Here are some reports and comments from the world of religion:
DO THEY KNOW WHAT EASTER IS?: An Associated Press report of Pope Benedict’s Holy Week schedule last week noted that Pope Benedict would be leading services in the Vatican on Easter. The article then went on to explain that Easter is the day Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
This description raised two observations: First, the reporter, with absolute even-handedness, did not identify Easter as the day Christ rose from the dead, but rather the day when Christians believe this happened. This is an important distinction, but not one that proves the liberal persuasion of the secular press. This reporter, who may have been a Christian himself, properly marked a distinction between personal faith and a news story, and the resurrection of Jesus, though history to Christians, is clearly a matter of faith.
The qualifying phrase prompted a second impression, that the reporter felt a need to explain to the readership what Easter signifies. Was there a time in our nation when nobody had to explain Easter? Was there a time when everybody understood this to be the day when Christ rose from the dead? Was there a time when explaining Easter would have been redundant?
One might say this proves how secular we are and how Biblically illiterate we are. But we are also a nation of immigrants, and there are increasing numbers who arrive in this nation who are Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. The fact that Easter’s meaning must be explained could also be a reflection of the growing numbers of non-Christian immigrants to our nation. See the next report.
MOSQUES ON INCREASE IN UNITED STATES: Lauren Markoe of Religion News Service reports that the number of mosques in the United States has jumped 74 percent since 2000, this coming from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
What makes this report more interesting is that 56 percent of these mosques report that they take a less than literal approach to interpreting and understanding the Koran. Only 11 percent of these mosques follow one single religious school of thought and only 1 percent practices the strict Muslim interpretation of Saudi Arabia.
From the perspective of the Bible Belt, the South has the greatest number of mosques of any region in the country.
BREAKAWAY EPISCOPALIANS MUST RETURN PROPERTY: Daniel Burke of the Religion News Service reports that a Virginia judge has ordered seven congregations that left the Episcopal Church USA (EUSA) to return all property to the EUSA.
This is no small matter, because the property (buildings, endowment funds, even communion ware) amounts to $40 million. These congregations left the EUSA because of concerns over liberal theology.
A church in Savannah which has left for the same reasons and has also tried to retain property belonging to the Episcopal Church has lost in court at every level and is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of a different verdict.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.