Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fired for Getting Married

Marquis LaFortune lost her job at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio because she was about to cause a “scandal”. She was planning to get married. The 25-year-old has filed a complaint with the EEOC and may file a law suit. The problem for the school was that her husband-to-be was divorced.

Will Rick Warren Mention Jesus During Inauguaration

Controversy has swirled around the selection of Rick Warren to give the prayer at Barack Obama’s inaugural. Another one is brewing over whether the megachurch pastor will offer the prayer in the name of Jesus may draw another.

Here’s what Warren says about it:

"I'm a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray. Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God.”


While Billy Graham never used the name of Jesus during his presidential inaugurations, the evangelist made references to Christ. At the 1969 swearing-in, Graham prayed "in the Name of the Prince of Peace who shed His blood on the Cross that men might have eternal life."

Kirbyjon Caldwell and Franklin Graham did so in 2001. That lead to a lawsuit that went nowhere. Methodist minister Joseph Lowery will offer the benediction at the January 20th ceremony and says, "whatever religion the person represents, I think he has a right to be true to his religion."

Fire Damages Reginal HQs

A fire over the weekend damaged the regional headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church west of Spokane. The office serves 30 Seventh-day Adventist schools and 117 churches. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Atheist Groups File Lawsuit

Several atheist and humanist organizations have filed suit to stop any references to God and religion during President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony. Their goal is the removal of the phrase "so help me God" from the oath of office and block the invocation prayer from Pastor Rick Warren. Michael Newdow, the man who went to court in an attempt to get "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance at public schools, is leading the effort. He tried but failed to do the same thing when President Bush was swore into office.

DMN: Third Day Tops

The Dallas Morning News has picked Third Day's Revelation as the Best CD of 2008. Music critic Mario Tarradell calls it:

The most passionate melodic rock record of the year.. Atlanta's veteran outfit delivered riffs and righteousness for all audiences.

Married Man to Become Priest

A married man will be ordained as a Roman Catholic next month. According to the San Angelo, Texas local paper, the San Angelo Standard-Times, Knick Knickerbocker will be ordained at Sacred Hearth Cathedral Church. The former Episcopalian minister was once on the faculty of the Memphis Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian school in Tennessee. Knickerbocker also worked for Catholic Charities.

His ordination falls under the 1981 Pastoral Provision order issued by the Vatican to make an exception to the general rule calling only non-married men to priesthood. It applies when bishops request special permission to ordain married former Anglican or Episcopalian ministers to the Roman Catholic Church.

The 70-year-old Knickerbocker will not be designated the pastor of a church but his duties will be sacramental in nature.

Fundamentalist Christian Oppression

A soldier from Kansas with help from the Military Religions Freedom Foundation is suing the US military for an alleged bias toward evangelical Christianity. Specialist Dustin Chalker first filed his lawsuit back in September and now has expanded it to include what is described as the widespread “practice of fundamentalist Christian oppression" within armed forces. That supposedly includes efforts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the US Defense Department says there have been less than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years.

Billy Graham Changes Churches

Evangelist Billy Graham has moved his church membership. The 90-year-old preacher first joined the church in 1953 during his first crusade in the city when W.A. Criswell pastored the church. But he’s now moving his membership closer to his North Carolina home: The First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Green Bible

The recently published Green Bible carries the endorsement of the Sierra Club and the Humane Society. But many conservative groups object to it and it does y Christian environmental groups like the Heartland Institute. The Bible has a foreword written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. There is an environmental topic index with entries like pollution and water. So far, more than 37,000 copies have been printed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dobson's Group Removes Glenn Beck Article

Focus on the Family has taken down an article about Glenn Beck’s new book from its website CitizenLink because he’s a Mormon. Some supporters complained that The Christmas Sweater did not mention Beck’s religious views. Beck has been a CNN host and will move to FOX news next year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DC Radio Boost

A Washington DC Christian radio station has become one of the most listened to stations in the city, thanks to a new method of determining who’s listening. WGTS-FM is a noncommercial contemporary Christian music station. It showed up at #6 in Arbitron’s ratings last month. That puts it ahead of Washington's biggest rock, country, conservative talk and oldies stations.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church runs the station out of its Columbia Union College with just eight employees. The school nearly sold the station recently but complaints from listeners changed the minds of trustees.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lowe's Cashier Fired for Pen

A former Lowe's cashier employee says she was fired for wearing a pin that read: It's called Christmas, for Christ's sake.

Kristie Sutton worked for the home improvement store near Knoxville, Tennessee. She said the button was a gift from a customer. But another customer complained and she was asked to remove it and later fired.
Lowe's says it’s workers can offer a Merry Christmas to customers but not wear religious pins. The store released this statement:


Personnel matters are confidential, so we're unable to share any
information; however, Lowe's follows all federal, state and local laws governing
employment including laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion.

Long John Silver's Apology

Long John Silver’s has issued an apology to a Muslim family in Minnesota for not providing an alternative to a toy that came with a kid’s meal for their three-year-old child. The family received a Build with Jesus notepad featuring a Bible verse. When the family asked for an alternative, nothing was provided. A Muslim civil rights group complained and now the owner has apologized.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Lincoln Bible

The burgundy velvet Bible used at Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration will be used to swear in Barack Obama on January 20th. The Bible is owned by the Library of Congress and Obama will be the first president to use it since Lincoln. Obama also plans to take the same train route that Lincoln took and holding a welcome event at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Bible will be on display at the Library of Congress from February to May and then visit five US cities: Sacramento, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Omaha. February 12th will be the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth in 1809.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Projection: English Church to Collapse

New research suggests the number of people attending Church of England services will fall by 90% by 2050. The figures come from Christian Research, the statistical arm of England's Bible Society. Right now about a million people attend now. Christian Research says the number will plummet to 88,000 in about 40 years. The Church of England scoffs at the claim, saying the research is flawed and doesn’t take into account changes underway in its use of contemporary services.

A License for Faith Healers

Russia’s Federal Health Service is handing out licenses to faith healers and anyone else that proscribes traditional medicine to patients. That includes herbal treatments claims of paranormal powers, cleansing of auras and even those who say they can read minds or cast spells. In the last two years, more than 130 have gone through the government’s voluntary testing program that claims to determine if someone has an ability to cure – by whatever mean they choose.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Objections to Warren's Selection

The first openly gay member of Congress is adding his voice to a chorus of leaders in the gay community who object to Barack Obama’s invitation to pastor Rick Warren. Obama picked the megachurch pastor to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Congressman Barney Frank says he is deeply offended. Warren has said that he has nothing personally against gays but does not support same-sex marriage. Obama is defending his decision.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will Smith Gives to James Robinson & Scientology

The charitable foundation of actor Will Smith gave James Robinson’s ministry $250,000. It’s part of the variety of donations revealed in his tax returns. In all, the movie star handed out $1.3 million to charities and nonprofit groups. An LA ministry called Living Waters got $200,000 of it and $122,500 went to The Church of Scientology.

