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The ‘Feminine’ Trait Every Christian Needs to Learn
The virture of endurance was a ‘female’ attribute in New Testament times. On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, a white supremacist gunned down nine African American Christians as they participated in a Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Americans were outraged at such heartless and vile racism, but something else gained national attention: The church members forgave the murderer. In fact, such forgiveness is so countercultural that many in the media sought to explain it away by saying that the African American church was fearful of reprisals or was ingratiating themselves to the majority white culture. Fortunately, a few reporters accurately identified the “supernatural” source of such forgiveness—the gospel of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. The media missed another crucial, countercultural aspect of the gospel: resurrection hope expressed by endurance. One week after the shooting, believers were back at Wednesday night Bible study, and they have continued ever since. The gospel message of Christ’s loving forgiveness has transformed these believers, and the promise of eternal, resurrection life has given them enduring hope. Forgiveness and endurance shape their values according to God’s kingdom ethics. As Joe Riley, mayor of Charleston, pronounced at the funeral of one church member, “Myra [Thompson] will always be here in the memory of this church. She was a martyr in the continuing fight of human dignity.” During the season of Lent, Christians around the world focus especially on Jesus’s death on the cross and think about repentance and forgiveness. They recall Paul’s words in Romans that they are co-heirs with Christ, “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that ...Continue reading... [...]



This Unpaid Pensions Case Could Crush Christian Hospitals
Supreme Court will decide if religious organizations qualify for IRS church exemption. Today the US Supreme Court heard a trio of lawsuits on pension plans at Christian hospital systems. So far, the panel of justices seems torn over whether religiously affiliated employers fall under federal requirements for pension benefits. Churches are exempt from the US Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). But the current cases challenge whether such standards apply to employers that are merely affiliated with churches: hospitals, schools, and daycares, for example. Employees who filed the suits argue that the hospitals should comply and, in some cases, pay billions to make up for benefits their workers have missed out on. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling on the issue, which Religion Clause picked as the No. 4 church-state development of 2016, will impact dozens of similar cases as well as the budgets of a significant slice of America’s healthcare system. (For example, the American Civil Liberties Union found that last year, Catholic hospitals alone provided 1 in 6 patient beds available.) The hospitals involved in the litigation include Dignity Health, which operates Catholic hospitals and employs 60,000 people in 20 states; Advocate, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ and employs 33,000 people in Illinois; and Saint Peter’s Health Care System, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church and located in New Jersey, according to Bloomberg News. The Internal Revenue Service has allowed the Christian hospitals—and hundreds of other religious affiliated institutions—to claim ERISA exemptions. Because of decades of federal approval, the institutions believed they were “proceeding in good faith with the assurance of ...Continue reading... [...]