I'd be remiss to not mention the fact that a year has passed for this blog. My first post on blogger was July 11th 2003. Sometimes this site seems to suck up too much of my time but other times it provides a great way to respond to the religious issues of the day. So lets see what the next year gives us.
The general secretary of the Church Society in the UK confidently has asserted that the church in Africa will leave the Anglican communion this October over the issue of gay and lesbian inclusion in the church. The timing is in response to the release of a commission's report which has sought to figure out a way to keep the communion together.
These conservative religious attitudes may do something more than cause a schism in a church, it's also hampering efforts to deal with the problem of AIDS.
Church leaders stigmatize people living with HIV because it's considered a sinful disease... Church leaders discourage condom use and refuse to allow workers from non-governmental organisations to promote sexual education for youths, fearing it would lead to immoral behaviour. Homosexuality in those countries is considered an even more taboo topic and HIV/Aids outreach to gays is impossible because people do not dare to come out. Countries in regions such as Africa and Asia are meanwhile suffering some of the highest rates of infection or the largest numbers of people infected in the world.
In Australia there's an interesting story of a congregation that on any given weekend will have over 17,000 folks attending services. It's the mega church phenomena but according to this report it has some political ramifications. The pastor of this particular church called Hillsong has written an aptly titled book "You Need More Money".
Hillsong says that if you come to Jesus, then Jesus offers you, in fact promises you, that you will have a prosperous life, you'll be healthy, you'll be wealthy, your marriage will flourish, you'll have a good sex life, your business will flourish and you will be a prosperous winner in this society
It probably wouldn't be surprising to find out that a number of right of center politicians are seeking to court church members of this mega church and the emerging evangelical movement in Australia. What's interesting is how this religion is marketed. It fits so well with the things which modern society values: money, health, sex. Jesus in this gospel addresses everything that the self help market works on but you get the bonus of stadium shows and rock music.
But of course it is the struggling mainline protestant churches, like the Uniting Church which are the ones who follow popular culture, we're told, when they include gay and lesbians in the church. While the growing mega churches can counsel us on how we need wealth and a good sex life the mainline churches seem to be following a different course:
The mainline churches are more problematic. The mainline churches ask questions about refugee policy, about welfare policy and, see, the Howard Government has a very troubled relationship with people who question or argue about the justice or equity of what's happening in Australia.