Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gay Clergy & the PCUSA

The Presbyterian Church, USA has voted to drop its ban on gay clergy. The vote at the denomination's General Assembly in San Jose, California was 54% to 46%. But the battle has just begun over the issue. It will take a year or so to find out whether the proposal gets the required support from the nation’s presbyteries. A majority of these regional church bodies must agree for this vote to change the church constitution. The nation's presbyteries overwhelmingly rejected similar efforts twice before. In the meantime, the interpretation supersedes a ruling going in the opposite direction from the church's high court.

Friday, June 27, 2008

TV Ad Hits Obama on Abortion

An :30 ad from the Family Research Council is showing up on TV stations in Dallas and Atlanta today that criticizes Barack Obama’s stance on abortion. The announcement features the group’s leader Tony Perkins. After clip of Obama saying, “We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception” Perkins comes on and says, “If, as you say, fatherhood begins at conception, when does life begin?”

Naval Academy Prayer Challenged

The Naval Academy is refusing to stop lunchtime prayer despite a threat from the ACLU to take the University to court. The tradition began at the Maryland school’s founding in 1845. Nine midshipmen have complained to the ACLU about the practice. Five years ago, an appeals court told the Virginia Military Institute that its mealtime prayer was unconstitutional.

And God Said: Just Do It

Time Magazine's look at what it says are "Churches are urging spouses to have hot sex".

"I Kissed a Girl"

Christian music fans may remember Katy Hudson. She put out an album seven years ago at the age of 16. Critics say it wasn't profound but showed promised. Now at age 23, she’s using the stage name Katy Perry and has a pop hit at #1 called I Kissed a Girl and another called Ur So Gay.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

McCain's Pastor

The attention on Barak Obama’s longtime pastor has gotten many wondering about John McCain's pastor. Although raised in the Episcopal Church, or the past 15 years, the Republican presidential candidate has attended a Baptist church in Phoenix where Dan Yeary is the pastor. Despite McCain’s support for stem-cell research and his past criticism of Evangelical leaders, Yeary is a vocal conservative who opposes abortion and gay marriage. His North Phoenix Baptist Church has some 7000 members.

Million Dollar Prize

The 2008 Templeton Prize goes to Michael Heller. He's a philosophy professor and Roman Catholic priest in Poland. Besides the honor, he gets more than $1.6 million to spend any way he likes. Heller plans to set up an academic center that will promote research and education in science and theology. More Info

Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Dobson

Pastor Sets up Anti-Dobson Site

Methodist pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell says James Dobson was "inaccurate and unfair" when he criticized Barak Obama for comments he made at a speech two years ago. The Houston pastor says Dobson is acting "holier than thou" and has started a website called Caldwell is known for having performed the benediction at the inaugurations of President Bush and his father.

Bible Coin Discovered

Archaeologists in Israel say a shekel dating back to the days of Jesus has recently turned up. The silver coin is the kind once used in the second Temple built in the sixth century BC. It was found near the Old City of Jerusalem in a 2000-year-old drainage ditch.

Bethel Raises Most in School History

Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota has raised the most money ever in a fundraising campaign for the Evangelical school. The $109.3 million will be used for new facilities, including a 110,000-square-foot commons building. Work should be finished by Spring of next year. It’s seminary campus in San Diego will also be expanded. School president George Brushaber will retire at the end of the month. He gave $5 million himself.

Books of the Year

Here’s the Christianity Today picks for books of the year.

There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese

Biblical Studies
The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition
Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd

Christianity and Culture:
Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite
D. Michael Lindsay

Christian Living
Caring for Mother: A Daughter's Long Goodbye
Virginia Stem Owens

The Church/Pastoral Leadership
The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry
Ajith Fernando

Quaker Summer
Lisa Samson

A Secular Age
Charles Taylor

Missions/Global Affairs
Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity
Lamin O. Sanneh

The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way
Eugene H. Peterson

Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music
Jeremy S. Begbie

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Safe Corners of the Web

A new way for parents to keep their children in “kid safe” areas of the internet launches this week. KidZui is designed to let them roam freely without worrying parents that something objectionable will pop up. Aimed at the age 3 to 12 crowd, the service is run by a San Diego company and includes some half-a-million safe sites, photos and videos, all approved by a group of parents and teachers. While content can be shared, there’s no email, IM, or ads. Users must download a special browser and pay either $100 a year or $10 a month. There’s a one-month free trial available. Each child is represented by a cartoon figure that can be customized. Detailed reports on the sites children have visited is available as well.

What is Sin?

Here are the results of a survey on sin. The percentage indicates how many Americans say the activity is sinful. The "more sinful" is at the top, the "less sinful" is at the bottom.

