Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Pastor Needed

I recently received an email from a reader. She's aware of the Marriage Pledge, the initiative formulated by Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz that called for Christian ministers to set aside their civil authority to sign government marriage licenses. The purpose of this pledge is to clarify . . . . Continue Reading »

Why Louisiana Can’t Break the Confessional’s Seal

In January of this year, the U.S. Supreme court declined to intervene in a case in which the prosecutor wants to force Fr. Jeff Bayhi, a priest of the diocese of Baton Rouge, to testify about a confession in court. He allegedly told a fourteen year-old in 2008 to forget about the sexual abuse she had suffered from a family member. If Fr. Bayhi indeed did this, he will have to take responsibility for this despicable and unpastoral act at a higher, heavenly court—but he cannot be expected to discuss the contents of a confession in a U.S. court of law. Continue Reading »

A Teacher’s Guide to Discussing Religion in the Classroom

While I was attending a professional development workshop for nearly two-hundred teachers several weeks ago, a particularly confusing comment caught my attention. The topic was bullying—how to spot it, prevent it, and deal with it. In one example, the bullying was based on religion. The facilitator discussed how to manage such a situation, and then concluded by reminding us all that, “the religious aspect of the bullying should not be something we address head on. After all, we have separation of Church and state in our schools.” Continue Reading »

Christmas Wars in France

I used to think that the annual Christmas Wars were strictly an American thing, like corn dogs and attorneys’ contingency fees. Only in America, I thought, do people seriously argue about whether to allow Christmas trees in public parks or to permit public school choirs to sing “Silent Night” at holiday concerts. The issues become more and more bizarre. This year, a Maryland school district decided to remove even a reference to “Christmas” in the school calendar–as though the reference amounted to religious oppression and removal would make people forget what holiday comes round every 25th of December. Continue Reading »

Public Schools and the Wall of Separation

The famous phrase “wall of separation of church and state” today enjoys the status of legal precedent, but here’s a curious fact. The phrase comes from the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Connecticut Baptists who feared that state politicians would suppress them. When the Baptists received the letter, however, they didn’t celebrate and publicize the statement. They didn’t even record it in the minutes of their proceedings. “They pretend it never existed.” Continue Reading »

A King in Israel

Israel is a Jewish state but has not succeeded in defining just what that means in a national constitution. Although the 1948 Declaration of Independence called for the enactment of a constitution within months of the state’s inception, nothing has been achieved beyond a fragmentary “Basic . . . . Continue Reading »

Filter Tag Articles