religion

  • Intolerance hit a new low last week in the form of an opinion piece and social media post by a former high school football coach and self-proclaimed "Christian activist," who after attending a gay Pride parade in Missouri, stated that gay adults are better off dead and that God hates both the sin and the sinner.

  • Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said last Friday he thinks a gay florist should be able to refuse services to an evangelical couple if the florist disagrees with the couple’s faith.

  • Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation requiring restaurants, bars and other private establishments to designate all single-occupancy restrooms as gender neutral.

  • Georgia law doesn't require religious officials to perform same-sex marriages, and a bill making that clear is moving through the Georgia House.

  • Senate Bill 129, the “religious freedom” bill sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), sailed through the Senate last week and now is headed to the House, where, if passed, it will go to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for his signature.

  • BERLIN (AP) — What happened to Germany's anti-Islam movement PEGIDA? After bursting into the limelight last year with weekly rallies that drew first hundreds, then tens of thousands, the group appears to have lost momentum.

  • (WB) In the aftermath of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the resulting conservative shift on the U.S. Supreme Court may enhance the prospect of wins for religious freedom at the expense of LGBT rights, including in a pending lawsuit that will decide if a Catholic foster care center in Philadelphia can reject same-sex couples.

  • This year marks the 30th Anniversary of The Gathering (officially known as The Annual International Gathering of Male Naturists). Gay Naturists International’s (GNI) signature event is the largest nude rendezvous in the world. It attracts over 500 men annually to a spacious, 350-acre summer camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The Gathering is open to all gay, bisexual, and gay-friendly men who are at least 21 years old.

  • Wait a minute. Aren't they on the same team?

  • In a stunning move, House Speaker John Boehner informed fellow Republicans on Friday that he would resign from Congress at the end of October, giving up his top leadership post and his seat in the House in the face of hardline conservative opposition.

  • A group of Republican Oklahoma lawmakers say they're angered about a man's plan to put up a gay pride-themed, 6-foot-tall pole in the Capitol rotunda to celebrate the fictional holiday Festivus from the popular 1990s sitcom "Seinfeld."

  • ATLANTA — A Texas lawmaker would strip the salaries from government officials who honor same-sex marriage licenses.

  • SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says any state legislation protecting gay rights must also protect religious liberties.

  • EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) _ The CEO of The Great Passion Play in northwest Arkansas says an anti-discrimination law in Eureka Springs is bad and should be repealed.

  • Four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis is universally recognized as the greatest diver ever, but his greatest impact may ultimately come from being one of the first openly gay athletes in America. The intimate documentary "Back On Board: Greg Louganis" looks at the public triumphs and private struggles of this LGBT trailblazer. It debuted Tuesday, August 4 exclusively on HBO.

  • SEATTLE (AP) — Nineteen groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union have sent a letter to the Walgreens drug store chain expressing concerns about the company's plans to have a Catholic hospital run in-store health clinics in Washington state and Oregon.

  • This is one of the most popular ‘can’t miss’ events of the year

  • A Tennessee pastor went on record Sunday during a television broadcast and condoned the practice of stoning gay people for their "sin," Christian Today reports.

  • And then there are the endorsements you don't want...

  • Linda Harvey, founder and president of the Southern Poverty Law Center designated anti-gay hate group Mission America, took to the airwaves to warn the faithful that God's judgement will be on the nation because of Planned Parenthood and gay pride parades, Right Wing Watch reports.

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Speakers on the final day of a Southern Baptist conference titled "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage" have stressed that it's more important to love gays than to condemn their behavior.

  • WASHINGTON -- Nearly a million people signed up for health insurance under President Barack Obama's law even after the official enrollment season ended, helping push the share of uninsured Americans below 10 percent and underscoring how hard it could be for Republicans to dismantle the program.

  • As Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continues to dominate the headlines over her continuing abuse of the appeals process and self-appointment as the arbiter of "God's Authority," social media has been having a great laugh at her expense.

  • ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Andrea Quintero was described by those who knew her as a gentle soul and a devout Catholic.

  • Houston city attorneys have withdrawn subpoenas that sought speeches and other information from five pastors who publicly opposed an ordinance banning discrimination of gay and transgender residents, the mayor said Wednesday.

