- Monday, May 6, 2024

The United Methodist Church — whose American roots predate the Declaration of Independence by more than 40 years — underwent big changes this week when business session delegates voted to make the church more inclusive for LGBTQ people seeking to marry in the church or join its ordained ministry.

Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, the church on Tuesday dropped a ban on using church funds to advocate for gay rights. The next day, voters ended a 40-year-old ban on gay clergy ordination, which brought tears and singing from advocates gathered at the meeting. On Thursday, UMC voters struck down language calling homosexual practice “incompatible with Christian teaching” and expanded the definition of marriage to “two persons of faith,” as well as a man and a woman of consenting age.

Most of the congregations that would have voted against the moves left the denomination by the end of last year, allowing the changes to sail through. But opinion contributor James Spencer points out that what happened to the United Methodists could transpire in other denominations that style themselves faithful to biblical teaching

Did Congress ‘outlaw’ the New Testament?

Shortly after the House voted 320-91 to beef up Education Department actions against antisemitic incidents on school and college campuses, some critics said the “Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023” would criminalize the New Testament because the legislated definition of antisemitic references includes instances where stating “Jews killed Jesus Christ” would qualify.

Several Republican House members and TV pundit Tucker Carlson made that argument online, but a number of scholars disputed their contention. “The congressional decision has nothing to do with the New Testament,” a University of California at Berkeley religious studies professor said via email.

SEE ALSO: The Higher Ground Podcast: Bible bashing, Kanye West’s turn toward porn, anti-Israel protests

The billionaires behind pro-Hamas campus protests

Madison Police carry a demonstrator protesting the war in Gaza as they work to remove a non-sanctioned encampment on the campus of UW-Madison in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Left-wing billionaires are providing some of the money — indirectly, at least — behind the campus protests against Israel’s war on Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, The Washington Times’ Susan Ferrechio reports.

The Open Society Foundation, founded by left-leaning billionaire George Soros, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund both gave six-figure donations to the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, which has helped launch the demonstrations and encampments.

Want some fries with that Bible-bashing?

This image released by HBO shows Brian Cox in the final season of "Succession." (HBO via AP)

Scottish actor Brian Cox — star of the hit HBO series “Succession” — is happy to pitch Big Macs and other fare at McDonald’s. But, reporter Valerie Richardson revealed this week, he doesn’t think much of the faith cherished by many of the fast-food chain’s customers.

To the Emmy-winning actor, the Bible is “one of the worst books” and people who believe the first man and woman were created by God do so “because they’re stupid.” No comment from the Golden Arches yet.

Education secretary defends allowing biological males in girls’ bathrooms

(Image: Shutterstock) ** FILE **

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said federal regulations requiring schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their choice protects the rights of “under attack” transgender students, The Times’ Stephen Dinan reports. Many parents of faith strongly disagree.

“We cannot pick and choose which students we want to protect, Mr. Cardona said in response to questioning from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Republican.

Remembering Christian singer Mandisa

Mandisa accepts the award for pop/contemporary album of the year at the Dove Awards Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Mandisa, a contemporary Christian singer who appeared on “American Idol” and won a Grammy for her 2013 album ‘Overcomer’, has died. She was 47. A representative for the singer told The Associated Press that the singer was found dead in her home in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Mandisa, the contemporary Christian singer who won Grammy and Dove awards, spoke with Billy Hallowell in 2022 about her faith and how it helped in dark times. We revisit that interview following her death in April.

In our opinion

The Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America, isolated on black background. File photo credit: Roberti via Shutterstock.

Big banks block Christian groups. Chase Bank and Bank of America have abruptly closed accounts opened by legitimate Christian ministries, churches and advocacy groups, former Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback writes.

“The practice of debanking because of faith is simply unAmerican. Banks must stop it now,” he writes.

Disturbing reality of campus protests. Billy Hallowell says there are parallels between today’s antisemitism-laced campus protests and “the bubbling evils” Jews faced in Germany during the 1930s before Hitler’s “final solution” was fully implemented. Generation Z, he notes, increasingly denies Israel’s right to exist, leading to pro-Hamas sympathies on college campuses.

“Parents need to protect their children from this nonsense, educators must ensure proper perspectives are being heard, and our leaders must see the implicit dangers enmeshed in all of this,” he writes.

Can America’s soul be restored? No president can restore America’s soul, contributor Robert J. Pacienza writes, despite President Biden’s multiple State of the Union address promises to do so. Instead, “it would take an act of God,” expressed in “a renewal of our public moral culture, a rethinking of America’s current understanding of freedom, and a return to the classical sense of what it means to be a human being.”

Is man made in God’s image — or a dog’s? Answering an “inquisitive follower” in his “Ask Dr. E” column, contributor Everett Piper says men and women are created as the “imago Dei” — the image of God — and have not evolved as self-centered animals, which he terms “imago dog.” The secular agenda, he writes, says “your passions define your personhood.” That’s wrong because human identity must be grounded in biological facts and God’s revelation.

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