- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Southern Baptist Convention this week passed a resolution extending “love and compassion” to transgender people, but stopped short of supporting any efforts to claim a transgender identity.

The more than 5,000 registrants who attended the SBC’s annual meeting in Baltimore voted to “regard [their] transgender neighbors as image-bearers of the Almighty God,” condemning any form of bullying or abuse against them.

Within the same resolution, however, the SBC determined that because every person is created in the image of God, identifying as transgender is “contrary to God’s design” and any effort to physically change oneself is not condoned.

“These cultural currents run counter to the biblical teaching that ‘Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation,’” the resolution states. “Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles as ordained by God are part of the created order and should find expression in every heart.”

A 2011 study from the Williams Institute at UCLA showed that there are about 700,000 transgender people living in the United States. The SBC reported its membership at nearly 16 million people.

FRANCIS AND FOOTBALL


SEE ALSO: Americans’ literal interpretation of the Bible is on the wane: poll


The World Cup is upon us, but we all get too swept up in the mania, Pope Francis has some words of wisdom — namely, don’t let the World Cup be only about soccer.

Speaking in Portuguese via a video message broadcasted to fans, players and organizers in host-nation Brazil, Pope Francis urged his audience to look at the Cup not only as a “form of entertainment, but also a tool to communicate the values that promote the good of the human person and to help build a more peaceful and fraternal coexistence,” Vatican Radio reported.

The pontiff, a native of neighboring Argentina, said the monthlong tournament should be turned into a “festival of solidarity,” a teaching moment on good sportsmanship, and an opportunity for a “culture of encounter,” Vatican Radio reported.

The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil has also shared its thoughts on the global spectacle. Earlier this week, the conference chided the country’s World Cup organizers for choosing to spend billions on preparations for the games while widespread poverty remain in Brazil.

Reuters reported that the conference passed out “red card-shaped” brochures, similar to the cards referees use to expel players during soccer games, asking the government to allow protests against the spending.

VIRTUAL MECCA

You can tour the Grand Canyon, Grand Central Station, and even the Great Wall of China from your phone or computer. And now, thanks to the creative mind of one digital designer, you can visit Mecca.

The “Mecca 3D” app developed by Bilal Chbib gives an insider’s view of the holiest city in Islam, which is forbidden to non-Muslims.

“I’m hoping that Muslims and non-Muslims alike will get a chance to experience Islamic locations by using this app,” Mr. Chbib told the Huffington Post.

The app, available for the iPhone, iPad or iPad Touch, allows viewers to tour the city and mosque, walking among its columned halls, surveying the towering minarets and enormous central prayer area, and walk up to the holy Kaaba.

Users can travel back in time to view the site when it was just being built, or get a lesson in the background and meaning of Muslim prayers.

A pilgrimage to the holy city, called a hajj, once during a lifetime is one of the five pillars of Islam, a requirement for able-bodied Muslims who can afford it. For more information on the app, go to mecca3d.net

CLEAN FUELS THROUGH CHRIST

A New York seminary has announced it will purge from its endowment more than $100 million of holdings in fossil-fuel companies, becoming the first seminary in the world to make that choice.

In a letter published on Time magazine’s website, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York President Serene Jones said the institution had “sinned, and we see this divestment as an act of repentance for Union.”

“As vulnerable communities have been swallowed by rising shorelines, as potable water has become a commodity of increasing rarity, as hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by violent weather, it is ever clear that humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels is death-dealing — or as Christians would say, profoundly sinful,” Ms. Jones stated. “This concerns us deeply, and we are actively committed to finding new ways to participate in healing our wounded creation.”

Ms. Jones said the seminary’s Board of Trustees earlier this week voted unanimously to remove the $108 million from the school’s endowment.

Ms. Jones said the decision wasn’t easy, but “we can do this and remain fiscally responsible to our students, staff, faculty, and members of the Union community.”

“This is a small financial loss when compared to the importance of our moral statement,” she said.

Meredith Somers covers issues of faith and religion. She can be reached at msomers@washingtontimes.com.

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