Saturday, April 5, 2008

Religious Compound Raided

Dozens of girls have been taken from a religion compound near Eldorado, Texas run by polygamous religious leader Warren Jeffs who is in jail for rape charges related to marrying off a 14-year-old girl. The Yearn for Zion Ranch is guarded by armed men but authorities peacefully removed the children from the group that broke with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more than a hundred years ago over polygamy. The children will be places in foster homes and will not return to the one-time exotic animal ranch.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Compassion Forum

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have agreed to take part in the religious Compassion Forum taking place next weekend at Pennsylvania's Messiah College. John McCain's campaign says he has a scheduling conflict. The event is sponsored by Faith in Public Life.

Episcolpal Breakaway

A Virginia judge has ruled in favor of a group of churches who want to break away from the Episcopal Church. They want to split from the American outlet of the Anglican church and realign with conservative Anglican bishops in Africa. In response, the Episcopal Church sued the congregations in an effort to regain control of church property.

Impact of Obama's pastor

Most voters have heard about the controversy surrounding statements made by Barak Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright. According to a new CBS News/New York Times poll:

62% of all Americans say it has made no difference
58% of whites say the statements did not affect their views

36% say Wright's statements have caused them to have a less favorable view of Obama

Singer Meets IRS Demands

Yolanda Adams is in trouble with the IRS. The gospel singer had refused to hand over files to the agency, failing to show up for a February meeting in Houston. But after the government asked a judge to step in, Adams came up with the records. There are questions about two mortgage loan applications by the Grammy-winning entertainer in the millions of dollars.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Randy White Under Fire

A Florida megachurch founded by Randy and Paula White ordered church staffers to make political contributions to a Republican candidate for governor, according to an NBC News Investigative Unit. Evidence turned up during a month-long investigation that the church's pastor lied in a deposition about a business transaction in a deposition made under oath and misrepresented his academic credentials. NBC says Randy White's bio on the church website claimed he had earned a Bachelor's degree in Ministerial Studies and a Master's Degree in Divinity from Lee College (now Lee University). But the school says he did not graduate and only attended for a short period of time. The information has since been removed from the church website. Since then, White has admitted under oath that he did not hold a degree from Lee but he claimed he had an honorary degree from Virginia State University. That school also disputes the claim. Without Walls International is already being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee along with six other ministries. Randy and Paula White refused talk on camera about the information that turned up.


Bill and Gloria Gaither have won the Indiana's highest award. Governor Mitch Daniels gave the Christian songwriters and singers the 2008 Sachem Award in a ceremony yesterday. The Alexandria, Indiana couple have won numerous Grammy and Dove awards for songs like Because He Lives.


Barak Obama's new pastor says he the media scrutiny of his church to end - and he's laying down some news rules for reporters who attend services at Trinity United Church of Christ. Pastor Otis Moss wants reporters to leave their notebooks at home. In other words, he doesn't want quotes from his sermons to be reported by the media. Moss also wants journalists to get permission before interviewing members on church property.


Bello Nock stands out at Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey's Bellobration for his vertical shock of orange hair. The wife of the well-known circus clown home-schools the couple's 3 children, using Christian curriculum. Jenny Nock also runs a nondenominational Bible studies each Friday for clowns, trapeze artists, animal handlers and other workers because they have no regular church to attend.


The BBC is planning to dramatize the Bible using computer generated imagery and drama in six 60 minute episodes to be broadcast next year. The budget series will focus on well-known stories from the Old and New Testaments. The BBC recently broadcast an Easter drama called The Passion that gain four million viewers. Christian groups criticized the series for rewriting the traditional story and excusing the behavior of Judas and Pontius Pilate.


Leitchfield County, Kentucky must remove the Ten Commandments from a display called Foundations of American Law and Government. A federal judge says its an endorsement of religion. A local pastor put up the display a few years ago and included a number of items including the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, and the Declaration of Independence. The decision will likely be appealed because similar displays have been upheld by higher courts. Leitchfield is located just southwest of Louisville.


The Tennessee Attorney General has given a green light to holding elective Bible classes in public schools - as long as the lessons are not sermons but focus on literature, art and politics. Several counties already offer Bible classes. A bill moving through the state legislature would require the state board of education to approve the curriculum.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


There’s a major relationship between a child’s spirituality and his or her happiness, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia. The results surprised researchers because it showed 6.55 - 16.5% of children's happiness can be accounted for by spirituality. For adults, that percentage is closer to 5%. They plan to try the same study in India to see if children score similar results in a country without a strong Christian influence.


The leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism in America, says Christian TV pastor John Hagee is an extremist. Despite Hagee's support for Israel, Rabbi Eric Yoffie don't want synagogues working with him. The San Antonio pastor leads Christians United For Israel. Its against Israeli making any land concessions in support of the peace process with the Palestinians.


San Antonio's Cornerstone Christian School has lost its attempt to join a Texas public school sports league. The school founded by TV preacher john Hagee claimed University Interscholastic League eligible to join other leagues like the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Legislation that would have allowed private schools to join the UIL was rejected by the Texas House last year.


Australian Russell Crowe, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the film "Gladiator" was once in a pastoral recruitment video for the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In the film, the 18-year-old Crowe played a farm worker who decides to devote his life to the church.


An explosion has destroyed the First Baptist Church of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Fire officials believe a gas service line was hit. A nearby house was set on fire as well. There are reportedly injuries as a result of the explosion.


