Thursday, December 31, 2009

More on Dobson's New Show

We told you about James Dobson's new show in an earlier post. Here is some more of the details about the radio program. It will hit the airwaves in March and will be supported, not through Focus on the Family, but a new nonprofit organization. Dobson estimates it will cost about $2 million to keep it going during the first-year operation. Dobson will co-host the program with his 39-year-old son, Ryan. There is speculation that Dobson was forced out of Focus because of conflicts between him and current CEO and president Jim Daly but both Dobson and Daly deny these rumors. Focus’ budget dropped more than $20 million this year. There are some 600 fewer people working at the Colorado-based organization than there was in 2002.

Kidnapped at Church

Police in Statesville, North Carolina are searching for an armed man who kidnapped two women from a church and forced them to withdraw money from an ATM. He walked into the Broad Street United Methodist Church this afternoon, forced them into the car of one of the kidnap victims and later released them at a different place in town. The car was found on fire. If you have any information, call the Statesville police at 704-878-3406.

Oral Roberts

The Economist offers this profile of Oral Roberts, who passed away December 15th at the age of 91.

Dobson's New Show

James Dobson is starting a new radio show. On his Facebook page, the Focus on the Family founder says the show will be called James Dobson on the Family. He'll discuss religion, politics and family issues. Dobson officially leaves Focus on the Family and its flagship radio broadcast at the end of February. Some reports say Dobson has had conflicts with his successor, Jim Daly. The new radio show will involved his son, Ryan Dobson, who heads KOR World Ministries and has never worked for Focus on the Family.

Porn and Bribes

A lawsuit filed against Feed the Children founder Larry Jones claims he took bribes and kept hard-core pornographic magazines among other things. The suit comes in response to Jones wrongful-termination lawsuit against Feed The Children. The board fired him after he admitting placing hidden microphones around the office. Jones denies the charges made in the countersuit and says the pornography was for research.

Purpose Driven Fundraiser

Rick Warren is trying to raise nearly $1 million in two days. The Southern California mega-pastor is trying to make up for a shortfall in donations. In a letter to the Saddleback congregation, Warren says the church is $900,000 in the red for the year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 News Stories of the Decade

Christianity Today's Top 10 News Stories of the Decade

January 2001: President Bush launches his faith-based initiative.

September 2001: NYC terror attacks prompt intense reflection on Christian-Muslim relations.

March 2003: U.S. invasion of Iraq prompts debate on just war and Muslim extremists' retaliation against Mideast Christians.

August 2003: Gene Robinson, who is in a same-sex relationship, is confirmed as an Episcopal bishop.

February 2004: Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ shocks observers by earning more than $600 million.

November 2004: "Values voter" analysis draws more attention to U.S. evangelicals as a voting bloc.

December 2004: A Southeast Asian tsunami, followed by Hurricane Katrina, mobilizes unprecedented compassion efforts.

April 2005: Rick Warren launches PEACE Plan, targeting global poverty, HIV/AIDS, and other ills.

April 2007: Supreme Court upholds partial-birth abortion ban, the first national restriction since Roe v. Wade.

August 2007: Taliban takes Korean missionaries hostage, igniting debate on short-term missions.

Birth Mom Must Give Up Child

A Vermont judge has ordered a mother of a 7-year-old girl to give custody of the child to the woman's former lesbian partner. Lisa Miller of Winchester, Virginia must turn over her daughter to Janet Jenkins. The two where joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000 but the couple ended their relationship in 2003 and Miller became an evangelical, renouncing her past lesbian associations. The judge gave custody to Jenkins when Miller refused to allow Jenkins access to the child.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 10 News Stories of 2009

Christianity Today's Top 10 News Stories of 2009.

1. The Great Recession reduces missionary sending and closes hundreds of Christian schools as layoffs hit World Vision, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Focus on the Family, Asbury Seminary, CT, and many other ministries.

2. Orthodox Anglicans launch a North American province as the Episcopal Church drops its moratoria on gay clergy and same-sex unions. The ELCA narrowly approves clergy in same-sex relationships, prompting conservative Lutherans to create a rival body. Methodistsand Presbyterians maintain their bans.

3. Religious groups agitate for health-care reform. Pro-life Democrats and Republicans in the House surprisingly succeed at adding a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions to the House reform bill, largely thanks to Catholic clergy's lobbying.

4. The Obama administration permits federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research and overseas groups that promote abortion, while cutting funds for abstinence-only education.

5. Deadly Gojra riots in August prompt a government examination, and fresh international criticism, of Pakistan's notoriously abused blasphemy laws.

6. Swine flu causes Christian churches worldwide to modify services. Egypt slaughters all pigs, devastating the livelihood of its Christian minority.

7. Multisite churches and video-venue campuses evolve from megachurch experiment to near-default option as large congregations expand.

8. Zondervan discontinues the controversial TNIV and announces that an updated NIV translation will debut in 2011.

9. Gaza war hinders reconciliation efforts between Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians. Believers continue to flee Iraq; Somalia's Christians almost entirely vanish.

10. Hispanic evangelical leaders debate boycotting the 2010 Census as a way to call attention to immigration reform. Meanwhile, the National Association of Evangelicals and other groups prepare for the immigration debate to reignite in 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to Milwaukee. WTMJ-TV reports.

Chuck Smith Hospitalized

Chuck Smith has suffered a stroke and has been hospitalized. The 82-year-old senior pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California is expected to recover, as medical officials call it a "minor" stroke.

Church Fight

KOAT-TV reports on an altercation at a church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

No Church for Obamas

The First Family did not to attend Christmas Eve church services. And it is not clear where they would have gone if they had decided to join a congregation for the evening. They have attended three churches so far this year without joining any of them. This includes St. John's Episcopal Church close to the White House, the predominantly African-American 19th Street Baptist Church, and Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational (and private) church at Camp David. The Bush family spent eight straight Christmases at Camp David while the Clintons often took in midnight mass at the Washington National Cathedral.

As a child, Obama occasionally attended Sunday school classes at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, where his family held a memorial service for his grandmother.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deadly Nativity Scene

A truck crashes into a nativity scene, killing one person in Ohio. Here's a video report.

Former Klansman Ordained in Black Church

A former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan is now an ordained minister in the largest black denomination in America. Johnny Lee Clary is part of the Church of God in Christ and lives in Miami, Oklahoma. Clary's father committed suicide when he was 11 years old and his alcoholic mother sent him to live with his drug-dealing aunt in California. For protection from gangs, he joined the KKK Youth Corps and eventually became the youngest leader of the Oklahoma Klan. He earned money by wrestling under the named Johnny Angel while openly supporting the Klan on shows like Oprah. But he quit in 1989. Not able to hold a job because of his history, Clary decided to kill himself as his father had done but picked up a Bible first. Before the night was over, Clary says he made a decision to follow Christ. Hear more of his story in this video.

CS Lewis College

The C.S. Lewis College is now scheduled to open in 2012. Oklahoma City-based retailer Hobby Lobby plans to start the Christian-oriented liberal arts college in Massachusetts on one of the campuses of Northfield Mount Hermon School. The retail chain has purchased 217 acres for$100,000 in cash. It will invest $5 million to renovate the property and let the C.S. Lewis Foundation set up its first college at the site under terms of the deal valued at $20 million. Read more here

Evangelist in Plane Crash

The son of evangelist Luis Palau was among the passengers on board the flight that skidded off a runway and crashed in Jamaica. Andrew Palau and his family suffered minor injuries when the plane broke in the three pieces. They escaped by jumping on a wing and then the wet sandy beach the plane came to rest on. They lost all of their documentation and belongings.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Was Jesus Wealthy?

A CNN article on the prosperity gospel here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Singer Dies in Wreck

Christian singer Derek Loux was killed in a one vehicle accident in Nebraska. He lost control of his SUV on an interstate near Cozad. His 2007 CD was entitled Paper Religion. He lived in Kansas City and leaves behind his wife, Renee, five girls adopted from the Marshall Islands and three adopted boys with special needs from Ukraine. The couple already had two daughters. The family asks for prayer here.

