Religion Hub

Presbyterian Schism Over Gay Marriage Continues

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.25.43 AMEarlier this year the Windwood Presbyterian Church of Houston, Texas made the decision to begin distancing itself from the Presbyterian Church as a whole due to differing view on homosexuality. In a 429-175 vote during its biennial General Assembly held in Detroit this past June, the Presbyterian Church of the USA moved to allow its pastors to officiate over same-sex weddings. The Church’s decision to recognize the legitimacy of gay unions is at odds with the Windwood congregation’s more traditional views.

The two religious bodies have been embroiled in a legal battle for the better part of the past eight years over the rights to ownership of the Texas-based church’s land. Because Windwood has publicly expressed its desire to be disassociated with the greater Church, Presbyterian leaders are calling for Windwood to pay for access to the land its churches are built upon.

Windwood’s leadership asserts that it has legal right to the land without needing to compensate the church. Windwood, believing that it owns the disputed land, has been involved in an ongoing legal dispute with the Presbyterian Church.

“We have been involved in a lawsuit over the ownership of the property since 2008 and that suit is still in process,” explained Reverend Kevin Rudolph of the Windwood church.

At the heart of the spat over ownership to the land is a trust clause commonly associated with the financial handling of church property. The clause relating to the land Windwood is built upon states that “all property held by or for a particular church is held in truth nevertheless or the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”

Windwood is but one church formerly associated with the Presbyterian Church that has brought its claims to court in hopes of settling its differences and retaining claim to its physical property. Earlier this year the Highland Park Presbyterian Church similarly made the decision to separate from the Presbyterian Church as a whole and sought to avoid paying for their church grounds as mandated by the trust clause. Highland Park ultimately ended up settling out of court with the Church to tune of $7.8 million dollars.

"We do not believe that Highland Park's case has any direct effect on Windwood's litigation," said Cindy Pirtle, Woodland’s director of adult discipleship "Each church comes with its own set of circumstances and history.”

Nebraska University To Offer Same-Sex Spouse Health Benefits Despite Catholic Church Objections - VIDEO

President Rev. Timothy Lannon

Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced that it will soon offer health benefits to employee’s same-sex spouses despite the objections of Catholic archbishop George J. Lucas, reports KETV7 ABC.

Creighton UniversityOutlining the decision in a letter sent Monday to trustees, President Rev. Timothy Lannon, said that although Creighton continues to support the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the university is taking this step to meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities that already offer similar benefits.

Lannon added that 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S. already offer similar benefits.

The letter to trustees reads in part:

"Dear Trustees,

"This is to inform you that I have decided that Creighton University will extend healthcare benefits in 2015 to the same-sex spouses of our colleagues who have been legally wed in other states.

"I have notified Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha of my decision, acknowledging his disagreement and disapproval of such a decision based upon a previous conversation he and I had.

"I asked the University Benefits Committee to consider benefits coverage for legally married same-sex couples. They were unanimous in supporting this change. The extension of benefits is not a statement of approval of same-sex marriages but rather an acknowledgement of our responsibility to serve the needs of faculty and staff who faithfully serve our students and patients every day.

"This decision not only reflects a commitment to our colleagues, but our ongoing commitment to health and wellness.

"I anticipate that we may receive some negative media attention for this decision. Nevertheless, I believe it was the right thing to do."

However, in a statement made on the same day, Lucas expressed his disappointment with the decision, arguing that it is in fact an approval of same-sex marriage.  He added:

“I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice; both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love.

"When we experience tension in ensuring respect and just treatment for all persons, including those with same-sex attraction, we have a right to expect a Catholic university to help us see a just path forward, rooted in faith and founded on the rich Catholic intellectual tradition. Creighton has failed to fulfill this expectation in this expansion of benefits."

Last year, a ticket giveaway for Creighton University students to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis was postponed following protests from the Omaha school's Catholic Student Organization over the rap duo's vocal support for marriage equality.

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Nebraska University To Offer Same-Sex Spouse Health Benefits Despite Catholic Church Objections - VIDEO" »

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Meets With Clergymen Over Subpoena Of Church Records: VIDEO


Houston Mayor Annise Parker met with clergymen from across the nation yesterday to discuss the city's subpoena of church records tied to Houston's recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). KHOU reports:

The mayor juggled her schedule Tuesday afternoon to meet with the church leaders after they staged a news conference and prayed outside City Hall, but the meeting apparently didn't change any minds – at least, not yet.

"I don't think the mayor wanted to do the subpoenas," said Alexander Webster, a Russian Orthodox Church leader from Virginia who attended the meeting. "I think she is looking for a way to get out of the subpoenas and find a more positive, reconciling approach."

