This week's edition of "The 3" highlights another flashpoint in the battle over theological issues within the Anglican Communion, more instances of controversy about the expression of Christmas, and religious references in big college football games over the weekend.
3 - L.A. Episcopals name openly gay bishop
As gender issues have continued to be a divisive point with the U.S. Episcopal Church, the Los Angeles Diocese has elected not only its first female bishop, but the church's second gay bishop, following the 2003 election of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, which became a key issue in the continued strained relationship between the U.S. Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Christian Post has the information.
Many Anglicans within the U.S. are troubled, regarding that homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture, and are attempting to find a home outside of the U.S. Episcopal Church. This action by the L.A. diocese is yet another instance that illustrates the chasm that has developed between the U.S. body and the worldwide Communion.
2 - Concerns about Christmas
This time of year, our attention turns to ways that religious expression, specifically the celebration of Christmas, is allowed or disallowed in the public square, including municipalities and in schools. Recently, the Alliance Defense Fund turned its attention to the city of Merced, California, where the traditional "Christmas" parade had been changed to a mere "holiday" parade. The good news is that before an ADF letter was received, the city had decided to hold its parade, with the name, Christmas, attached, this past Saturday. Here is the local newspaper story on the controversy.
And, in the Washington, D.C. area, the Loudoun County, Virginia Board of Supervisors reversed a decision not to allow public displays on the grounds of its courthouse. This apparently would include Nativity scenes and Christmas trees. Here is the Washington Post report.
Meanwhile, a Federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling from Texas in a 2005 case involving the rights of students to distribute candy canes with attached cards describing their religious origin, as well other religiously-themed materials. The court ruled in favor of restrictions on the ability of students to pass out these materials. Here is the Associated Press story from the Houston Chronicle.
Governmental entities are no doubt struggling regarding public displays at Christmas. A number of Christian organizations have resources available that state what is and isn't constitutional pertaining to the topic. Rutherford Institute, Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, and others have information on their websites that give constitutional guides on the expression of Christmas.
1 - Christian overtones in big games
It could be characterized at Championship Saturday, as college football teams engaged in their conference championships for the right to possibly play in the national collegiate championship game. Tim Tebow of the University of Florida has gained quite a lot of attention recently for the use of Scripture references written in the black eye paint that players use on their faces. On Saturday, he chose John 16:33, which refers to being of good cheer even when facing tribulation. And indeed, it was a tough day for Tebow, whose team suffered a stunning 32-13 defeat at the hands of Alabama, which no doubt wore on his emotionally. These Scripture references have become a point of curiosity - for instance, when he had "John 3:16" written in the paint, that reference became the number one search term on Google.
The use of Scripture also became a focal point as Texas needed a field goal as time expired to seal a berth in the national championship game. The Dallas Morning News reports the story of how Jordan Shipley, the holder for place kicker Hunter Lawrence, reminded him of the Bible verse, Jeremiah 17:7, to help calm his nerves. Lawrence made the game-winning field goal.
Now, I realize that God doesn't play favorites - He is more concerned with how we apply His principles than with the outcome of a football game. In this case, the reminder of God's Word helped Lawrence to do his best and use his God-given skill for His glory. The ultimate outcome is the glory of God!!
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