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A new bill in the state House would recognize May 7th as the “National Day of Prayer” in Pennsylvania.
State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, a Berks County Democrat, introduced the measure.
“This annual event was not created for political reasons,” he said in a memorandum to lawmakers, “but exists to encourage all citizens to pray for our leaders, communities, families, and each other, and for national healing, reconciliation and unity.”
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Today, friends, is both Good Friday and the beginning of Passover, which means that Christians and Jews celebrate important holidays at the exact same time rather than almost-at-the-same-time, as generally happens with Christmas and Hanukkah. Much to the chagrin of inter-religious couples everywhere, this weekend is an amazing confluence that could require attendance at both a Passover ritual meal, called a seder, and Easter Sunday brunch. Personally, I’ll be out of town at a wedding, but talking to friends of both faiths about their weekend plans got me thinking about the differences between the traditions. Below, a comparative analysis from a purely secular point of view. In other words, if you’re religious, you won’t want to read any further, as the irreverence and disinterest in matters of the spirit may offend you.
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SEPTA is giving up the fight: The transit agency has agreed to run anti-Islam ads on its buses rather than continue to fight the American Freedom Defense Initiative lawsuit officials acknowledge they’d probably lose.
But those officials say they’re now revising SEPTA policies to refuse all ads with political content — no matter what the content — going forward. Read more »
The largest body of Presbyterians in the country, Presbyterian Church (USA), has voted to change the definition of marriage in its constitution to include same-sex couples. The Washington Post reports:
The 171 regional presbyteries (local leadership bodies within the PCUSA) have been voting on whether to change the wording to call marriage a contract “between a woman and a man” to being “between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” On Tuesday, the denomination reached its needed majority of “yes” votes from at least 86 presbyteries to take effect. The change will be included in the church’s “Book of Order,” part of its constitution, taking effect on June 21.
The Presbyterian Church has a growing record of LGBT acceptance. Last June, as the Post points out, the Church voted to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages. And right here in Philadelphia we have David Norse, who became the first openly gay man to be ordained Presbyterian minister in Philly. He continues to do a variety of outreach for the LGBT community through his work with Broad Street Ministry.
For more, check out the Post’s story here.
This afternoon, at the 126th annual Central Conference of American Rabbis, which takes place in Philadelphia this year, Rabbi Denise Eger was named the reform group’s first openly lesbian president. More from philly.com:
Eger, 55, who grew up in Memphis, Tenn., said she sees this moment not as a triumph for her alone, but for all those who have supported her and LGBT causes along the way.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to all those LGBT colleagues and allies who worked so hard to channel hearts and minds and to work for equality and to cast the widest open tent for Judaism,” she said.
Her installation also comes as the organization celebrates the 25th anniversary of its resolution calling for ordination of gay rabbis. And this year the board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution calling for the inclusion of transgender rabbis and gender expression, Eger said.
The resolution will mean no discrimination in hiring and will provide education for the lay community, she said.
“This is a full arc of working very hard for religious rites and civil rights,” Eger said.
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Reverend Dr. Luis Leon (right) looks on as United States President Barack Obama (center) prepares to leave St John’s Episcopal Church after an Easter service, in Washington, on March 31, 2013. Photo | Drew Angerer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Forget the Oscars. Here’s how Erick Erickson, the blogger-activist recently labeled by The Atlantic as America’s “most powerful conservative,” entertained himself this weekend:
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This weekend at the Vatican, Pope Francis met with a Spanish transgender man, Diego Neria Lejárraga, after he wrote a letter to the Pope complaining that his church discriminated against him following his gender-reassignment surgery. The Washington Blade says Lejárraga complained about the rejection he felt from his fellow congregants, who even went so far as to abuse him with verbal attacks, calling him names like “the devil’s daughter.”
“After hearing him on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me,” Neria told a newspaper publisher in Spain.
Human rights groups are applauding the Pope’s move, calling it a historic, forward-thinking move for the papacy. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of LGBT Catholics group Dignity USA told the Blade that the meeting is a “very significant event.”
“For the Pope to meet with a transgender man about to be married, and for that meeting to result in this man feeling more hopeful about his place in the Church, shows a concern for those at the very margins of our church,” she said. “I hope the Pope listened carefully to this man’s experience, and will speak about what he heard.”
SEPTA has lost an early round in its battle to keep an anti-Islam advertisement off of its buses. A federal judge last week ruled the agency cannot present testimony that the ad is false — saying the First Amendment protects political speech even when it’s incorrect.
“Long standing Supreme Court precedent instructs that political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because the listener believes that it is false or disagrees with the message it advances,” Judge Mitchell Goldberg wrote in his ruling. (See the full ruling below.)
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An all-too-familiar, all-too-unfortunate story:
Chester Wenger has dedicated 65 years of his life to the Mennonite Church USA, serving as a pastor, missionary, and church leader based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania since 1949. That all came to an end recently, however, when he officiated the marriage of his gay son, who, it should be noted, was excommunicated from the church 35 years ago for being gay. More from Think Progress:
Chester Wenger and his wife Sara Jane | Photo from The Mennonite
Wenger “grieved deeply” about the church’s decision to expel his child, but when same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania in May, his son asked him to officiate his wedding to his partner of 27 years. The retired pastor “happily agreed,” openly defying the established rules of his tradition in order to perform the union on June 21.
After he reported the marriage to the Lancaster Mennonite Conference credentialing committee, however, church authorities convened on September 10 and formally retired Wenger’s ministerial credentials. They argued his actions violated established church guidelines, which read “Pastors holding credentials in a conference of Mennonite Church USA may not perform a same-sex covenant ceremony.”
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