Fewer Christians, More Nonreligious

More than three-of-four Americans (78%) say they are Christians while about one-in-ten (13%) say they have no religion. That's according to a new Gallup poll. The number saying they have no religious affiliation is the highest ever for the yearly survey. In 1948, more than nine-out-of -ten Americans described themselves as Christians (91%). Only 2% said they had no religious identity. Read more about the survey here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scam at 2 Large Churches

Police are looking for whoever bought thousands of dollars of cell phones in the names of two Raleigh, North Carolina area churches. Someone posing as a member of First Baptist Church of Smithfield and Centenary United Methodist Church ordered the mobile phones from Sprint. When they arrived at First Baptist, someone intercepted the paackages, but Centenary got to its package before the scammer did.

Fake Christian School

US immigration officials have arrested a Southern California pastor for alledgedly charging internationals as much as $10,000 to help them get visas based on their agreement to attend his Christian university in Fullerton. Samuel Chai Cho Oh is accused of giving out phony diplomas at a fake graduation ceremony on a campus of California Union University where only a handful of the 300 students ever attended classes.

Texas Christmas in Iraq

Dad Sees Nativity play through video stream to Iraq. KTBC-TV in Austin reports.

Jesus' Era Dwelling Found

Here's a video report on the discovery of a house in Nazareth from Jesus' Time . More on the story here.

Nativity Display Returns

After being told to take down a nativity scene, a fire station in South Carolina has put it back up - along with other holiday decorations.The Charleston Fire Department had the station add Santa, a menorah, Kwanzaa Kinara, elves and reindeer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had threatened to sue if the nativity scene remained by itself.

Controversial Contraceptive Ads

The group behind new radio and TV ads are being accused of misleading Catholics. WLUK-TV in Green Bay reports.

Oral Roberts Memorial

Some 4000 people attended the memorial service for Oral Roberts at the school he founded. He died in California at the age of 91 and was buried Monday. A video that told the Oral Roberts story included messages from President Jimmy Carter, Jerry Lewis, Roy Clark, and President George H.W. Bush.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More on Sheppard Resignation

Paul Sheppard, who resigned Sunday as senior pastor of a San Francisco-area megachurch, sent a letter to church members which was read by an associate pastor during the service. According to some reports, he admitted to an affair in the letter and asked for forgiveness while others say he only confessed to a "moral failure" offering no specifics. Wayne Jackson will serve as interim pastor as indicated on the church's Web site.

He became senior pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in 1989 when he started the congregation with just 34 people. Abundant Life now has more than 6000 members. His radio program, Enduring Truth, is heard on more than 500 radio stations. The Salem Radio Network has already removed his broadcasts from OnePlace.com. Sheppard serves on the board of the National Religious Broadcasters and has spoken at Promise Keepers rallies. A native of Philadelphia, Sheppard studied at the University of Pennsylvania, the Center for Urban Theological Studies, and the Southern California School of Ministry. He holds a Master’s degree in Ministry and a Doctorate of Divinity. His latest book is called Build A Bridge And Get Over It!

Read more at the church's Web site here.

Baby Jesus Stolen

KGO-TV in San Francisco reports on a baby Jesus stolen from a nativity scene, found in a street.


Priest Wins at Poker

A South Carolina priest picked up $100,000 for his church in a poker tournament. Andrew Trapp of St. Michael Catholic Church won the money in the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge which will be televised this weekend. He says the winning will go toward building a new facility about 10 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach. Aiken started learing Texas Hold'Em while attending seminary. A retired New York Police detective won the tourney's top price of a million dollars.

Pastor Resigns

A Southern California megachurch pastor has resigned after admiting to "moral failure" in a letter to church elders. Paul Sheppard has been with Abundant Life Christian Fellowship for 20 years. The church has four services with more than 1,000 people. Sheppard's Enduring Truth radio show airs on hundreds of radio stations. Read more at the church's Web site here.