Tragedy at Christmas Program

An actor has died in the hospital after falling Wednesday night during the opening performance of a megachurch Christmas pageant. The 23-year-old graduate student from Xavier University was playing the role of a wise man in the Awaited Christmas show when she fell at Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati Keri Shryock was suspended by a cable some 25 feet above the ground. Crossroads has cancelled all the other performances. The church has issed this statement.

Weyrich Dies

The man who came up with the phrase moral majority has died. Conservative activist Paul Weyrich died at the age of 66 in Virginia. Weyrich helped to found the Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation, the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition.

Obama defends choice of Warren

Barack Obama is defending his decision to let Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Obama said this morning:

"I am a fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on in my presidency. What I've also said is that it is important for American to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues."


The editor of the Washington Blade calls it "Obama's first big mistake."

Purpose Driven Protest

Barack Obama is being criticized for picking Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration. Many liberal groups object to having someone who opposes gay marriage and abortion rights taking part in the ceremony. Here's a sample:

The head of People for the American Way says she is "deeply disappointed" and Warren’s “ideas are radical."

The president of the Human Rights campaign says he feels a "deep level of disrespect" over selection.

A pro-gay online magazine says it is a “slap in the face” of the gay and lesbian community.

Haggard to Promote Documentary

Ted Haggard will take part in a press tour to promote a film about his life following the sex scandal that led to his dismissal from a Colorado megachurch and resignation as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The Trials of Ted Haggard is the product of Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It will air first on HBO on January 29. Haggard now says he was sexually abused as a second-grader.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Warren at Obama Inauguration

Rick Warren will take part in Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The megachurch pastor will deliver the ceremony's invocation. Obama and McCain appeared together at his Saddleback church this summer for a discussion of faith-related issues. Warren did not endorse either presidential candidate. The ceremony takes place January 20th on the steps of the Capitol. As many as four million people may turn out to watch the new president take the noontime oath from Chief Justice John Roberts.

CompassionArt

Several major Christian artists are giving away some new music for free over the internet. A donation is requested for organizations that help the poor. Their entire effort will hit stores shelves on January 27th under the title CompassionArt: Creating Freedom from Poverty. There are 14 songs in all from such artists as project, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Martin Smith, Kirk Franklin and tobyMac. The effort started in Scotland when they met for a retreat last January. A companion book will be released when the full project comes out in January.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Accelerant Used on Palin Church

ATF agents say an arsonist who started a fire at Sarah Palin’s church poured an accelerant around the sanctuary. It may have been gasoline. Several people, including children, were inside working when the fire started at the main entrance to Wasilla Bible Church in Anchorage. The blaze caused a million dollars in damage but no one was injured.

Times's Top Religion Stories of 08

1. The Economy Trumps Religion
2. Never Count the Mormons Out
3. The Pope Wows the States
4. The Canterbury non-Tale
5. America's Unfaithful Faith
6. Tibet's Monks Rebel
7. The Birth of the New Evangelicalism
8. The Challenge of Recession
9. When Kosher Wasn't Kosher
10. Extraterrestrials May Already be Saved

more info

Monday, December 15, 2008

Top Religion Stories of 08

1. The fiery sermons of Jeremiah Wright
2. Democrats look to peel away faith-based voters from the Republican camp by courting evangelicals
3. Sarah Palin selected as McCain's running mate
4. Proposition 8 in California
5. Pope Benedict XVI stops in Washington and New York
6. Disillusioned Anglicans (Episcopalians in the United States) move to create an Anglican Church for North America
7. In Mumbai, India, fanatical religion fuels a terrorist attack that kills almost 200
8. China takes a whack at Buddhists who preach freedom for Tibet
9. The fluttering U.S. economy claims victims, including those who benefit from the donations of believers
10. The battle between Shiite and Sunni Muslims continues in Iraq

Source: Religion Newswriters Association

Obama Plans to change Faith-Based Program

Barack Obama says he’ll change the rules for organizations participating in President Bush's faith-based initiative. He wants to impose laws on them banning discrimination on the basis of religion, race or gender. That would mean groups could no longer hire just Christian employees and still participate in the faith-based program. Many Christian groups are likely to balk at the new rules and no longer take support from the federal program.

Playboy Apologizes

Playboy Magazine is apologizing for a cover issue in Mexico referring to the Virgin Mary. A barely clad model, Maria Florencia Onori, is shown with the headline Te adoramos, Maria. That means We love you Mary.

Palin's Church Meets At School

Sarah Palin's church held services at a middle school because their sanctuary was badly damaged by fire over the weekend. About 1,200 people came to the Wasilla Bible Church yesterday, though Palin was not among them. She remained in Juneau. Her spokesman says Palin was preparing a state budget proposal.

Fire authorities are blaming the fire on arson. It left about a million dollars in damage. The blaze started Friday night at the main entrance of the church at the same time a group was working inside. No one was injured. (more on the story below)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Atlanta Megachurch Pastor Resigns

The pastor of an Atlanta megachurch has resigned. Founding pastor Jim Bolin stepped down from Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs as a result of ‘inappropriate sexual behavior’. Bolin will enter what church leaders are calling a “restoration process” for the next couple of years. Trinity Chapel is associated with the Church of God.

Fire Destroys Sarah Palin's Church

An arsonist severely damaged Sarah Palin’s Anchorage, Alaska church Friday night. The former Republican vice presidential candidate says she's sorry if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" to her campaign. While they believe the fire was deliberately set, investigators are not yet sure whether it was politically motivated. Damage to the Wasilla Bible Church was estimated at more than a million dollars. No one was injured.

Schuller Resigns

Robert A Schuller is no longer senior pastor post at Southern California’s Crystal Cathedral, the church started by his father. Robert H Schuller had already dismissed him from the Hour of Power television show. The younger Schuller says he plans to start a new ministry.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Layoffs at Thomas Nelson

Thomas Nelson is cutting 55 jobs. The Christian book publisher blames falling book sales. There’s been a 9% drop in religious books says so far this year. The company already let about 60 workers go this past spring. It has also slashed the number of book titles it publishes in half. Thomas Nelson is the world's largest publisher of English-language Bibles.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cizik Resigns

The National Association of Evangelicals says Richard Cizik has resigned as the group’s DC representative. He’s been with the organization for 28 years. But Cizik has battled other Christian leaders over the issue of global warming and more recently same-sex marriage. He made public that he voted for Obama in the primaries. The NAE board was particularly unhappy with his December interview on National Public Radio, saying his responses did not reflect NAE views. Cizik said his views on gay marriage are "shifting". He later apologized but apparently that was no enough to satisfy the group’s leadership. The NAE represents tens of thousands of churches and religious organizations.

State Told to Stop Making I Believe Tags

A judge is ordering the state of South Carolina to quit making personalized license plates with a cross and the words I Believe while a lawsuit challenging the plates moves forward. The temporary injunction came after a court hearing today involving the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. None of those who have placed orders for the plates have received them yet.

The Religious Case for Gay Marriage

Newsweek’s cover story this week entitled The Religious Case for Gay Marriage has lead to an organized campaign encouraging readers to cancel their subscriptions . Chief Executive Tom Ascheim had to open a new email account to handle all the angry email from readers.

Company executives said today the magazine will cut staff as part of a makeover that will turn it into a smaller publication driven by opinion rather than news. The magazine, owned and operated by the Washington Post, has been losing money, cutting more than 100 positions this past spring. Mediaweek reports that Newsweek's ad pages have dropped by about 21% this year.

More on Bush's Surprising Interview about the Bible

CNN reports on President Bush's recent controversial interview about the Bible and evolution.

Top Religion Stories of the Year

1. The Evangelical Role in Election 2008
2. California’s Same-sex Marriage Ban
3. Christians Killed in India
4. Episcopalian and Anglican Schisms
5. Christians Flee Iraq and Gaza
6. The Pastors of Presidential Candidates
7. Global Economic Woes
8. Muslim and Christian Dialogues
9. Charismatic Divisions over Todd Bentley’s Florida Revival
10. Issues Raised by Raids at Texas Polygamist Compound

Source: Christianity Today

Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell

The battle over what to display at the Washington State capitol has taken another strange twist. Now the controversial gay-funeral-protesting Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas wants permission to put up a display that will say “Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell.”

Meanwhile, the KC Free Thinkers is requesting approval to put up a display celebrating a deity named The Flying Spaghetti Monster. An Olympia man has already asked to stick up a celebratory pole in honor of the holiday Festivus. The made up holiday was a joke started on the Seinfeld TV show.

A nun wants to add a sign that would read “To the Atheist Community, May all be blessed with Joy and Happiness. We share with you our Peace and Love and Kindness. The Christian Community.”

Besides a nativity scene and Christmas display, the capital building already has a sign put up by an atheist declaring there are no gods, devils or angels.

Rich Warren on Fundamentalism

"Of course, we need creeds. We don't need to change what we believe. We need to change how we behave. It's not creeds or deeds. I didn't say that. It's creeds and deeds. You say you believe. Show me your beliefs by what you do.

What I am not is a fundamentalist. You become a fundamentalist when you stop listening. There are all kinds of fundamentalists. I don't happen to agree with any of them. We'll work with anybody who wants to stop AIDS. (That) really makes the fundamentalists mad. But when people say Saddleback is not a evangelistic church, there's a spiritual term for that. It's when you cross an abalone with a crocodile. It's a crock of baloney."

Rich Warren in an interview with USA Today

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Festivus Display

Washington State officials are being besieged by requests to place additional seasonal displays at the state Capitol where a Christmas tree and a nativity scene are on display.. along with an anti-religion placard. A pro-religion sign was added last week.

One of the requests is that a Festivus display be included. That’s a made up holiday popularized by the Seinfeld TV show in the 90’s.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newsweek on the Bible & Gay Marriage

Lisa Miller of Newsweek argues in a new essay titled Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy that we should not look to the Bible for guidance on same sex marriage. Miller suggests that the Bible’s lessons on marriage are ambiguous and lack moral clarity. She writes, “The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”

Here’s some of the reaction coming from religious conservatives:

Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention:
"It doesn't surprise me. Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus. I don’t think it’s going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously.”


Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:
"(It is) yet another attack on orthodox Christianity. “I hardly think that Newsweek is a credible venue for theological discussion. I mean, I thought it was just full of holes.”

Here’s the comments of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham:“Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their values (or their ‘agenda,’ a favorite term to describe the views of those who disagree with you) on a God-fearing nation. Let the letters and emails come. History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion.”

Bush Says Bible Not Literally True

President Bush told ABC News Nightline in an interview last night that the Bible is "probably not" literally true.

MCFADDEN: Is it literally true, the Bible?

BUSH: You know. Probably not ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament, for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is "God sent a son."

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible...

BUSH: That God in the flesh, that mankind can understand there is a God who is full of grace and that nothing you can do to earn his love. His love is a gift and that in order to draw closer to God and in order to express your appreciation for that love is why you change your behavior.

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible and not take it literally. I mean you can -- it's not inconsistent to love the Bible and believe in evolution, say.

BUSH: Yeah, I mean, I do. I mean, evolution is an interesting subject. I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life and ...

MCFADDEN: But do you believe in it?

BUSH: That God created the world, I do, yeah.


MCFADDEN: But what about ...

BUSH: Well, I think you can have both. I think evolution can -- you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the Earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty, and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Theif Chased by Priest

A priest in Washington DC ran out of St. Peter's church Sunday morning, chasing a thief. The man had taken money from the church safe that was intended for the poor. Bill Hegedusich is a marathon runner and didn’t think twice about going after the criminal and the two bags of money. He kept his distance in case the man was armed. After a couple of blocks, the man dropped one of the bags and kept on running. Hegedusich collected the single bag containing about $60. Mass started a few minutes late. Police are still searching for the thief.

A Study of Prayer

Hospital chaplains at Johns Hopkins University have placed blank prayers book in the lobby every two months since the 1990s. Hundreds of visitors have written in the books. A sociology professor from Brandeis University reviewed 683 of the handwritten petitions and here’s what was found. The prayers broke down this way:
28% were requests of God
28% were prayers of thanks and asking for help
28% were just to thank God
80% began with a familiar greeting, like "Dear Lord" or "Hello Jesus."

I am Second

A Texas church has started a new promotional campaign called I am Second. Created by Tony Evan’s Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, the effort includes billboards that read, I am Second. Joe Gibbs and Darrell Waltrip are among the celebrities taking part.

Jessica Simpson & Religion

"I've been contemplating taking a college course in religion. I love religion. I remember whenever the book 'The Da Vinci Code' came out, the Discovery Channel did this three-night piece on it that I Tivoed and then watched eight times." Jessica Simpson in Marie Claire magazine

Michael W Smith

Christian muscian Michael W. Smith visits Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas. The Dallas Morning News has the story.

Copeland Loses Tax Status of Jet

Kenneth Copeland plans to protest a decision that could cut into the finances of his Texas mega-ministry. Auditors have denied him the tax-exempt status he had on a $3.6 million jet. The reason: The refusal of Copeland's ministry to reveal director’s salaries. In all, Kenneth Copeland Ministries owns five aircraft, including a $17.5 million Citation X.

Copeland has resisted efforts in the last year by Senator Charles Grassley to find out information about the ministry as part of an investigation into televangelists.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who Supported Prop 8

Who voted in favor of the same-sex marriage (proposition 8) in California which passed in November:

Evangelicals – 85%
Protestants - 66%
Those making less than $40,000 a year – 63%
Roman Catholics - 60%
Nonwhite voters - 57%
Over age 55 - 56%

Source: Public Policy Institute of California

Gift Certificates for Abortion

The Indiana branch of Planned Parenthood is offering gift certificates on its website for services – including abortion. The organization says only 5% women come into their clinics come for abortion. But the Office for Pro-Life Ministry for the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis is outraged. The director says "It's offensive because Christmas is about the celebration of human life."

