Archbishop of Canterbury Condemns Anti-Gay Violence: On April 9, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a terse statement condemning violence:
The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.
The latest round of "unchristian bullying" began on Maundy Thursday, when a co-leader of Changing Attitude Nigeria was attacked and beaten in Port Harcourt. Subsequently, Davis Mac-Illya, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, received a text message threatening his life. On Easter Monday (March 24), The Rev.Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, received a similar intimidating text message.
On March 30, Davis Mac-Illya was attacked in Lome, Nigeria. The attacker slashed Mac-Illya's hand with a knife and tried to inject him with a syringe. Mac-Illya resisted and knocked the syringe away. The attacker fled. Mac-Illya went into seclusion.
The Rev. Colin Coward (pictured at right) commented:
The Anglican Communion has been in turmoil for 10 years since the 1998 Lambeth Conference passed a very negative resolution about homosexuality. The conflict in the church has intensified since then, with many bishops and other leaders making highly judgmental and often abusive comments and pronouncements about LGBT Anglicans.
Such inflammatory statements lead some members of Anglican Communion churches to believe that threats and violence against those who are LGBT (or those who support a more open stance towards LGBT people) are not only justified but are authentic expressions of Christianity.
Changing Attitude is a charitable organization working for the inclusion and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the Anglican Communion.
Outnumbered!: According to Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, the editor of Annuario Pontificio (the Vatican's statistical yearbook), Muslims now outnumber Catholics worldwide: Muslims make up 19.2% or the world's population while Roman Catholics comprise 17.4 %. (All figures are for 2006.) "For the first time in history, we are not at the top," Msgr. Formenti told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Formenti attributes the shift to family size, observing that Catholic families are having fewer children. The Annuario Pontificio compiles the census of Roman Catholics from reports from diocesan officials. The Muslim population is computed from census statistics provided by various national governments.
When considering all Christians and not just Roman Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population. For more detail, see the story in The Catholic News.
Waiter! There's a Cross in My Soup!: On April 1, the ELCA News Service announced that the pilot ad campaign in Denver during September, 2007 had showed "positive results". The impact of the ad campaign was measured through a series ofinterviews with several samples of Denver-area ELCA members in August, October, and November 2007.
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The interviews indicated an increase in awareness of ELCA advertising: "unaided awareness" rose from 9 percent to 20 percent, with billboards and church banners mentioned more than any other media. Respondents were more likely after the campaign to identify themselves as ELCA members unaided, from 6 percent to 10 percent, rather than simply "Lutheran." The proportion of respondents who visited the ELCA Web site increased from 7 percent to 12 percent after the advertising campaign, and the proportion of respondents who said they were "extremely familiar" with the ELCA increased from 5 percent to 12 percent.
Questions rating the ELCA's and the congregation's roles in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ showed slight drops from before to after the campaign.
Kristi S. Bangert, executive director, ELCA Communication Services said "Next steps for the ad initiative include development of promotional television spots to reinforce the print and billboard messages, and vigorous fund raising efforts to help make the ad program available throughout the ELCA,"
Vespers, Brats, Protest!: The folks over at Augsburg1530 are determined to carry on their April 14 protest over the cancellation of Issues, Etc. in good Lutheran style. The Monday demonstration at Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) headquarters in St. Louis will be preceded by Sunday afternoon Vespers and a Bratwurst dinner. More than 100 people have registered for the demonstration (a two-hour silent vigil ), more than 7000 people have signed the on-line petition.
Billboards from Hell: Among some LCMS commentators, a recurring sentiment is that the cancellation of Issues, Etc. and the church's investment in a world-wide evangelism movement (Ablaze!) are related.
Not surprisingly, the billboard campaign by Jefferson Hills Church has been the object of some of this commentary. Jefferson Hills is an Ablaze! Covenant Congregation in Imperial, Missouri. During Lent this year Jefferson Hills Church ran sponsored a series of local billboard ads and accompanying web site with the general theme of Satan Hates. The ads featured running commentary from the devil about Jefferson Hills Church (see photo), and of course, they're not to everyone's taste and some have questioned whether this is a responsible use of Ablaze! funding.
The ads did not mention "Lutheran" or "Lutheran Church Missouri Synod" so we don't now if people who viewed the ads were any more likely to identify with the LCMS. No follow up survey results have been published, so we can't say if the ads clarified the church's role in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One Month Later: The ELCA Draft Social Statement on Sexuality was published one month ago. If you or your church haven't responded to the draft yet, you should avoid the last minute rush and submit a response now.
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