Hindu Festival of Lights Celebrated in White House Ceremony

DiwaliPresident Trump hosted a celebration of the Hindu
Festival of Lights or Diwali in the White House, and tweeted a video of him lighting an oil lamp, called a diyas. “For many Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in the United States and around the globe,” said President Trump in an official message, “this sacred period is an opportunity to commemorate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”

Catholic Bishops’ Synod Recommends Ordination of Married Priests

The Bishops Amazon Synod concluded its three-week run Sunday in Rome with a recommendation that 1,000 years of tradition be broken to allow the ordination of married priests to deliver sacraments in the Amazon region. Some observers hope that if the Pope accepts the recommendations – he is expected to act on them by the end of the year – that ordination of married priests could spread to other areas. Another meeting was proposed to look further into the ordination of women as deacons – a closely watched possibility that excited much interest. Another possibility – changing the mass to include features of indigenous culture was included in the recommendations, which provoked the ire of some church traditionalists – among them German Cardinal Brandmüller who called parts of the working document “heretical.”

Latter-day Saints Prepare to Depart From Boy Scouts

scoutsLast year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would leave the Boy Scouts and start its own youth program, effective Dec. 31, 2019. One estimate puts LDS membership in the Boy Scouts at nearly 20 percent. The reasons for leaving were not specified in the announcement, but in the past, church leaders expressed concern that openly gay men could become troop leaders, and now girls will also be admitted. Whether the Boy Scouts can survive with its changes and the departure of the Latter-day Saints is yet to be determined.

Pagans Propose Digital Credit Union

According the Credit Union Times, pagans have proposed a Pagan Federal Credit Union. The institution will be completely digital according to the announcement, and the project already has its own Facebook Page.

China Allegedly Destroys Tibetan Buddhist Site

Chinese troops occupied and destroyed large portions of Yarchen Gar, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist sites in the world, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. The article shows satellite photos of the Buddhist monastery complex, from April 2018 and August 2019. A large section of the area is seemingly devoid of buildings in the later photo. According to the article, residents were evicted by Chinese authorities and buildings demolished to make room for tourist accommodations.

LGBTQ and Churches Tax-Exempt Status: an Analysis

After Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced that he would revoke the tax exempt status of organizations that oppose same-sex marriage, churches and organizations that operate on religious principles began investigating the possibilities. ReligiousLiberty.tv, published an analysis of the issue, saying that several legal cases have begun to highlight the issue, and that “purely religious” institutions such as churches are most likely to be exempt from such requirements, but service-providing organizations such as hospitals and colleges which operate on religious principles could be vulnerable.

Little Sisters of the Poor and Contraception Back on the Docket

Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns, were back in court recently and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that they may not have exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide birth control and abortion services in the employee health plan. Granted an exemption from the requirements in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court, “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argued the HHS ruling providing the religious exemption violates constitutional amendments,” said an article in the Catholic Courier, “because it allows employers to use religious beliefs to discriminate against employees and denies women their rights to equal protection under the law.” Since the case applies to Catholic nuns, no one is likely being discriminated against, but the case will not be finally decided until it returns to the Supreme Court.