Biggest Evangelical Charities

Here is a list of the biggest Evangelical charities according to Forbes magazine. The first number is the organization's assets in millions and the second number is the donor efficiency.

1. Salvation Army 10,853 - 92%

2. Trinity Broadcasting Network 919 - 88%

3. American Bible Society 529 - 79%

4. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 301 - 96%

5. Young Life 221 - 94%

6. Christian Broadcasting Network 209 - 81%

7. MAP International 169 - 99%

8. Samaritan's Purse 167 - 93%

9. Catholic Relief Services 165 - 85%

10. World Vision 151 - 88%

11. Christian & Missionary Alliance 128 - 93%

12. Campus Crusade for Christ 108 - 93%

13. Wycliffe Bible Translators 104 - 94%

14. Compassion International 94 - 91%

15. CRISTA Ministries 83 - 95%

Source: Forbes

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Will Smith on Scientology and Religion

Actor Will Smith in an interview with Newsweek:

"For me I'm certain about my relationship with the model of perfection of human life that's laid out with the life of Jesus Christ. So I'm at home and not fearful when I sit in a mosque or a synagogue or a Buddhist temple, the same way that I'm home in the Church of Scientology.
I like anywhere people are searching for the truth, and I respect their path and I'm intrigued by their path. I think when you are certain in and of what you believe in, you can open your mind to seeing the ways of others. I'm not bothered when someone says "Allah" because they're talking about God—we are talking about the same person. I was in India recently and my hotel was near the Taj Mahal. Five times a day there would be a call for prayer, and it was the most beautiful thing. I was lying in my bed thinking, no matter what your religion is, it would be great to have that reminder five times a day to remember your Lord and savior.

(So you a not a Scientologist?) No, but when people are afraid of religion they have to go back and get in touch with the Good Book. Fear of other religions means you're questioning your own understanding, and that's just not where I am.

(You were raised Baptist, right?) Yes, but I grew up in a neighborhood with all religions, and so I'm very used to studying and being around different faiths. So whatever religion does that— Jewish, Muslim, Scientology—it's cool because the end result is the same."

Bible Used in Robbery

Police in Tacoma, Washington are looking for a man that robbed a bank this morning using a Bible. He handed the Bible to the teller and told her to open to a specific page. That’s where he had written a note demanding money or he threatened to shoot her. He told her that he would pay her back later and left.

The Princess Diana Bible

A pro-gay "translation" of Scripture called The Princess Diana Bible is coming out soon. It’s being put together by New Mexico filmmaker Max Mitchell, who runs Revision Studios. His last film, Horror In The Wind, told the story of a scientific formula that turned the world gay. The regular Bible gets replaced with a Princess Diana Bible. Mitchell liked the idea so much, he decided to create a real Princess Diana Bible. He named it after Diana for her “good deeds”. The company’s press release claims the “gay Bible is divinely inspired.” It says Adam and Eve were both women and that homosexual relationships were commonplace during Biblical times but heterosexuality was considered sinful.

Column on Gay Rights Leads to Firing

A college administrator at Ohio’s University of Toledo is suing the school because she fired over a column she wrote in the local newspaper about gay rights. Crystal Dixon says the administration has no right to try to control her expression of personal opinions outside the school. Dixon argued in the piece for the Toledo Free Press that gay marriage could not be compared to the civil rights movement because homosexuality is a choice. She wrote, “I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman.. There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God's divine order." Dixon held the position of associate vice president for human resources. Dixon is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Christian law firm.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Atheists to Sue Homeland Security

A group called American Atheists plans to file a lawsuit this morning against the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. That’s because state law requires the agency to stress "dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth." Ten non-religious Kentuckians have joined the suit. State Representative Tom Riner added a requirement to credit God for Kentucky's protection in the 2006 homeland security legislation. Riner is a Southern Baptist minister.

Atheist Placard

There is a holiday tree on display at Washington’s state Capitol in Olympia along with a Nativity scene. And now there is a atheist placard. It was put there by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and says: ""At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." A metal plaque will be added to the display when it comes in.

Monday, December 1, 2008

100's of Thousands Stolen from Baptists

The Southern Baptist Convention had decided not to press charges against a man who allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for earthquake relief - and now has done it again. According to the Mobile Press-Register, The SBC’s International Mission Board won a judgment of more than $359,000 against Benton Gray Harvey for criminal embezzlement in 2005. Harvey was a financial accountant for a Baptist outpost in Istanbul. Police say Harvey and a partner scammed hundreds of thousands more by selling fake insurance policies to people in Alabama for homes that most insurance companies don't want to cover because they are susceptible to damage by hurricanes. He was working for the Starfish Insurance Agency in Gulf Shores, Alabama but has apparently fled the country.

Lutheran Cutbacks

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is making cutbacks at its publishing arm. Augsburg Fortress will shutting down nine bookstores by April and eliminating more than 50 jobs.

What if Starbucks Marketed like the Church?

Richard Reising is a former marketing exec-turned church consultant. He's created this video for a blog called Beyond Relevance. It considers what would happen if Starbucks was like a Protestant church.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

High School Ethics

A survey of the ethics among high schoolers:

Have you stolen something in the last year?
From a store: 30%
From a parent or relative: 23%
From a friend: 20%

Have you cheated on a test in the last year?
Once: 64% (60% in 2006)
Twice or more: 38% (35% in 2006)

Have you used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment?
Yes: 36% (33% in 2004)

Have you sometimes lied to save money?
Yes: 42%

Are you satisfied with your own personal ethics and character?
Yes: 93%

Would you agree with the statement: "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."
Yes: 77%

Source: The Josephson Institute

Pledge Pastor Dies

The man who’s sermon led to Under God being added to the Pledge of Allegiance has died. George M. Docherty was pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1954 when President Eisenhower visited. Docherty urged that the pledge to the flag be amended to add the two words used by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. He died of a heart ailment at his Pennsylvania home at the age of 97.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prayer Lawsuit Ends

A lawsuit against a mayor’s involvement in National Day of Prayer has been dropped. Patrick Greene filed the suit in an effort to stop San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger from taking part in the event on the front steps of City Hall. Hardberger has annually reads a declaration in support of the event. Greene says he dropped the effort because the Mayor now says he didn’t know the sponsoring organization excluded other faiths.

Christians and Pornography

A documentary on pornography addiction among Christians premieres tomorrow on the ION Television Network. The network used to be known as PAX TV. The film is called Somebody's Daughter: A Journey to Freedom from Pornography. Three men and a couple talk about their struggle with pornography. Somebody's Daughter will later air on on INSP, the Daystar Television Network and Faith TV.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Henry Brandt Dies

The man considered by some to be the father of Biblical counseling has died. Henry Brandt died Wednesday from complications related to Parkinson's disease. He was 92 years old. A conference speaker and author, he’s best-known for his book Heart of the Problem. Brandt has a new book coming out called Soul Prescription.

