Catching up with some stuff from when I was away:
1. Locally, Ramapo’s first “ultra-Orthodox” police officer has filed a bias claim against the town and some officers, claiming that she was discriminated against because of her religion.
Glauber is often referred to as “Hasidic” or “ultra-Orthodox,” but we really know little about her since she has not talked publically since becoming a cop last year.
Anything having to do with Hasidic or ultra-Orthodox Jews in Rockland County draws a tremendous amount of interest. Judging by the comments at the end of my colleague Steve Lieberman’s article, this holds true when it comes to Officer Glauber.
2. After years of study and deliberation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America decided to allow gays and lesbians who live in committed, same-sex relationships to serve as clergy.
The move is no great surprise, but another step toward the gradual acceptance of gays and lesbians in the mainline Protestant world.
“We’re going to be living in tension and ambiguity for a longer time, partly because the culture has shifted,” David Steinmetz, a Duke Divinity School professor of Christian history, told the AP.
So what happens now? Will the ELCA, which has seen its membership drop from 5.3 million to 4.7 million, get smaller, thrive, break up or what?
Columnist Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News outlines three possible scenarios, but favors this one:
The ELCA will continue to decline, while more conservative churches will probably prosper in the short run. But the demographic wave on homosexuality is real, and it’s going to impact conservative churches in a big way over the coming decades. But secularism — that is, being unchurched and happy with it — is also a rising trend among younger Americans. Liberalization on the gay issue ought to in theory help more tolerant congregations attract people, but in practice, it’s going to be a wash because significantly fewer of these people are going to care about belonging to any church at all in the future.
3. Much more quietly, the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA voted to enter into a “full communion” agreement with the United Methodist Church (which already did so).
What does this mean? It means that each mainline denomination recognizes the other’s baptism, Eucharist, and ministry.
It’s not a merger by any stretch, but does say that there is not much that divides the two Christians camps.
At the local level, mainline churches already work closely in many communities. Most have much in common in terms of theology and their basic world views, so the denominations are really catching up with their local communities.
That’s ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson on the left, hugging it out with United Methodist Bishop Gregory Palmer.