Adultery - 81%
Racism - 74%
Using "hard" drugs, such as cocaine, LSD - 65%
Not saying anything if a cashier gives you too much change - 63%
Having an abortion - 56%
Homosexual activity or sex - 52%
Not reporting some income on your tax returns - 52%
Reading or watching pornography - 50%
Gossip - 47%
Swearing - 46%
Sex before marriage - 45%
Homosexual thoughts - 44%
Sexual thoughts about someone you are not married to - 43%
Doing things as a consumer that harm the environment - 41%
Smoking marijuana - 41%
Getting drunk - 41%
Gambling - 30%
Not attending church or religious services regularly - 18%
Drinking any alcohol - 14%

Margin of error: ±3.1 percentage points
Source: Ellison Research

Wallis Attacks Dobson

Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, says James Dobson either "didn't understand" the speech given by Barak Obama that Dobson critisized on his radio program yesterday, or else he "is deliberately distorting it. " Wallis calls Dobson's comments "inappropriate" and accused him of supporting the idea of a theocracy in the US.

US Pastor Out of Russian Jail

A South Carolina pastor will soon leave Russia after spending five months in prison for bringing a $25 box of hunting rounds into Russia. Phillip Miles of Christ Community Church in Conway was taking the .300-caliber cartridges to a fellow pastor who had recently bought a new rifle. Miles says he didn't know bringing ammunition into Russia was illegal and that he had asked US airline officials before boarding his plane and was assured there would not be a problem. He’s traveled often to Russia, working for a charity started by his father called Evangel Fellowship International.

IRS Investigates Website's Politics

The IRS is looking into The Internet call-in program is run by Florida evangelist Bill Keller. He told people “a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Satan.” Since his organization in tax exempt, the agency is determining whether Keller illegally got in involved in partisan politics.

Religion in America Survey

A survey of American adults:

Do you believe in God? Yes 92%

Do you have a belief in a personal God? Yes 51%

Is God "an impersonal force”? Yes 14%

Do you reject any concept of God? Yes 5%

Do you pray daily? Yes 58%

Are there absolute standards of right and wrong? Yes 78%

How do you determine what’s right and wrong?
Practical experience and common sense 52%
Your religion 29%
Philosophy and reason 9%
Scientific information 5%

Is there a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded? Yes 74%

Is there a hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished? Yes 59%

Can many religions can lead to eternal life? Yes 70%

Is there more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion? Yes 68%

Is religion the "main influence in their political thinking”? 14%

Is homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society? Yes 50%

Should society discourage homosexuality? % of members of groups responding Yes
Jehovah's Witnesses 76%
Mormons 68%
Muslims 61%
Evangelicals 64%

Do you read the Bible or pray with your children?
Couples of the same religion: Yes, 63%
Religiously mixed marriages: 48%

Source: Pew Forum

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dobson Goes After Obama

James Dobson says Barack Obama is distorting the Bible. On today's edition of his Focus on the Family radio program, Dobson played segments of a speech Obama made two years ago.

Obama says, "Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?"

Dobson tells listeners that Obama went on to “deliberately distort” traditional Christianity by his comments on the Old Testament’s dietary codes. Dobson says if you follow out Obama's comments to their logical conclusion, you would wind up letting the lowest common denominator decide public policy.

Obama’s representatives have approached Dobson about a meeting at the organization's headquarters in Colorado. Focus says it will consider the offer. McCain has not met with Dobson either.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Silent Thunder

Eric Thunander tells his story in a new book called Silent Thunder. The deaf college football standout was a part of the University of Oklahoma’s 2000 National Championship team. But his book not only chronicles his triumphs but his low points.

The defensive end endured abuse and multiple foster homes as a child, finally hitting the bottom when a head injury ended his football career. He wound up trying to commit suicide. But Thunander got back in school, completed his degree and is now a motivational speaker after turning his life over to God.

Sceme Took Millions from Church-goers

South Carolina prosecutors say three men known as The Three Hebrew Boys scammed millions of dollars from church-goers. They enlisted some 7000 believers across the Carolinas with promises of great financial reward for small investments in foreign currencies, claiming God had saved them from financial ruin. But authorities say Tony Pough, Timothy McQueen and Joseph Brunson used the money on luxury items. They face 35 counts of mail fraud and $17 million has been frozen.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

McCain to Baptist Church

John McCain attended the North Phoenix Baptist Church this morning. He went unnoticed by many people in the services because the visit was unannounced and McCain did not speak to the congregation or reporters.

Priest who Mocked Hillary Returns

Michael Pfleger is back. The priest suspended for mocking Hillary from the pulpit of Senator Barack Obama's former church returned to his Chicago church today. Pfleger told his St. Sabina congregation he would not "play it safe or become silent."

Bibles in China

China allows only one state-sanctioned Bible printer to stay in operation. The Amity Printing Company in Nanjing has been in business some 20 years and prints about 12 million Bibles annual. That's hardly enough for a population of 1.3 billion. There are some 30 million Christians worshiping at government-approved churches and it's estimated that tens of millions more gathering in underground churches. A quarter of the Bibles printed at Amity go over seas. You can only buy a Bible legally through a state-run church. Visitors to China caught smuggling in copies face stiff prison sentences.