New Warren Book Cracks Top 5

The Purpose of Christmas has nudged into the New York Times’ top 5 bestselling Hardcover Advice books. The new Rick Warren book is #25 USA Today’s weekly top 150 best sellers. It’s based on a Christmas message Warren gave at his California Saddleback Church two years ago. The 125-page gift book comes on the heels of his mega-bestseller The Purpose Driven Life which has sold 52 million copies. Profits for the new book go toward the church’s global initiative called the PEACE Plan.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Foster Kids

Some 1500 people showed up this past weekend at New Life Church in Colorado Springs for a gathering on adoption and foster children in the state. Colorado officials say it was the first-of-its-kind. The gathering included state and local governments, churches, ministries and adoption agencies. They hope Wait No More: Finding Families for Colorado's Waiting Kids will serve as a template for other states with similar problems.

Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years

Joel Gilbert's documentary called Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years: Busy Being Born.. Again! delves into the years when the Dylan became a born-again Christian. Born Robert Zimmerman, he left his Jewish roots and temporarily converted to Christianity in 1979. The singer was reeling from his recent divorce and hooked on heroin. He went on to record two albums wth Christian lyrics. But after two and a half years, Dylan came to believe that his Christian advisors were exploiting him and he joined Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic movement within Orthodox Judaism. Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years is unauthorized and contains few frames of the man himself. Bill Dwyer of Los Angeles's Vineyard Christian Fellowship gets a lot of attention. He was the one Dylan called in 1978 seeking counseling.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Dying Boy's Wish


Hundreds respond to a dying 11-year-old boy's wish to help the homeless. KOMO-TV has more.

(Brenden Foster died over the weekend)

Church Fire

An Indianapolis church vows to continue its ministry despite a devestating fire. WISH-TV has the story:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Search for Church Gunman

A gunman is on the loose after shooting two people at a New Jersey church this morning.

Turkey Giveaway

A Syracuse church gave away hundreds of turkeys yesterday. WSYR-TV has the story.

Terror Texts

A Christian College in Iowa is staging an unusual musical based on the Bible. Terror Texts presents six Old Testament stories taken verbatim from the King James version of the Old Testament with themes like cannibalism and rape. The actors at Northwestern College dress in Goth and are supported by a rock band and mosh pit. The show first ran in February and was brought back this fall. A line in the opening song, “Our story here begins with blood and ends with even more."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Janet Paschall

Christian singer Janet Paschal tells her story of battling breast cancer in the book Treasures of the Snow. She has a new album to accompany the book called Treasures. It’s filled with songs she has re-recorded.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Arizona Choose Life

Arizona will soon have its own Choose Life specialty license plate. The Arizona License Plate Commission had turned down a request by the Arizona Life Coalition for the plate but an appeals court has ordered the agency to accept the application. The decision came out of a law filed in 2003.

Religious News Stories During the Election

The religion storyline that got the most attention during the general election was rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim (30%). According to a new Pew Forum study, there were only 283 stories in which religion or religious issues played a significant role.

Jeremiah Wright, Michael Pfleger and John Hagee alone made up 11% of religion coverage in the general election.

Five percent of the religion-focused coverage dealt with James Dobson’s criticism of Obama’s positions.

Less than one percent of campaign news coverage related to abortion issues gay marriage or stem cell research. Most of the stories on abortion involved Sarah Palin’s parenting choices and the Saddleback forum at Rick Warren’s church.

Bob Jones Apologizes

Bob Jones University is apologizing for its "racially hurtful" policies. The 81-year history South Carolina school refused to admit blacks until 1971 and prohibited interracial dating until 2000. The grandson of the man who founded the school, Bob Jones III, issue this statement.

Ordination of Gay Man Move Forward

The Presbyterian Church, USA is allowing a gay man to enter the final stages of ordination. John Knox Presbytery (covering parts of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) voted to let Scott Anderson more forward in his bid for ordination. The Princeton Theological Seminary graduate was ordained by Sacramento Presbytery in 1983. But when two members of Sacramento’s Bethany Presbyterian Church publically announced he was gay, Anderson set aside his ordination. He worked for the Northern California Council of Churches for more than a decade and now leads the Wisconsin Council of Churches. A final vote on his candidacy will take place a year from now.

Report: CIA at Fault for Missionary Deaths

The CIA was negligent when it helped Peru’s air force shoot down a small plane carrying missionaries in 2001. That’s the finding of the agency's inspector general. A new report says a CIA surveillance plane was confused over whether or not the missionary aircraft was running drugs. But procedures were ignored and the plane was shot down – killing Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter. The report says the program to intercept drug-runners was poorly run Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, criticized the CIA, saying the agency caused "needless" deaths. Three years ago, while the report was still classified, the Justice Department decided not to bring charges against those at fault.

Church Can Use Santuary Again

Guatay Christian Fellowship near San Diego can use its sanctuary again. The church had been barred from meeting there since May because it had been zoned for a bar. It was alright to serve liquor there but not hold religious services. A federal judge overruled the county yesterday. County officials said there were eight serious code violations when they inspected the church.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Potluck Law Almost Stops Church Gathering

An 85 year celebration was put in jeprody when the city of Albuquerque told a church it could not serves food at the gathering. KOB-TV explains how the community has rallied to help the church.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

EHarmony and Same-Sex Matches

EHarmony has agreed to offer same-sex matches. It’s part of a civil rights settlement. The Pasadena-based dating website was founded by Neil Warren and has been endorsed by Evangelical leaders. Eric McKinley complained to New Jersey's Division on Civil Rights when his subscription was turned down because EHarmony has never allowed gay matches. Warren has said part of the reason for not making same-sex matches is that he didn't know enough about gay relationships. As part of the deal, the company must:

▪ Implement the new policy by March 31
▪ Give the first 10,000 same-sex registrants a free six-month subscription
▪ Pay $50,000 to the state for administrative costs
▪ Give $5,000 to McKinley

ORU Makes Cuts

Oral Roberts University is cutting about 10% of its workforce by January. That’s nearly 100 jobs at the Tulsa school. ORU has just under 1000 employees.

The school just recently announced it had cut ties with Richard Roberts – former president and son of the school’s founder. Trustees agreed to pay Roberts $223,600 a year for the remainder of a three-term appointment. Robert’s resigned last year under a cloud of suspicion, after former professors filed a lawsuit. The accused him of misusing school funds for personal use.

Georgia Baptists Reject Money from Church

The Georgia Baptist Convention is no longer accepting contributions from the First Baptist Church of Decatur, who has a woman as senior pastor. Julie Pennington-Russell came to the pulpit a little over a year ago. First Baptist has been a part of the Southern Baptist Convention for nearly 150 years.

Licence Plate Rejected

Elizabeth Ferris is suing the state of Indiana after officials refused to renew her personalized license plate. It says Be God's. The Cambridge City woman has has had the message on her license plate for eight years.

Chapman's Daughter Marries

The oldest daughter of Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman has gotten married. Emily Chapman married Tanner Richards last month at the Chapman’s Franklin, Tennessee home.