Most Religious States

The South is the U.S. most religious region of the country and Mississippi is the America's most religious state. That's according to a Pew Forum study. Eighty-two percent of Mississipians say religion is important to their lives. Alabama and Arkansas are at 74%, then Louisiana with 72%, Tennessee 71% and South Carolina 70%.

At the other end is New Hampshire and Vermont, each at 36%, Alaska 37% and Massachusetts 40%. New England is the least religious region. That title used to go the Pacific Northwest but religion in the region is rising. Oregon is at 46% and Washington State is at 48%.

As for church attendance, Mississippians again leads the pack with 60% saying they attend at least once a week. Utah is second 57% and South Carolina third 54%. The least number of church-goers are in Alaska with 22%. New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine are at 23%.


Read more here.

Christmas Crook Hits Church

The community of Violet, Louisiana is rallying to replace gifts that were stolen from a church's toy give-away program. Here's a video report.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oral Remembered

KOTV in Tulsa has an interview with Richard Roberts about his father, Oral Roberts, who died last week.

Top Religion Stories

A survey of more than 100 religion journalists found these to be the top stories of 2009:

1. Barack Obama's June speech in which he pledged a new beginning in Muslim-U.S. relations during a visit to Cairo.

2. Health care reform and the role of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other faith groups played in shaping the debate.

3. Because Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was considered a devout Muslim, the role of that faith in terrorism again comes under review; some fear a backlash.

4. Dr. Carl Tiller, regarded as the country’s leading abortion doctor, is gunned down while ushering in his Wichita Lutheran church. Scott Roeder, charged with his murder, is described as a man suffering from delusions and professing radical religious beliefs.

5. Mormons in California come under attack from some supporters of gay rights because of their lobbying efforts in the November 2008 election on behalf of Prop. 8, which outlawed gay marriage. Later in the year, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire approve gay marriage, but it is overturned by voters in Maine.

6. President Obama receives an honorary degree and gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame after fierce debates at the Roman Catholic university over Obama's views on abortion.

7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America votes to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are in a committed monogamous relationship, leading a number of conservative churches -- known as the Coalition for Renewal -- to move toward forming a new denomination.

8. The recession forces cutbacks at a great variety of faith-related organizations -- houses of worship, relief agencies, colleges and seminaries, publishing houses.

9. The Episcopal Church Triennial Convention votes to end a moratorium on installing gay bishops, ignoring a request from the archbishop of Canterbury. At year’s end Los Angeles chooses a lesbian, Mary Glasspool, as assistant bishop. Earlier, an elected bishop in Upper Michigan, Kevin Thew Forrester, is rejected because of his extreme liberal views.

10. President Obama’s inauguration includes a controversial invocation by Rick Warren and a controversial benediction by Joseph Lowery, as well as a pre-ceremony prayer by gay Bishop Gene Robinson.

Source: Religion Newswriters Association

Warren: Newsmaker of Year

California megachurch pastor Rick Warren is the 2009 Religion Newsmaker of the Year for the Religion Newswriters Association.

House Dates to Jesus' Time

Archaeologists in Israel say they've found what could have been the home of a neighbor of Jesus during his childhood in Nazareth. It's the first uncovered from that period of time. The Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a water system, courtyard, clay vessels, and parts of a wall. It's near the Basilica of the Annunciation. Builders unearthed it while working on a new Christian center.

Commandments Removed

Officials in a Ohio town have given up on fighting a lawsuit filed against them to get the removal of the Ten Commandments from a public building. WLWT-TV has this video report.

Controversial Christmas Display

WNAC-TV in Providence discusses a controversial nativity scene of Jesus with a shot gun.

TV Show Pays Big Salaries

Freda Crews' Bible Study Time television and radio programs are paying her family nearly a million dollars a year. She gets a salary of $370,000 from the South Carolina nonprofit. Her husband received $416,000 a year until he died after a fall at the age of 75. Both a son and grandson are on the payroll. Freda Crews is seen on the TV show Time for Hope and William Crews appeared on The Awakening Hour before his death.

