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Was Student Who Claims She Was Suspended For Saying, “Bless You” Mimicking God’s Not Dead?

Did a high school really suspend a student for saying “bless you” when someone sneezed? And if not, what really happened? As school resumed this month, a story emerged about Kendra Turner of Dyer County, Tennessee, who was allegedly chastised by her teacher for saying, “Bless you.” (“Bless you” appeared on a list of words that were considered distracting or inappropriate for use in the classroom, alongside words like “boring” and “hang out.”) Acc…

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Deifying Pope Francis Obscures Where He’s So So Right, So So Wrong

…ys and not gods. But pause and peek through the pious papal haze and you will see that Francis is a man; a truly great man in some ways, and in other ways a failure. So why the fervor, the tears, and non-stop adulation? Two reasons: hope and fright. Our spirits need hope like our lungs need oxygen. (Sorry old Juvenal, bread and circuses don’t cut it.) And the more scared we are the more we lunge toward any beacon of hope. Important truths are felt…

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Conservative Catholics Unhappy About New Book on LGBTs and The Church; and More in the Global LGBT Recap

The Global Alliance for LGBT Education has protested the selection of Saudi Arabia as the site for a forum on youth engagement in social change: The forum, “Youth and their Social Impact”, is supposed to explore youth engagement and its potential for social change and to educate for a sustainable future. A specific break-out workshop will be about using digital tools for the promotion of social interaction and engagement. In Saudi Arabia, dating…

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Evangelical Pastor Argues for Full LGBT Inclusion: “I Think It’s Inevitable”

…nt for an earlier time. The story is so familiar, in fact, that it is actually in the Christian scriptures. Paul’s ancient answers to congregational controversies inform a new book written by Ken Wilson, an evangelical pastor in Michigan. In A Letter to My Congregation Wilson argues that the ancient issues of food and Sabbath are analogous to today’s moral struggle over the rightful place of LGBT people in both church and society. As a pastor in a…

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Mourning a Goddess: Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

…es. She was an adolescent star who remained a luminary across decades of Hollywood transitions. From Lassie Come Home to Black Beauty, from Giant to A Little Night Music and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she was film. And then there was television (yes, she was on General Hospital; yes she was on The Simpsons) and stage. If the United States’ civil religion has darshan, or blessing conferred by simply being in the presence of divinity, it may h…

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The Sacred and the Dead: Operator, Can You Help Me?

…Utah, Gotta find a private line. ~ “Operator” In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented a device that could represent accurately the human voice. It thoroughly, irreversibly altered our interconnection, enabling us to talk to another person across an enormous distance with the sonic clarity of being in the same room. A special series on religion and culture produced in collaboration with the Office of Religious Life at the University of Southern Ca…

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Blames Gays For ISIS; ‘Christian Nationalist’ Sworn In As Guatemala’s President; Vatican Resists Civil Unions in Italy; Global LGBT Recap

…s the Huffington Post reported. “I’ve had it up to here with culture. I really mean it.” … A video of the Biden’s remarks the Huffington Post posted online shows the vice president striking the table with his palms as he spoke during the roundtable. “Culture never justifies rank, raw, discrimination or violation of human rights,” said Biden. “There is no cultural justification. None. None. None.” Biden also noted consensual same-sex sexual acts re…

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Preachers’ Daughters, Episode One: Viewer Discretion Advised

…’s unsuitable? For some audiences? On a show about preachers’ daughters? Well, yes, Twitter. Did you not realize? A show about preachers’ daughters is going to contain language that’s unsuitable for some audiences. It will do so for exactly the same reason that a joke, friend-of-a-friend story, or limerick about a preacher’s daughter will contain language that’s unsuitable for some audiences. That’s the setup, the trope, the shtick, the genre, the…

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