A Baptist seminary is giving $100,000 to a Baptist University damaged by February storms. The money for Union University is coming from Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A tornado from the storms caused in the neighborhood of $40 million in damage.


A California lawsuit against a high school history teacher for teaching against Christianity will go to trial. While he was a student at Capistrano Valley High School, Chad Farnam says he was subjected to tirades against religion from teacher James Corbett. Corbett had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit but was turned down. Farnam made tapes of the classroom comments including statements like "Conservatives don't want women to avoid pregnancies.. that's interfering with God's work".

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


A Tulsa, Oklahoma judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Oral Roberts University. Two professors are suing for wrongful termination lawsuit after they uncovered alleged wrongdoing by Richard Roberts, the evangelical school's former president. They say he was using school funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle. But the judge also tossed out some allegations made by the professors including libel claims and breach of contract claims. A gag order prevents both sides from discussing the case outside the courtroom.


Barak Obama opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion and spoke out against a Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. While a member of the Illinois legislature, Obama opposed a bill that would prevent the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now, during a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania, Obama claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy.


Percentage of people in these groups who have been divorced:

38% of non-Christian faith

37% of liberals

33% of all Americans

33% of moderates

28% of conservatives

28% of Catholics

26% of evangelicals

Source: The Barna Group


Ted Turner says he's sorry for calling Christianity a "religion for losers". Turner says he made the comments years ago and has grown since. The founder of CNN says no longer considers himself agnostic or atheist, telling AP he's attended church from time-to-time and "prays for sick friends because it doesn't hurt". He's now joining Lutherans and Methodists in a a $200 million effort to battle malaria. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod will raise more than $75 million for the project with their humanitarian arm Lutheran World Relief and the United Methodist Church will raise $100 million for the project.


"Let me just say that I will certainly vote. I think we have a God-given responsibility to vote, and there are all of the candidates and the issues down the ballot that we have an obligation to weigh in on and let our voices be heard." Focus on the Family founder James Dobson in an interview with FOX news last night. Dobson once said he would not vote for John McCain “under any circumstances.”


A survey of people between the ages of 21 and 29 - the so-called millennials - shows a greater respect for traditional values than expected. Here's what was found by J. Walter Thompson, the nation's largest advertising agency.

94% say they respect monogamy and parenthood
84% revere marriage
84% respect the military
25% say they are living with their spouse and children
19% with a partner
18% with a spouse
15% with their parents
8% with a roommate

Three-quarters said they were employed full-time and two-thirds said they had respect for our legal and financial systems. Three-fourths said they believe in the American Dream.


Barak Obama's longtime pastor returned to his Chicago church last night for a service held in his honor and was greeted by thunderous applause. Speakers at the Trinity United Church of Christ told the congregation the church "would not be silent" and that Wright's controversial views are "consistent with the black church's tradition". Wright himself did not speak.

Monday, March 31, 2008


A Wisconsin high school student is suing Tomah High School in Madison for allegedly censoring an art drawing because it included the words John 3:16 and showed a cross. His teacher gave him a zero for the effort. The lawsuit also claims that he was prevented from making a chain-mail cross in his metals class while at the same time figurines from Hinduism and Buddhism are in display along with a picture of a six-limbed Hindu woman and a sorcerer. The district has not commented on the suit.


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving the Public displays of the Ten Commandments. A court in Denver told Pleasant Grove City, Utah that it had to let the followers of the Summum religion put up a monument in a public park if it allowed the display of a Ten Commandments monument. The city refused and the group filed a lawsuit. A federal judge ruled for the city. Then a three-judge panel reversed that decision. Then the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case. It split, leaving the decision against the city to stand. Now the Supreme Court will weigh in.


Today is the deadline (again) for six megachurch pastors to hand over their church's financial records to a congressional committee. Republican Senator Charles Grassley starting asking for the information in November and most have resisted. Atlanta pastor Creflo Dollar has sent a letter to Congress explaining why he’s decided to ignore the request. Although he admitted in December that his World Changers Church International took in $69 million in 2006, he now claims only IRS can check into whether he’s complying with federal tax laws. Another Atlanta pastor, Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has also resisted opening his books but now says he’ll meet the Monday deadline. As for the others: Kenneth Copeland says he won’t comply but Benny Hinn, Paula White and Joyce Meyer of Missouri say they will go along with the request.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Barak Obama’s longtime pastor was supposed to attend the State of the Black Church Summit hosted by Fort Worth's Brite Divinity School this weekend. Jeremiah Wright bowed out, citing security concerns. But those who took part in the panel discussion without Wright defended the controversial pastor. Dallas preacher Frederick Haynes said, “(Wright) has dared to unwrap the flag from around the cross, and when you do that, you give the cross the power to tell the flag which way to wave." The audience of about 100 applauded throughout the summit. Dwight Hopkins, professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, warned, “If the black church is censored, other churches will be the next in line."


An Atlanta area pastor has put a sign in front of his church that says We're Sorry. Richard Mark Lee told the congregation of Sugar Hill Baptist Church that he wanted to apologize to gays, people living together and women who have abortions for the way the church has approached them. He also put the message on the church's website.


There are now more Muslims than Catholics, making it the world’s largest religion.

All Christians – 33%
Muslims - 19.2%
Catholics -17.4%

Source: The Vatican newspaper