovial as he left the courtroom to register for his probation.
"What's done is done, and it's over with now," said Clelia de Moraes, one of Grace's lay leaders. "But we don't want what happened to us to happen to anyone else, and hopefully [because of this case's notoriety] it won't."
If there's one thing all of us at IndyBlog agree on, it's, well, nothing.
But at least a few of us are enamored with Cthulhu, the hopefully fictional elder god whose delicate painted visage watches over us from above culture editor Matt Schniper's desk.
Nearly 75 years after avant-horror writer H. P. Lovecraft's death, his unrepentantly savage creation has transmogrified into a cottage industry of cuddly tentacled stuffed animals, Lil Chtulhu tee shirts, Christmas wreaths and bobbleheads.
So really, what better way to start a Monday than with an episode of The Adventures of Lil Cthulhu and this helpful necktie tutorial?
A Cambridge University genetics researcher has put together a mathematical model suggesting religious people are going to take over. In fact, the more into religion you are, the better off you are from an evolutionary standpoint.
Fact is, religious people have more children, and since religious tendencies are genetic, all those kiddies inherit the gene.
It seems to me, however, that Mr. Smarty Pants might have forgotten one little problem: If all that's left is extreme Christians and Muslims and Jews and whatever else ... couldn't we maybe expect some bloody religious wars? I mean, I don't want to be a downer or anything, but you've got to admit ...
Full story: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17132026
According to a December letter sent out to Colorado EcoSpiritual Center followers, Rev. Lawrence Palmer will be stepping down at Unity Church in the Rockies, after serving as lead minister there since 2002.
The board has asked CEC leader Rev. Ahriana Platten to serve as acting minister for a one-year period beginning Jan. 1. Her first service will be Sunday, Jan. 2 at the church at 1945 Mesa Road.
Unity Church in the Rockies is the only local Unity faction, which had its beginnings in the Springs in 1922. According to unity.org, the home website for the movement, "Unity is a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus and the power of prayer. Unity honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual's right to choose a spiritual path."
This approach should fit nicely with Patten's work through the CEC, an "inclusive spiritual community ... informed by the ecospiritual understanding that nature is a Divine emanation and, as such, is sacred and holy" — in fact, Unity has acted as host to some of the CEC's open-to-the-public events, such as the recent Interfaith Thanksgiving, and Platten guest-speaks at the church a handful of times per year.
The letter, written by Platten, reads as follows:
Harvesting the Future
I would like to make a special announcement - and you have to read the story first!
Every year, in February, I teach a class about blessing the seeds of the future. I lead people through the act of choosing actual seeds to represent goals and desires they’d like to manifest. When the choosing is done, each person places the seeds they’ve chosen in a medicine bag and wears that medicine bag at heart-level, filling the seeds of the future with love and envisioning a bountiful harvest to come in the fall.
Last year, I taught this class in six different locations, as close as in my own living room, and as far away as Omaha, Nebraska. I made my own medicine bag before the first class and used it as a demonstration piece for all the classes I taught.
By the time the last class was complete, my medicine bag has disappeared.
I called everywhere I had been, searched high and low — and ultimately came to the conclusion that Spirit must be suggesting that things should stay as they were for awhile. I assumed it was a year to finish up projects, take care of old “crops” and let the fields of my life lie fallow for a season.
Things had begun shifting last spring and the goal I placed in my medicine bag when I made it was that I would find the answer to the question “What is next on my path” by the time harvest season rolled around. I assumed, since the medicine pouch had disappeared, that whatever I was doing then was exactly what I was supposed to be doing and new growth was not on the horizon.
Spirit has a great sense of humor!
Move forward in time with me to this October — Harvest Season. My very dear friend, Rev. Lawrence Palmer, from Unity Church in the Rockies, informed me of his plans to step out of congregational ministry. He explained that he had served church communities for 36 years and is now being led to step out of this form of service into something new. I told him I would support him anyway I could.
A week later, I was scheduled to speak at Unity Church during the season of Ancestors. The date had been prescheduled many weeks before our conversation so I thought nothing about being there that morning - and I had no idea what was about to occur.
To understand the significance of what I am about to share, you must understand that I speak at Unity Church four or five times a year, on the average. In 2010, I spoke at the church five times.
