This Week in Religion: Vatican Has Revolutionary Ideas about Homosexuality, Then Quickly Backtracks
This week, things started off on a positive note as the Vatican released a preliminary document that was being heralded as “revolutionary” towards gay Christians by some LGBT groups. Yet Vatican officials were quick to walk back on their statements inside the document as reported by Hemant Mehta at the Friendly Atheist blog:
“The Vatican also said that it wanted to welcome gays and lesbians in the church, but not create ‘the impression of a positive evaluation’ of same-sex relationships, or, for that matter, of unmarried couples who live together.”
And if taking back revolutionary ideas about the churches view of homosexuality was not enough to put the negativity of the Catholic Church back in the headlines, it seems that church officials are now warning Kenyans against getting the tetanus vaccine, sighting a conspiracy theory that the vaccine can cause sterility in women.
Speaking to the BBC, Health Minister James Macharia said, "It's a safe certified vaccine." The Kenyan government has also spoken out against the churches' claims that the vaccine is potentially dangerous.
This did not stop Kenyan church officials from making unfounded statements. Dr Stephen Karanja, the chair of the Catholic Doctors Association in Kenya, told the BBC that, "The ministry must stop making noise and allow the Church to sample the vaccines before they are given," and insisted that the vaccines given earlier in the year could cause sterility in women. Mr. Macharia refuted the baseless claim and stressed that both the World Health Organization and Unicef approve the vaccine.
In what must have been jealousy over the religious news coverage Catholics are getting in Kenya, television evangelist Pat Robertson claimed on his show The 700 Club that:
“You might get AIDS in Kenya, the people have AIDS, you got to be careful, the towels can have AIDS.”
This statement came in response to a caller who asked Robertson if he should consider going on a mission trip to Kenya due to the Ebola outbreak. Robertson’s suggestion to the caller was not go because towels have AIDS. This may be to date one of the most inexcusably careless statements the television minister has ever made.
There may still be good news for religion this week as former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, who stepped down as the church leader last month after allegations of plagiary and abuse of power, has officially resigned from the Seattle based church.
In his resignation letter to church elders, Driscoll wrote:
“Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family — even physically unsafe at times — and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill.”
The resignation comes as no surprise and even with some excitement to many who have been following the charges against Driscoll that seemed to continuously pile up, causing the church to close many of its branches around the U.S. from fallout of the former pastor's questionable actions.
However church leaders themselves seemed surprised as they did not ask Driscoll to resign and wrote in a statement, “Indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter.”
Driscoll noted that he felt his continued involvement in the church would serve as a distraction, but noted that his resignation did not bar him from preaching in the future.