The clergymen described the meeting as cordial and took pictures with the mayor, but they were unsure about whether she would change her stance on the subpoenas.

"This is not a local Houston issue exclusively, but an affront to every church and pulpit in America," said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a leader of the Christian Defense Coalition, which is organizing opposition to the subpoenas.

The subpoenas in question were issued after anti-gay activists sued Houston over its rejection of petition signatures intended to force a public referendum on HERO. City attorneys then subpoenaed local pastors tied to the lawsuit for "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession." This set off a firestorm among the religious right, drawing the ire of Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Pat Roberston to name just a few. While Parker has stated that original subpoena was too broad and has since amended the subpoena not to include any mention of sermons, as KHOU notes, "the damage was already done" and the wingnuts had their spin in full swing.

Watch a video on Parker's meeting with the clergymen, AFTER THE JUMP...


Continue reading "Houston Mayor Annise Parker Meets With Clergymen Over Subpoena Of Church Records: VIDEO" »

LGBT Rights Activists 'Troll' Southern Baptist Conference On Gay Marriage


The Christian Post is reporting that there has been plenty of healthy and outspoken debate on the issue of “the homosexual lifestyle” at a conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Commission in Nashville. Much of the debate has taken place on Twitter (#ERLC2014).  

The conference is live streaming.

Russell MooreEarlier today we reported that Russell Moore, who serves as president of the ERLC, said at the conference that “ex-gay” therapy has been “severely counterproductive.”

The conference is addressing “how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage.”

Zack Ford, editor of LGBT issues on Think Progress, attended the event and was not shy in offering his opinions on Twitter.

“Doubt-filled believer,” author and blogger Rachel Evans also weighed in on the conference, questioning the decision of the conference organizers to not give a voice to LGBT people.

However, Dr. Richard Land, former president of ERLC, said:

“The gay community is never going to find the Evangelical response satisfactory because we're not going to accept their behavior. All sexual behavior that is outside of heterosexual marriage is a manifestation of the fall, and the fact that we are fallen creatures and this is the way fallen creatures behave.

"We are not singling out same-sex attraction. It was very clear in the conference on the first day, that this is one of the manifestations of the fall along with adultery, living together without matrimony, pornography, etc., etc., all of it."

Southern Baptist Leader Denounces 'Ex-Gay' Therapy - VIDEO

Russell Moore

Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has denounced “ex-gay” therapy at a conference in Nashville, reports Huffington Post.

The American Psychological Association has urged mental health professionals to avoid “ex-gay” therapy since 2009. Since then, California and New Jersey have passed laws banning conversion therapy for minors.

Speaking to journalists at the group’s national conference yesterday, Moore, who serves as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said that “ex-gay” therapy has been “severely counterproductive.” Sbclogo

“The utopian idea if you come to Christ and if you go through our program, you’re going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you’re struggling with, I don’t think that’s a Christian idea.

“Faithfulness to Christ means obedience to Christ. It does not necessarily mean that someone’s attractions are going to change.

“The Bible doesn’t promise us freedom from temptation. The Bible promises us the power of the spirit to walk through temptation.

“The idea that one is simply the sum of one’s sexual identity is something that is psychologically harmful ultimately. And I think also we have a situation where gay and lesbian people have been treated really, really badly. The response is not shunning, putting them out on the street. The answer is loving your child.”

On the same morning that Moore made similar comments to an audience of 1,300 people, three representatives from the “ex-gay” movement spoke at the conference.

In July, "ex-gay" Yvette Schneider published a “coming out” interview with GLAAD calling for bans on reparative therapy.

Watch Moore discuss his opinions on same-sex marriage, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Surrogacy Bill Passes First Reading In Israel's Knesset


Israel’s surrogacy bill, which aims to grant same-sex couples the right to have children via surrogates, passed its first reading through the Knesset yesterday, reports Pink News.

Although first submitted by Health Minister Yael German, the bill stalled in March following an appeal by housing minister Uri Ariel who argued that the proposed legislation creates “moral and ethical” questions.

However, the bill has now passed its first reading with a majority vote.

German said that the bill “is about the principle of equality, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or the composition of the family unit.”

However, Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism said that the bill is “meant to destroy the nature of family as we know it.”

Nissim Ze'ev of ultra-orthodox party Shas added:

“This is a corrupt bill and only corrupt [politicians] can support it. We are treating the import and export of babies as if we were dealing with frozen meat. This bill is morally depraved.”

In 2008, Ze'ev suggested that gay people belong in rehab along with alcoholics and drug addicts.


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