Friday, February 29, 2008


President Bush's liaison to Christian groups has resigned. Timothy Goeglein admitted to plagiarizing material that was published in an Indiana newspaper. The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne found 20 columns he wrote were lifted from other publications without attribution. Goeglein has worked closely with Karl Rove at the White House for more than six years.


A church in a St. Louis suburb is getting attention with a set of billboards along Interstate 55. Each one bears one of these messages:

• Boycott Jefferson Hills Church
• Hate Jefferson Hills Church
• I was robbed at Jefferson Hills Church
• Jefferson Hills Church Sucks

Below is a hyphen, followed by the word Satan, as if the message is a note from the Prince of Darkness himself. The billboards were bought by the Jefferson Hills Evangelical Lutheran Church in Imperial, Missouri. Some motorists have misunderstood the message and thought the billboards were put up by an atheist group.


A song by the Christian band Pillar has recently popped up on Sports Center and College Gameday. For the Love of the Game has also hit #1 on the Christian radio charts. It was first used to promote coverage of the World Series. The band has collected 4 Dove Awards and had one Grammy nomination.


A flier circulating around Texas promotes Barack Obama’s religious credentials. It’s called Faith. Hope. Change and shows him standing in front at a church pulpit with a cross prominently displayed in the backdrop. Obama is quoted on the flier as saying, "My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want. But I won't be fulfilling God's will unless I go out and do the Lord's work." On the other side are printed the words Committed Christian. Rumors have circulated that he is a Muslim, so Obama has made it a point on the campaign trail to emphasize his Christian. His campaign has used similar material in other states with significant Evangelical communities.


Jordan has expelled 27 Christians in the last year and is refusing to renew visas for anyone wanting to study at the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary in Amman. It’s just one of a handful of Protestant seminaries in the Middle East. Proselytism of Muslims is against government policy. Christians make up only 3% of Jordan’s population. There are only 5,000 Evangelicals in the country.


“I think it’s important to note that Pastor John Hagee who has supported and endorsed my candidacy supports what I stand for and believe in. When he endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for and believe.” John McCain in response to criticism he’s received following his endorsement by megachurch pastor John Hagee who has been critical of Roman Catholicism

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The IRS is investigating Barack Obama’s denomination over one of his speeches. The agency has told the United Church of Christ that is looking into whether Obama's speech at the denomination’s 2007 General Synod violated tax rules last June in Hartford, Connecticut. If UCC is found to have engaged in political activities, it could jeopardize its tax-exempt status. During the speech, Obama spoke against the war in Iraq and promised to sign a universal health care bill.


James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program will air an interview today and tomorrow with the parents of the man who killed four people at a church and missionary training center. They say Matthew Murray was angry over being treated and an outcast and battled ADHD for which he was taking medication. Ronald and Loretta Murray tell Dobson there were no indications their son was about to react violently. After killing two people in Denver, Murray slept at his parents house and then drove the next day to a church were he killed two sisters, then himself. The Murrays met the parents of the girls who forgave the Murrays. Although brought up in a Christian home, Murray got involved in the occult before joining the Mormon church shortly before the shootings.


A lawsuit filed against Atlanta megachurch pastor Earl Paulk has been tossed out. The judge ruled that Mona Brewer was of "sound mind" during an affair that lasted more than a decade while Paulk lead the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church. Brewer was ordered to pay more than $1 million in attorney's fees. After Paulk denied under oath that he did not have an affair with anyone besides Brewer, it was later proved by DNA testing that he fathered his brother’s son who now leads the church. Paulk pled guilty to a charge he lied under oath.


Televangelist John Hagee has endorsed John McCain for president. The pastor of Dallas' Cornerstone says McCain will work against abortion rights and defend Israel. Hagee is also encouraging McCain to do more to “bring evangelicals into his camp”. Last year, he introduced McCain at a Washington gathering called Christians United for Israel.


