Religion Link

Need a new religion-related angle for Earth Day? Here's how to get started

Need a new religion-related angle for Earth Day? Here's how to get started

If you pay attention to news about climate change you're undoubtedly aware that the warnings about the potential catastrophes facing human civilization are increasingly dire. I pay close attention to the subject and its clear to me that the warnings are coming in greater volume and getting ever-more threatening.

I'm crawling toward my mid-70s so I'm probably too old for the worst of the predictions to manifest fully during my lifetime. But I can't help but think that my children and certainly my grandchildren will experience climate events that could upend human life as we know it.

Just last week, for example, saw coverage that the massive ice sheets covering Antarctica appear to be collapsing faster than previously thought. That means a steeper rise in sea levels, which is terrible news for coastal populations worldwide. Click here to read how The New York Times covered the story.

Of course I'm aware that not everyone agrees about the reality of climate change or to what degree, if any, it's human-caused. But this post is not about arguing the issue's merits.

Like the preponderance of scientists who study the issue, I believe that climate change is a real threat and that the increased levels of atmospheric heat-trapping gases result directly from humanity's continued reliance on fossil fuels, in particular coal and petroleum.

Disagree? Think liberal media has blown the issue out of proportion? Say so in the comment section below. Give us some mainstream URLs for your facts and claims.

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Mirror, mirror: Press wrestles with a clash between open discrimination and rare acts of conscience

Mirror, mirror: Press wrestles with a clash between open discrimination and rare acts of conscience

A wise journalism professor once told me that it always helps, when trying to think through the implications of a controversial story, to try to imagine the same story being seen in a mirror, in reverse.

So let's say that there is a businessman in Indianapolis who runs a catering company. He is an openly gay Episcopalian and, at the heart of his faith (and the faith articulated by his church) is a sincere belief that homosexuality is a gift of God and a natural part of God's good creation. This business owner has long served a wide variety of clients, including a nearby Pentecostal church that is predominantly African-American.

Then, one day, the leaders of this church ask him to cater a major event -- the upcoming regional conference of the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays. He declines, saying this would violate everything he stands for as a liberal Christian. He notes that they have dozens of other catering options in their city and, while he has willingly served them in the past, it is his sincere belief that it would be wrong to do so in this specific case.

Whose religious rights are being violated? Can both sides find a way to show tolerance?

This is, of course, a highly specific parable -- full of the unique details that tend to show up in church-state law and, often, in cases linked to laws built on Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) language. It's clear that the gay Christian businessman is not asking to discriminate against an entire class of Americans. He is asking that his consistently demonstrated religious convictions be honored in this case, one with obvious doctrinal implications.

Is there any sign that reporters covering the RFRA madness in Indiana and, eventually, in dozens of states across the nation are beginning to see some of the gray areas in these cases?

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