Monday, December 8, 2014

Many U.S. congregations are still racially segregated, but things are changing

While the degree of racial segregation within religious congregations remains high, some houses of worship in the U.S. have become more diverse in recent years, according to findings from the most recent (2012) National Congregations Study. While about eight-in-ten American congregants still attend services at a place where a single racial or ethnic group comprises at least 80% of the congregation, one-in-five now worship in congregations where no single racial or ethnic group predominates in such a way. Read more at the Pew Research Center.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Former Megachurch pastor gets TV talk show

A onetime megachurch pastor is getting his own TV show on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. Rob Bell will tape his show in front of a live audience and it will air beginning December 21. Bell's book Love Wins was not only a best-seller, it lead to his resignation from Mars Hill Church, which he started. Here's a same be trailer for "The Rob Bell Show" below.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Journalist investigates big-name evangelicals

A North Carolina journalist has played a major role in toppling "high-profile evangelical leaders such as Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church), Bill Gothard (Institute in Basic Principals), and Dinesh D’Souza (Kings College)." Read more at the Charlotte Observer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The advance of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America

A new study finds "only 69% of adult Latin Americans are now Catholics, down from 92% in 1970. Protestants now account for 19%, up from 4%. Over the same period the share of those with no religious affiliation has grown from 1% to 8%—though most of these people still believe in God." Read more in The Economist.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mormons acknowledge founders Polygamy

The Mormon church is admitting for the first time that its founder had as many as 40 wives. Read more about the Joseph Smith revelations at the BBC.

Katy Perry's depression

image from Wikimedia Commons
Singer Katy Perry says God helped her overcome depression following her divorce and one of her songs talks about it. She says By the Grace of God was "the first song that I wrote coming to make this record, when I was in a different place, I was in a darker place." Perry told Australian TV host Rove McManus she even had thoughts of suicide. Read more at the Desert News.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Matthew McConaughey is back in church

Matthew McConaughey says having children has sobered him. The Texas native says he changed his priorities--like getting back in church. He tells GQ magazine:
image from Wikimedia Commons
As soon as we had children, I was like, "You know what? That was important to my childhood." Even if it was just for the ritual of giving an hour and a half on Sunday to yourself, to pray and to think about others, even if you're tired or whatever. I noticed how much I missed it and needed it. It's a time for me to take inventory of my last week, to look at what's in the future and say my thank-you's and think about what I can work on to do better.
McConaughey and his family are going to a non-denominational church in Texas. He says, "It's based in the faith that Jesus is the son of God, that he died for our sins, but many different denominations come in."

Read the full article in GQ here.

The rapid spread of Christianity in China

The Economist reports that Christianity "is spreading rapidly, and infiltrating the party’s own ranks" in China.
The line is blurring between house churches and official ones, and Christians are starting to emerge from hiding to play a more active part in society. The Communist Party has to find a new way to deal with all this. There is even talk that the party, the world’s largest explicitly atheist organisation, might follow its sister parties in Vietnam and Cuba and allow members to embrace a dogma other than—even higher than—that of Marx. Predicting Christianity’s growth is even harder. Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world.

Read more in the Economist.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One-in-Five Americans Share Their Faith Online

About the same percentage that tune in to religious talk radio, watch religious TV programs or listen to Christian rock music also share their faith online during a typical week, according to a new Pew Research Poll. These messages reach about half of all Americans. Read more here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Megachurch dissolving

Seattle's Mars Hill Church is disbanding and each of its congregations will make a decision as to whether to shut down, merge together or become separate churches. The church property is being sold and the main location staff is being let go. Just a couple of weeks ago, founding Pastor Mark Driscoll resigned. There are more details from the church's own announcement posted here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Whatever happen to... Carman?

Carman was big in Christian music in the 80s, but where has he been lately? After battle with cancer, he's making a comeback. Read the story here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Megachurch Pastor Resigns

After an extended leave of absence from his church during an investigation about charges against him, Mark Driscoll has resigned from Seattle's Mars Hill Church. A notice about the resignation has been posted on the church's website here. It reads in part..
Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life and leadership, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
KIRO-TV has a video report below.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Early Image of Jesus

Archaeologists in Spain say they've found an early images of Jesus--and he is beardless with short-hair. The image dates back to the fourth century. Read more at Discovery News.

Survey: Religion’s Influence Waning

More than 7 out of 10 Americans say religion isn't as influential as it once was in public life and politics. That's the highest number since Pew started asking the question in 2001. At that time, only half of Americans had that view. Read the results of the survey here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Texas Ebola patient's connection to Baptist Church

The Dallas Ebola patient has a connection to Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. KXAS-TV has a video report.

First US Ebola case hits home for Baptist church

Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas has a personal connection to the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S. Read the story in the Associated Baptist Press.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Nicolas Cage stars in Christian film

The film version of the successful Left Behind book series hits the big screen this Friday. Nicolas Cage stars in the film that's directed by legendary stunt man Vic Armstrong who did work on the “Indiana Jones” movies. Cage plays an airline pilot who must land his plane when millions of people disappear. It's not the only religious film on the way. The Biblical epic Exodus is set for theaters this December and a prequel to The Passion of the Christ with Ben Kingsley called Mary won't be far behind. Here's the trailer for Left Behind.

Chuck Smith's family headed to court

Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, died last year. Now his family is battling for control over the Southern California church and what Smith done with his money. His daughter is suing, charging that her father was abused and neglect before he died. KABC-TV has a video report here.

New Seminary coming to NY

Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Reformed Theological Seminary are forming a seminary next year in New York City. The partnership "reflects the influence of Reformed theology on evangelical thinking, as well as the impact of megachurches on theological education," according to the Christian Century.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Home for Religion Publishers

Chicago is "home to a number of religion publishers, the result of the migration of certain ethnic and faith groups to the center of the country, but also of Chicago’s historic role as a transportation hub and a center for printing" reports Publishers Weekly. Read more at here.

Harry Potter gets a Christian retelling, minus the magic

what happens if you replace the magic in Harry Potter with Christianity? That's the idea behind some posted fan fiction that's getting some play in the media, But there's also speculation that it's a satirical hoax. Here a video report from Newsy.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brain Surgery for Pastor

A Tennessee megachurch pastor underwent brain surgery this morning. David Landrith, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church, is battling an aggressive form of cancer. The surgery seems to have gone well. Read more here.