Feb. 8, 2007
Feb. 10-11, 2007, weekend

Feb. 9, 2006


A new survey finds that the number of people in China who consider themselves religious adherents is much higher than previously believed. China, of course, under Communist rule, has had a terrible record of defending its citizens' religious rights. For a report on that subject from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, click here. What these new survey findings mean is unclear for the long term, but almost anything -- anything -- that affects a nation the size of China is important. So this is a development worth following.

* * *


PHILADELPHIA -- It was cold the other day when I was here. Cold and very windy.

Mikveh2As my book-writing colleague, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, and I were walking the downtown streets between appointments, a couple of gusts hit us. But not to fear, he says, just beyond those trees is a fascinating old synagogue I'll show you to get out of the cold.

That was how I got a look at Congregation Mikveh Israel, known as the Synagogue of the Revolution. It dates to the late 1700s, with some roots even earlier. The congregation joins the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic traditions with the development of Jewry in America.

Its first house of worship was constructed in 1782, though since then it has moved several times. It came to its current location on Independence Mall in 1976, and shares a site with the National Museum of American Jewish History, which it founded.

Mikveh3Click here for information on the tapestry pictured on the blog today.

The chair you see pictured here is in the sanctuary and is called an Elijah Chair. For some intriguing background on that, click here. Notice the split fingers of the hands offering a blessing? Where do you think Mr. Spock of Star Trek learned that?

Maybe the lesson today is to seek relief from the weather by entering the homes of religious communities -- especially if you're with a member of the clergy.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

P.S.: I'm sure by now you've read about Ted Haggard saying he's basically cured and is completely heterosexual. But I thought perhaps the Baptist Press story on this might interest you. Any reactions?



Rev. Haggard's "cure" is as laughable as it was predictable. In fact, I'm pretty sure we did predict it on this blog.

You don't "cure" homosexuality. He may have found spiritual help in remaining faithful to his wife, but that's not a "cure".

In another article from the Denver Post, it was mentioned that he will now pursue a master's degree in psychology. What institution would grant a such a scholarly award to someone who apparently does not understand accepted teaching of sexuality?


This article mentions that he may relocate to Missouri (or Iowa!). Nice to see his church rally around him (leave town Ted..for YOUR own good....right).

What is further disturbing is that the fraudulent ex-gay ministries will seize upon this "cure" and continue to pander their folly upon the public.

Dolores Lear

Homesexuality and all Mis-bred genetic traits and diseases can be cured with High Tech Science 'regeneration' to Pure-bred like our High Tech Science Ancestors will do, to those that remain at the Judgement Day of Fallen Man.

Our Science today corrects some genetic diseases in the dish and in the female's womb, but they have not reached correcting Mis-bred sexual gender genetics. Asexual genetic correction, is still to come, either by our Science, or when our HTA return to take us to a new planet, when we destroy our Spaceship Home, with the Mis-bred Killing Crew of our Eco System, and our nuclear bombs that will blow up our Earth Home.

Peace, and Jesus' Asexual Agape Love.

Dolores Lear

Ted may not stray anymore, like people that commit adultry, but these genetic traits need High Tech Science correction to change their genetic code.


With all due respect Dolores, I don't think this is anything that needs genetic "correction". To suggest so is a bit offensive.


I wish Ted well, and a lifetime of no publicity.

Is he gay? Gay- or bi-curious? Bisexual? Heterosexual? It doesn't matter to me how he lives his private life...until he makes himself a public figure.

I would guess he's a gay man, trying to act straight in a society condemning of homosexuality, boxed into a corner trying to reconcile reality with matters of his faith and his own past public pronouncements. Aside: It amazes me how public figures can be "cured" in rehab in a matter of days, while Joe and Jane Doe struggle with issues for months, years, lifetimes. Help me understand, David Miller!

As to his sex life, within certain constraints such as age, consent, and appropriate treatment of his partner(s), it doesn't really concern me any more than his non-sexual actions. He'll have to deal with consequences in the afterlife on his own, just like we all will. I'm not obsessed with his male anatomical parts and what he does with them. I'm not fearful of Ted's sneaking into my bedroom in the middle of the night and destroying the sanctity of my marriage.

Dave Miller

Hi, Donna. You wrote, “In another article from the Denver Post, it was mentioned that he will now pursue a master's degree in psychology. What institution would grant a such a scholarly award to someone who apparently does not understand accepted teaching of sexuality?”

Unfortunately, pretty much any institution which wants to accept his tuition fees. Here’s how this works:

Many institutions support their doctoral programs in psychology with their masters programs in psychology. To be accredited by the American Psychological Association, a doctoral program must have a low student-teacher ratio. This allows doctoral students to have lots of time and attention from the teaching faculty. This is a money-losing proposition for the university. Consequently, the university will often have a large masters degree program with lots of tuition-paying students.

