- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2014

A new survey on mental health and faith found that most Protestant pastors believe people with mental illness can develop their spirituality and go to heaven, despite the fact it is not explicitly addressed in the Bible.

According to the survey conducted by LifeWay Research, 54 percent of pastors “strongly agree that someone who is initiated into the Christian faith and church and later experiences acute mental illness that keeps them from living like a Christian will still receive eternal salvation.”

Roughly three-quarters of the 1,000 Protestant pastors surveyed also said that a Christian with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia “can thrive spiritually regardless of whether or not the illness has been stabilized.”

The survey was conducted online and via phone at several times this year, and included answers from 355 Protestants who had been diagnosed with a mental illness and 207 Protestants who said they had a member of their family with a mental illness.

HOUSE ARREST

A former Vatican ambassador facing sex abuse charges was placed under house arrest this week, a papal spokesman said.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was placed under house arrest in Vatican City because of the “grave facts of abuse against minors that took place in the Dominican Republic.”

Mr. Wesolowski was serving as a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic when he was recalled to Vatican City in August 2013 amid charges of sex abuse on the Caribbean island. In late June he was defrocked by a church inquisition board.

The Polish native is the highest-ranking official in the Catholic Church to face a conviction on sex abuse charges.

OUTED CHURCH

A California church was “disfellowshipped” by the Southern Baptist Convention this week because its pastor was teaching a “third way” approach to gay marriage.

In a statement from the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, the decision to oust New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California, was made because the church “does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church,” the Baptist Press reported.

“We love all people, including homosexuals,” executive committee president Frank S. Page said. “But when you love someone, you tell them the truth about their actions.”

Earlier this year, New Heart pastor Danny Cortez told his congregation that he no longer agreed with the convention’s teaching on homosexuality, in part because his son had recently come out to him as gay.

The Baptist Press reported that a letter sent from New Heart’s deacons to the Baptist Convention’s executive committee explained that “while ‘our church’ remains without an official stance on same-sex marriage, our preaching pastor has officiated a same-sex marriage.”

LETTER OF THE LAW

More than 100 Muslim leaders and educators from around the world this week issued an open letter to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, calling on the self-proclaimed “caliph” and his followers to “reconsider all your actions; desist from them; repent from them; cease harming others and return to the religion of mercy.”

The letter was written in Arabic with an English translation, and draws heavily from the Koran. The Muslim leaders said the Islamic State has twisted Koranic teachings for their own evil ends to the detriment of Islam and its reputation.

“You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder,” the letter stated. “This is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.”

Meredith Somers covers religion and faith issues for The Washington Times.

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