Thursday, July 03, 2014

Anglican Assembly 2014: Bible Study by Dr. Justyn Terry and Dr. Peter Walker

Streamed live on Jun 28, 2014
From Latrobe PA

Dr. Justyn Terry and Dr. Peter Walker of Trinity School for Ministry offered a study of Luke focusing on the theme of courage at the third of three studies held at the 2014 ACNA Assembly on 28 June 2014 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Penna. The key text: "And he said to them,“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

A.S. Haley: From the President on down, the Left Can’t Understand Hobby Lobby

July 1, 2014

...But Hobby Lobby was not a decision under the Constitution; the First Amendment had nothing to do with it. It applied the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute passed by Congress almost unanimously and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton, to invalidate a mandate issued by the Executive branch under a putative authorization from Congress in the Patient Protection and  Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The RFRA requires government, in enacting a law or policy of general application, to select the alternative that imposes the least burden upon religious freedom.

Obamacare itself did not require employers to offer insurance coverage for contraceptive measures. It simply used broader language (“preventive care and screenings”), which the Health and Human Services Agency under President Obama interpreted as including contraception and abortion services. (Yes, Virginia, our enlightened society views the killing of fetuses both inside and outside the womb as “preventive care.” And not only that, but all women are entitled to have such “preventive care” for free, just by virtue of their having wombs.)

The Court’s majority decision turned upon an analysis that showed there were other, less burdensome alternatives available to the government than requiring all corporate employers to make contraceptive and abortion coverage available to their employees. To accommodate employers such as Hobby Lobby, with their strongly held religious beliefs against terminating life once it has begun, the government could simply have extended the exemption it gave already to religious non-profit organizations.  Or it could have subsidized such coverage through payments and credits to insurers.

The availability of these less burdensome alternatives meant that the HHS regulations in this instance did not satisfy the requirements of RFRA. End of story; end of decision. As I said, the Court nowhere invoked the First Amendment or the Constitution... the rest

Hobby Lobby Beat the Contraception Mandate but the Nuns May Not  ...So when those cases reach the Supreme Court, why wouldn’t the Little Sisters eventually receive the same treatment, or even greater deference, than a corporation like Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood Specialties, its Mennonite-owned co-plaintiff?
The key difference is that the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has already offered an accommodation to faith-based nonprofits that allows them to sign a waiver giving a third-party administrator permission to take care of the birth control coverage, with no further involvement by the religious group.
The Little Sisters and others argue that even signing such a waiver entangles them in something they view as morally objectionable. (Hobby Lobby and other plaintiffs do not object to contraception per se but are concerned about what they say is mandated coverage of abortion-causing drugs.)...

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Christianity and Islam: A Common Heritage?; Car bomb in Nigeria kills dozens

Car bomb kills at least 56 in Nigerian city, civilian group says
A car bomb in a marketplace in Maiduguri, the northeast Nigerian city that is the birthplace of Boko Haram extremism, killed at least 56 people on Tuesday, the leader of a civilian group that recovered the bodies said.

Sadiq Abba Tijjani, leader of the Civilian Joint Task Force, told the Associated Press his group recovered at least 56 dead bodies at the blast site, mostly elderly women who sold peanuts and lemon juice at the market...

Christianity and Islam: A Common Heritage?
...This emphasis on the shared heritage of Christianity and Islam is fairly representative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ stance on Islam—namely, that Islam is a sister faith with which we have a close affinity. For example, at the Muslim-Catholic National Plenary Dialogue in October of 2012, keynote speaker Fr. Tom Michel, S.J., entitled his talk “Living Our Faith Together.” Fr. Michel explained that he was uncertain whether the plenary theme was supposed to be “Living Our Faith Together” or “Living Our Faiths Together,” but he preferred the former because “we are already united.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Christians are being butchered by the hundreds and thousands by their “partners in faith.” As Islamic terrorism spreads across the globe, Church leaders might want to reconsider the common-ground-with-Islam policy that has been in place since Vatican II. It’s one thing to affirm the common humanity shared by Christians and Muslims; it’s another thing altogether to assert that they share a common belief system—as in “Living Our Faith Together.”

That approach is fraught with difficulties. What’s the interfaith common ground on jihad? On the equality of men and women? On amputation for theft? On the doctrine that Islam should reign supreme over all other religions? Is it wise to emphasize our “shared values” with a religion that inspires so many to maim and murder? To use an analogy, why would you want to tout your common ground with the local bully who beats his wife and intimidates his neighbors?

To ask a more basic question, why would you want to advertise your “common heritage” with a made-up religion?...

Two Nuns Missing In Mosul, Iraq
Two Chaldean nuns from Daughters of Mary Order, Sister Miskintah and Sister Utoor Joseph, as well as Assyrians Hala Salim, Sarah Khoshaba, and Aram Sabah are feared to be missing, according to Assyrian television channel Ishtar TV.

