Emily McFarlan Miller, Religion News Service

Emily McFarlan Miller writes for the Religion News Service.

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Democrats and Republicans Divided on Impact of Religion in the U.S.

Image via RNS/Pew Research Center

Do churches and religious organizations have a positive impact on the way things are going in the United States?

Americans are divided on that point, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on July 10 that shows they align along predictable party lines.

President Trump Promises Support to Military, Evangelicals at Fourth of July Event

Image via RNS/Emily McFarlan Miller

At a Fourth of July concert hosted by First Baptist Church Dallas at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., President Trump pledged never to forget the men and women who have served in the U.S. military — or the people of faith who put him in the White House.

“My administration will always support and defend your religious liberty,” Trump said at the event on July 1. “We don’t want to see God forced out of the public square, driven out of our schools, or pushed out of our civic life.”

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Founder Says Park Is Not Sinking

Image via Emily McFarlen Miller/RNS

As the Ark Encounter marks its first anniversary on July 7, attendance at the ark “will draw near the low end of the estimated guest number,” Ham wrote. Park co-founder Mike Zovath told the Lexington Herald-Leader it will attract its 1 millionth visitor by July.

Trump to Give Speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia

Image via RNS/Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

President Trump will deliver an “inspiring yet direct” speech on the need to confront radical ideologies during his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia.

The speech will come during an afternoon lunch with leaders of more than 50 countries with mostly Muslim populations, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster announced on May 16.

Women Bloggers Spark an Evangelical ‘Crisis of Authority’

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But, if the furor on social media this past month is to be believed, the abundance of faith bloggers also has created what the Rev. Tish Harrison Warren called a “crisis of authority.”

“Is literally everyone with a computer — do they equally hold authority to teach and preach?” said Warren, an Anglican priest, who wrote a commentary for Christianity Today titled "Who’s In Charge of the Christian Blogosphere?

Bishop Karen Oliveto: ‘My Presence Changes the Conversation’ on LGBTQ People

Image via Mike DuBose/ RNS

“They’ve made it even tougher for LGBTQI people to serve the church they love — to follow God’s call to serve in this church. And it gives anyone the opportunity to file a complaint, to do a witch hunt, to do searches online of marriage certificates. It raises a veil of suspicion on people’s humanity, and that’s not the gospel,” Oliveto said.

Consecration of Gay Bishop Against Church Law, Says United Methodist Top Court

Image via RNS/UMNS/Mike DuBose

The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled that the consecration of an openly gay pastor as bishop is against church law.

But, in a somewhat muddled ruling that could reflect the ongoing struggle to determine how great a role LGBTQ members can play in the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the court also ruled that the Rev. Karen Oliveto, its first openly gay bishop, “remains in good standing.”

United Methodists to Hold Special Session on LGBTQ Inclusion in 2019

Image via UMNS/Mike DuBose

The United Methodist Church will hold a special session of its General Conference to settle questions of LGBTQ inclusion that have vexed the global denomination for years.

The announcement came on April 25, the same day the denomination’s highest court held a hearing on whether an openly gay pastor can serve as bishop.

The General Conference, the United Methodist Church’s top legislative body, typically meets every four years. At last year’s meeting in Portland, Ore., it voted to defer all decisions about human sexuality to a specially appointed commission and left the door open for a special session.

Joan Chittister on Humility, Fake News, and Social Media

Images via RNS/Crown Publishing Group

Sister Joan Chittister opens her latest book with the story of Abba Zosimas, a fifth-century monk in Palestine. Abba Zosimas taught his followers, “The soul has as many masters as it has passions.” Chittister wants her readers to look “gently, kindly but clearly,” at those masters and passions in their lives, she said.

Study: Uptick in Worldwide Restrictions on Religion

Image via RNS/Pew Research Center 

A total of 40 percent of surveyed countries registered “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions, according to Pew Research Center’s annual study on global restrictions on religion, released Tuesday. That’s up from 34 percent in 2014, according to the data. The percentage had declined during the previous two years.

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