Friday, December 12, 2008

Layoffs at Thomas Nelson

Thomas Nelson is cutting 55 jobs. The Christian book publisher blames falling book sales. There’s been a 9% drop in religious books says so far this year. The company already let about 60 workers go this past spring. It has also slashed the number of book titles it publishes in half. Thomas Nelson is the world's largest publisher of English-language Bibles.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cizik Resigns

The National Association of Evangelicals says Richard Cizik has resigned as the group’s DC representative. He’s been with the organization for 28 years. But Cizik has battled other Christian leaders over the issue of global warming and more recently same-sex marriage. He made public that he voted for Obama in the primaries. The NAE board was particularly unhappy with his December interview on National Public Radio, saying his responses did not reflect NAE views. Cizik said his views on gay marriage are "shifting". He later apologized but apparently that was no enough to satisfy the group’s leadership. The NAE represents tens of thousands of churches and religious organizations.

State Told to Stop Making I Believe Tags

A judge is ordering the state of South Carolina to quit making personalized license plates with a cross and the words I Believe while a lawsuit challenging the plates moves forward. The temporary injunction came after a court hearing today involving the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. None of those who have placed orders for the plates have received them yet.

The Religious Case for Gay Marriage

Newsweek’s cover story this week entitled The Religious Case for Gay Marriage has lead to an organized campaign encouraging readers to cancel their subscriptions . Chief Executive Tom Ascheim had to open a new email account to handle all the angry email from readers.

Company executives said today the magazine will cut staff as part of a makeover that will turn it into a smaller publication driven by opinion rather than news. The magazine, owned and operated by the Washington Post, has been losing money, cutting more than 100 positions this past spring. Mediaweek reports that Newsweek's ad pages have dropped by about 21% this year.

More on Bush's Surprising Interview about the Bible

CNN reports on President Bush's recent controversial interview about the Bible and evolution.

Top Religion Stories of the Year

1. The Evangelical Role in Election 2008
2. California’s Same-sex Marriage Ban
3. Christians Killed in India
4. Episcopalian and Anglican Schisms
5. Christians Flee Iraq and Gaza
6. The Pastors of Presidential Candidates
7. Global Economic Woes
8. Muslim and Christian Dialogues
9. Charismatic Divisions over Todd Bentley’s Florida Revival
10. Issues Raised by Raids at Texas Polygamist Compound

Source: Christianity Today

Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell

The battle over what to display at the Washington State capitol has taken another strange twist. Now the controversial gay-funeral-protesting Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas wants permission to put up a display that will say “Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell.”

Meanwhile, the KC Free Thinkers is requesting approval to put up a display celebrating a deity named The Flying Spaghetti Monster. An Olympia man has already asked to stick up a celebratory pole in honor of the holiday Festivus. The made up holiday was a joke started on the Seinfeld TV show.

A nun wants to add a sign that would read “To the Atheist Community, May all be blessed with Joy and Happiness. We share with you our Peace and Love and Kindness. The Christian Community.”

Besides a nativity scene and Christmas display, the capital building already has a sign put up by an atheist declaring there are no gods, devils or angels.

Rich Warren on Fundamentalism

"Of course, we need creeds. We don't need to change what we believe. We need to change how we behave. It's not creeds or deeds. I didn't say that. It's creeds and deeds. You say you believe. Show me your beliefs by what you do.

What I am not is a fundamentalist. You become a fundamentalist when you stop listening. There are all kinds of fundamentalists. I don't happen to agree with any of them. We'll work with anybody who wants to stop AIDS. (That) really makes the fundamentalists mad. But when people say Saddleback is not a evangelistic church, there's a spiritual term for that. It's when you cross an abalone with a crocodile. It's a crock of baloney."

Rich Warren in an interview with USA Today

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Festivus Display

Washington State officials are being besieged by requests to place additional seasonal displays at the state Capitol where a Christmas tree and a nativity scene are on display.. along with an anti-religion placard. A pro-religion sign was added last week.

One of the requests is that a Festivus display be included. That’s a made up holiday popularized by the Seinfeld TV show in the 90’s.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newsweek on the Bible & Gay Marriage

Lisa Miller of Newsweek argues in a new essay titled Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy that we should not look to the Bible for guidance on same sex marriage. Miller suggests that the Bible’s lessons on marriage are ambiguous and lack moral clarity. She writes, “The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”

Here’s some of the reaction coming from religious conservatives:

Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention:
"It doesn't surprise me. Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus. I don’t think it’s going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:
"(It is) yet another attack on orthodox Christianity. “I hardly think that Newsweek is a credible venue for theological discussion. I mean, I thought it was just full of holes.”

Here’s the comments of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham:“Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their values (or their ‘agenda,’ a favorite term to describe the views of those who disagree with you) on a God-fearing nation. Let the letters and emails come. History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion.”

Bush Says Bible Not Literally True

President Bush told ABC News Nightline in an interview last night that the Bible is "probably not" literally true.

MCFADDEN: Is it literally true, the Bible?

BUSH: You know. Probably not ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament, for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is "God sent a son."

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible...

BUSH: That God in the flesh, that mankind can understand there is a God who is full of grace and that nothing you can do to earn his love. His love is a gift and that in order to draw closer to God and in order to express your appreciation for that love is why you change your behavior.

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible and not take it literally. I mean you can -- it's not inconsistent to love the Bible and believe in evolution, say.

BUSH: Yeah, I mean, I do. I mean, evolution is an interesting subject. I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life and ...

MCFADDEN: But do you believe in it?

BUSH: That God created the world, I do, yeah.

MCFADDEN: But what about ...

BUSH: Well, I think you can have both. I think evolution can -- you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the Earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty, and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Theif Chased by Priest

A priest in Washington DC ran out of St. Peter's church Sunday morning, chasing a thief. The man had taken money from the church safe that was intended for the poor. Bill Hegedusich is a marathon runner and didn’t think twice about going after the criminal and the two bags of money. He kept his distance in case the man was armed. After a couple of blocks, the man dropped one of the bags and kept on running. Hegedusich collected the single bag containing about $60. Mass started a few minutes late. Police are still searching for the thief.

A Study of Prayer

Hospital chaplains at Johns Hopkins University have placed blank prayers book in the lobby every two months since the 1990s. Hundreds of visitors have written in the books. A sociology professor from Brandeis University reviewed 683 of the handwritten petitions and here’s what was found. The prayers broke down this way:
28% were requests of God
28% were prayers of thanks and asking for help
28% were just to thank God
80% began with a familiar greeting, like "Dear Lord" or "Hello Jesus."

I am Second

A Texas church has started a new promotional campaign called I am Second. Created by Tony Evan’s Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, the effort includes billboards that read, I am Second. Joe Gibbs and Darrell Waltrip are among the celebrities taking part.

Jessica Simpson & Religion

"I've been contemplating taking a college course in religion. I love religion. I remember whenever the book 'The Da Vinci Code' came out, the Discovery Channel did this three-night piece on it that I Tivoed and then watched eight times." Jessica Simpson in Marie Claire magazine

Michael W Smith

Christian muscian Michael W. Smith visits Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas. The Dallas Morning News has the story.

Copeland Loses Tax Status of Jet

Kenneth Copeland plans to protest a decision that could cut into the finances of his Texas mega-ministry. Auditors have denied him the tax-exempt status he had on a $3.6 million jet. The reason: The refusal of Copeland's ministry to reveal director’s salaries. In all, Kenneth Copeland Ministries owns five aircraft, including a $17.5 million Citation X.

Copeland has resisted efforts in the last year by Senator Charles Grassley to find out information about the ministry as part of an investigation into televangelists.