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Current Events
In what may be its most significant religious liberty decision in two decades, the Supreme Court on Wednesday for the first time recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, saying that churches and other religious groups must be free to choose and dismiss their leaders without government interference. It was a unanimous decision.  The ruling means that churches and religious organizations are exempt from employee discrimination laws when hiring or firing their own employees and leaders. Many are heralding this decision as key in reinforcing the separation between church and state, while others worry that this will allow these organizations far too much power. The initial complaint that motivated Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stemmed from a teacher at an elementary school who felt she was being fired for pursuing a disability claim. SOURCE SOURCE Seems like a pretty stinkin’ important ruling that I had no idea was even before the court. How about you?
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Controversy
A piece in the New York Times this week talks about how difficult it is for single people to find a job as a pastor, especially in evangelical churches. Some, in fact, think that the church is discriminating against singles in ministry. Here’s part of the article. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said it was unfair to accuse churches of discrimination because that word implied something “wrongful.” “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” he said, justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.” Mr. Mohler said he tells the students at his seminary that “if they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.” via NYTimes.com. Don’t get me wrong… I think Al Mohler is a good guy; but I often wonder where he’s coming from. When scripture says that an elder should be a husband of one wife, does that mean that elders have to be married? I guess I never really thought that was supposed to be the case. What if the elder’s wife dies?  Does that mean he needs to step down? What if a man never marries?  Does that disqualify him? Was Paul the husband of one wife? Or Charles Stanley? Come on, Al.  Can single men pastor as well as married men?  I don’t know why they wouldn’t be able to. Don’t get me wrong.  I think a wife can be a huge asset to a pastor and his ministry.  But to tell young men preparing for ministry that they will be significantly limited unless they find a woman is… well… I’ll let you fill in the word. Finally (not to pick apart Al’s words completely), but what does it mean to be “not only married, but fully married”? Let’s come right out and say it.  Here are two concerns that people have about senior pastors that aren’t married. 1.  That they are prone to promiscuity.  Unmarried pastors do not have a biblical way to carry out their ‘man urges’, thus we think they’re more likely to act outside of scripture when it comes to sexuality. 2.  If they’re not married, some people will think (although they would never admit it) that the pastor is gay.  After all, if he wasn’t, he’d be married. Both are unfounded.  Pick up the newspaper every day and you’ll see that being married as a pastor doesn’t keep you from either #1 or #2. QUESTION:  Is the church discriminatory against single pastors?  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? If your church was looking for a lead pastor, would you consider a single person for the position?  Why or why not?
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