This is one of the reasons why the American Psychological Association has worked, over the years, to assure that the licensing laws for psychologists in all 50 states require a doctorate in psychology.

Unfortunately, the public has not really grasped this distinction. The Baptist Post article to which Bill pointed us, for example, says, “H.B. London, a member of a restoration committee appointed by New Life’s board of overseers, told The Post that Haggard could have a positive future as a psychologist.”

Mr. Haggard will not function at all as a psychologist in Missouri or Iowa without a doctorate.

Dave Miller

"Help me understand, David Miller!"

I'd say your amazement is pretty much spot on, Keith. What's being "rehabbed," it seems, is their public persona.

I shudder to see "therapy" used in this way...but "religion" has been used for centuries in the same way!

Oh, well.

Dolores Lear

Now it is time to examine the word 'fornication' in our sexual revolution.
The Catholic Church used to teach that the sex act was only to be used for reproduction. Then they took off that control, and added the rhythm method protection from pregnancy.

I John 3: 7-9. "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he (Jesus) is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

When you receive God's knowledge, that Heterosexual Body Birth is the Original Sin, you will accept that the Devil/Snake in the Garden of Eden is the male member. With the seed of the male remaining in him, the male will not planet the seed in the female. Then there is no sin of Mis-bred Genetic Birth, for Pure-bred people like they were at Creation Colonization of Life on Earth.

After Sin, marriage rules were established to control reproduction. Then adultry began. But religion for awhile controlled fornication between single male and females. The female was supposed to be a virgin, but not the male. Where did the male find an outlet for his lust in ways that did not reproduce a child? With some one else's sister or brother or a parent, a sibling, or an animal? All of these acts are fornication, including male and female sex, for High Tech Science Pure-bred Humans..

Now we have a sexual revolution of pre-marital sex between single males and females, and all restraints of sex for pleasure are being removed for the heterosexual person, and other sexual orientations. Humans are finally getting freedom for sexual lust, except for rape and sodomy. And transexuals can get High Tech Science correction.

The planet is a snake pit today from outer space and killing is rampant. Should we keep on praying for God to help us, or start correcting what the Fallen Mis-bred Crew has done to our Home Planet? At least stop making nuclear bombs and killing. And give all people equal housing, clothing and food.

Peace, and Jesus' Asexual Agape Love be made known over the whole planet.


Bill, thank you for the links to Congregation Mikveh Israel. It has a fascinating history of the Congregation.

We forget sometimes that Philadelphia was THE center of the U.S. in revolutionary times, before the rise of New York.


I'm quite confused. There have been all kinds of reports, within the last few months, of American religious leaders rushing to China as new opportunities for creating church branches are opening. The articles linked today indicate that the oppression is still serious.
Regarding Haggard's plans to practice psychology.......I haven't read this newspaper account, but most note that he and his wife are going to seek Masters degrees in Psych. I'm guessing that it's to give them a little transition time - they can probably pick up the degree in a year or a little more - and then they will work together as leaders of seminars that will help other gays to "convert their sexuality" in a promised short time. They have probably already signed the book deal. The degrees would be for a minimal kind of legitimacy and not meant to offer real scholarship. I don't see Haggard or his wife doing one-on-one therapy and needing a doctorate. He is much too fond of perfroming in front of a group......which reminds me of the documentary footage of him preaching against homosexuality. In the next frame, he and a group of somewhat effeminate Christians are boasting on the fact that Christian sex is the best sex and that they each have sex with their wives nightly.
Whoodathunk that Jews were the first "trekkies"?


Well, Patricia. I guess all faiths have skeletons in their closet. Didn't you ever hear Adam Sandler's Hanukah song?

I don't know that there's any great glory in portraying the first Vulcan or Captain of the Star Ship Enterprise on TV. I'm sure there was a lot of money...but no great glory ;-)


I confess that I could not remember the lyrics to Sandler's ode to Hanukkah and had to look for them on the net.

"You dont need deck the halls or jingle bell rock
Cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock--both jewish!"

Dave Miller

Patricia, I think you're absolutely right about Haggard's future. But just to clarify: he can't "practice psychology" unless he's licensed...which will require lots more training than a masters degree. It doesn't matter whether he's practicing with an individual or a room full of people...he still needs to be licensed if he's going to call what he's practicing "psychology."

On the other hand, he can get licensed with a masters degree and provide seminars, workshops, or "individual therapy" as long as he calls himself a "counselor," not a psychologist.

There are masters programs in "counseling" which require as little as 30 semester hours. You can do that in two semesters. These lead to certification/licensing as a "counselor."



Thanks for the info on the lack of integrity within the realm of academia. It's frustrating.

I think what is bothering me more than anything is the utter absence of any journalistic challenge to Mr. Haggard's "cure". It is simply being accepted...and stated...as fact. He's Cured! Three weeks in the Arizona Sun...that's all it takes. Sheer nonsense. And more disreputable drivel for Focus on the Family and the like.