The payday lending industry targets Evangelicals more than any US demographic. That’s the finding of a soon-to-be published study by the Catholic University Law Review called Usury Law and The Christian Right. A payday advance is a short-term loan of usually just a couple of hundred dollars that covers a borrower's expenses to get them through to the next paycheck. The catch is that the borrower often pays an outrageous interest rate. When spread out over a year, rates can range from 156% in Oregon to a whopping 869% in Maine and Montana, according to the Community Financial Services Association of America. The group denies targeting conservative religious homes and says the study was poorly set up. But the study found lending highest in the Bible Belt, followed by area of the West where many Mormons live.


A survey of US teenagers asking basic history and literature questions shows about half of the teens knew that in the Bible Job is known for his patience through suffering. About the same number said he was known for his skill as a builder, his prowess in battle or his prophetic abilities. The survey was commissioned by Common Core.


Televangelist Benny Hinn has turned over material to the Senate Finance Committee in response to a request from Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. At the same time, Kenneth Copeland is rejected the same request, telling supporters in a letter this month Grassley is targeting prosperity teachers. Grassley's office has begun getting calls from Copeland supporters complaining about the probe. Atlanta-ministers Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long are also refusing to send any information to Grassley. His request to Paula and Randy White have gone unanswered.


"My faith protected me and gave me the space and the time to really come to an understanding of what was right for me and my family”. - Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday during her first ever appearance on CBN’s 700 Club

Monday, February 25, 2008


A pioneer of contemporary Christian music has past away. Larry Norman died of heart failure in Salem, Oregon at the age of 60. Norman stirred controversy in the 70’s with songs like Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? and I wish We’d all Been Ready. The Gospel Music Association inducted him into the group’s Hall of Fame in 2001. He introduced Randy Stonehill to Christianity and produced his first few albums. An album he recorded with Frank Black and Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse was set to be released later this year.


South Albany High School in Albany, Oregon has suspended two students for wearing crucifixes. The principal called the jewelry “gang-related” because sometime gang members put their colors on rosaries and claim they are religious. The 14-year-old and 16-year-old students say the crosses were just gifts from their mothers.


Almost half of American adults have left their religious upbringing. That’s the finding of a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The organization polled more than 35,000 adults and discovered the US is..

• 78% Christian
• 51% Protestant
• 44% Have switched denomination of Protestantism to another or from one religion to another
• 25% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have no religious affiliation
• 19% are Roman Catholic
• 10% are former Catholics
• 9% say they are protestants without denominational ties
• 6.9% History black churches
• 4% are atheists or agnostics
• 1.7% are Jewish
• 0.7% are Buddhist
• 0.6% are Muslim

Other findings:
• For every person leaving the unchurched group, there are three others taking their place
• Nearly half of all Catholics under 30 are Hispanic, the survey found.
• Nondenominational protestant churches are growing but Baptist and Methodist churches are
showing net losses.
• Hindus have the highest retention of childhood members
• Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention of childhood members
• Most Buddhists are converts

Sunday, February 24, 2008


The British charity managing the estate of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien wants to stop New Line from making The Hobbit. The charity filed suit against New Line Cinema this month claiming it cheated the Tolkien Trust out of its 7.5% share of the gross profits from the first film Lord of the Rings.


Perhaps you’ve seen a funny video floating around the internet describing the trials and tribulations of motherhood set to the tune of the William Tell Overture. The singer is the wife of an Atlanta pastor by the name of Anita Renfroe who has been building a career as a Christian comedian. Her kids got her to post the video on YouTube last year and it’s popularity grew until it recently passed the 8 million mark for views. Renfroe was recently rewarded for her work by Good Morning America which has created a regular segment featuring her humorous take on life.


If you want to deduct donations to your church, you’ll need to have "proper" records. And that includes your smaller donations. It used to be you only needed something to back up gifts of $250 or more. But now you need a receipt even if you just toss a few bucks in the offering plate. Proper documentation would include a check, bank copy of the check, electronic funds transfer record, credit card or credit union statement, payroll stub or W-2 in the case of a payroll deduction. These records must indicate the charity name, the amount, and the date the donation was given. A written letter from the charity or church with the information also acceptable. You don't have to submit the information with your tax return. Just be able to produce it if you are audited. There’s more info charitable giving on IRS Publication 526 and 562.