A small crowd sang Christmas carols outside the state Capitol today. They were there to see a small nativity scene erected. The figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph will stand in stark contrast to a display featuring a snake that Michigan Satanists plan to put up on Sunday.
There can be little doubt that we are living at a time when our attitudes as a society are undergoing a tremendous shift in what we think of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Recently, we spoke on this show with Michigan State University professor Charley Ballard, who directs the state of the state surveys. The most recent MSU survey found, for instance, that 54% of Michiganders support gay marriage, with 36% opposing it.
Just four years ago, gay marriage was opposed by 51% and favored by 48% of those surveyed.
That is the view from social science. But what about the view from the pulpit?
Ken Wilson is pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. The evangelical minister has spent years wrestling with this question: Where do we – as a Christian faith community – draw the line on the gay marriage issue?
His journey to rethinking his beliefs about where LBGT people fit into what he calls “the company of Jesus” is spelled out in his new book “A Letter to my Congregation: An evangelical pastor's path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus.”
A new study found that students enrolled in online charter schools are not performing as well as students in traditional brick and mortar schools. At the same time the number of virtual schools is growing. On today's show, we talked about the big business of online charter schools.
And, how do you talk about being gay and Christian? And how should we be talking about it? We spoke to the founder of the Gay Christian Network to learn more.
And, could eating local save energy and help the planet? We took a closer look at the impact of the local food movement.
Also, Jen Guerra from Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity project joined us to give a preview of her upcoming documentary, “The Education Gap.”
First on the show, is Detroit really broke?
That’s the question before Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes as Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility trial began today. His ruling could open the door for the City of Detroit blowing up billions of dollars in debt and liabilities.
As has been the case ever since the bankruptcy filing on July 18th, this is all being closely watched from coast to coast. History is being written in Judge Rhodes' courtroom.
Daniel Howes, Detroit News Business Columnist, and the former Chief of Communications for the City of Detroit, Karen Dumas, joined us today to talk about what this trial means and what we might see.
"Let's agree to disagree, and then find ways to be witnesses for Christ together."
That is the message of the Gay Christian Network, which calls itself the nation's "largest interdenominational LGBT Christian organization."
The founder of the Gay Christian Network is Justin Lee. He's in West Michigan this week, one of the most "religiously conservative" areas of the state. Last night he spoke at Calvin College and this Friday he will speak at the "Room For All" National Conference at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.
Christians across Michigan are observing Good Friday.
Observances are taking place in many different places.
Beginning outside the state capitol building, a few hundred members of Lansing’s Christo Rey church followed a group of actors through the streets of the state capitol as they recreated the biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Michigan’s Civil Rights Department heard more than two hours of testimony Tuesday night about whether the state should expand protections to gay, bisexual and transgender people. It’s a hot issue in Holland. More than 200 people packed Holland City Hall.
State law bans discrimination in housing and employment based on some factors - like race, gender, and national origin. But there are no such protections for people who are gay or transgender. That means a landlord, condo association or employer can legally discriminate based on a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Reformed Church in America has been ordaining women for more than 30 years. But there have always been ways for people who conscientiously object to female ministers to remove themselves from the process. On Monday night, the church’s governing body voted 143 to 69 to strike those policies.
Reverend Stacey Midge heads the RCA’s Commission for Women. She believes the changes could cause some upheaval in the short term.
"In the long run however, I believe that we have more integrity as a denomination if we just say ‘we ordain women.' And if you can’t live within a system that ordains women, then there are a lot of denominations, and perhaps this isn’t the one for you," Midge said.
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - The city of Dearborn has paid $100,000 in legal fees to attorneys for a Christian evangelist whose free-speech rights were violated at a popular Arab-American street festival.
Dearborn has a large Muslim population and one of the nation's biggest concentrations of people with roots in the Arab world. (Photo above of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the U.S. by Flickr user ruffin_ready.)
City police in 2010 barred George Saieg and his allies from freely walking sidewalks with literature to convert Muslims to Christianity. Chief Ron Haddad says he was just controlling foot traffic, but a federal appeals court says the city violated the First Amendment.
The court says allowing the evangelists on the festival's perimeter wasn't good enough.
As the prevailing party, Saieg was entitled to legal fees and other costs from Dearborn. His lawyers say the money was paid last week.
75 workers will be laid off from Christian book publisher Zondervan’s distribution warehouse in July of 2012. Zondervan currently employs 325 people.
Scott Macdonald is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based company that publishes Bibles, children’s books, and Christian authors.
“We’re a family. We have a long history and heritage (in Grand Rapids). This is a significant impact on our family but it’s one that’s driven by a changing business climate and it’s the right decision for us at this time because of that.”
For Michigan's Christian population (including around 2 million Catholics), today marks the beginning of Lent.
During Lent, many adherents give up meat and dairy products.
Over at the Detroit News, columnist Kate Lawson is serving up a scrumptious-looking lemony shrimp with asparagus, a seafood recipe for people looking for something tasty and healthy.
Lawson also notes there are very good non-religious reasons for wanting to increase the amount of fish in your diet.
"At my house, we follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent release of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and eat seafood at least twice each week for heart and brain benefits."
The reasons for eating seafood, and the advantages, are significant. Again, from Health.gov:
"Seafood contributes a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Moderate evidence shows that consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease."
But there are some concerns over which types of fish to eat, especially for women of child-bearing age and children. The concern is over mercury exposure and some fish can contain higher levels of mercury than others.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is whipping up vegan recipes for the meat- and dairy-avoiding portion of their readership, including one for baked beans with mint and tomatoes, the kind of dish that goes perfectly with a stack of unleavened bread.
And, at 384 calories per serving, it's pretty healthy.
And, finally, here's chef Bobby Flay with one last seafood recipe for Lent: