Number one is a supporter. A Christian.
Numbers two and three are rightwing. They call themselves "Christian". What a false witness.
Newark, New Jersey
Newark Episcopal bishop calls for supporting gay rights
As convention opens, he says the issue may overshadow unity in Anglican Communion
Saturday, January 29, 2005
BY JEFF DIAMANT
Supporting gay rights may be more important than unity within the worldwide Anglican Communion, Newark Episcopal Bishop John Croneberger told 600 people gathered at the diocese's convention at the Parsippany Hilton last night.
"Speaking plainly," said Croneberger, "it is well past time for us to put a stop to the many attempts to trivialize, marginalize or move to the sidelines the matter of human sexuality, as if it were a distraction.
"We need to be steadfast in our commitment to explore, to understand, to bear witness to God's presence and love for all of God's creation, realizing in fact that this work on human sexuality is part of the mission of the church to our suffering and bewildered world."
The Anglican Communion has about 77 million people, about 2.3 million of whom are Episcopalians. Newark's Episcopal diocese, covering about 30,000 Episcopalians in northern New Jersey, is among the nation's most liberal.
"The question of whether the Anglican Communion as constituted can continue to serve the world in the service of God's mission is a deeper question worthy of time and conversation, but I would lay this question before you: Could there be a time at which point unity in the Anglican Communion becomes an idol?" Croneberger said on the first day of the diocese's 131st annual convention.
The Episcopal Church is far more liberal on gay rights than much of its London-based Anglican Communion, and in 2003 controversially consecrated an openly gay bishop and authorized blessings for same-sex unions in many dioceses.
Bishops in African countries that are more conservative on that issue have angrily moved to disassociate from the Episcopalians.
Croneberger's speech addressed a high-profile commission of the Anglican Communion whose October report criticized Episcopalians for consecrating the gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire -- and said Episcopal bishops should stop letting priests bless same-sex unions.
At a meeting in Utah earlier this month, Croneberger said, most Episcopal bishops from across the country refused to approve such a moratorium on same-sex unions. They expressed regret that Robinson's consecration upset so many people, but they did not apologize for it.
Local church issues also came up yesterday, as attendees voted for diocese members who will have votes at the Episcopal church's 2006 triennial national meeting, known as their "general convention," and approved a $3 million diocesan budget for 2005.
Croneberger also praised new ministries in the diocese, and called for people at the convention priests and three lay people from each of the diocese's 114 churches to consider whether their own churches are fulfilling their religious missions.
He did not expound on his controversial November/December column in the diocesan newspaper that said as many as one third of the diocese's churches were struggling to stay open, and that the diocese should consider consolidating some so more money can be spent on ministry and less on building maintenance.
Jeff Diamant covers religion. He can be reached at jdiamant@starled ger.com or (973) 392-547.
Caution: Agape Press is rightwing. Southern Baptists run it.
Family Advocates to Bush: Don't Relegate Marriage to Back Burner
Pro-Family Group's Letter Demands Prez Put Muscle Behind Marriage
By Jenni Parker and Chad Groening
January 25, 2005 Agape Press
(AgapePress) - A coalition of pro-family groups has sent a letter to
presidential aide Karl Rove, expressing concern about the lack of
interest President George W. Bush has shown in pushing for a
constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage.
The Arlington Group is comprised of members representing 45 major
pro-family organizations, including such well-known activist and
advocacy groups as Focus on the Family, American Values, the Family
Research Council, and the American Family Association. Since the 2004
presidential election, these organizations have been watching the
White House closely for signs of commitment to the pro-family causes,
and several have begun wondering why the president is not showing the
same degree of support for biblical marriage that he is showing for
Social Security reform.
According to a recent Associated Press report, White House Press
Secretary Scott McClellan claims enacting a federal constitutional ban
on same-sex marriage is still a "high priority" for Bush. McClellan
says the president remains committed to the issue and will "continue
speaking out about the importance of protecting the sanctity of
marriage and moving forward on a constitutional amendment." However,
religious conservatives were dismayed by comments Bush made recently
in a Washington Post interview, stating that the necessary votes for a
Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) simply are not to be found in the
Some in Congress appear to believe otherwise. When the Senate marked
the start of a new session yesterday by releasing the traditional list
of the "Top Ten" legislative issues, pro-family causes figured largely
among them; and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who presented the
list, highlighted Senate Joint Resolution No. 1, the Marriage
Protection Amendment (MPA). In his presentation, Frist drew a clear
distinction between himself and the White House, pointing out the
significance of making the proposed amendment "S.J. Res. No 1." He
said in so doing, the Senate sponsors and supporters of the
legislation have shown that "we will continue to defend marriage
against activist judges" and "protect the family as the cornerstone of
a healthy society."
The senator added that "marriage should remain the union of a man and
a woman," because children "do best" with a mother and a father. "I am
hopeful," Frist said, "that S.J. Res. 1 will actually pass the 109th
Congress and be sent to the states for ratification." Frist's words of
optimism and commitment are just the kind of statement many pro-family
leaders have been waiting to hear from the Bush administration.
Pro-Family Leaders' Letter to the White House
Dr. Donald Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association,
believes many conservatives are getting tired of waiting. He says
groups like his are not seeing any evidence that the FMA is still high
on the president's agenda, and their frustration is mounting.
Wildmon says while Bush is making a strong push for Social Security
reform, apparently "he's unwilling at this point in time to spend any
capital on the social issues, primarily the marriage amendment, and
this really disturbs us." That is why the AFA founder has joined
nearly four dozen other pro-family leaders in sending a letter of
concern to Bush's counsel, Karl Rove, over the president's apparent
lack of enthusiasm in the fight for a constitutional amendment
protecting traditional marriage. The letter contains a strongly worded
expression of disappointment in what it describes as the "defeatist
position" Bush has demonstrated recently in addressing the issue.
The Arlington Group signatories opened the January 18 letter by saying
they and other pro-family leaders across the U.S. were encouraged to
observe and celebrate Bush's inauguration and cherished high hopes for
his "historic opportunity to strengthen our nation, our families, and
to provide security for our children." But then, they went on to
express discouragement over the president's recent comments to the
Post, in which he blamed Senate resistance for the stalled prospects
of the FMA and "declined to answer a simple question about whether he
would use his bully pulpit to overcome this Senate foot dragging." And
all this, the letter adds, comes on the heels of another interview, a
few weeks earlier, in which the President "appeared to endorse civil
The letter also pointed out the marked contrast between the
administration's apparent lack of passion in pushing the FMA and its
current emphasis on Social Security reform. The authors of the
communication observed that the Bush administration's attitude about
the marriage issue has a direct effect on the ability of pro-family
groups to unite and motivate their grassroots constituents to support
other administration initiatives.
The Arlington Group ended the letter with a challenge to the White
House to "correct the impression that your strategy is passivity in
the fight to preserve marriage." The letter requests that Bush invest
more political capital in the effort to protect marriage and that a
top-level administration official be designated to coordinate the
effort. "When it comes to the social security of our culture and our
children," the letter states, "nothing is more urgent than stopping
the activist courts, which are trying to redefine marriage."
Values Voters Want Something to Show for Their Support
The media and other analysts have acknowledged the role of U.S.
religious conservative and pro-family organizations in getting
Republican officials elected in recent years. But so far, AFA's
Wildmon says, these groups' efforts in mobilizing the nation's "values
voters" have gone largely without reward. "For many years now, we've
been supporting Republican conservatives and helping get them
elected," he asserts, "and we have precious little, if anything, to
show for it. It's as if we're important at election time, but the rest
of the four years, [the conservative politicians] just don't bother to
But now that George W. Bush has won a second term in the Oval Office,
Wildmon says he has no good reason not to uphold and emphasize
pro-family causes. "We feel our issues are important," the activist
says, "and we feel the president should get behind the Federal
Marriage Amendment -- because he says he favors it -- and spend some
real capital on it."
It is in Bush's best interests to do this, Wildmon contends, since
leaders in the Arlington Group may have difficulty getting their
people to stand with the president in his campaign to privatize Social
Security unless they see some reassuring gesture from him on the
marriage issue. "I think it'll be very hard for us to rally our troops
in support of Social Security changes if there's not a similar effort
made on the marriage amendment," the AFA chairman says.
Here's another from Agape Press.
New Studies Say Teens May Be Hardwired for Religion
Christianity Has the Truth About Community -- But Are We Living Up to the Biblical Model in the Lives of Our Children?
Feature by Ed Vitagliano
January 27, 2005
(AgapePress) - What if we could find something that would make teenagers less likely to become involved in crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and premarital sex? And at the same time, what if this little miracle "something" would turn adolescents into safer drivers, make them more likely to participate in extracurricular activities like sports or student government, and give them a higher sense of self-esteem?
