Saturday, May 3, 2008

Church Shooting Threatened

Police officers will be stationed at churches throughout the Denver suburb of Lakewood this morning. Someone anonymously phoned the Bear Valley Church with a warning about a threatened shooting. The pastor is quoted by the Associated Press as saying a phone caller told him a man at a bar claimed he would go out "in a blaze of glory" at a church this morning - and even showed a rifle that he claimed would be used in the crime.

Reporter sues TV Station

Danita Cohen is suing the Reno television station that she works for – saying she was discriminated against and harassed because she is Jewish. The suit claims KOLO-TV took her off the morning show as an anchor and demoted her to reporter partly because of her religion. She has worked for the ABC affiliate for a decade and says the problems started when the current news director arrived, telling the staff he was a born-again Christian. The station had no comment.

$25 million Scheme

Government investigators say Safevest, was not such a safe investment. They say the Mission Viejo, California based-company has been running a Ponzi scheme aimed at Christians. Jon G. Ervin and John V. Slye have been arrested by the FBI and face fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating at least $25 million. The money came from more than 500 investors who tought they were investing in commodity futures pools but the investment vehicles never existed. Slye claimed he was a pastor who had spent decades working as a missionary. More than two-thirds of the investors were church members.

Name Change Stirs Controversy

Steve Kreuscher wants to change his name. The Chicago area man is asking to officially be called In God We Trust. The school bus driver has petitioned the court in his county to make it legal. Kreuscher is from Zion, Illinois and says he remembers when God Reigns was taken off the city seal a few years ago. He’s afraid the same thing could happen to In God We Trust.. that it could be removed from US currency.

Religious Broadcasters May Face New Rules

A proposal by the FCC to require more local programming is dividing religious broadcasters. The new rules would require stations to have an outside advisory board and to inform the government about what kind of programming they are airing. The Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United Church of Christ support some form of new licensing guidelines. But the National Religious Broadcasters says the proposals could “strangle” Christian media.

Giving to Churches & Charities

The percentage of born-again adults who gave money to churches dropped to 76%. That’s the lowest level this decade because many Christians are now giving their money to different types of organizations rather than a church. Other findings:

The average gift to nonprofits last year by US adults was $1,308.

The segments of American adults MOST likely to give to churches and charitable groups:
Evangelicals – 24%
Conservatives – 12%
People who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week – 12%
Charismatic or Pentecostal Christians – 11%
Registered Republicans – 10%

The segments of American adults LEAST likely to give to churches and charitable groups:
People under the age of 25
Atheists and agnostics
Single adults who have never been married

Adults making less than $20,000 per year

Source: The Barna Group

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mayor/Pastor Headed to Jail

The one-time mayor of Fairbanks has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for misusing $450,000 of government grants. Jim Hayes convicted of diverting the money to a nonprofit social service organization and the Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ - where he is pastor. Prosecutors say they had traced the money to payments for a plasma television and a wedding reception for the couple's son.

Cross Controversy at Western Wall

Three church leaders from Ireland say have been prevented from praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. A Roman Catholic Cardinal, the Church of Ireland Archbishop, as well as Presbyterian and Methodist Irish leaders refused to remove the crosses they were wearing. They left without visiting the remnant. The group is on a peace mission to Israel and the West Bank. The Western Wall was built by King Herod in the 6th century BC. Other sections of the temple were destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.

FCC Rules on 700 Club

The FCC has ruled that news and interview portions of Pat Robertson's 700 Club is bona fide news programming. That makes it exempt from the equal opportunities clause. That means the 700 Club can talk about politics or interview candidates without invoking the FCC rule that requires TV stations to offer free airtime to other candidates. However, Robertson didn’t get everything he wanted. The commission stopped short of declaring the entire program exempt.

Voter Views on Barak's Pastor

A telephone survey of North Carolina voters:

Have you followed news stories about Barack Obama’s former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright? Yes – 80%

Do you believe Obama denounced Wright because he was outraged? Democratic Voters: Yes – 43%

Do you believe Obama’s denounced Wright because it was political convenient? Obama Supporters: Yes – 40%, Clinton Supporters: Yes - 70%

Do you believe Obama shares some of Wright’s controversial views about the US? Yes – 40%

Do you agree with Wright’s comments about the US? Democratic Voters: Yes- 15%, Obama Supporters: 22%

Do you view Wright favorably? Likely North Carolina Primary Voters: 15%

Source: Rasmussen Reports

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dobson up for Hall of Fame

James Dobson is up for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Besides the founder of Focus on the Family, other nominates include Bob Costas, Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Howard Stern. To qualify, a broadcaster must have contributed to the radio industry on a national level for at least 10 years. Dobson’s Focus on the Family airs on more than 3000 radio stations each day and in 27 languages. Online voting starts today and runs through July 15. Inductees will be announced shortly afterward. This is the first time the public has been invited to vote on the nominees. The National Radio Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Chicago.