When I arrived that October morning, I did as I always do: I set my sermon notes on Lawrence’s desk and sat down to review them before the first service began.
There, in front of me, on Lawrence’s desk, was my missing medicine bag (9 months after I lost it!).
Lawrence was in Kansas that morning so I called him and asked, as nonchalantly as I could, how long my medicine bag had been on his desk. “Since last spring” he said. How was it that I had not seen my medicine bag the four other times this year that I sat at Lawrence’s desk?
The obvious answer is, “it wasn’t time yet.” The timing of a harvest is everything. Harvest too early and the fruit is bitter and hard. Harvest too late and the fruit will spoil. I found my medicine bag at exactly the right moment to harvest the answer to my question.
Unity Church in the Rockies is “next on my path.”
Lawrence will take his leave in a few weeks and the Board of Trustees has invited me to serve as “Acting Minister” for a period of one year, beginning January 1st, 2011. At the end of the year, we’ll see what happens next. It will be up to the congregation to decide whether they’d like me to stay or not.
My first service is Sunday, January 2nd, and I’d love to have you join me as I move forward into this new adventure. Please “save the date.”
If you are here in the Colorado Springs area, the church is located at 1945 Mesa Road, and there are two services, a contemplative service at 9 am and a higher-energy service at 11 am. Your friendly face would be very welcome as I step into this calling.
If you are out of the area, each weekly service will be available online a few days after it occurs: www.unityrockies.org.
For now, I am resting while I can, finishing up other projects, and planning for this journey. My deep commitment to ecospirituality remains strong and I intend to continue my community outreach on this topic.
In this season of thanks and reflection, I am grateful for the Mystery that is God/Goddess/ All That Is — and grateful for the wondrous and magickal way the future is revealed to us. I am grateful for the final harvest, and for its ability to nourish us through the coming darkness of Winter.
As always, I look forward to sharing sacred space with you!
Soon-to-be Acting Minister, Unity Church in the Rockies
The growing number of GLBT teen suicides recently has been recognized and publicized by many high-profile celebrities. Dan Savage's “It Gets Better” Project encourages GLBT youth to see that there is a future for them as adults through a collection of videos like this one by the NOH8 Campaign:
Sadly, despite this public support, many transgender youth and adults are killed every year as a result of “transphobia,” or gender hatred, and never get the chance to fully experience their lives.
In honor of those who have been killed during the past year, the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church (730 N. Tejon St.) will hold a memorial service this Saturday. Peak Area Gender Expressions is sponsoring the event, which recognizes that the day is the 12th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance.
There will be a candlelight vigil and a transgender community panel on Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m.. Both events are open to everyone. In addition, the Sunday service at 10:30 a.m. will focus on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on Nov. 28, 1998 remains unsolved, like many other transgender-murder cases. Her murder sparked the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999.
So for all those who no longer have a voice of their own, spread the word.
The artist Enrique Chagoya, who has stirred up a frenzy of controversy with his depictions of religious figures including one of Jesus Christ, is now offering to paint a religious work of art for a Loveland church.
According to an article in the Loveland Reporter-Herald yesterday, Chagoya is speaking with Jonathan Wiggins, the senior pastor at Resurrection Fellowship, a Christian institution nearly 2,000 weekly worshipers strong.
The piece of art would be a gift, but Wiggins will discuss it with his congregation on Sunday before speaking publicly about the decision.
Read the full article here.
Fascinating study out today on religious knowledge from the Pew Forum.
The Pew Forum on Religious Religion and Public Life released a survey on religious knowledge today. Atheists and Agnostics scored higher on it than anyone else, closely followed by Jews and Mormons, all Christians, Protestants and Catholics, were far behind.
That's overall, but when you get into specific religions it does show a startling lack of basic knowledge by practitioners. From the report:
More than four-in-10 Catholics in the United States (45 percent) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53 percent) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-10 Jews (43 percent) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.
The study also showed that Americans have a fairly poor understanding of religions other than their own. Only about half of the people surveyed know that Martin Luther inspired the Reformation, the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and Joseph Smith was a Mormon.
Why are Atheists and Agnostics better informed? The Los Angeles Times quotes one of the researchers who has a theory:
American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.
"These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."
Also interesting is that Black Protestants and Latino Catholics scored at the bottom of the survey.