Religion: Act of Mercy

Faced with a rise in divorce, the U.S. Protestant Episcopal Church in 1946 liberalized its marriage canon; bishops got authority to decide whether or not divorced people could be remarried in church. Faced with a similar divorce rise, the synod of Germany's United Evangelical Lutheran Church has decided to do just the opposite. Last week a new, more stringent set of marriage regulations went into effect for 18 million German Lutherans.

The new code bans church marriage for 1) anyone who has been divorced (barring "exceptional" cases); 2) couples in which one of the partners is not a member of a Christian...

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