Americans and Life after Death; United Methodist Split Meeting On For Now; Philly Pays Up, Catholic Adoption Agency Can Decline Same-Sex Parents; Opinion: Build Back Better Will Penalize Faith-Based Childcare; Moscow Tries To Undermine Orthodox Church

Americans and Life after Death
ReincarnationA recent survey from the Pew Center reports that 83 percent of Americans believe in an afterlife. Sixty-one percent believe in traditional accounts of heaven or hell. Others believe in some alternative, such as reincarnation. Only 17 percent do not believe in an afterlife.

United Methodist Split Meeting On For Now
Methodist Pastor Fired for Marrying LGBT CoupleUnited Methodists were scheduled to meet in their General Conference in 2020 to discuss separating the denomination over LGBTQ issues. The proposal called “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.” negotiated by 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders from across theological divides, would allow churches and conferences to leave to form new Methodist denominations, including a conservative “traditionalist” Methodist. The meeting is set for the fall, but leaders have not ruled out postponing it again.

Philly Pays Up, Catholic Adoption Agency Can Decline Same-Sex Parents
Philadelphia City HallPhiladelphia’s four-year legal battle with a Catholic foster care agency over its refusal to work with same-sex parents officially ended quietly this fall with the city agreeing to pay $2 million in legal fees and to renew the agency’s contract. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Philadelphia’s decision to terminate a contract with Catholic Social Services over its refusal to consider same-sex married couples as potential foster parents. That decision sent the dispute back to the appellate court. But ultimately the city decided not to pursue further legal challenges and came to a resolution approved by the U.S. District Court on Oct. 1

Opinion: Build Back Better Will Penalize Faith-Based Childcare
Child PrayingIf your church or synagogue has an orthodox view of gender and sexuality and applies that sincerely-held belief to your hiring practice, you’re out. If your church exists in an older building that isn’t fully ADA-compliant, they will be expected to make whatever costly renovations are needed to meet those requirements. Secular childcare providers will be able to tap into federal funding to help accomplish those renovations. However, the new law specifically excludes churches from that help, stating that recipients “may not use federal funds for buildings or facilities that are primarily used for sectarian instruction or religious worship.”

Moscow Tries To Undermine Orthodox Church

Patriarch Bartholomew

Patriarch Bartholomew

Moscow’s interference in the Orthodox world is not limited to attacks on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s seat in Istanbul, such as a multi-year attempt by Russian hackers to steal the emails of Bartholomew’s senior aides. Since its intervention in the Syrian Civil War in 2015, Moscow has also portrayed itself as a protector of the Middle East’s dwindling Orthodox Christian minority while accusing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of being in the CIA’s hands.