It’s been a stunning rise and fall for Kevin Johnson, the pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church: He started the year preparing to run a campaign for mayor. Those plans were quickly abandoned, but now he’s losing his pulpit, one of the most high-profile in the city.
In an essay Monday in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Penn English and education professor Peter Conn writes of “The Great Accreditation Farce.” His take: Colleges that require professors to sign a “faith statement” — one that, say, requires faculty to believe in intelligent design — do not deserve to be accredited.
A little background on college accreditation: The U.S. Department of Education recognizes many accreditation boards that accredit colleges and universities “to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” The process, which Conn writes schools spend millions of dollars and tens of thousands of person-hours on, involves reports generated by the school and on-site visits by accreditation teams.
Accreditation is supposed to confer legitimacy on a school, but it’s not like an independent board needs to tell anyone that Penn or Temple provides you with an education at or above acceptable standards. The secondary reason for accreditation is the more important one: Students attending unaccredited schools cannot receive federal financial aid. A-ha!
Conn, who was on a site-visit at a Johns Hopkins accreditation in 2004 and led Penn’s accreditation self-study in 2003, has issues with the process. His complaint in the Chronicle essay: Many colleges that require faith statements do not meet acceptable standards.
Great news: This morning, The United Methodist Church voted to let Lebanon, Pennsylvania Pastor Frank Schaefer return to the pulpit. Schaefer was famously defrocked last winter for officiating the marriage of his gay son. The decision comes after Schaefer appealed the Church’s ruling last week. The Republic has more:
“Legislation that would allow schools to display the national motto “In God We Trust” and the Bill of Rights passed the state House on Monday by a 172-24 vote,” the Patriot-News reports. “The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, doesn’t carry any mandate for schools. But Saccone said it informs schools that they would have the state’s permission to post these patriotic displays.”
A three-judge panel has ruled that a Muslim inmate can make the case that federal religious freedom laws allow him to conjugal visits with his multiple wives while held in a Pennsylvania prison.
You’re moving here from Westchester County, New York, to take this job. Philly can be frosty to outsiders. Are you worried? Oh no, I’ve already received hundreds of emails, phone calls, letters of welcome.
I guess you don’t need a neighborhood recommendation, then. I think we’re going to end up taking a poll. You can follow up with me in a year and I’ll tell you what happened.
Federation is still the leading Jewish philanthropic organization in the region, but has switched leaders four times since the 1990s. And your predecessor was not exactly beloved by everyone. How do you correct the turnover problem? Well, this is the third time, maybe fourth time, I’ve come into an area where I was a newbie. I’ve learned you need to be listening to all perspectives and be very attuned to building relationships. I think that you become a part of the fabric of the community if you listen and respond to what people need. I can’t comment on Ira Schwartz or the other predecessors. All I can say is that my style is to incorporate the best management practices with really loving what you do.
Given the turmoil in Federation ranks, do you think your selection as the first female CEO was a statement that it’s starting fresh in some way? The fact that I’m a woman was not really a focus. I’m not blind to the fact that I’m blazing a trail in this community. However, it’s not the reason they hired me.
Let’s get something straight: I know the Pope is Catholic.
This means a few things: I never expect him to adopt the conventional American Liberal positions l hold. There will be no embrace of gay marriage by the church, there will be no permission for abortion, and Pope Francis’s term will not end with the ascension of Pope Mary I. We’re never going to agree on those things. It is what it is.
Still: I find that I’m increasingly a fan of this pope. That’s a bit weird to admit. I grew up among Mennonites who pretty explicitly traced their theological heritage to the Reformation; more recently I’ve simply been agnostic: God’s not really part of my life anymore. Catholicism doesn’t hold much appeal for me, generally. Pope Francis does, however — and so I am rooting for him to visit Philadelphia next year.
Why? His humility. And his attempts to bring the church in line with that quality.
Philadelphia Gas Works employee Karim Burke has filed a federal lawsuit against the gas company, alleging that PGW demoted him because he wouldn’t shave his beard. Burke, who describes himself as a “devout Muslim,” believes that this is a violation of his Constitutional rights. Read more »
Before interviewing movie stars in town for press junkets, Philly film critic Piers Marchant warms them up with a list of themed, rapid-fire questions. This week he chats with three of the names behind the new Jesus of Nazareth bio-pic Son of God: stars Diogo Morgado (Jesus) and Roma Downey (Mary), and the film’s financial backer, mega-producer Mark Burnett, (who’s also Downey’s husband.) The theme? The Seven Deadly Sins.
Here we go again. Ambassador’s Bible Chapel in Manchester, Pa., is making headlines this week for revoking the membership of a longtime worshiper because he’s gay. The York Daily Record reports that 20-year-old Bobbie Pierce was removed from the church and denied communion by the establishment’s elders. His renunciation was announced during church service last Sunday. How embarrassing. More from the York Daily Record:
“Pastor David Slautterback said Friday that he and the other elders want Pierce to repent for his sin and to return to fellowship at the church, where he is still welcome to attend as long as he does not cause division or speak contrary to scripture. ‘We placed Bobbie under church discipline out of love for Bobbie and regard for his soul,’ Slautterback said.”