Senate Prayer "Crossed the Line"

Oklahom Senator Tom Coburn proposed a prayer on the Senate floor yesterday regarding the health care bill. Coburn said, "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray." Many assumed he was referring to 92-year-old Robert Byrd. The West Virginia senator has often been in the hospital or too ill to join other Senators. Byrd would have a difficult time getting out in the heavy snow to vote which would leave Democrats short of the 60 they need to pass the meaures. Senator Dick Durbin, the number-two Democratic leader, went to the floor to complain about about the prayer, saying, "When it reaches a point where we're praying, asking people to pray, that senators wouldn't be able to answer the roll call, I think it has crossed the line."

Charity Starts at the Top

The Charlotte Observer takes an indepth look at the "loose rules and scant oversight" that allows "nonprofits pay huge salaries" in the Carolinas. Read the story here.

Church Takes "Gay-affirming Stance"

"Evangelical church opens doors fully to gays" according to this Associated Press article . Read it here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disturbance in Church

St. Louis' KFUO-AM took a church service off-the-air this morning when someone collapsed in the congregation. The board operator thought he heard swearing but it was apparently confusing over the woman who fainted at the Blessed Savior Lutheran Church in Florissant.

No Charges in Pastor Shooting

The officers who shot and killed a Georgia baptist pastor in a botched drug sting three months ago have been cleared. WAGA-TV in Atlanta has this report.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Decade's #1

MercyMe is the #1 Christian Songs Artist of the Decade, according to Billboard. The group's song Word Of God Speak is also the #1 Song of The Decade for Christian music. The group is also earns an additional #1 in the Christian AC Song Artist of The Decade category. MercyMe has 22 #1 songs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Osteen on CNN

Larry King talks to mega-preacher Joel Osteen on whether prosperity gospel played a role in the economic collapse.

Scandal Down Under

Mercy Ministries has closed its doors in Australia following a recent scandal. Seven former Mercy Australia leaders admitted to deceiving young women who came to them for help at two homes there, agreeing to pay some $100,000 to them for saying the program was free and then requiring government support checks. Mercy Australia also told the women they would be provided counseling which failed to materialize. The songwriter penned Shout to the Lord, Darlene Zschech, started Mercy Australia. The group operates similar homes, where care is free, in Sacramento, California and Monroe, Louisiana, Nashville, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri. The U.S. organization is based in Nashville which was not involved in the recent agreement.

Athletes & Religion

A new book called Onward Christian Athletes explores religion on the athletic field. Religion writer Tom Krattenmaker especially focuses on the influence of evangelical Christian groups in locker rooms. Krattenmaker goes back to the days of baseball pioneer Branch Rickey who helped to found the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He includes information on Athletes in Action as well and writes, "The conservative Christians got their upper hand in the sports world the old fashioned way. They earned it.'' However, he does encourage pro athletes to be more sensitive in their tone and timing of when they discuss their faith.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sex Offender Can Go to Church

A North Carolina judge says a sex offender can't be stopped from attending church as part of his punishment. A state law limits their ability to be in places where there are children present. The issue went to court after police arrested registered sex offender James Nichols this year for attending a Baptist church near Raleigh.

Bible Manuscript: Forgery

A copy of the Gospel of Mark thought to be some 700 years old is a complete fake. The University of Chicago bought the handwritten, hand-illustrated manuscript of the during the 1930s. Scholars say the forgery was revealed by advanced dating techniques.

$30 Million for Center

St. Louis' Washington University will create a religion and politics center with a $30 million donation. The gift comes from the Danforth Foundation. The private school has no religious affiliation.

Pageant Death

A Cincinnati church will continue it's Christmas pageant despite a woman's death in the show last year. WLWT-TV reports.

Ministry in Trouble

The ministry of evangelist Rod Parsley is "in jeopardy" according to a Web post on the site of World Harvest Church. However, officials at the Ohio-based ministry say there are no plans to shut down any time soon. Parsley is pleading for money, saying there is a "demonically inspired financial attack" and that he faces an "unavoidable deadline" at the end of the year. World Harvest Church says there is a $3 million short fall despite cutting nearly a third out of the budget .

