Christianity

(AP Photo/Sid Hastings)

Last week, the governing body of the United Methodist Church voted to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy.  The “Traditional Plan” won by a narrow margin at the annual meeting of the General Conference.  It defeated the “One Church Plan,” which would have allowed local congregations to make their own decisions on LGBT issues.

Jan Love, dean of Emory University's Candler School of Theology, was at the conference. The school is one of 13 Methodist seminaries in the country. During “On Second Thought,” Love explored the implications of the vote here in Georgia.


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CONTENT WARNING: This audio piece includes a section of a sermon that contains anti-LGBT slurs and  language [from 0:32 to 0:53]. Listener discretion is advised.

 

Across the nation, many in the Christian community are discussing the relationship between the Bible and sexual identity.

 

Here in Atlanta, Jamal Bryant is the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. He has compared being gay to drug addiction and referred to homosexuality as a “rebellion” against God.

 

And in Norcross, David Berzins is pastor of Strong Hold Baptist Church. Berzins has repeatedly spoken out against the LGBT community, even saying that homosexuals "deserve the death penalty."

Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta / Twitter

It's the new year, a time many people use as an opportunity to press reset and make personal changes.

 

"On Second Thought" invited leaders and scholars from different faith traditions to share some messages and conversations animating their respective congregations this year.

 

We heard from Kim Jackson, associate rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta; Soumaya Khalifa, executive director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta; and Rabbi Robert Haas from Congregation Mickve Israel in Savannah. They discussed how they navigate faith in an increasingly polarized and secular country.

 

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In an episode of "Meet the Press" in April 1960, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he thought it was one of the most "shameful tragedies of our nation that 11 o'clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours in Christian America."

Nearly 60 years later, a pair of church leaders in Macon observed that not much had changed. The New Georgia Encyclopedia states Macon is home to more churches than any other city in the American South.

GPB recorded a conversation between Rev. Dr. Jake Hall of Highland Hills Baptist Church and Rev. Dominique Johnson of Kingdom Life, Inc. for the series "Macon Conversations." In this excerpt, they discussed finding common ground between white people and people of color in their congregations.


Courtesy Anthony Batista

Five years ago, Jonathan Merritt moved from Buford to Brooklyn, New York. Almost immediately, Merritt found he couldn't communicate with the people around him. It was not that they spoke a different language, but rather that Southern Baptist preacher's son — and Emory-educated Master of Divinity — felt unable to have the conversations about faith and spirituality that he had always had in his hometown. Merritt set out to find out if other people in the United States were avoiding conversations about religion. In a survey of 1,000 people, he found that 1 in 5 had not had a conversation about religion in the last year. 


Summer Evans / GPB

A few weeks ago, we talked about the shift in attendance of African Americans in evangelical churches.

The Pew Research Center finds only 10 percent of African Americans in Georgia identified as Evangelical Protestant in 2014. Nationwide, it’s even lower.

With fewer and fewer African-Americans attending evangelical churches, we asked two evangelical pastors about their efforts to make their congregation inclusive.