Sound too good to be true? It's not. Religion is the key -- more specifically, the religious communities that are able to transmit the beliefs, values and morals that help give young people a sense of the transcendent, an ordered universe and their own place in it.
That's the conclusion of a new scientific study from the Commission on Children at Risk in its report Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities. The results have tremendous implications for the future of our culture and, perhaps, Western Civilization. But those results also carry deep challenges for the church, which often seems to miss the truth almost as badly as do those in the secular fields of science.
Withering in the Midst of Plenty?
The commission describes itself as an independent, jointly-sponsored initiative of Dartmouth Medical School, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), and the Institute for American Values. The members consisted of a group of 33 children's doctors, research scientists, and mental health and youth service professionals.
The commission was convened because of a growing sense that children and teens today are facing a widespread and deepening crisis. "In the midst of unprecedented material affluence, large and growing numbers of U.S. children and adolescents are failing to flourish," the commission said.
Mental and emotional difficulties seem to have afflicted our youth at staggering rates, including depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, conduct disorders, and thoughts of suicide -- and a wide variety of physical ailments that have their roots in emotional troubles, such as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers.
The report said: "Despite increased ability to treat depression, the current generation of young people is more likely to be depressed and anxious than was its parent's generation. According to one study, by the 1980s, U.S. children as a group were reporting more anxiety than did children who were psychiatric patients in the 1950s." (Emphasis in original)
Hand-in-hand with these mental and emotional problems, the report also noted what it said were unacceptably high "rates of related behavioral problems such as substance abuse, school dropout, interpersonal violence, premature sexual intercourse, and teenage pregnancy."
There are profound and long-term ramifications of this breakdown, as noted by Dr. Robert Shaw, a child and family psychiatrist and director of the Family Institute of Berkeley in California, in his recent book, The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children.
If the title of Shaw's work is a bit cumbersome, its message is not. These mental and emotional problems are affecting the nation and its future. "Large numbers of children, even including those who could be considered privileged, are no longer developing the empathy, moral commitment, and ability to love necessary to maintain our society at the level that has always been our dream," he writes.
Hardwired for Meaning
So what's the problem? A significant cause of this "crisis," the commission said, is that children and teens are experiencing "a lack of connectedness ... to other people, and [lack of] deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning."
Such connectedness is critical for developing children, because the report insisted that human beings, from their earliest years, are essentially "hardwired" to form close attachments to other people, beginning with parents, and then expanding to include a wider group of people as the child grows up.
Not surprisingly for Christians who believe that God has designed the human race for this sense of and need for community, the commission noted that this appears to be hardwired into the biology of personhood.
According to Shaw, however, kids are experiencing these connections less and less in modern America. He said, "I believe that the parenting trends that have evolved over the last 30 years promote the development of unattached, uncommunicative, learning-impaired, and uncontrollable children."
Calling these parenting trends "a prescription for disaster," Shaw said the lifestyle choices many parents have made have compromised children's "opportunity for the connections and rituals and nurturing that are so necessary to children's healthy development."
One of the biggest modern parenting mistakes, he said, is: "Not conveying to your child -- through both actions and words -- the moral, ethical, and spiritual values you believe in (or not having moral, ethical, and spiritual values in the first place)."
This means a growing moral vacuum in our kids that is eventually filled with the values implicit in the media and a consumerist culture. Even worse than a vacuum, however, is that Shaw said "our culture may well be breeding a generation of unattached, predatory children who are cognitively smart but lack the capacity to appreciate the feelings and positions of other people."
Morality was also one of the things emphasized by the commission's report. In fact, Hardwired stressed even more than morality -- it stressed religion. The commission said a significant body of scientific evidence is beginning to demonstrate that "we are hard-wired for meaning, born with a built-in capacity and drive to search for purpose and reflect on life's ultimate ends."
The report stated that the human brain appears to have a built-in capacity for religious experience. Using brain imaging, for example, scientists have discovered that such spiritual activities as prayer or meditation actually increase the activity in specific areas of the brain.
Many scientists still don't delve into those kinds of issues, but some are beginning to see the importance of religion. Psychologist Lisa Miller of Columbia University said, "A search for spiritual relationship with the Creator may be an inherent developmental process in adolescence."
