Spiritual qualifications for worship leaders: the shape of things to come...

The federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals just issued a ruling confirming the punishment of Protestant chaplain, William Akridge, for not allowing an open sodomite to lead the praise band in the Protestant worship services at Ohio's Madison Correctional Institution.

Akridge, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, explained his actions: "The leaders that the chaplain selects implicitly implies an endorsement and approval of the lifestyle of the selected leaders. (Having a sodomite as our praise band leader) would violate my conscience and make me guilty in the sight of God."

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Particularly shocking when you think of the role of homosexual rape in prisons.

Maybe there are reasons for ministers in churches to worry about this sort of thing, Tim. I don't know. But certainly it's just the sort of thing you should expect when the state involves itself in promoting religion. Akridge, an employee of the state, wasn't afforded 1st amendment protection here because of the putative "interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees."

Kyle, the moral of this story is not that the state should not be involved in promoting religion. The Christian landlord who is forbidden by city ordinance to discriminate against fornicators, adulterers, and sodomites is another victim of the states repression of Christian conscience. And the state's grab for power, particularly in the area of sexual immorality, will only increase.

As Lewis is said to have put it, "They'll tell you that you may have your religion in private, and then they'll make sure you're never alone." Did you notice that the Roman Catholic church is giving up her adoption work in Boston because of the state's enforcement of sodomite adoption?

Is this an example of the reasons the church ought not involve herself in lines of work governed by state regulations and assisted by state money?

No, it's an example of the inevitability of broader and broader application of the state's authority enforcing the normalization of sexual perversity, as well as the naivete of those who thought the repeal of sodomy laws, for instance, would mean freedom for sodomites but no loss of freedom for those who disapproved of this sin.

The present situation in Canada is the future we must expect and prepare for.

Not fear, but prepare for.

"Is this an example of the reasons the church ought not involve herself in lines of work governed by state regulations and assisted by state money?"

C'mon, Tim. Wasn't it obvious my point was precisely the reverse of this? Anyway, as I said, I don't know. I could be naive, but I'm not convinced by this Chicken Littleism. I agree that the speech restrictions in Canada are pretty bad, but you don't get there through the reasoning that was used in this case. The Pickering test is used to determine whether a state employee's speech will or won't be afforded protection. It's hard not to draw the lesson from this case that states ought not be running churches. Christians should looove church-state separation.

Sorry, Kyle; I think I understand your point--we're just speaking past one another. And I agree with your larger point concerning separation of church and state. This is why, for instance, David and I don't believe in school prayer.

As for legal reasoning being the predictor of the future, I think not. Legal reasoning in such cases doesn't lead. It follows.

I'm interested in your verbiage - do you simply like the sound of the word sodomite? As a sodomite, I guess I don't mind it, but it does seem a bit stodgy!

Actually, Ryan, I really dislike the term. That's why I use it. It helps me keep God's judgment of this particular form of sexual immorality as it was practiced in the ancient city of Sodom front and center in our contemporary context. This helps all of us resist the normalization of sodomy that inevitably accompanies such morally neutral labels as "homosexuality" or "the gay lifestyle."

I see. There is a modern-day word that I believe drives home your point as well, the one the Rev. Phelps of Topeka, KS (my home state) most frequently employs. Yours is obviously a more refined loathing, as the nominal antiquity "sodomite" certainly rolls off the tongue nicely. Do you believe that God's infinitely perfect "judgment of this particular form of sexual immorality" should be carried out by society today?

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