Saturday, January 3, 2009

Trying to Live Like Jesus

Retired megachurch pastor tells USA Today, "If you get serious about the Bible, it will really mess you up." Ed Dobson spent 2008 trying to eat, pray, talk and even vote as Jesus would. He got the idea from A.J. Jacobs' book The Year of Living Biblically. Dobson celebrated Jewish holidays, witnessed in bars, grew his hair out, gave strangers rides, and even drank wine occasionally instead of abstaining. Making things more difficult: Dobson is battling Lou Gehrig's disease.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Religion Waning in US?

Most Americans believe religion is losing significance when it comes to how they live. Here's the results from a recent survey and how it compares to other years.

2008, all Americans:
Religion can answer all or most of today's problems – 53%
(an all-time low)
Religion is largely old-fashioned and out of date – 28%

Do you think religious influence is waning?

2008, All Americans:
Falling- 67%
Rising – 27%

2008, Weekly church attenders:
Falling – 74%
Rising – 24%

Falling – 14%
Rising – 69%

Falling – 24%
Rising – 71%

Source: Gallup Poll

Robertson's Predictions

Pat Robertson is predicting America will move toward socialism during Barack Obama’s term in office.

“What the Lord was saying, the people are willing to accept socialism to alleviate their pain. Nothing will stand in the way of a plan by Obama to restructure the economy in the same fashion as the New Deal in the ‘30s.”

As for the economy, Robertson told 700 Club viewers:

“Cast off the gloom and the doom because things are getting ready to turn around. I’m flying in the face of all of the experts or most of the experts who say, ‘Oh no, no, no, it’s going to get worse,’ but I don’t think so.”

Inauguration Week Sermons

The Library of Congress is asking churches to video tape sermons during inauguration week. The library's American Folklife Center wants to save them for posterity. The goal is to provide historians with a sense of how Americans reacted to Obama’s historical January 20th inauguration.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Arrest For Nun's Murder

A Brazilian man has been arrested for ordering the murder of an American nun. Regivaldo Pereira Galvao is accused of having 73-year-old Dorothy Stang killed in an effort to get people in the area to give him their property rights. The area is under dispute in the Amazon. She had defended the rights of landless farmers in a land distribution project called the Project for Sustainable Development (PDS). The Brazilian government says 100’s of people have been able to earn a living because of its success.

A film called They Killed Sister Dorothy with narration by actor Martin Sheen, tells her story and has won international praise. Some interviews in the documentary will be used against some of the suspects including Galvao who maintains his innocence.

More Focus vs Beck

More in this article from The Christian Post on the Focus on the Family's decision to take down an article from its website on talk show host Glenn Beck.

Obama Leans to the Religious Left

Barack Obama’s top aides has met with more than a dozen religions groups since the presidential election. Among the groups that have had numerous meetings with the transition team include The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and The Public Policy arm of the United Methodist Church. Most of them are left-leaning and focus on global warming, economic relief for the poor, support for organized labor, and healthcare. Some want more sex education and the government to increase its services for pregnant women.

The Southern Baptists and James Dobson’s Family Research Council along with other conservative groups say they have not received invitations at all.

Obama's version of Bush’s faith-based initiative office is called the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Instead of looking for ways the government can work with religious groups, the Council has discussed how to further separate church and state.

Man Accused in Major NYC Church Swindle

New York prosecutors say Bryant Rodriguez stole more than $600,000 from Upper Manhattan church-goers in a Ponzi scheme. A judge released Rodriguez on $2 million bail this week despite claims he is a flight risk. They say he sent most of the money from El Camino Church, a small evangelical congregation, to banks in the Dominican Republic. Prosecutors say he did the same thing to other churches. But pastors and members of those churches packed out the courtroom to show they still support Rodriguez.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fired for Getting Married

Marquis LaFortune lost her job at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio because she was about to cause a “scandal”. She was planning to get married. The 25-year-old has filed a complaint with the EEOC and may file a law suit. The problem for the school was that her husband-to-be was divorced.

Will Rick Warren Mention Jesus During Inauguaration

Controversy has swirled around the selection of Rick Warren to give the prayer at Barack Obama’s inaugural. Another one is brewing over whether the megachurch pastor will offer the prayer in the name of Jesus may draw another.

Here’s what Warren says about it:

"I'm a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray. Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God.”

While Billy Graham never used the name of Jesus during his presidential inaugurations, the evangelist made references to Christ. At the 1969 swearing-in, Graham prayed "in the Name of the Prince of Peace who shed His blood on the Cross that men might have eternal life."

Kirbyjon Caldwell and Franklin Graham did so in 2001. That lead to a lawsuit that went nowhere. Methodist minister Joseph Lowery will offer the benediction at the January 20th ceremony and says, "whatever religion the person represents, I think he has a right to be true to his religion."

Fire Damages Reginal HQs

A fire over the weekend damaged the regional headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church west of Spokane. The office serves 30 Seventh-day Adventist schools and 117 churches. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Atheist Groups File Lawsuit

Several atheist and humanist organizations have filed suit to stop any references to God and religion during President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony. Their goal is the removal of the phrase "so help me God" from the oath of office and block the invocation prayer from Pastor Rick Warren. Michael Newdow, the man who went to court in an attempt to get "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance at public schools, is leading the effort. He tried but failed to do the same thing when President Bush was swore into office.

DMN: Third Day Tops

The Dallas Morning News has picked Third Day's Revelation as the Best CD of 2008. Music critic Mario Tarradell calls it:

The most passionate melodic rock record of the year.. Atlanta's veteran outfit delivered riffs and righteousness for all audiences.

Married Man to Become Priest

A married man will be ordained as a Roman Catholic next month. According to the San Angelo, Texas local paper, the San Angelo Standard-Times, Knick Knickerbocker will be ordained at Sacred Hearth Cathedral Church. The former Episcopalian minister was once on the faculty of the Memphis Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian school in Tennessee. Knickerbocker also worked for Catholic Charities.

His ordination falls under the 1981 Pastoral Provision order issued by the Vatican to make an exception to the general rule calling only non-married men to priesthood. It applies when bishops request special permission to ordain married former Anglican or Episcopalian ministers to the Roman Catholic Church.

The 70-year-old Knickerbocker will not be designated the pastor of a church but his duties will be sacramental in nature.

Fundamentalist Christian Oppression

A soldier from Kansas with help from the Military Religions Freedom Foundation is suing the US military for an alleged bias toward evangelical Christianity. Specialist Dustin Chalker first filed his lawsuit back in September and now has expanded it to include what is described as the widespread “practice of fundamentalist Christian oppression" within armed forces. That supposedly includes efforts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the US Defense Department says there have been less than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years.

Billy Graham Changes Churches

Evangelist Billy Graham has moved his church membership. The 90-year-old preacher first joined the church in 1953 during his first crusade in the city when W.A. Criswell pastored the church. But he’s now moving his membership closer to his North Carolina home: The First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Green Bible

The recently published Green Bible carries the endorsement of the Sierra Club and the Humane Society. But many conservative groups object to it and it does y Christian environmental groups like the Heartland Institute. The Bible has a foreword written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. There is an environmental topic index with entries like pollution and water. So far, more than 37,000 copies have been printed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dobson's Group Removes Glenn Beck Article

Focus on the Family has taken down an article about Glenn Beck’s new book from its website CitizenLink because he’s a Mormon. Some supporters complained that The Christmas Sweater did not mention Beck’s religious views. Beck has been a CNN host and will move to FOX news next year.