Pastor Gets 16 Years

The former pastor of Harvest Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. Artis Caver was convicted on 25 counts of money laundering and theft stealing. Prosecutors say he stole more than $400,000 from the church.

Methodist Protest

Legislative action stopped for 15 minutes today at the United Methodist Church's General Conference taking place at the Fort Worth Convention Center when several hundred demonstrators took over the floor. They were protesting the denomination's decision not to change its official stand that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. They sang the spiritial Were You There? before dispersing.

Honest Scout

John Robert Bouterse of Door, Michigan found a wallet in the parking lot of Open Door Reformed Church after an Easter egg hunt that contained more than $800. The 11-year-old returned it to the owner – despite the fact he had just lost his own wallet. The publicity around JR's honesty led to the return of his own wallet (containing about $30). State Police officers took up a collection to give him a reward, but Boy Scout asked that the money be used to pay for a pizza party for his troop.

No Degree for You!

Barack Obama’s former pastor will not be getting an honorary degree from Northwestern University. The University has withdrawn the offer to Jeremiah Wright because of the recent controversy surrounding him. He was to receive it during June’s commencement exercises.

President Bush on Prayer

Some of President Bush's remarks at the White House on this National Day of Prayer.

"We are a prayerful nation. A lot of citizens draw comfort from prayer. Prayer is an important part of the lives of millions of Americans. And it's interesting, when you think about our faith you can find it in the Pledge of Allegiance, you can find an expression of American faith in the Declaration of Independence, and you can find it in the coins in our pockets.

George Washington took the oath of office and then added the famous plea, "So help me God." On John Adams's first day in the White House, he wrote a prayer that is now etched in marble on the fireplace in the State Dining Room, and he prayed, "May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." Now we'll leave it to the historians to judge whether or not that happened throughout our history. (Laughter.)

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln turned to prayer. His second Inaugural Address quoted from Scripture. He stood before the United States people and quoted from Scripture. And he sought to heal a people who "read the same Bible and prayed to the same God" -- his words.

As William McKinley lay dying from an assassin's bullet, one of his final words on earth focused on the Almighty. On his deathbed he was heard to say, "Nearer, my God to thee."

As American forces risked their lives on D-Day, Franklin Roosevelt delivered a presidential prayer over the radio. He asked God to protect our troops as they liberated "a suffering humanity" and he prayed for "a peace that will let all men live in freedom." When Roosevelt died, his successor, Harry Truman, said he "felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets" had fallen on him. And he told reporters: "Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now."

John F. Kennedy attended mass in Florida during the last week of his presidency, and during the last week of his life.

Three days after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, Laura and I joined our fellow citizens in prayer before the Lord.

Well, sometimes God's signs are not always the ones we look for. And we learn in tragedy that His purposes are not always our own. But we also know that in adversity we can find comfort through prayer.

I think it makes sense to hope that one day there may be a International Day of Prayer. It will be a chance for people of faith around the world to stop at the same time to pause to praise an Almighty. It will be a time when we could prayer together for a world that sees the promise of the Psalms made real: "Your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth."

Statue of Liberty

Some people think the book in the left hand of Lady Liberty is the Bible. But actually, the Statue of Liberty has a tablet reading July IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776). That's the date the Declaration
of Independence was signed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A National Day of Prayer

This is the National Day of Prayer. Petitions to God will be made not just from the ground but from the air is well. That’s because a group of pilots plan to fly and pray over every state capital today. There are thousand of other events planned around the theme of prayer for the nation as well. Some are meeting in churches, others on the steps of courthouses, some in parks. The National Day of Prayer was first officially observed more than 50 years ago. In 1952, Congress passed a law declaring a day of prayer should be observed on the first Thursday of each May.

Methodist Vote on Gay Unions

Delegates at the United Methodist General Conference meeting in Fort Worth, Texas has voted to reject a move that would have changed the denomination’s Book of Discipline to support gay relationships. The decision was a fairly close 501-417 to affirm that marriage can only take place between a man and a women. Nearly a third of the delegates came from Africa and other places besides the US. Their conservative views made the difference in the outcome.

Pastor Sues Church

The former pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Utica, New York is suing the church over his dismissal. Tenolian Bell claims leaders of the congregation failed to go by church’s bylaws when they voted him out. The tally was 83-41, to give him notice. Members questioned his financial management. But Bell claims he was met with resistance because he wanted to make sure the church followed the law.

Dead Sea Scrolls Display

A very old section of the Dead Sea Scrolls rarely seen in public will be on display in May during Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. The fragment is more than 2000 years old and include Psalm 133. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

Clinton on Obama Pastor

Hillary Clinton is now offering her take on Barak Obama’s pastor. She told Fox News that the views of Jeremiah Wright, such as claiming the federal government is behind the spread of AIDS, are “offensive” and “outrageous”. Clinton went on to say that Obama had "made his views clear, finally, that he disagreed. And I think that's what he had to do." She made the remark during her first appearance on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show.

Hillary's Pastor on Barak's Pastor

"The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader. He has served for decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society. He has been a vocal critic of the racism, sexism and homophobia which still tarnish the American dream.” - Dean Snyder of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC (Hillary Clinton’s pastor) commenting on Barak Obama’s former pastor. Synder has also recently announced his church will recognize same-sex unions in special ceremonies that fall just short of an official wedding.

Prophecy at Megachurch

Ted Haggard’s former Colorado Springs church is now focusing on prophecy. Pastor Brady Boyd says the entire 10,000 member New Life Church congregation can use the gift of prophecy to make declarations about the future. Ministers at the megachurch recently went through the audience, telling one woman she was "at a crossroads" and another man "he was on the right track” according to the Denver Post. Following Haggard’s resignation in disgrace, the church had to deal with another major incident - two people were killed in the church parking lot during a shooting spree in December.

Wright-Obama Timeline

1972 - Wright becomes pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.

1985 - Obama meets Wright.

1988 - Obama becomes a Christian after hearing a Wright sermon.

1992 - Obama joins Trinity United Church and Wright officiates at his wedding.

2007 - Obama decides not to have Wright deliver the invocation at the launch of his presidential campaign.

March 14 – Wright steps down from a campaign advisory committee after Obama calls his remarks unacceptable and inexcusable.

March 18 - Obama criticizes Wright during a speech on race but says he can't "disown" Wright.

April 28 - Wright says criticism of his sermons amounts to criticism of black churches.

April 29, 2008 - Obama says he is "outraged" by Wright's recent comments and says
their relationship has been permanently damaged.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

John Michael Talbot's Monastery

The Catholic monastery founded by Christian singer John Michael Talbot in Arkansas' Ozark Mountains was partly destroyed by fire Tuesday night. The Little Portion Hermitage lost its chapel where the fire started, dining hall, archives, library, and storeroom. Some people at the monastery suffered minor smoke inhalation. Talbot began recording rock in the 70’s but after a conversion experience became a well known Catholic acoustic artist. His more than 40 albums have sold more than 40 million copies.

Presbyterian Pastor Cleared

The Presbyterian Church, USA has cleared one if its pastors after she was brought up on charges for performing gay marriages. Jane Spahr, a California gay rights activist, was accused of breaking church law by officiating at the events. But the church’s high court decided the ceremonies were not real marriages ceremonies and only amounted to a blessing of a same-sex union. That overturns last year's ruling that found her guilty of misconduct and gave her a rebuke (the lightest possible punishment). Spahr was the first openly lesbian Presbyterian minister to be appointed a local church pastor.

Standoff at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries

A man is behind bars after sheriff's deputies arrested him at the Baton Rouge, headquarters of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Authorities say Garland Morris sat in his truck, loudly playing the ministry’s radio station before pulling out a machete. He held off deputies for a couple of hours, before SWAT officers broke a truck window and took him into custody.

Gibson's Return

Mel Gibson has agreed to star in a movie for the first time since 2002. While Gibson has directed movies like The Passion of the Christ in the last few years, he has not played the lead in a film since he starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. In Edge of Darkness, Gibson will be a police officer whose political activist daughter is killed. It’s adapted from a British television series.

