By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.
Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.
But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.
An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.
“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”
By Daniel Burke, CNN
(CNN) As news broke of the big Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage, religious leaders took to Twitter to express joyous praise or strong condemnation.
View the story "`Jesus wept' or tears of joy? Faithful respond to SCOTUS" on Storify
(CNN) - After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to "help" gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology.
"We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change - and they want to be heard," Tony Moore, an Exodus board member, said Wednesday.
The announcement comes less than a day after Exodus issued a wide-ranging apology to the gay community for "years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole," a statement from the group says.
"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus. "For quite some time, we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."
Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has "ongoing same-sex attractions."
(CNN) – The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's second largest church, said Boy Scout executives who pushed to allow openly gay Scouts without properly consulting members should be ousted from office.
In a resolution approved Wednesday at their annual meeting, Southern Baptist leaders stopped short of urging churches to cut ties with local troops in protest of the Scouting change, but didn't encourage them to stay, either.
Either way, the historic decision to allow gay Scouts could "complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts,” the Baptist resolution says.
The Boy Scouts of America initially planned to lift its longtime ban on openly gay youth without canvassing members, Southern Baptists charged in a resolution that passed overwhelmingly.
The executives behind that plan should be removed, the Baptists said.
(CNN) – Pope Francis said a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican, a surprising disclosure from a pope who has already delivered his share of stunners, and a resurrection of church conflicts that had bedeviled his predecessor's papacy.
“In the Curia,” Francis said, referring to Catholicism’s central bureaucracy, “there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption.”
“The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there,” Francis continued. “We need to see what we can do.”
READ MORE: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis
Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.
The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV's shocking decision to resign earlier this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.
By Dan Merica and Daniel Burke, CNN
Follow @DanMericaCNNFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN)– For more than two decades, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin couldn't officially be a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. On Friday, he was elected a bishop.
Erwin's election signals a shift not only for the ELCA – the nation's seventh largest church – but also for American Christianity. Only one other mainline Protestant denomination, the Episcopal Church, has elected openly gay and lesbian bishops.
“In these days such milestones seem to be coming at an ever-faster rate," Erwin told CNN, "and eventually what seems revolutionary now will seem normal and predictable."
With more than 4 million members in 10,000 congregations, the ELCA is the largest of several Lutheran denominations in the United States. The ELCA's decision to allow gay clergy has strained ties between those denominations, some of whom have partnered for relief work.
Editor’s note: Justin Lee is the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate.
By Justin Lee, Special to CNN
(CNN)–In high school, I was a Christian know-it-all.
My nickname was "God boy," and I was known for regularly preaching at my friends about social issues of the day. I dismissed their objections - and accusations of homophobia - as intolerance for my faith.
"I'm just telling you what God's Word says," I'd argue.
Years later I realized my mistake. What my peers most objected to wasn't my beliefs - it was my condescending attitude. I debated and preached when I should have listened. I thought that stating my position loudly and unyieldingly was a sign of strength. In the process, I alienated my friends.
I'm still an evangelical Christian, but one thing is now crystal clear to me. American evangelicals' bad reputation isn't just because of what we believe. It's mostly because of how we behave.
By Dorrine Mendoza, CNN
(CNN) - In the hours after learning the Rev. Rick Warren's son had killed himself, Beth Moore says she was swept with conflicting waves of emotion.
Moore didn't know Warren or his wife, Kay, personally. But as someone who had ministered to women on Warren's Saddleback Church campus several years ago, she felt a strong connection to the couple.
In a post on her Living Proof Ministries blog about Matthew Warren's suicide, Moore first explained her anger at the "satanic force" that would prey on weak children. Then she walks her readers through her struggle to understand suicide.
But most compelling is her frustration in trying to understand "trash talk" on social media from Christians attacking the Warrens, in addition to hateful posts from non-Christians. FULL POST
By Casey Wian and Holly Yan, CNN
Irving, Texas (CNN) - The polarizing debate over whether Boy Scouts of America should allow gay members could culminate with a vote on a new policy Wednesday.
But no matter which way the vote goes, activists on both sides aren't going to be satisfied.
The controversy pits leaders of religious groups that sponsor about 1 million Boy Scouts against activists who want the organization to end its ban on openly gay Scouts and Scout leaders.
Neither side is happy with BSA's proposal to let local troops decide if they want to allow gay members.
Editor’s Note: Matthew Lee Anderson is the Lead Writer at Mere Orthodoxy and the author of Earthen Vessels: Why our Bodies Matter to our Faith. He is studying for an M.Phil. at Oxford University.
By Matthew Lee Anderson, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The news that Louie Giglio is no longer going to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration sent shock waves around the conservative Christian world.
Conservative Christians are right to be concerned about what these events mean for their welcome in the public square. But as Christians we shouldn’t be surprised nor even overly upset. Given the history of our founder, such marginalization is what we can expect.
Giglio is a pastor and runs the Passion Conferences, where some 60,000 college students gather to hear teaching and participate in activist causes. Giglio has been one of the leading voices in the surge of evangelical opposition to human trafficking, which was originally why Obama picked him.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.