April 16, 2014

Is Religious Freedom in Peril?

ancient-faith-today

Last night syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly and myself (Fr. Hans Jacobse) discussed where religious freedom in America was under assault. The discussion was, I believe, informative. I was very impressed with Mattingly's comprehensive knowledge and analysis of the legal challenges concerning religious liberty. The discussion focused on the moral issues, particularly gay rights, as the locus of the conflict. I pointed out that gay rights is an anthropological question at its core that challenges the increasingly fractured moral consensus necessary to hold a society together because it fundamentally redefines what we understand male and female to be. I see "gay marriage" as a threat to liberty because it grants government the authority to deem relationships not found in nature or the moral tradition of Western Civilization as morally licit, thereby establishing the State as both the source and final judge of the morality that shapes the moral consensus. Religion is the ground … [Read more...]

Terry Mattingly: Did ‘The’ Leader of the Orthodox Attend the Rome Rites? [VIDEO]

Terry Mattingly

Source: Patheos | Terry Mattingly So, let’s assume that you are a Catholic leader and you pick up your morning newspaper and it contains a story in which Pope Francis is described as “a leader” of the world’s Catholic Christians. What would you think? Is the phrase “a leader” — implying one among many equals — an accurate way to describe the unique, singular, authoritative role played in global Catholicism by the occupant of St. Peter’s throne? The answer, of course, is “no.” So, let’s assume that you are an Anglican Christian, perhaps a leader in one of the rapidly growing churches of Africa, and you pick up your paper and it contains a story in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is described as “the leader of the world’s Anglican Christians.” Note the singular nature of the word “the.” What would you think? Is the phrase “the leader” — implying a … [Read more...]

Get Religion: Covering Warfare in a Byzantine Maze – Literally

jonah-596x321

Terry Mattingly’s advice for journalists about the coup in the OCA. A key quote: Of course, it is “politics” when an Orthodox leader defends the church’s doctrines in public. It is not “politics” when liberal activists inside the church work to silence the voice of the church, while quietly lobbying in seminaries and elsewhere to redefine those same doctrines. H/T FrJohnPeck.org Source: Get Religion | By Terry Mattingly It goes without saying that I have received quite a bit of email from GetReligion readers, and others, wanting to know my take on last Friday’s resignation, and now the ongoing humiliation, of Metropolitan JONAH of the Orthodox Church in America. In a way, this news was rather shocking, yet not all that shocking because the bitter infighting between the OCA’s old guard and its idealistic young leader has been building for more than a year. If you need a refresher course on the borders of this truly Byzantine scandal, then click here for the … [Read more...]

Mattingly: Pope Benedict, President Obama and Religious Freedom

Terry Mattingly

- Source: The Republic | Terry Mattingly Pope Benedict XVI cut to the chase when meeting with the visiting bishops from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the U.S. armed services. The pope mentioned "religious freedom" in the third sentence of his Jan. 19 remarks at the Vatican and he never let up -- returning to this hot topic again and again. The bottom line, he said, is that America's once-strong political consensus has "eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such." It doesn't matter if these attacks originate in "radical secularism," "radical individualism," a "merely scientific rationality" or suppressive forms of "majority rule," said Benedict, during one in an ongoing series of meetings with American bishops. Catholic leaders must strive to defend church teachings in ways that reach all believers in their … [Read more...]

Mattingly: Orthodox Bridge to the Evangelical World

Terry Mattingly

Source: The Republic | Terry Mattingly As point man for Russian Orthodox relations with other faith groups, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev is used to talking shop with Catholics, Anglicans, leaders in older brands of Protestantism and other world religions. These duties have long been part of his job description. Meeting with leaders from the world's booming evangelical and Pentecostal flocks? Not so much. However, recent ecumenical contacts by this high-profile representative of the Moscow Patriarchate is evidence that times are changing. Time after time, during meetings with evangelical leaders and others here in America, Hilarion has stressed that it is time for Orthodox leaders to cooperate with traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants and others who are trying to defend ancient moral truths in the public square. "I am here in order to find friends and in order to find allies in our common combat to defend Christian values," said the 44-year-old archbishop, who … [Read more...]

Mattingly: ‘Don’t ask’ policy puts chaplains in vise

Source: The Republic The setting: The office of a priest who serves as a military chaplain. The time: This hypothetical encounter occurs soon after the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that forbids gays, lesbians and bisexuals to openly serve in America's armed forces. The scene: An officer requests counseling about tensions with her same-sex partner as they prepare for marriage. The priest says this would be inappropriate, since his church teaches that sex outside of marriage is sin and that the sacrament of marriage is reserved for unions of a man and a woman. [...] What happens next? That question is driving the tense church-state debates that continue behind the scenes of the political drama that surrounds "don't ask, don't tell." [...] A letter from Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America to the chaplains board was even more blunt: "If our chaplains were in any way ... prohibited from denouncing such behavior as sinful and … [Read more...]