Obama Blasts Former Pastor

Barack Obama is distancing himself even further from former pastor Jeremiah Wright. Obama says Wright's comments do not accurately portray the perspective of the black church. Here’s what Obama had to say:

"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday. This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate. What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that contradicts what I am and what I stand for. I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia explaining that he's done enormous good. But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS.. There are no excuses. They offended me. They rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced. That's a show of disrespect to me. It is also, I think, an insult to what we've been trying to do."

Pelosi Explains Bible Verse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is blaming a San Francisco priest for her press release that made reference to a Bible verse that lead to accusations she made it up. In her Earth Day message, Pelosi wrote, "The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship.’ To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.'” But the reference is not found directly in Scripture. A spokesman now says Pelosi "heard a priest quote the verse many years ago during a mass in San Francisco" and that her remark is actually a paraphrase of Genesis 2:15. It reads, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it."

Third Day Facts

lead singer - Mac Powell
drummer - David Carr
lead guitarist - Brad Avery
guitarist - Mark Lee
Bass guitarist - Tai Anderson

1995 self-produced, self-financed for $3000, self-distributed album
repackaged a year later by Reunion Records

1997's Conspiracy No. 5, Billboard called them, "not only one of the best Christian bands of the '90s but one of the best rock bands, period."

Offerings I went platinum

Offerings II: All I Have to Give went gold

24 Dove awards
2 Grammy

2004 ALBUM

The band started in 1991 in the suburbs of Atlanta

His Side of the Story

A televangelist recently went on the TV show Divorce Court. Now, the estranged husband of Juanita Bynum is telling his own story in a new book. Thomas Weeks claims he’s the one who’s suffered both physical and emotional abuse. His book is called What Love Taught Me and includes chapters like I Would Rather Push You Now Than Punch You Later and She Wanted to Be Oprah at Any Cost. An altercation between the Atlanta ministers left Weeks serving three years of probation.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Parents Face Charges

A Wisconsin couple who prayed instead of taking their sick daughter to a doctor face charges of second-degree reckless homicide. Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston could get 25 years in prison for letting their 11-year-old die of diabetes. Leilani Neumann told Associated Press they believed in the Bible but had nothing against doctors. They do not belong to an organized church. The girl’s grandmother says the child was ill for days and wasn’t able to walk or talk.

Bible Literacy Poll

Have you read a phrase from the Bible in the past 12 months?
Americans – 75% (yes)
– 28%
- 27%
- 21%

- 20%

Have you read a book with a religious theme in the past 12 months?
Americans – 58% (yes)
Poland – 50%

Have you prayed in the past 12 months?
Americans – 87% (yes)
French – 49%

Have you a Bible in your home?
Americans – 93% (yes)
French – 48%

Do you attend religious services regularly?
Poland - 91% (yes)
Americans – 77%
Russia – 75%

Source: The GFK-Eurisko research group for the Catholic Biblical Federation

Plagiarism by Professor

The author of Shopping for God and Branded Nation: The Marketing of Megachurch is being accused of plagiarism. University of Florida professor James Twitchell borrowed parts of his books from other sources without crediting them, according to the The Gainesville Sun. Twitchell has issued an apology and the school has started its own investigation.

Wright on Farrakhan

Jeremiah Wright had this to say about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during his appearance at the National Press Club: "He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century; that’s what I think about him. I said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis Farrakhan speaks it’s like E.F. Hutton speaks. All black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen. Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan any more than Mandela will put down Fidel Castro... Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn’t make me this color."
Here's the complete transcript.

Scientology Online

Can't get enough of the Church of Scientology? The group has now started a YouTube site to "share the truth about Scientologys beliefs with the general public". Here's a bit of Scientology history:

1975 • Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard came to Clearwater, Florida. The FBI soon uncovered a covert plot by the church to discredit its enemies and "take control" of the city.

Late '70s • Hubbard's wife and 10 other top church officials were convicted in Washington in a plot to steal federal government documents.

1980s • The city held hearings to explore allegations that Scientology is a cult, but no action was taken.

1995 • A Scientologist died after being cared for by church staffers for 17 days in at a hotel owned by the church. A wrongful death suit by her family was settled in 2004.

