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Amanda Casanova

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who took his oath of office by swearing on nine Bibles, is facing possible impeachment.

According to The Christian Post, Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives filed 12 Articles of Impeachment against DeWine this week over the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I guess they have a right to go and file anything they want to, but you know, we're going to stay focused on what we have to,” DeWine said Tuesday in a CBS News interview.

The lawmakers, DeWine said, “want to criticize measures like wearing mask and basic things that we know — absolutely know — work.”

State Rep. John Becker is leading the impeachment effort.

“DeWine’s mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, abuse of power, and other crimes include, but are not limited to, meddling in the conduct of a presidential primary election, arbitrarily closing and placing curfews on certain businesses, while allowing other businesses to remain open,” read the statement in part.

“He weaponized the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to bully and harass businesses and the people; to enforce a statewide mask mandate and other controversial measures of dubious ‘value,’ making Ohio a hostile work environment.”

Becker said the governor also closed places of worship, “forcing citizens to choose between worshiping their God and worshiping at the altar of unbridled government.”

For impeachment to happen, the House Resolution must receive a simple majority in the House of Representatives and a two-thirds majority in the State Senate.

In August, when Becker first mentioned possibly impeaching DeWine, the governor said he wasn’t worried.

“If there are others in the legislature that want to spend their time drawing up resolutions, it’s a free country, that’s how they can spend their time. I say have at it,” he said at the time.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there have been about 430,000 COVID-19 cases in the state since the pandemic started. More than 6,500 people have died.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Justin Merriman/Stringer

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

(RNS) — A group of progressive United Methodists announced Sunday (Nov. 29) they are forming a new Methodist denomination, the Liberation Methodist Connexion, or LMX.

For half a century, the United Methodist Church has debated the full inclusion of its LGBTQ members. It pushed any discussion of sexuality from its quadrennial General Conference meeting in 2016 to a special session in 2019, where delegates voted against allowing the church to ordain LGBTQ clergy or perform same-sex marriages.

A new plan has been proposed since then to split the denomination according to beliefs on LGBTQ ordination and same-sex marriage. The split was to be decided upon at the 2020 General Conference, but due to COVID-19 shutdowns, the conference was cancelled and the decision postponed until next fall at the earliest.

Some United Methodists have simply grown tired of waiting.

“The timeline of the Holy Spirt is driving our decision to launch LMX at this moment, and we are responding to that call,” the Rev. Althea Spencer-Miller said during a presentation Sunday evening following the denomination’s first online worship service.

The Liberation Methodist Connexion describes itself on its website as “a grassroots denomination of former, current, and non-Methodist faith leaders working on the unfolding of the kin-dom of God.”

The website lists more than 40 collaborators involved in founding the new denomination, who call themselves “Liberationists.” Those who spoke during Sunday’s presentation declined to say how many churches or individuals have expressed interest in joining.

The LMX seeks to embrace the “full participation of all who are living out their God-given identities and expressions,” according to the site. That includes people of all gender expressions and sexual identities, races and ethnicities, mental and physical abilities, sizes and ages.

Its theology “is not written in stone,” the website said, but it builds on Methodist theology with various expressions of Liberation theologies, which were first developed by Latin American Roman Catholics in the 1950s and 1960s.

Correct doctrine is less important to the new denomination than correct action, collaborators said during Sunday’s presentation. That action includes reparations, caring for the earth, and finding new ways to live together outside of systems like colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, clericalism and heteronormativity, they said.

“We seek not answers that lead us to correct doctrines as to why we suffer. We seek correct actions, correct praxis, where God sustains us during the unanswerable questions,” Spencer-Miller said.

God was there in the seeds of the movement John Wesley started, she said.

“We are its queer, strange fruit,” she added.

But members aren’t expected to leave their denominations or faiths to join the LMX. In fact, collaborators said Sunday, United Methodist members are encouraged to continue to partner with the United Methodist Church’s ethnic caucuses.