Just six months ago, the Chapman's 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue was killed in a car accident by a vehicle driven by her brother. The family buried her in a bridesmaid dress to match those worn at her oldest sister's wedding.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Children Taken From Alamo Ministry

Nearly two dozen more children from the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Arkansas are in state custody. KATV has more on Alamo and the child sex charges he faces.

Prince: Very Angry

Rolling Stone is reporting that Prince is “very angry” because of the way he his religious views and opinion about gays is portrayed in a recent New Yorker article. The pop singer says the magazine misquoted him.

Layoffs at Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family is laying off about 200 of its employees. That’s about 20% of its workforce. James Dobson’s group would still have about 950 employees – down from a high of about 1500.

Focus was the seventh largest donor to contribute to the effort to pass Proposition 8 in California which bans same-sex marriage. The ministry put $539,000 in cash and $83,000 in non-monetary support into the effort. More than $73 million was spent by both sides.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Demonstration in Church

A group interupted services at a Michigan church this past Sunday to protest the church's view on gay marriage. Fox News has the story.

Church Sign Draws Protesters

KWCH-TV reports on a confrontation over a Kansas City church sign about Barack Obama.

Prince on Gay Marriage & Abortion

This week’s New Yorker includes an interview with pop singer Prince. He became a Jehovah's Witness seven years ago and was a asked about social issues like gay marriage and abortion. The New Yorker writes:

Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ”

Priest Rebuked for Obama Letter

A South Carolina priest wrote a letter to parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church saying those who voted for Barack Obama shouldn’t take Holy Communion because of his support for abortion rights. But the Diocese of Charleston says Jay Scott Newman shouldn’t have done that. Here’s background on the story from CNN.

Largest Gift in Ministry's History

Do we need more translations of the Bible? Someone apparently does. Someone with a lot of money. An anonymous donor is giving Wycliffe Bible Translators $50 million to support the organization’s literacy and Bible translation program. The gift for Wycliffe's Last Languages Campaign is the largest in the ministry's 75-year history. The campaign gets an official launch this Saturday at Wycliffe US headquarters in Orlando. The campaign’s goal is to speed up the process of translating the Bible for the world's remaining language groups from 125 years down to 17 years. Besides supporting literacy, Wycliffe supports developing communities with water purification systems and Aids education.

The Bible’s Buried Secrets

PBS goes after the Old Testament again in a two-hour show tomorrow called The Bible’s Buried Secrets. A preview last summer proved controversial. The program challenges a literal reading of the first five books of the Bible. The producers argue largely from silence. Suggesting that since archeologists haven't found items related to many of the stories in the Bible, they never happened. Actress Stockard Channing reads verses during the show. It airs at 8pm Eastern.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Focus on the Family Shoppers' Guide

The political action arm of Focus on the Family is posting an online shoppers guide. There are three categories: Christmas-friendly retailers, Christmas-negligent retailers and Christmas-offensive retailers.

The friendly retailers are so designated because they prominently use Merry Christmas and other Christmas-specific references in their catalogs and in-store promotions.

Those on the Christmas-offensive list use secular phrases such as happy holidays and have "apparently abandoned" the use of the word "Christmas."

Christmas-negligent companies "marginalize" their message by using Christmas in some cases and holidays in others.

Focus launched its first shoppers guide during the 2007 holiday season.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Episcopals Lose Fort Worth

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is leaving the denomination. Just as several others have recently done. The vote today was overwhelmingly in favor of breaking away to align with the more conservative Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. The clergy vote was 73-18 in favor of leaving. Among the lay orders, it was 101-26.

Barack Obama's Beliefs

I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith. On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10. My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim. And I'd say, probably, intellectually I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith. So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.

My mother remarried an Indonesian who wasn't particularly, he wasn't a practicing Muslim. I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country. So I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and at night you'd hear the prayer call. So I don't think as a child we were, or I had a structured religious education. But my mother was deeply spiritual person, and would spend a lot of time talking about values and give me books about the world's religions.

(Did you actually go up for an altar call?) Yes. Absolutely.. And it was a powerful moment.

Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That's just not part of my religious makeup.

(What is sin?) Being out of alignment with my values.

Barack Obama in a 2004 interview with BeliefNet

Friday, November 14, 2008

Electing Obama a Sin?

A Wichita, Kansas pastor says the election of Barack Obama is a sin and the country should repent. KSN-TV reports:

Preist Facing Excommunication

Roy Bourgeois faces excommunication from the Catholic Church after taking part in a ceremony to ordain a woman as a fellow priest. Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a member of a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests, faces excommunication as well. Bourgeois plans to appeal. He lives in Fort Benning, Georiga.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hunter Credits God for Rescue

A hunter from Grand Rapids, Michigan returned home to an emotional reunion after several desparte days, lost in the Colorado mountains. WOOD-TV says he's crediting God with sustaining and rescuing him.

"Godless Americans" Lawsuit Dropped

Kay Hagan is dropping her lawsuit against Senator Elizabeth Dole. Hagan beat Dole in the North Carolina Senate race but was upset over a TV ad that associated Hagan with a political action group called Godless Americans. A woman’s voice could be heard saying “There is no God” on the ad. Hagan, a member of the Presbyterian Church, USA, took part in a fundraiser at the home of a couple who are involved in the group.

Ancient Church Unearthed

The remnants of an 8th century Christian church has been discovered northeast of Damascus, Syria. Archaeologists from Syria and Poland found it in the city of Palmyra, a hub of caravan trade in the ancient world. They say the church’s columns are about 20 feet high and the sanctuary measures about 90 feet by 150 feet. There was an amphitheater in the courtyard, probably used for church rituals.

New Bama Bible Text

Alabama public schools now have a new option for text books in Bible classes. The State Board of Education has approved The Bible in History and Literature published by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. The Bible and Its Influence put out by the Bible Literacy Project has already been approved criticism from some conservatives.

Haggard Now Claims Sexual Abuse

Former Evangelical megachurch pastor Ted Haggard now says he was sexually abused as a child. He was fired from New Life Church in Colorado Springs for sexual misconduct when a former male prostitute alleged they had a cash-for-sex relationship and accused Haggard of using methamphetamine. The church issued a statement in February saying Haggard should not be allowed to return to the ministry because he did not complete his counseling rehabilitation. CNN has this report on Haggard, who now lives in Phoenix.

Ten Commandments Before Supreme Court

A Ten Commandments legal battle that arrived at the Supreme Court yesterday. The high court heard the plea of Pleasant Grove, Utah. It wants the high court to reverse a lower court decision requiring it to accept the Seven Aphorisms (part of a New Age religion that believes in UFOs) along with a Ten Commandments display in a park – or remove the Commandments entirely. The Bush administration joined 14 states and a coalition of veterans groups to file briefs opposing a lower-court decision. A decision is expected before the court term ends in late June.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gay Rights Protesters Interrupt Church Service

There are a few scattered reports of a radical gay rights group interrupting a church service in Lansing, Michigan this past Sunday. Local media has apparently not picked up on the story but according to the Lansing State Journal, demonstrators threw fliers at churchgoers and shouted slogans such as "It's OK to be gay," and "Jesus was a homo” at Mount Hope Church, an Assemblies of God church. Protesters set off a fire alarm and unfurled a banner. Some carried picket signs and an upside-down, pink cross.

