Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will Smith Gives to James Robinson & Scientology

The charitable foundation of actor Will Smith gave James Robinson’s ministry $250,000. It’s part of the variety of donations revealed in his tax returns. In all, the movie star handed out $1.3 million to charities and nonprofit groups. An LA ministry called Living Waters got $200,000 of it and $122,500 went to The Church of Scientology.

Tragedy at Christmas Program

An actor has died in the hospital after falling Wednesday night during the opening performance of a megachurch Christmas pageant. The 23-year-old graduate student from Xavier University was playing the role of a wise man in the Awaited Christmas show when she fell at Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati Keri Shryock was suspended by a cable some 25 feet above the ground. Crossroads has cancelled all the other performances. The church has issed this statement.

Weyrich Dies

The man who came up with the phrase moral majority has died. Conservative activist Paul Weyrich died at the age of 66 in Virginia. Weyrich helped to found the Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation, the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition.

Obama defends choice of Warren

Barack Obama is defending his decision to let Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Obama said this morning:

"I am a fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on in my presidency. What I've also said is that it is important for American to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues."

The editor of the Washington Blade calls it "Obama's first big mistake."

Purpose Driven Protest

Barack Obama is being criticized for picking Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration. Many liberal groups object to having someone who opposes gay marriage and abortion rights taking part in the ceremony. Here's a sample:

The head of People for the American Way says she is "deeply disappointed" and Warren’s “ideas are radical."

The president of the Human Rights campaign says he feels a "deep level of disrespect" over selection.

A pro-gay online magazine says it is a “slap in the face” of the gay and lesbian community.

Haggard to Promote Documentary

Ted Haggard will take part in a press tour to promote a film about his life following the sex scandal that led to his dismissal from a Colorado megachurch and resignation as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The Trials of Ted Haggard is the product of Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It will air first on HBO on January 29. Haggard now says he was sexually abused as a second-grader.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Warren at Obama Inauguration

Rick Warren will take part in Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The megachurch pastor will deliver the ceremony's invocation. Obama and McCain appeared together at his Saddleback church this summer for a discussion of faith-related issues. Warren did not endorse either presidential candidate. The ceremony takes place January 20th on the steps of the Capitol. As many as four million people may turn out to watch the new president take the noontime oath from Chief Justice John Roberts.


Several major Christian artists are giving away some new music for free over the internet. A donation is requested for organizations that help the poor. Their entire effort will hit stores shelves on January 27th under the title CompassionArt: Creating Freedom from Poverty. There are 14 songs in all from such artists as project, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Martin Smith, Kirk Franklin and tobyMac. The effort started in Scotland when they met for a retreat last January. A companion book will be released when the full project comes out in January.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Accelerant Used on Palin Church

ATF agents say an arsonist who started a fire at Sarah Palin’s church poured an accelerant around the sanctuary. It may have been gasoline. Several people, including children, were inside working when the fire started at the main entrance to Wasilla Bible Church in Anchorage. The blaze caused a million dollars in damage but no one was injured.

Times's Top Religion Stories of 08

1. The Economy Trumps Religion
2. Never Count the Mormons Out
3. The Pope Wows the States
4. The Canterbury non-Tale
5. America's Unfaithful Faith
6. Tibet's Monks Rebel
7. The Birth of the New Evangelicalism
8. The Challenge of Recession
9. When Kosher Wasn't Kosher
10. Extraterrestrials May Already be Saved

more info

Monday, December 15, 2008

Top Religion Stories of 08

1. The fiery sermons of Jeremiah Wright
2. Democrats look to peel away faith-based voters from the Republican camp by courting evangelicals
3. Sarah Palin selected as McCain's running mate
4. Proposition 8 in California
5. Pope Benedict XVI stops in Washington and New York
6. Disillusioned Anglicans (Episcopalians in the United States) move to create an Anglican Church for North America
7. In Mumbai, India, fanatical religion fuels a terrorist attack that kills almost 200
8. China takes a whack at Buddhists who preach freedom for Tibet
9. The fluttering U.S. economy claims victims, including those who benefit from the donations of believers
10. The battle between Shiite and Sunni Muslims continues in Iraq

Source: Religion Newswriters Association

Obama Plans to change Faith-Based Program

Barack Obama says he’ll change the rules for organizations participating in President Bush's faith-based initiative. He wants to impose laws on them banning discrimination on the basis of religion, race or gender. That would mean groups could no longer hire just Christian employees and still participate in the faith-based program. Many Christian groups are likely to balk at the new rules and no longer take support from the federal program.

Playboy Apologizes

Playboy Magazine is apologizing for a cover issue in Mexico referring to the Virgin Mary. A barely clad model, Maria Florencia Onori, is shown with the headline Te adoramos, Maria. That means We love you Mary.

Palin's Church Meets At School

Sarah Palin's church held services at a middle school because their sanctuary was badly damaged by fire over the weekend. About 1,200 people came to the Wasilla Bible Church yesterday, though Palin was not among them. She remained in Juneau. Her spokesman says Palin was preparing a state budget proposal.

Fire authorities are blaming the fire on arson. It left about a million dollars in damage. The blaze started Friday night at the main entrance of the church at the same time a group was working inside. No one was injured. (more on the story below)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Atlanta Megachurch Pastor Resigns

The pastor of an Atlanta megachurch has resigned. Founding pastor Jim Bolin stepped down from Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs as a result of ‘inappropriate sexual behavior’. Bolin will enter what church leaders are calling a “restoration process” for the next couple of years. Trinity Chapel is associated with the Church of God.

Fire Destroys Sarah Palin's Church

An arsonist severely damaged Sarah Palin’s Anchorage, Alaska church Friday night. The former Republican vice presidential candidate says she's sorry if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" to her campaign. While they believe the fire was deliberately set, investigators are not yet sure whether it was politically motivated. Damage to the Wasilla Bible Church was estimated at more than a million dollars. No one was injured.

Schuller Resigns

Robert A Schuller is no longer senior pastor post at Southern California’s Crystal Cathedral, the church started by his father. Robert H Schuller had already dismissed him from the Hour of Power television show. The younger Schuller says he plans to start a new ministry.