Friday, October 17, 2008

The Outlaw Larry Norman

There’s a new documentary out about Contemporary Christian Music pioneer Larry Norman. Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman by David Di Sabatino tells the story of Norman’s alleged abandoned son and dips into questionable business dealings. Norman died of heart failure earlier this year in Salem, Oregon at the age of 60. He 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.

Fire Grows in Theaters

Fireproof expands to more than 900 theaters this weekend. That’s 100 more than last weekend. Made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, it has grossed more than $17 million.

Meanwhile, The Love Dare book, which is mentioned in the movie is now on top of the New York Times bestseller list for paperback advice books. It was written by the brothers who wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Southern Gospel on Digital Radio

A radio station in Springfield, Ohio says it is the first to broadcast a southern gospel format on a multicast channel. When radio stations switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, they are able to send more than one signal to recievers. WEEC-FM HD2 says it is programming mostly music. It is a non-commercial broadcast facility.

While the FCC has not mandated a date for all radio stations to make the digital switch as it has television broadcasters, many stations are already broadcast on both bands. The 1,700-plus HD Radio channels on the air covering more than 83% of the country. The first wave of HD Radios were pricey, up to $500. New radios just coming out will include models for less than $100.

Reba McEntire & Reincarnation

Reba McEntire says she believes in reincarnation. The country singer had previously professed her Christian belief. She tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

I will get flak from Christians who will say I can't be a Christian if I believe this. That's true, and I'm sorry, but this is how I live my life, this is what I believe. I believe I have spent time with my son Shelby before. I believe I have spent time with other people in my life before. Who knows? Maybe I'm part Buddhist."

Spotting Mental Illness

A large number of pastors can’t spot mental illness. That’s the finding of a study conducted at Baylor University in Texas. Researchers sent people to their pastors who were previously diagnosed by a licensed mental health provider as having a serious mental illness. About a third of the pastors said the parishioner did not really have a mental illness but the problem was spiritual in nature. Women were more likely than men to have their mental disorders dismissed and the researchers say conservative churches were more likely to be dismissive of concerns over mental illness. The results of the study are in the Journal Mental Health, Religion and Culture.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Baylor Paying for Test Scores

Baylor University is paying students to retake the SAT if they can raise their scores. Freshmen get a $300 campus bookstore credit along with $1,000 in merit scholarship if they boost their total by 50 points. Nearly three out of ten students took up the challenge, raising the average SAT score average for incoming freshmen at the Texas school ten points higher (to 1210). Some students and faculty have complained that it is inappropriate for a Christian institution to pay for higher scores in order to achieve better rankings among colleges. Baylor's Faculty Senate passed a motion criticizing the effort as "academically dishonest.”

Gates Gives Millions to World Vision

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $6.4 million to World Vision. The funds will go to aid farmers in Angola's central highlands, most of whom are women. More than a third of the country has been displaced because of a war that has ravaged the nation for three decades. The Christian relief organization has had a presence in Angola for about 20 years.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lawsuit Against God

A Nebraska judge has thrown out a lawsuit against God. The judge says, "There can never be service effectuated on the named defendant. State Senator Ernie Chambers had filed the complaint against the Almighty, asking that he be prevented from unleashing natural disasters. Chambers argued that since God is all-knowing, he does have notice.

Wallet Stolen from Church

While Rob Hamby was speaking to the congregation at Fort Worth Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, someone was stealing his wallet. His briefcase was taken from the church office as he talked about showing mercy. Security cameras caught images of a man and woman who then went on a shopping spree for luxury items.

Jailed for Giving a Spanking

A South Carolina pastor is facing charges after he spanked a 4-year-old boy. Michael Belcher of Lakeview Baptist Church in Pickens is accused of assault. He asked the parents for permission before discipling the boy at the preschool. The parents agreed but filed charges when they found he left bruises on the child. The past is out on a $7500 bond.

More Liberal in College

A new survey show college students become more liberal from the time the move from freshman to juniors and then move more conservative after graduation. Researchers at UCLA claim it’s not left-leaning professors but other students that cause the drift away from the right.

Do you support legalized abortion?
As freshman: 52% said “yes”. The same group as college juniors: 60% said “yes”.

Do you support "legal marital status" for gay couples?
As freshman: 54% said “yes”. The same group as college juniors: 66% said “yes”.

The research is based on a sample of some 15,000 students who entered 136 colleges in 2004 and a second sample when they became juniors.

Do you support laws prohibiting homosexual relationships?
As freshman: 31% said “yes”. The same group as college juniors: 21% said “yes”.

Would you say that you “never” attend religious services?
As freshman: 19% said “yes”. The same group as college juniors: 37% said “yes”.

Would you call yourself "liberal" or "far left"?
At graduation 24% said “yes”. The same group six years later: 30% said “yes”.

Would you call yourself "conservative" or "far right"?
At graduation 28% said “yes”. The same group six years later: 31% said “yes”.

Source: UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A survey of 1200 Megachurches

Megachurches that identify themselves as “predominately conservative”:
2005 - 51%
2008 - 33%

Megachurches that identify themselves as “somewhat conservative”:
2005 - 33%
2008 - 44%

Megachurches that identify themselves as “right in the middle”:
2005 - 11%
2008 - 17%

Megachurches that identify themselves as “theologically moderate”:
2000 - 12%
2008 - 6%

Megachurches that identify themselves as “evangelical”:
2000 - 48%
2008 - 65%

Source: The Hartford Institute for Religion Research

Monday, October 13, 2008

Power of Prayer Fights Off Carjacker

A report from KSAZ in Phoenix, Arizona:

1/2 Million Visit Creation Museum

The Creation Museum has drawn more than a half-million visitors since its May 2007 opening in rural northern Kentucky. It took $27 million in private donations to build the museum. Regular visitors pay $20 for admission. Answers in Genesis is the Christian organization that operates the museum.

Box Office Numbers

The Baptist-church-made Fireproof fell out of the top ten this weekend. The film took in dipped 20% in its third weekend, grossing an estimated $3.2 million from 875 runs. The film about a firefighter's battle to save his marriage has take in about $17 million. It took only a half-million to make it.

The movie by atheist and comedian Bill Maher called Religulous dropped 35% in its second weekend. The film about odd slices of religion grossed an estimated $2.2 million from 568 theaters for a total of only $6.7 million so far.

Billy: The Early Years reported a screen average of $709. The Billy Graham biography took in less than $200,000 from 282 locations.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Billy Graham to Hospital

Billy Graham is back home after a stay in the hospital yesterday. The 89-year-old Evangelist fell over one of his dogs at his Montreat, North Carolina home. Mission Hospital in Asheville says his X-rays showed no broken bones. He will celebrate his 90th birthday November 7th.