Last month, hundreds of boisterous protesters converged in Washington, DC, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s anti-gay marriage initiative, Proposition 8. Faith-based groups were on prominent display: the Methodists supporting marriage equality, the Westboro Baptists suggesting (per usual) that “God hates fags,” the Catholics both for and against gay marriage, clergy of all stripes. But one group that wasn’t there in any official capacity was the Church of Latter Day Saints—a.k.a. the Mormons—which perhaps more than any other religious group was responsible for getting Prop. 8 passed in the first place.
In the five years since the LDS church sent busloads of the faithful to California to canvass neighborhoods, and contributed more than $20 million via its members to support the initiative, it has all but dropped the rope in the public policy tug of war over marriage equality. The change stems from an even more remarkable if somewhat invisible transformation happening within the church, prompted by the ugly fight over Prop. 8 and the ensuing backlash from the flock.
Although the LDS’s prophet hasn’t described a holy revelation directing a revision in church doctrine on same-sex marriage or gay rights in general, the church has shown a rare capacity for introspection and humane cultural change unusual for a large conservative religious organization.
“It seems like the [Mormon] hierarchy has pulled the plug and is no longer taking the lead in the fight to stop same-sex marriage,” says Fred Karger, the LGBT activist who first exposed the church’s major role in the passage of Prop. 8. “The Mormon Church has lost so many members and suffered such a black eye because of all its anti-gay activities that they really had no choice. I am hopeful that the Catholic Church cannot be far behind.”
HuffPo and YouGov are teaming up to take daily polls of Americans’ views on a diversity of issues. The latest one, described here, reveals a depressing fact: more than one-third of Americans would favor (either strongly or mildly) the establishment of Christianity as a state religion. 37% of Americans think that the U.S. has gone too far in separating church and state, 42% either believe that states are allowed by the U.S. Constitution to establish state religions (they are not so allowed), and 32% favor a Constitutional amendment making Christianity the official U.S. religion.
As friends and family attended a private funeral for a Texas prosecutor and his wife who were gunned down in their Kaufman County home, investigators on Friday announced the arrest of a man accused of threatening the safety of a deputy district attorney.
The news came after word that police were searching for a person who called in a bomb threat during the visitation Thursday night for Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, at a church in Wortham.The call was made about 6:30 p.m. after the bodies were returned to the church from a public memorial service in Sunnyvale.
The news of the arrest and the bomb threat come as federal, state and local authorities search for suspects in the unsolved killings of the county’s district attorney and his chief felony prosecutor, who was killed almost two months earlier.
The McLellands’ bodies were discovered on March 30 at their home, almost exactly two months after McLelland’s chief felony prosecutor, Mark Hasse, was killed in a daytime shooting outside the county courthouse.
Authorities have been working to determine whether the killings of McLelland and Hasse are connected, scouring their cas
A group of Phoenix charter schools is facing criticism for using a teaching tool based on the work of L. Ron Hubbard, best known for founding the Church of Scientology.
Teacher Katie Donahoe says that shortly after she was hired in 2010, she went to a memorable training session on the teaching method, called Applied Scholastics. The session was held at the Applied Scholastics headquarters near St. Louis.
“They didn’t start off talking about instruction. They started off talking about L. Ron Hubbard,” says Donoho, who was there at the urging of her new superintendent. Later that fall she would start teaching English at Robert L. Duffy High School in Phoenix. But first, she was asked to get familiar with Hubbard’s methods.
“The next stop was to watch a video talking about how great Applied Scholastics was,” Donahoe says. Among those in the video were Isaac Hayes, Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
I wanted to give my opinions about the Catholic Church’s positions regarding homsexuality and marriage. First, I want to say that calling homosexuality evil is wrong. Murder is evil, rape is evil, fraud is evil. Consensual sex is not evil.
But I also want to say a few things about the church’s positions regarding sex and marriage. I was taught in high school by Father Handjob that the basic description of the church’s view of sex is that it is a gift from God to be enjoyed within the institution of marriage for the purpose of procreation. He endured a lot of really probing questions from the wise-ass crowd, and he told us that an impotent man cannot be married because he could not function, but a sterile man (or woman) could because, you never know, a miracle could happen. (I guess the impotent man was SOL - this was before Viagra).
He was very interesting about homosexuality. He told us that homosexual sex was no different than pre-marital or extra-marital sex. It was against the church’s values simply because it was not sex inside of marriage. PERIOD.
I think the church and its leaders are wrong to villainize homosexuals. I’m ok with its doctrine on sex and marriage. After all, your faith is your choice. You don’t have to be Catholic if you believe that the values are contrary to yours. If assholes tell people they’re going to hell, they’re wrong.
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, acknowledged Sunday that he had been guilty of sexual misconduct, a week after he announced his resignation and said he would not attend the conclave to choose the next pope. The moves followed revelations that three current and one former priest had accused him of inappropriate sexual contact dating back decades.
Cardinal O’Brien, the head of the church in Scotland, is the highest-ranking figure in the church’s recent history to make such an admission.
“I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal,” Cardinal O’Brien, 74, said in a statement.
The statement stunned many in the Scottish church and beyond. Some said the cardinal’s statement appeared to raise the possibility that the undefined sexual activities he acknowledged may not be restricted to the known allegations, the earliest of which relates to 1980. Ordained in 1965, he became an archbishop in 1985, but was not named cardinal until 2003.
One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. If lapsed Catholics were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest religious subgroup in the country.
That’s a lot of people.
But faith is a fraught and deeply personal thing for so many of us, and religious experience can’t always be neatly captured with labels or quantified through survey data.
So when Salon asked our lapsed Catholic readers if Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation might signal a new direction for the church — and what that might mean for their beliefs — the responses we received expressed a thoughtful, sometimes painful, engagement with ideas of faith, family and community
Church leaders who mishandled child sex abuse allegations will be named in a 30,000-page cache of internal Archdiocese of Los Angeles records set for public release in coming weeks, a judge ruled Monday.
The decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias reversed a ruling by a private mediator that the names of archdiocesan employees should be redacted from the documents to avoid further embarrassment to the church and “guilt by association.”
Elias said the public’s right to know how the archdiocese, the largest in the nation, handled molestation allegations outweighed such concerns. She also reversed the ruling of the mediator, retired federal Judge Dickran Tevrizian, that priests who had faced a single allegation of abuse would have their names blacked out.
“Don’t you think the public has a right to know … what was going on in their own church,” she asked a lawyer for the archdiocese. She said parishioners who learn from the files of a priest accused of abuse in their local church “may want to talk to their adult children” about their own experiences.