  • HOUSTON (AP) — The dispute over Houston's equal rights ordinance has extended to the pulpit.

  • (CNN) -- On March 24, World Vision announced that the U.S. branch of the popular humanitarian organization would no longer discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages.

    It was a decision that surprised many but one that made sense, given the organization’s ecumenical nature.

    But on March 26, World Vision President Richard Stearns reversed the decision, stating, “our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake.”

    Supporters helped the aid group “see that with more clarity,” Stearns added, “and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

    So what happened within those 48 hours to cause such a sudden reversal?

    The Evangelical Machine kicked into gear.

    Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the decision pointed to “disaster,” and the Assemblies of God denomination encouraged its members to pull their financial support from the organization.

    Evangelicals took to Twitter and Facebook to threaten to stop sending money to their sponsored children unless World Vision reversed course.

    Within a day of the initial announcement, more than 2,000 children sponsored by World Vision lost their financial support. And with more and more individuals, churches and organizations threatening to do the same, the charity stood to lose millions of dollars in aid that would otherwise reach the poor, sick, hungry and displaced people World Vision serves.

    So World Vision reversed course.

    Stearns told The New York Times that some people, satisfied with the reversal, have called World Vision headquarters to ask, “Can I have my child back?” as though needy children are expendable bargaining chips in the culture war against gay and lesbian people.

    Many of us who grew up evangelical watched with horror as these events unfolded.

    As a longtime supporter of World Vision, I encouraged readers of my blog to pick up some of the dropped sponsorships after the initial decision. I then felt betrayed when World Vision backtracked, though I urged my readers not to play the same game but to keep supporting their sponsored children, who are of course at no fault in any of this.

    But most of all, the situation put into stark, unsettling relief just how misaligned evangelical priorities have become.

    When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.

    There is a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that consistently dehumanizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes gay and lesbian people and, at least in this case, prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.

    Evangelicals insist that they are simply fighting to preserve “biblical marriage,” but if this were actually about “biblical marriage,” then we would also be discussing the charity’s policy around divorce.

    But we’re not.

    Furthermore, Scripture itself teaches that when we clothe and feed those in need, we clothe and feed Christ himself, and when we withhold care from those in need, we withhold it from Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46).

    Why are the few passages about homosexuality accepted uncritically, without regard to context or culture, but the many about poverty so easily discarded?

    As I grieved with my (mostly 20- and 30-something) readers over this ugly and embarrassing situation, I heard a similar refrain over and over again: “I don’t think I’m an evangelical anymore. I want to follow Jesus, but I can’t be a part of this.”

    I feel the same way.

    Whether it’s over the denial of evolutionary science, continued opposition to gender equality in the church, an unhealthy alliance between religion and politics or the obsession with opposing gay marriage, evangelicalism is losing a generation to the culture wars.

    A recent survey from Public Religion Research Institute revealed that nearly one-third of millennials who left their childhood faith did so because of “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” of gay and lesbian people.

    Christians can disagree about what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about same-sex marriage. This is not an issue of orthodoxy. But when we begin using child sponsorships as bargaining tools in our debates, we’ve lost the way of Jesus.

    So my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it?

    Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support?

    Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth losing more young people to cynicism regarding the church?

    Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with LGBT people?

    And is a “victory” against gay marriage worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks, "what if we get this wrong?"

    I, for one, am tired of arguing. I’m tired of trying to defend evangelicalism when its leaders behave indefensibly.

    I’m going AWOL on evangelicalism's culture wars so I can get back to following Jesus among its many refugees: LGBT people, women called to ministry, artists, science-lovers, misfits, sinners, doubters, thinkers and “the least of these.”

    I’m ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.

    Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

  • While tweens continue to mourn the breakup of One Direction, there’s another boy band—well, string quartet—touring the country and they also have a legion of devoted fans.

  • BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho lawmakers voted to halt a bill that would create protections for gay and lesbian people Thursday, siding with the concerns of religious freedom supporters.

  • CHICAGO (AP) - An advocacy group has put together a list of Illinois religious clergy who are ready to perform same-sex marriages.