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After two weeks of meetings, Catholic bishops did not come to an agreement on a revised official stance on homosexuality. The church leaders also failed to come to a consensus on whether or not remarried Catholics—who had been divorced—could receive communion. The bishops were called to the historic synod by Pope Francis after new polls revealed that the Vatican’s views of family life were seen as dated. However, despite heated discussions that led some to believe that major shifts in how the church actively ministered in the LGBT community were coming, no significant new agreements were forged. Even a revised report on the meetings—which removed several statements from an earlier report that contained positive language concerning gays and lesbians—did not receive a two-thirds vote of support from the group of bishops.

The latest version of the report said that same-sex couples were not “"God's design of matrimony and the family," but cautioned, “Nonetheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.” It’s unclear how close the bishops are to revising their position on allowing remarried divorced church members to receive Holy Communion, as the report only said that they will continue to examine the issue. Following the synod, Pope Francis gave a speech, saying, “The Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.” The more than 200 bishops will meet again next fall to discuss similar issues ... Discuss

Religion News Service is reporting that Mark Driscoll has officially resigned from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll grew famous for his forceful preaching style but had recently drawn controversy for accusations of plagiarism and bullying. He had announced plans to take a leave of absence for six weeks some time ago, before being removed from the Acts 29 Church network he once led. Mars Hill Church reportedly did not ask Driscoll to resign, and expressed surprise at his decision.

“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,” Driscoll wrote in his resignation letter. "I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ." Read the full text of his letter here ... Discuss

We at RELEVANT have not been shy about our feelings on beards, but "revolution on the face" might be a touch strong ... Discuss

Some very troubling reports surfacing from Akron, Ohio, where a televangelist named Ernest Angley has been accused of truly despicable activity, including gross sexual misconduct and forcing members of his congregation to get vasectomies and abortions. Numerous church members have come forward saying Angley wanted to keep people in his church, Grace Cathedral, from having children—people like prominent church member Greg Mulkey, who told reporters “He doesn’t want people to have kids because it would take their time and money away from [the church] ...He really forced people into abortions through scare tactics, as if he were a medical doctor."

A former pastor is also accusing Angley of inappropriate touching, accusations the 93-year-old Angley defended himself from in the pulpit recently, saying “I’m not a homosexual. God wouldn’t use a homosexual like He uses me" ... Discuss

Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama is reeling from a series of stark revelations given by their (now former) pastor Juan Demetrius McFarland. Over a series of Sundays, McFarland used the pulpit to admit to everything from drug use to mishandling of church funds—admissions church goers apparently accepted with grace and forgiveness. Thus emboldened, McFarland—who had been in leadership for 23 years—made a horrifying confession: He had slept with multiple members of the congregation without telling them he had AIDS. The confession was confirmed by Deacon Nathan William Jr., who told local reporters that McFarland had "concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS."

At this time, no charges have been filed, but "Transmitting a Sexually Transmitted Disease" is a Class C Misdemeanor in Alabama ... Discuss

In what is probably a case of good intentions that could have been handled a bit more shrewdly, State trooper Brian Hamilton is being sued by a woman for asking her about her salvation during a traffic stop. According to Bogan, Hamilton pulled her over during a routine moving violation and then, after giving her a warning, proceeded to ask if she had a home church, if she'd ever accepted Jesus as her savior and gave her some literature to read. "It's completely out of line and it just—it took me aback," Bogan told The Indianapolis Star. "The whole time, his lights were on. I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning."

The case raises some questions about First Amendment rights. On the one hand, as executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana Micah Clark says, it, "might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don't think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that." But Jennifer Drobac, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, contends that "The police officer is representing the government ... so that means, as a representative, this person, while on duty, while engaged in official action, is basically overstepping and is trying to establish religion" ... Discuss

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