The church recently paid a family $3 million because a toddler was left with welts and abrasions from a spanking at the church day-care. The family is accusing Parsley of refusing to meet with them and complains the church did not apologize.

High-Efficiency Evangelism

USA Today's front page story is titled Multi-site churches: A new variety of religious experience. Read it here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Secular Display Approved

A winter solstice display must be placed on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol alongside a nativity scene. That's the ruling of a federal judge. The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers took the issue to court when its tribute to Albert Einstein and Bill Gates was rejected.

Bible Reading Nixed

A New Jersey teacher told a student not to read her Bible during "quiet time" when other reading materials are acceptable. WNYW-TV reports.

Put Away the Bible

A New Jersey elementary student was told to quit reading the Bible during the class "quiet time." Michelle Jordat of Old Bridge says her third-grader cried but later the principal apologized. Jordat says she was told the teacher at Madison Park Elementary School was wrong because school policy allows children to read any material of their choosing during quiet time.

Toys But No Manger

One Indiana courthouse doesn't have a nativity scene on it's lawn but you will find marching soldiers, a dinosaur and even the Loch Ness monster. Howard County Commissioners decided to let anyone put items on the lawn to avoid complains from civil liberties groups about religious displays on public property. A request has been made to put a nativity scene on the courthouse grounds but so far no one has done so.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts Dies

Evangelist Oral Roberts has died at the age of 91. He had been hospitalized after a fall over the weekend at his California home. He died of complications from pneumonia. He founded Oral Roberts University in 1963.

Kicked Out for Jesus' Drawing

An elementary school student was sent home from school for drawing an image of Jesus on the cross. School officials in Tauton, Massachusetts required the eight-year-old to undergo a psychological evaluation before returning. His teacher at Maxham Elementary School had told the class to draw something that reminded them of Christmas. His father says the the incident so upset the boy that he has requested a transfer to another school.

Atheist Bus Signs

Freedom From Religion has started a holiday campaign in Seattle, putting signs on the sides of city buses that read, "Yes, Virginia ... There is no God."

Poster Called Blasphemous

A census poster is stirring controversy. It's part of a campaign linking the government count to events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials is giving the posters to thousands of churches and pastors. It reads, "This is how Jesus was born. Joseph and Mary participated in the Census." Most of the posters are in Spanish to target Latino evangelicals. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy is encouraging a boycott of the Census - unless Congress changes immigration laws. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the group, calls the poster "blasphemous."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Roberts Hospitalized

Oral Roberts is in a California hospital after a fall on Saturday. The 91-year-old televangelist is in stable condition, suffering from broken bones and pneumonia. He founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His son, Richard, resigned as president after a financial scandal in which he denied any wrongdoing.

Abortion Video

An activist group is accusing Planned Parenthood of lying about what it does - and the group claims to have a video to support the claim. WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee reports.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obama Shirt

Custon t-shirt and clothing seller Zazzle has taken down shirts that were being sold that say, Pray for Obama Psalm 109:8. The t-shirt sounds innocent enough until you look up the verse.
"May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership."

The online company says it has a policy not to sell merchandise that threatens the president.


Looking Back... Top Religion Stories of 2008

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

Graham on CNN

Franklin Graham discusses President Obama's Nobel speech, Islam, and Sarah Palin with CNN.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chinese Christians

Associated Press offers a detailed reports on a China's crackdown on Christian churches here.

The Pastor who can't be killed

An African pastor who was severely injured in terrorist attack that killed an American missionary is now in the U.S. for treatment. KTRK-TV in Houston has this report.



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

High Court on College Group

The Supreme Court is taking up the case of a college Christian group. At issue is whether University of California's Hastings College of Law can legally deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because it bars gay and lesbian members for religious reasons. Conflicting lower court rulings have left schools uncertain as what is firm legal ground.