Mattingly: Shocking words to the Presbyterians

Source: The Republic Anyone who attends one of the national church assemblies that dot the calendar every summer knows that they are highly ritualized affairs. Officers will be elected. Political issues will be discussed. Lofty resolutions will be passed. At least one long business session will include a proposal about clergy benefits and salaries. [...] But something unusual happened recently during the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). An official "ecumenical advisory delegate" -- Father Siarhei Hardun of the Orthodox Church of Belarus -- used his moment at the podium to deliver a message that was courteous and stunning at the same time, if not genuinely offensive to many in the audience. Read the entire article on The Republic website. … [Read more...]

Mattingly on Fr. Siarhei Hardun, the Presbyterian Assembly, and the press

Journalist Terry Mattingly edits the blog "Get Religion" which examines religion in the media. The blog is a great read and worth a (repeating) look. A few excepts from Mattingly's commentary on Fr. Hardun's recent comments at the Presbyterian assembly (see: MINNEAPOLIS: Presbyterian gay measures criticized by visiting (Orthodox) priest): As you would expect, the only place one can find more extensive coverage of Father Siarhei’s remarks — which were spoken gently, but were extremely blunt — is in publications linked to the PCUSA conservatives, such as The Layman. For those who paid close attention to the doctrinal comments in his text, his words could only be called shockingly offensive. (Fr. Hardun) is saying that the divisions inside the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) may be rooted in a clash between those who are heeding the God of the Bible and those who are hearing the voices of, literally, another god. He is asking if part of the assembly is, in a very real way, … [Read more...]

Mattingly: The Orthodox question for 2010

Terry Mattingly

By TERRY MATTINGLY - Scripps Howard News Service | tmatt.net The first Orthodox missionaries to reach Alaska traveled with the early Russian explorers and, in 1794, a party of monks established the Orthodox Christian Mission to America. [...] "Before the 1920s, there was only one jurisdiction in North America -- that of the Russian Orthodox Church, which, as we know, was open to ... the widest variety of ethnic communities," said Archbishop Justinian of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, during last week's Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs in North and Central America. "Much has changed since that time. The tumultuous events of the 20th century forced many citizens of traditionally Orthodox countries to leave their native homes and seek refuge in other countries, which led to the rise of large ethnic Orthodox communities beyond the boundaries of corresponding local churches." But the key to conditions today, he stressed, is the fact that an … [Read more...]

Engelhardt on the Manhattan Declaration

H. Tristam Engelhardt

In a new column, published in the San Angelo (Texas) Standard-Times, Terry Mattingly talks to H. Tristram Engelhardt about the Manhattan Declaration. Englehardt is the author of "The Foundations of Bioethics" (M & M Scrivener Press, 2000). While nothing in the Manhattan Declaration is truly new, arguments about its call for civil disobedience will help draw sharper lines between traditional believers and the powers that be in an increasingly diverse and secular America, said H. Tristram Engelhardt, senior editor of the Christian Bioethics journal at Oxford University. “This document is the product of a political coalition, but it’s not political in the same sense that the tax code is political,” said Engelhardt, who is advising several Eastern Orthodox leaders who are studying the text. “This is political in the sense that these Christians are working together on certain issues that have moral and public implications.” The reality is that its authors believe there are “certain … [Read more...]

Ukrainian Church ‘rent by divisions’

On the Get Relgion blog, Terry Mattingly describes a trip he made to Kiev to speak to Ukrainian journalists "about the challenges of covering religion news in mainstream press." He looks at the divisions among Orthodox Churches in the Ukraine, which is set against the long running antagonisms that exist between that country and Russia. "You see, right now almost anything can create tensions between Ukraine and Russia," Mattingly writes. "A ceremony with clergy linked to Moscow would create tensions in some circles. A ceremony without clergy linked to Moscow would create tensions in others. The symbolism has political content either way." He also writes about his trip to Kiev for his Scripps News column. Here's how he begins: Merely saying the forest's name -- Bykivnya -- can cause strong emotions for millions of Ukrainians. This is where the secret police of Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin buried 100,000 of their victims between 1937 and 1941 in a mass grave northeast of Kiev. … [Read more...]

Mattingly on Pew’s ‘Changes in Religious Affiliation’ survey

The new "Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S." survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life yesterday is getting a lot of coverage in the mainstream and religious press. The survey looks mostly at Catholic and Protestant "fluidity of religious affiliation in the U.S. and describes in detail the patterns and reasons for change." A good place to start on this issue is Terry Mattingly's post "Ch-ch-ch-changes in pews (saith Pew)" at GetReligion.org, which looks at how the press covers faith. Terry, an advisor to AOI, closes with this observation: ... let me note one other issue that may be hidden down in this Pew Forum research (and I intend to ask about it). Anyone who works in the wider world of modern religion knows about the so-called 80-20 rule. This states that about 80 percent of the work, worship and giving is done by about 20 percent of the membership, the most dedicated members who have the strongest ties to their particular faith and to the … [Read more...]