“There are no doctrinal litmus tests in the movement. We are moving beyond the supremacy of a single belief system,” said the Rev. Janet G. McKeithen, a member of the Connexion working group.

It’s about following Jesus to the margins, added the Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, one of the leaders of UM-Forward and a General Conference delegate from the New York Conference.

Da Silva Souto told RNS in May that a coalition of groups already describing themselves as Liberationists had been discussing the possibility of forming a new denomination. That discussion grew out of events — the UM-Forward summit in May 2019 in Minneapolis, an Advent gathering outside of Denver, a Lenten gathering this spring in Dallas — following a special session of the United Methodist General Conference in 2019.

The Traditional Plan favored by theologically conservative United Methodists, approved at that special session, was set to take effect earlier this year, strengthening language in the denomination’s Book of Discipline barring LGBTQ clergy from being ordained and same-sex couples from marrying in the United Methodist Church.

But United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders from across theological divides agreed to a moratorium on its enforcement in January after negotiating a proposal to split the denomination, called, “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.” The proposal, negotiated by 16 United Methodists, would commit $25 million to create a new conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denomination. The “post-separation United Methodist Church” would then have the opportunity to rescind the Traditional Plan and pass affirming language.

Delegates would have voted on that proposal at the United Methodist General Conference scheduled in May. At the time, Da Silva Souto called its postponement, due to the pandemic, a “curveball.”

But, said Da Silva Souto, “we’re not waiting for the protocol to answer the call that we feel, which is love and liberation right now.”

The LMX is planning to host its next worship service on New Year’s Eve and encouraged those interested in joining to sign up for its email newsletter on its website.


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Public Domain

December 2, 2020 (Morning Star News) – The government of Vietnam has denied the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) permission to hold its scheduled bi-annual Clergy Assembly, according to the Bureau of Religious Affairs.

After the ECVN(S) announced on Nov. 25 that it was “postponing” the assembly scheduled for Feb. 1-3, 2021 because the government had denied permission, the Bureau of Religious Affairs released a statement the same day confirming its decision and urging the ECVN(S) to meet requirements of Vietnamese law in order to hold the assembly.

Sources said the government denial is based on the ECVN(S)’s refusal to comply with Article 34 of the 2018 Law on Religion, which requires a national religious body to submit names of its candidates for leadership for government approval in advance of the meeting at which their election would take place.

Besides finding it repugnant that an atheistic government would claim the right to decide who is fit to become a church leader, the ECVN(S) argues that Article 34 is contrary to its government-approved 2001 constitution and contrary to a century of practice. The church body unanimously passed a “line-in-the-sand” motion at its 2017 General Assembly that it could not and would not comply with Article 34.

The ECVN(S) had complained that Article 34 was inserted after the last publicly circulated draft of the Law on Religion that went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. During the period for public review before the National Assembly passed the law, Vietnam’s religious leaders, international human rights observers and advocates, as well the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion and Belief, had sounded alarms that the law was highly defective and urged Vietnam to amend it.

Besides allowing a government veto of the church’s nominations of its own officers, Article 34 requirements would be impossible to meet from a practical point of view, church leaders said. The democratic nature of the ECVN(S) constitution allows for nominations from the floor at the voting assembly, and thus it would be impossible to submit names of candidates for church leadership in advance of the assembly.

The Clergy Assembly itself was a novel development in the ECVN(S) 2001 constitution required by the government. Until then, the church had functioned well with a periodic General Assembly. At that time the government had tried to install some leaders under its influence as the first officers of the essentially redundant Clergy Assembly in an apparent attempt to set up competing leaders within the church.

That church-state confrontation portended what many stakeholders warned would happen – a 2018 Law on Religion designed to provide the authorities with more tools to interfere in and control religion, rather than provide more freedom.

The ECVN(S) announcement, signed by its President Thai Phuoc Truong and General Secretary Phan Quang Thieu, stated that even if government permission were immediately forthcoming, it was now too late to plan the large event.

Vietnam ranked 21st on Christian support organization Open Doors' 2020 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Sam Williams/Unsplash