Book of Mormon Set on Fire

A copy of the Book of Mormon was set on fire and left on the steps of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sanctuary last night. No damage was reported. There is a possibility it may have been in retaliation to the church's stance on California’s Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage.

Nativity Scene at State Capitol

A nativity scene will be put up inside the Illinois Capitol Rotunda without objection from the state’s chapter of the ACLU. Other groups have been told they could also exhibit their own symbolic displays in the same area for the same number of days.

Catholic Bishops Cut Off ACORN

US Roman Catholic bishops are no longer sending money to ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Barack Obama once had connections with the group. It’s now involved in a controversy over voter registration fraud. The brother of its founder says nearly $1 million had been embezzled from the group. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development was set to give ACORN about $1 million to local groups.

Methodist Reference on The Simpson's

In the Halloween episode of The Simpsons titled Treehouse of Horrors XIX, Homer is a hit man. Krusty the Klown becomes one of his victims. In an act of revenge, Krusty comes down from heaven and points a gun at Homer.

Homer: Before you kill me, at least tell me: what is the one true religion?

Krusty: Eh, a mix of Voodoo and Methodist.

Humanist Ad Campaign

The American Humanist Association is launching a $40,000 holiday advertising campaign around the nation’s capital that uses lyrics from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." The ads will go on DC buses and appear on posters saying, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake” starting next week. A link to a Web site will be included that directs people to WhyBelieveInGod.com.

Oldest Hebrew inscription?

The oldest known Hebrew inscription may have been found on piece of pottery in Israel. The 3000 year old shard turned up this summer on a hilltop south of Jerusalem. The area overlooks a valley where David faced the Philistine giant Goliath. The lines of faded characters are called proto-Canaanite, developed even before the Hebrew alphabet. An Israeli archaeologist says the finding suggest the Biblical accounts were based on written text and not just oral tradition. This would bolster the case for the Bible's accuracy by indicating the Israelites could record events as they happened.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Public Prayer Booth

It looks like a phone booth. But inside you’ll discover it’s a Public Prayer Booth. A pair of them are located in New York in midtown Manhattan, Jackson, Tennessee, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The booths are the work of Kansas City artist Dylan Mortimer. There's a flip-down kneeler and the word "prayer" is written on the side instead of "telephone."

Seven Days of Sex

A Texas pastor is challenging his congregation To 7 Days of Sex. WOAI-TV in San Antonio reports.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fireproof #14

Fireproof is now the #14 movie in the country. The church-made film has taken in more than $28 million dollars since it was first released seven weeks ago. This is the first week it wasn’t in the top ten. It was made by the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia

The Love Dare,a book featured in the movie, is number two on the New York Times' paperback advice bestseller list after spending three weeks at top spot.

Mormon Churches Vandalized

Protestors are targeting Mormon Churches and others across California because of their support for proposition 8 which bans gay marriage. KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City has this report:

Florida Megachurch Threatens to Sue Newspaper

Randy White’s Florida church is considering a lawsuit against the Tampa Tribune newspaper. Leaders at Without Walls International Church in Tampa are upset with a series of unfavorable articles about the church. During his Sunday sermon, White talked about paperwork that would prove to the congregations accusations made in the paper are wrong. He denied a bank was attempting to foreclose on the church property. Here are the newspaper stories about White and Without Walls.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dobson into Hall of Fame

James Dobson was indicted into the Museum of Broadcast Communications this weekend over the complaints of protestors. They gathered to object to the Focus on the Family radio host receiving the honor because of his position on homosexuality. The hall of fame does not take into account a nominee's political or religious views.

Protests at Dallas First Baptist

The pastor of Dallas' First Baptist Church had about 100 protesters show up today for his sermon titled Why Gay Is Not O.K. It is part of Robert Jeffress' series called Politically Incorrect. Demonstrators sang Jesus Loves Me and carried signs saying things like Christ Taught Love Not Hate.

Protest at Rick Warren's Church

Protesters gathered outside Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church today, angry with the megachurch's support of California’s Proposition 8. The measure bans gay marriage in the state. It won with 52% of the vote.

A large anti-Proposition 8 protest gathered at Oakland’s Mormon Temple, forcing the California Highway Patrol to close two nearby highway ramps.
Another protest outside a Mormon Temple in San Diego drew hundreds. Thousands gathered in front of the California statehouse in Sacramento. In Pasadena, the pastor of the 4,000-member All Saints Church spoke out against Proposition 8. Pastor Ed Bacon called it an “act of bigotry”.

Here's a report from KABC-TV in Los Angeles on the protest at Saddleback Church.

Boycott over Gay Marriage Ban

There a growing moving online calling for a boycott of Utah because the Mormon church supported a Calfornia proposition banning same- sex marriage. KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City has more.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

ACLU Objects to Christian Bands

The ACLU is trying to stop Christian music groups from appearing at Louisiana’s annual Thibodeauxville Festival this weekend. According to the civil rights group, the city of Thibodeauxville supports the festival financially but the major says that isn’t true. Some 10,000 people pack the little town for the event.

Exit Polls

The White evangelical vote according to the exit polls.

2008 election:
John McCain 74%
Barack Obama 24%

2004 election:
George Bush 79%
John Kerry 21%

Most important issue:
The economy - 60%
Terrorism - 14%

Another Episcopal Church Departure

The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, Illinois is breaking away from the denomination. Clergy and lay delegates from its 24 churches and missions voted in favor of the withdrawal 95-26. A California and Pennsylvania diocese have already left and the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas may it be next. Representatives will vote whether to follow suit next week. All the breakaway dioceses are realigning with the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. A legal fight has begun over church property in California over the departure. Some individual Episcopal parishes have separately aligned with Anglican provinces in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Ted Turner's Memoir

Ted Turner says religion didn’t break up his marriage to Jane Fonda. In his new book Call Me Ted, Turner says rumors that he divorced his wife after ten years because of her self-proclaimed conversion to Christianity isn’t accurate. He says he was upset, not by her decision, but the fact she didn’t discuss it with him ahead of time. In her own memoir, Fonda alleged infidelities on Turner’s part helped lead to the breakup. But both say they remain friends.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Gay Marriage Ban Protest at Mormon Temple

A rally against California’s gay marriage ban turned violent last night. Gay rights activists gathered outside a Mormon temple in Los Angeles to criticize the church's role in the passage of Proposition 8 which narrowly passed with help from the church. KTLA-TV reports:

New Rick Warren Book

A new Rick Warren book is out called The Purpose of Christmas. It’s his first since the Purpose Driven Life. is a 125-page small gift book that explains what it means to be a Christian. The Purpose Driven Life has sold 52 million copies since its release six years ago. An accompanying CD includes songs from artists like ThirdDay, Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, and Vince Gill. The CD is currently available exclusively at Wal-Mart.