While such science appears to be in the early stages, it does give some added weight to the theory that adolescents who are involved in religion are not simply responding to the way they were raised. As the commission put it: "[T]he need in young people to connect to ultimate meaning and to the transcendent is not merely the result of social conditioning, but is instead an intrinsic aspect of the human experience."
However, the importance of religion in the life of a young person seems to go beyond a mere quest for meaning. Hardwired also proposes that spiritual and religious beliefs strengthen young people and put them on a more positive path.
"Compared to their less religious peers, religious teenagers are safer drivers and are more likely to wear seatbelts. They are less likely to become either juvenile delinquents or adult criminals. They are less prone to substance abuse. In general, these young people are less likely to endorse engaging in high-risk conduct or to endorse the idea of enjoying danger," the report said.
It added that "religiously committed teenagers are more likely to volunteer in the community. They are more likely to participate in sports and in student government. More generally, these young people appear to have higher self-esteem and more positive attitudes about life."
If America continues to secularize the environments in which children are raised, Hardwired insisted that teens will pay the price. "Denying or ignoring the spiritual need of adolescents may end up creating a void in their lives that either devolves into depression or is filled by other forms of questing and challenge, such as drinking, unbridled consumerism, petty crime, sexual precocity, or flirtations with violence," the report said.
The key solution to the problems facing our children and youth, according to the commission, is what it called authoritative communities.
"Authoritative communities are groups that live out the types of connectedness that our children increasingly lack," the report said. "They are groups of people who are committed to one another over time and who model and pass on at least part of what it means to be a good person and live a good life."
Among the characteristics that define an authoritative community: It is a social institution that is warm and nurturing; establishes clear limits and expectations; is multigenerational; has a long-term focus; reflects and transmits a shared understanding of what it means to be a good person; encourages spiritual and religious development; and is philosophically oriented to the equal dignity of all persons and to the principle of love of neighbor.
The commission stated: "We believe that building and strengthening authoritative communities is likely to be our society's best strategy for ameliorating the current crisis of childhood and improving the lives of U.S. children and adolescents."
It is startling to see a scientific body make such a resolute call for a change in public policy that, among other things, praises the role of religion in our culture. And the commission's report seemed to understand the uniqueness of the approach it had recommended: "For what may be the first time, a diverse group of scientists and other experts on children's health is publicly recommending that our society pay considerable more attention to young people's moral, spiritual, and religious needs."
A Challenge to the Church
The model of authoritative communities presented by the commission members should look at least vaguely familiar to Christians -- because it sounds suspiciously like the New Testament model of church life.
Thus, as heartening as it may be for Christians to see a scientific body give a "thumbs up" to religion, the recommendations made by the Commission on Children at Risk in its Hardwired report present a challenge to the Christian church.
Is the church providing these things? Is it, in fact, an authoritative community, or is church more of a social club? According to the scientific data collected in Hardwired, only one of those models will help our young people. Children and teenagers need to have a wider circle of relationships intertwined in their lives to help underscore the values that, hopefully, they're getting at home.
This challenge to the church is a twist on the old joke that portrayed scientists as climbing a mountain -- a metaphor for knowledge -- only to discover at the top that the theologians were there all along. The story is sometimes used by Christians in a smug manner to indicate that believers have the truth, and they are simply waiting for scientists to discover that for themselves -- taking the long road, of course.
However, the church continues to lose ground in our culture -- and lose its youth to the world. The embarrassing reality could be that, at least in terms of understanding the principles of community, Christians will scale the mountain and find that the scientists were waiting for us.
Ed Vitagliano, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is news editor for AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association. This article appeared in the January 2005 issue.
A copy of Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities is available for $7 from the Institute for American Values, 1841 Broadway, Suite 211, New York, NY 10023, phone: 212-246-3942 http://www.americanvalues.org/
Caution: My advice is: DO NOT WRITE TO RIGHTWING ORGANIZATIONS. They may report you to your ISP for harassment.
Nobody knows how to lie and bear false witness like a rightwing religionist.
The Pridelets Files for February 1
On this day in 1994, former FCC board member Ervin Duggan becomes president
of PBS. While he's bullish on the network's "ongoing commitment to drama,"
his main accomplishment in a very short term in office is to slash $4
million in funding for "American Playhouse," bowing to pressure from
conservatives who don't want a sequel to the highly successful gay-themed
miniseries "Tales of the City" produced.
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