The two Sisters were responsible for managing an orphanage in Mosul, Iraq, in an area near their Miskintah Church. When Mosul fell to the Sunni jihadist radicals of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the nuns took the orphans and fled to the city of Dohuk for the hope of a more secure environment. The nuns then reportedly returned back to Mosul on Saturday to check up on their monastery, but they then vanished shortly thereafter...

Conestoga and Hobby Lobby – the aftermath begins

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose...

Keuka Sunset
O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues, my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion, where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
Confusions multiplied;
From crowding things of sense I flee, and in Thee hide,
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord,
And bless with peace.
...Amy Carmichael image

Anglican Assembly 2014: Interview with Archbishop Foley Beach

Anglican Assembly 2014: Q and A with the Newly-Elected Archbishop

Archbishop Foley Beach's sermon begins at 7:50

Big Shoes to Fill: An Interview with Anglican Archbishop Foley Beach

Monday, June 30, 2014

Albert Mohler: The Hobby Lobby Decision: A Big Win for Religious Liberty-

Hobby Lobby in Mansfield, Ohio
-and a Very Revealing Divide on the Court
Monday June 30, 2014

...Today’s decision is yet another repudiation of the heavy-handed and blatantly unconstitutional overreach of President Barack Obama and his administration. The President could have covered contraception and birth control under any number of other means which would not have specifically targeted religious liberty. Instead, the Obama Administration appeared to take the route most likely to trample upon religious liberty and offend Christian conscience. Today’s decision is another rebuke of the President and his approach, coming just days after a set of cases in which his arguments were repudiated by the same court in 9-0 decisions.

Furthermore, the President faces the looming threat of even greater rebukes to come. His administration continues to violate the convictions of Christian non-profit organizations and ministries on the same grounds. He faces lawsuits coming from a massive collection of religious non-profit ministries, ranging from evangelical colleges and universities to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic charity. Today’s decision makes the victory of those groups very likely.

The majority opinion handed down today makes several important points worthy of close attention... the rest image

Facebook Manipulated User News Feeds To Create Emotional Responses

Gregory S. McNeal

Facebook conducted a massive psychological experiment on 689,003 users, manipulating their news feeds to assess the effects on their emotions. The details of the experiment were published in an article entitled “Experimental Evidence Of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks” published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The short version is, Facebook has the ability to make you feel good or bad, just by tweaking what shows up in your news feed.

The experiment tested whether emotional contagion occurs between individuals on Facebook, a question the authors (a Facebook scientist and two academics) tested by using an automated system to reduce the amount of emotional content in Facebook news feeds. The authors found that when they manipulated user timelines to reduce positive expressions displayed by others “people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.”

The results suggest that “emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.” For a long time research on emotional contagion was premised on the need for in-person and nonverbal cues, this experiment suggests “in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people. the rest
How did Facebook manipulate news feeds to create emotional contagion? They relied on an automated system that identified positive or negative words based on an electronic dictionary. They then reduced the positive content in some users news feeds, finding that when the positive content was reduced, a larger percentage of words in people’s status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.
Facebook's massive psychology experiment likely illegal
Researchers from Facebook, Cornell and UCSF published a paper describing a mass-scale experiment in which Facebook users' pages were manipulated to see if this could induce and spread certain emotional states. They say it was legal to do this without consent, because Facebook's terms of service require you to give consent for, basically, anything...

Breaking: Supreme Court sides with Hobby Lobby on HHS mandate in 5-4 decision

June 30, 2014
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning the U.S. Supreme Court decided Hobby Lobby cannot be compelled to furnish potentially abortion-inducing drugs to its employees by a 5-4 decision.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows for closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby to maintain their religious outlook and still do business, the majority ruled in a 49-page opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.

“The Court says that the government has failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control,” according to the SCOTUSblog. “Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion says that the government could pay for the coverage itself, so that women receive it.”

Chief Justice John Roberts joined Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas on the majority decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, formerly Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a four-page concurring opinion to swing the decision in favor of Hobby Lobby.

The court's four liberal justices filed two separate dissents. One, authored by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, runs 19 pages and calls the majority opinion "a decision of startling breadth." Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan filed a separate dissent, joining Ginsburg in part... the rest

Supreme Court Rules for Hobby Lobby in Religious Liberty Case   Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Obamacare’s HHS mandate compelling religious employers to subsidize insurance for contraceptives and abortifacients. The owners of Hobby Lobby, who brought the case, are Evangelical and object to abortifacients...

Ed Stetzer: Hobby Lobby Wins: Where Do We Go from Here?
The U.S. Supreme Court has given the Obama administration (and, hopefully the world) a lesson in the first freedom. I'm sorry it was necessary, but it was—the government cannot (and must not) require people of faith to violate their sincerely-held beliefs...