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Lutherans elect first openly gay bishop
The Rev. R. Guy Erwin was elected the first openly gay bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on May 31.
June 3rd, 2013
02:12 PM ET

Lutherans elect first openly gay bishop

By Dan Merica and Daniel Burke, CNN

(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.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Lutheran

Lutheran pastor apologizes for praying in Newtown vigil
People pray at the interfaith vigil in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
February 7th, 2013
01:34 PM ET

Lutheran pastor apologizes for praying in Newtown vigil

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - A Lutheran pastor has apologized after being chastised by his denomination's leader for offering a prayer at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Pastor Rob Morris, who leads the Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, violated the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's rule against taking part in joint worship services, said the synod's president, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison.

Participation could be seen as endorsing "false teaching" because some among the diverse group of religious leaders at the vigil hold beliefs different from those of synod.

The vigil, which was attended by President Barack Obama, was a high-profile part of the healing process for the families of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Lutheran • United States

My Take: Five women in religion to watch
Kecia Ali, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Anthea Butler, Esther Fleece and Karen King are five women to watch for in religion this year
March 5th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

My Take: Five women in religion to watch

Editor's Note: Sarah Sentilles is a scholar of religion and the author of three books, most recently a memoir, "Breaking Up with God: A Love Story." She tweets as @sarahsentilles.

By Sarah Sentilles, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The year 2012 has only just begun and already women are revolutionizing what it looks like to be religious, to study religion and to engage in social change. Here are five women to watch in 2012:

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Islam • Lutheran

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling
Newt Gingrich has spent time as a Lutheran, a Baptist and a Roman Catholic.
December 10th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) – There’s an e-mail war raging among some of the nation’s leading evangelicals over whether Newt Gingrich has repented enough for his sins to be president.

One recent skirmish was set off by an open letter urging Gingrich to give a major speech confronting his perceived moral stumbles, including an affair with his third wife, Callista, while married to No. 2.

“You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others, including your former spouses,” Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Catholic Church • Lutheran • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

High court hears church-state appeal over 'ministerial' employee
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on a controversial case on hiring and firing of "ministerial employees."
October 5th, 2011
03:43 PM ET

High court hears church-state appeal over 'ministerial' employee

By Bill Mears, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Few issues divide the Supreme Court - and the country at large - more than church-state matters, and arguments before the Supreme Court on Wednesday involving a workplace discrimination lawsuit against a Lutheran church proved especially touchy.

At issue is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hiring and firing decisions involving "ministerial employees" like teachers who may have primarily secular job duties.

The justices appeared at odds over whether this is substantive discrimination or simple retaliation against a Michigan teacher, after she complained to government authorities over her treatment on the job.

"You're asking for an exemption (to lawsuits) so these issues can't even be tried" in a government hearing on the merits, said Justice Anthony Kennedy. "She was fired simply for asking for a hearing."

"It's none of the business of the government to decide what the substantial interest of the church is," countered Justice Antonin Scalia. "There, in black and white in the text of the Constitution, are special protections for religion."

Read the full story here.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Lutheran

May 30th, 2011
12:33 PM ET

Joplin mourns its dead

Peace Lutheran Church in Joplin, Missouri, remembers the tornado victims one week later. CNN's Chris Turner reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Death • Lutheran • Missouri • United States

High court to hear church-state appeal over 'ministerial' employees
March 28th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

High court to hear church-state appeal over 'ministerial' employees

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

In a twist on the hotly contested national debate on church-state matters, the Supreme Court will decide whether a teacher at a religious school can sue under a federal law against workplace discrimination. The justices accepted review Monday of an appeal from a Lutheran church in Michigan, and will hear oral arguments this fall.

At issue is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hiring and firing decisions involving "ministerial employees" like teachers who may have primarily secular job duties.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Church and state • Courts • Lutheran • Michigan • United States

November 25th, 2010
10:50 AM ET

My Take: Gratitude at Katrina’s ground zero

Editor's Note: Kathleen Koch is a Washington-based freelance journalist, author and speaker. Her best-selling new book, “Rising from Katrina,” traces her Mississippi hometown’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and her experiences covering it. For 18 years, she was a CNN correspondent.

By Kathleen Koch, Special to CNN

I just returned from another visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where gratitude is as plentiful this Thanksgiving as the “For Sale” signs that dot the beachfront. It might seem puzzling in a region where the recovery is still very much a work in progress.

“We are busier than ever, particularly since the oil spill,” acknowledged the smiling, silver-haired nurse at a fundraiser this week for Biloxi’s Bethel Free Health Clinic. The clinic sprang to life in 2005 to meet the needs of Mississippi residents who after Hurricane Katrina no longer had the money to pay for health care.

“This job was an answer to a prayer of mine,” said 70-year-old Bethel director Judy Jones. The retired nurse had been helping hand out cleanup supplies, but prayed for a paying job that better fit her skills and would help pay for repairs on her hurricane-damaged home.

For two and a half years, Jones ran the clinic out of a Lutheran church with volunteer doctors and nurses from out of state. But then the post-hurricane state of emergency was declared over. Jones introduced me to the tall, bespectacled doctor who came out of retirement to fill the gap.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Holidays • Lutheran • Opinion • Thanksgiving

September 19th, 2010
08:30 PM ET

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About this blog

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.

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