Alabama Back's Faith

"Last year, I played as hard as I could, but I think I played for the wrong reasons. In the middle of the season last year, I found Christ. One of my goals this year was to glorify his name and run with a passion.. In high school, I was a football star and all that, but there was something missing. There had to be more, and I found it. My life changed when I found Christ."

-Alabama junior tailback Glen Coffee in an interview with ESPN who's fourth in the SEC in rushing and now speaks to church groups and youth groups.

Noose ignites tempers at Baylor

Police on the campus of Baylor University are looking into a noose found hanging from a tree at the school following Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election. Obama campaign signs were also found burning in a barbecue pit. Later, a shouting match erupted between black Obama supporters and a group of whites who threatened the black students .

The president of the Southern Baptist school has sent out an
email to the student body and faculty saying, "These events are deeply disturbing to us and are antithetical to the mission of Baylor University. We categorically denounce and will not tolerate racist acts of any kind on our campus."

He
told the student Senate he was embarrassed by the incidents. The student government passed a bill of disapproval on behalf of the student body and the school has created a response team to deal with reported prejudiced activity on campus.

Southern Baptists in Congress

Southern Baptists in the Senate:
Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi
(he defeated fellow Southern Baptist Democrat Ronnie Musgrove)
Republican Lindsey Graham

Southern Baptists in Congress:
Four Southern Baptist Congressmen who are Republicans decided not to run for reelection this year:
Terry Everett of Alabama
Duncan Hunter of California
Ron Lewis of Kentucky
Chip Pickering of Mississippi


Two more Southern Baptists fought for Everett’s seat:
Democrat Bobby Bright
Republican Jay Love
Both are members of the same church: First Baptist Church in Montgomery.

Republicans:

Spencer Bachus, Alabama
Trent Franks, Arizona

John Boozman, Arkansas
Vern Buchanan, Florida
Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia
Nathan Deal, Georgia
Paul Broun, Georgia
Harold Rogers, Kentucky

Rodney Alexander, Louisiana
Sam Graves, Missouri
Frank Lucas, Oklahoma
Henry Brown, South Carolina
Gresham Barrett, South Carolina
Gresham Barrett, South Carolina
Zach Wamp, Tennessee
Steve Pearce of New Mexico (defeated)

Randy Forbes, Virginia
Louie Gohmert, Texas Mike Conaway, Texas
Randy Neugebauer, Texas

Democrats:
Steny Hoyer, Maryland

Heath Shuler, North Carolina
Lincoln Davis, Tennessee
Al Green, Texas

Graham Turns 90

Billy Graham will celebrate his 90th birthday today with a private family dinner near the near his Asheville, North Carolina home. The Evangelist is working on a book about growing older. His wife of 63 years, Ruth Graham, died last year.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lawsuit Over Day of Prayer

San Antonio’s mayor is being sued for taking part in the National Day of Prayer. Patrick Greene is demanding that Mayor Phil Hardberger read his proclamation of a day of prayer at a City Council meeting, away from the event on steps of City Hall.

Greene is a self-proclaimed atheist who filed a lawsuit in California a decade ago to try to get a Nativity scene removed from the City Hall of Ontario.

Church Set on Fire Because of Obama Victory?

There are suggestions a church fire in Boston may have been in reaction to Barack Obama's victory. WFSB-TV has the story.

Counting Catholics Part 2

The state with the HIGHEST percentage of Catholics:
Rhode Island 59.5%
Massachusetts 42%
New York 37%
Connecticut 36.6%
Nevada 32%

The state with the LOWEST percentage of Catholics:
Tennessee 2.3%
Alabama 3.3%
Mississippi 3.7%
North Carolina 4%
Arkansas 4.1%

Source: US Conf of Catholic Bishops

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Warren Back in Pulpit

Rick Warren preached again at his Saddleback Church in Southern California after dealing with his 25-year-old daughter-in-law’s brain surgery. Jaime Warren underwent 20 hours of surgery to remove a tumor. She returned to the operating table twice more in the following days. Warren stepped out of the pulpit while his family dealt with the crisis. He thanked the congregation for praying for.

Paulk Property Up for Sale

The church that Earl Paulk built is up for sale. The Atlanta-suburb campus including the 6000 seat auditorium is up for sale. Price tag: $24.5 million. The 81-year-old Paulk has had a series of sexual scandals in recent years. With declining membership, D.E. Paulk has put the property of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill up for sale. He grew up believing Earl Paulk was his uncle and later discovered the elder Paulk was his father.

Counting Catholics

State with the MOST Catholics
California 36,553,215
New York 7,166,308
Texas 6,503,844
Illinois 3,870,647
New Jersey 3,562,389

State with the FEWEST Catholics
Wyoming 47,119
West Virginia 88,974
Alaska 52,813
Montana 104,276
Mississippi 107,098


Source: US Conf of Catholic Bishops

Two Large Churches Leaving PCUSA

Two of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the Fresno, California area are breaking away from the Presbyterian Church, USA. More than 100 congregations have left the denomination in the last couple of years over the issue of gay clergy. First Presbyterian and Trinity Presbyterian in Clovis have voted to move into the conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The tally was 543-10 at First Presbyterian in favor of switching. Trinity Presbyterian members cast 264 votes in favor leaving and 7 opposed.

Billy Graham on New President

"President Elect Barack Obama faces many challenges, and I urge everyone to join me in pledging our support and prayers as he begins the difficult task ahead." - Evangelist Billy Graham

Assisted Suicide

Exit polls suggest Protestants and Catholics in Washington State were evenly split on whether to legalize physician assisted suicide. But non-religious voters supported it strongly, putting it over the top.

Obama Victory Celebrated at Seattle Church

Barack Obama's win made an impact on this Seattle church. KING-TV reports.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ballot Measures


▪ PASSED

California

A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples in California appears to be passing but not all the votes are counted and it will be close. Right now, its about 52-48% in favor of it.

Florida

The Florida Marriage Amendment would "protect marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife." It needed 60% to pass and barely got 62%.

Arkansas
Arkansas passed a measure 57-43% that prohibits unmarried couples from adopting or being foster parents.

Washington State
Washington voters have decided join Oregon as the only states offering terminally ill people the option of physician-assisted suicide. The margin was 59-41%.

Arizona
A measure passed 56-43% that adds 20-words to the state Constitution, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. A similar measure was rejected in 2006.

▪ REJECTED

South Dakota
A ban on abortion on the ballot in South Dakota had an exception if a woman was raped or her health is in danger. It failed 55-45%, as did a similar measure failed two years ago.

Colorado
An amendment that would have defined life as beginning at the moment of conception was soundly defeated 73-27%.

California
A California proposal that would require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion did not pass. The vote was 53-47% against (with 91% of the state reporting). A similar measure was rejected two years ago.