In the News: Racism, Ramadan, Romanian Witches and more!

A round-up of the week’s religion news. Continue Reading →

The USCCB Votes

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will vote on a new General Secretary this week during their Annual Fall General Assembly (November 15 – 18) in Baltimore.  The two candidates are Ronny Jenkins of Texas and David Kagan of Illinois.  You can read their bios at the USCCB website.  Also on the agenda for this year’s meeting:  “discussion of how their own statements should be produced, budgetary and structural questions and information about how they can better integrate new media into diocesan structures,” writes Free Republic.  Also on the agenda?  Baptism.  With the Anglican Communion in disarray over issue of homosexuality and women ordination, the Catholic Church has eagerly called for disgruntled Anglicans to reconsider the Catholic Church.  Clarification of baptismal procedures for “conversion” has become important.  It’s expected that the Conference will accept any baptism that includes water and the phrase, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

The common agreement, which requires an up or down vote by the bishops and cannot be amended, was drawn up over the past six years by a team of scholars from the Catholic-Reformed dialogue group, made up of representatives of the USCCB, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ.

Calling baptism “the sacramental gateway into the Christian life,” the agreement says baptism “is to be conferred only once, because those who are baptized are decisively incorporated into the body of Christ.”

For baptisms to be mutually recognized by the five churches, the baptismal rite must use water and the Trinitarian formula, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” the document says.

Which safely keeps them out of that“second baptism” wicket.

The assembly is being life-tweeted at

UPDATE: Tim Dolan is the new President of the USCCB. Continue Reading →

Penetrating the Lostness!

Baptist leaders are worried. Baptism, a “ritual immersion” that, according to some, makes one saved — and Baptist — is in decline. On Monday the Southern Baptist Convention‘s medieval-sounding Great Commission Resurgence Task Force unveiled a plan titled “Penetrating the Lostness” that they hope will encourage members to increase tithing from 2.5% to 10% and focus mission efforts to domestic foreigners. Church members are also encouraged to spend their vacations “penetrating” the lost and unsaved. Writes Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service (reposted at HuffPo), the report will be voted on at the annual convention in June in Orlando, FL. Continue Reading →