Twenty years ago, many public commentators believed that religion was dead, or at least 'on the way out'. How wrong that proved. Simon Barrow looks at how the conversation about faith is deepening and broadening in the face of growing religious and non-religious diversity.
In many churches today, hymns have been largely or wholly replaced by worship songs. Some of these are of high quality and accessible to a wider range of worshippers. However, says Savitri Hensman, perhaps there should be more discussion of how this trend may influence the ways in which Christians relate to the Bible and understand themselves, God and the world.
As a Christian think-tank concerned to promote a theological vision of equality in partnership with those of other beliefs and life-stances, Ekklesia is pleased to be part of the new Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) for publicly funded schools. The initiative seeks to bring equity to a system that should be a beacon of justice and inclusion, yet is mired in discrimination. Simon Barrow explains why he believes that this issue should matter to all of us, both people of faith and people of good faith but not religious belief. Here he looks at it from a specifically Christian viewpoint.
Some Christian MPs strongly support marriage equality while others are strongly against it. In the UK and beyond, parliamentary debates on celebrating same-sex partnerships have revealed that – whatever top clerics or elders say – opinion within the churches is divided, says Savitri Hensman, reporting and commenting on the religious and theological views being expressed in parliament.
Two rural congreagtions say they will vote to leave the Church of Scotland over possible further ordinations of lesbian and gay ministers. In truth, the landscape is changing, says Simon Barrow. Larger numbers may well stay or join the Kirk if it ends its rejection of same-sex relationships, than will leave for the same reason. The refuseniks are looking back, not forward.
The Church of Scotland has agreed to maintain a status quo precluding further ordinations of gay and lesbian clergy, while permitting local congregations to do exactly the opposite – if a suitably crafted church law can be agreed next year. That’s a big ‘if’, says Simon Barrow. As a statement of theological principle, this settlement risks looking a mess. In worldly terms it is classic coalition government. But it raises the key question as to whether the coalition can hold.
The government is using many of the classic tools of propaganda to influence our thinking about 'welfare' and those who receive it, says Jill Segger. She argues that we need to turn again to the real meaning of Jesus' transformative relationships with the despised.
The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.
As Michael Gove joins Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron in misusing and misrepresenting facts for his own purposes, Jill Segger argues that politicans have taken another step towards destruction of the trust which is essential if our common democratic life is to thrive.
In a statement opposing same-sex unions, the House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies tried to justify persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, reports Savitri Hensman. Meanwhile human rights activists in the Caribbean and beyond continue to work for decriminalisation and protection from violence, causes that Anglicans worldwide should support.