Gentle Ben

I don't think anyone in the media has signed on to it. That's why you're seeing all the articles and blog entries on it.

I agree. This is the same thing as Jimmy Swaggart and the hookers. the first time it was tears and forgive me Jesus and the second time it was just let's get on with business.


Patricia, sheer nonsense is right. Ted Haggard's homsexual escapades are likely just the tip of the iceberg of his problems. He's the last person that needs to be leading seminars on just about any subject.


It would be really tough for journalists with integrity to do more than to report on Haggard's claims that he's "cured".

I would be willing to bet that in the next few weeks there will be feature articles on the process he went through, as well as the "effectiveness" of "curing". I would hope that they would not be using the word "cured" if it weren't for the fact that it is his own word and claim.

I happened upon Jay Leno and he was having a field day with the notion for two nights in a row.
Point well taken, Dave. I was trying, myself, to make it clear that Haggard probably isn't planning to either call himself a psychologist or practice as one. You're made the point much more clearly than I.


"Curing?" "Cured?"

Sounds like ham, Patricia.

I think something's not Kosher here.


Leonard Nimoy and William Shantner are Jewish? Who knew?

Just another reason why it's almost impossible for most Americans to be prejudiced against Jews, even if they wanted to be. Most people don't even know who is Jewish and who isn't.


Ron, when you write, "Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner are Jewish? Who knew?" I have to add..."Who cared?"

Well, O.K., I admit to having a strong anti-celebrity bias. You could even call it a form of bigotry. I don't like confusing celebrity with heroism. I may like John Wayne movies, but he was an ACTOR, for crying out loud.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being an actor. Some of my best friends (really) are actors or actresses. But John Wayne never fought in Viet Nam or on Iwo Jima. (I don't think he even stuck his feet in its sand.) Ronald Reagan never commanded a submarine in WW II, much less tamed the Wild West. Clint Eastwood never really shot a bad guy.


Keith, that was my point.
Who Knew? Who cared?

Dave Miller


Dear Faith Matters Bloggers,

I promised you I would keep you updated with the results of Pastor Brad Schmeling’s trial. The jury (in ecclesiastical terms called the “hearing committee”) has now returned its verdict, and it is a grace-filled surprise! Pastor Schmeling has not been found guilty!

Please note, though: this is not the same as a verdict of “not guilty.” Instead, the jury has affirmed Pastor Schmeling’s ministry, and asked the larger church (the ELCA) to re-examine the rules and regulations which caused his ministry to be called into question in the first place. The ELCA is currently engaged in a churchwide study of human sexuality, which is expected to come before our churchwide Assembly in August of this year. The hearing committee identified two pathways to overturning the rules and regulations which provided a basis for calling Rev. Schmeling’s ministry into question. One of them is judicial (through the regular appeals process), and the other one is legislative (through the churchwide Assembly). Rev. Schmeling has 30 days in which to submit an appeal (which would trigger the judicial process). If he does not do so, then the churchwide Assembly may speak to the matter. If neither pathway works effectively, then the decision of the hearing committee must be against Pastor Schmeling’s ministry.

Here we have the strengths and weaknesses of “organized religion.” The wheels grind finely, but exceedingly slowly. The jury has handed the matter back to the larger church, saying that it does not find adequate grounds to convict, nor to remove Pastor Schmeling from the people who are bonded to him as their pastor. It is doing something a secular jury in the U.S. could not do: it is asking the larger body to reconsider the “law” which Pastor Schmeling is accused of violating in the first place (suggesting, in good Lutheran fashion, that the Law should not trump the Gospel).

Patricia, it was you, in particular, who asked me to keep y’all posted on this issue. I thank you for that. I will continue to do so. There will be more analysis this weekend, I am sure. Meanwhile, anyone who wishes can click on http://www.lcna.org/lcna_news/2007-02-08c.shtm and take it from there.

Thank you, one and all, for your attention and your caring.

Just Thinking

FROM THE ARTICLE: Haggard said “the sun is starting to rise” in his life, and he hopes to communicate with greater ease following a period when he was “paralyzed by shame.”

Oh, Lord, if he was unable to effectively communicate *before* his scandal, I can only pray he permanently loses his voice.


Dave, I'm not surprised the sexually active homosexual pastor is being allowed to continue sheparding his flock, despite ELCA rules which specifcially state this is not allowed. Too many churches today ignore all the rules in an effort to please the world, including the LCMS. It's really a tragedy.


"(suggesting, in good Lutheran fashion, that the Law should not trump the Gospel)."

Dave, I'm sure you know that the Gospel should not be proclaimed until the law has been explained and the sinner in question has expressed contrition and repentence. As I understand it, Pastor Schmeling is not contrite for being a sexaully active homosexual, and has not repented.

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