Today • Celebrity devotees such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The Los Angeles-based church claims 10 million members and more than 7,000 churches around the world. Some 12,000 Scientologists live and work in and around Clearwater. Scientology's new seven-story Flag Building covers a full city block.

Obama's Pastor Speaks Out

Jeremiah Wright spoke at the National Press Club this morning in DC. He didn't back down from his controversial remarks about the government spreading AIDS (“I believe our government is capable of doing anything") and that America's "chickens are coming home to roost" after the 9/11 attacks (he claims America is "do(ing) terrorism" on others and it is simply coming back on the US). Wright said recent criticism about his sermons is really an attack on the black church. Wright says he warned Barak Obama that if he's elected President in November, "I'm coming after you." Wright is reportedly getting protection from the Nation of Islam because of death threats.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Revealing Photo of Miley Cyrus

The star of Disney’s Hannah Montana appears in the June issue of Vanity Fair topless and wrapped in a bed sheet. Although Miley Cyrus is covered, the outspoken Christian is getting a firestorm of criticism for her decision to pose for the photo. Disney blames the magazine. Cyrus has apologized, saying it seemed artsy at the time but now she’s embarrassed. Disney has moved into damage control, concerned its billion dollar franchise may be in jeopardy. A movie and book is in the works for Cyrus next year. Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards picked her as the favorite television actress.

Wright Speaks at Dinner

Barak Obama’s longtime pastor spoke tonight at NAACP's 53rd annual Freedom Fund dinner in Detroit. Jeremiah Wright told the audience of 12,000 people, “A change is coming because we no longer see others as being deficient”. In response to his controversial comments being run continuously on cable news networks, Wright said, “We knew that the looping was looping out the truth.”

Music Builds Tour

Third Day will headline a tour aimed at mainstream music fans. The 23-city Music Builds tour hits the road this fall with Switchfoot, Jars of Clay and Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Some of the proceeds will go to help Habitat for Humanity. Third Day also plans to release the group’s first studio album in three years. Revelation drops July 19th. Check here for tour dates.

Church Celebrates Cell Tower

A Florida church is planning a dedication service and picnic for a new cell phone tower on its property. That’s because T-Mobile is paying the Gulf Coast Worship Center in New Port Richey $1,200 a month to lease the property - and has disguised the tower with a very high cross. The 160 foot cross can been seen for quite a distance of road.

"Day of Silence" Get Noisy

Nearly 500 of the 1400 students at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Washington didn’t show up on Friday. Instead, some 80 students and parents gathered for a Day of Silence to show support for gay and lesbian rights. Pastor Ken Hutcherson (who’s daughter attends the school) and about 100 supporters gathered outside where they prayed and sang - behind yellow crime-scene tape put in place by police to keep them apart from several dozen counterdemonstrators. They chanted and banged on drums to dispute the pastor. More than 7,000 school and colleges around the country observed the national Day of Silence. Here's a video showing what the chaotic scene looked like:

Floor Collapse Aftermath

Three people are still in in serious condition today after the collapse of flooring at a Christian concert Friday night, sending dozens of people to the hospital. Starfield was playing at Central Heights Church in British Columbia when a 600-square-foot area of the floor caved in. Fans jumping up and down fell some 15 feet into the building's basement. Lighting and audio equipment followed after them. Today’s services at the Mennonite church were moved to the Columbia Bible College gym. Starfield has posted a request for prayer be offered on behalf of the injured. Fans have posted remarks in support of those who were hurt on the group's Facebook site. This video was shot right before the floor fell in.

World's Largest Flag

The world's largest flag was unveiled in Jerusalem today. It's part of celebrations to mark Israel's 60th anniversary (May 7). It was made by Grace Galindez-Gupana, a Filipino evangelical Christian. The flag is more than 2100 feet long and 300 feet wide. It weights a whopping 5.7 tons.

Supreme Court Religious Affiliations

Roman Catholic:

Chief Justice John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Anthony Kennedy
Samuel Alito

Stephen Breyer
Ruth Badger Ginsburg

John Paul Stevens

David Souter

Obama Pastor in Dallas

The media was not allowed to bring cameras into a service this morning in Dallas featuring Barack Obama's former pastor. Jeremiah Wright preached to a packed and enthusiastic congregation of about 4000 at the Friendship-West Baptist Church. Local media says Wright referred to the replay of comments he's made from the pulpit as a “public crucifixion”.