Schuller Media Deal

Former televangelist Robert A. Schuller, is buying two media companies in Atlanta. ComStar Media (his group) is purchasing FamilyNet Radio and FamilyNet Television from Charles Stanley's In Touch Ministries. Though Schuller isn't saying how much the deal is worth, it increases his company's reach to some 50 million households. FamilyNet will be moved to Comstar's Dallas headquarters. ComStar pulled in $5 million in revenue each year and bought the AmericanLife Television Network earlier this year. The younger Schuller moved into running television networks after he left the megachurch founded by his father in Orange County, California because of a family dispute.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Charges Dismissed

Domestic assault charges have been dismissed against singer BeBe Winans by a Nashville judge. He was accused of shoving his wife, Debra Winans, to the ground during an argument over custody of their two children.

Pastor Out of Intensive Care

A Texas megachurch pastor is out of intensive care, recovering from brain surgery. Matt Chandler had a tumor removed Friday from the frontal lobe of his brain. He's expected to remain in the hospital for several more days. The Village Church based in the Dallas-area, which Chandler has led for the past seven years. has some 6000 members.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Grammy Nods

Third Day has the most Grammy nominations of any Christian group. The Atlanta band is up for Best Gospel Performance” for Born Again, Best Gospel Song for Born Again, and Best Rock Or Rap Gospel Album for Live Revelations. The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards will be handed out January 31 in Los Angeles.

Leeland garnered its third career nomination for Love Is On The Move in the Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album category. Red secures its second career nomination in the Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album category for Innocence & Instinct. Jars of Clay received a nomination in the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album category for The Long Fall Back To Earth.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bruno Pastor Running for Office

The youth pastor who was tricked into taking part in Sacha Baron Cohen's movie Bruno is now running for mayor of Briming ham, Alabama. Jody Trautwein of Point of Grace Ministries is one of more than a dozen candidates vying to replace Larry Langford in Tuesday's election. Langford lost his job after being convicted of bribery. In the movie, Trautwein tried to talk Cohen's flamboyant Austrian fashionista alter-ego out of being gay.

Pastor Has Brain Surgery

Megachurch pastor Matt Chandler is recovering from brain surgery. Doctors removed a brain tumor from Chandler during seven hours of surgery. They say he was able to respond to questions after the operation. He collapsed at his home after suffering a seizure at his home on Thanksgiving day. Chandler founded the Village Church in the Dallas-area and now has about 6000 in the congregation.

Prophet of Purpose

There's a new unauthorized book about Rick Warren that says he has battled depression and suffered from marriage troubles. The book is titled Prophet of Purpose: The Life of Rick Warren and written by US News and World Report religion editor Jeffery Sheler.

Rick and Kay Warren disclosed that they were not attracted to each other nor had feelings for each other when they agreed to be married. She had been dating his best friend when Warren says he heard God tell him to marry Kay. He waiting until the couple broke up and then asked Kay to marry him on their second date. Practically strangers their wedding day, the couple had many problems at first, leading to Warren's hospitalization for exhaustion.

Warren also admits he became depressed after his first year of pastoring and litterally fled into the desert because he didn’t feel that he deserved to be successful.

Sheler says in writing the book, he was surprised to find Warren was pretty much the same person in both private and public meetings.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Bible, Many Writers

Here's a video report about a hand written Bible from WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

Abortion Taxes

County taxpayers in one Texas county are unknowingly funding abortions. KXAN-TV in Austin has this report.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love and Social Media

As Dana Hanna was getting married to Traci two weeks ago, he stopped the ceremony to update his Facebook status to "married". Hanna also sent a tweat pronoucing it official. He typed, ""Standing at the altar with (Tracy) where just a second ago, she became my wife! Gotta go, time to kiss my bride." Traci didn't know what was coming but the pastor did. The Abingdon, Maryland man handed the phone to his wife after he finished so she could do the same thing. She went right along. Hanna had pretyped the messages so the phone were ready to go when the big moment came. Hanna says, "We don't really Twitter and Facebook to the extent that it's interrupting our lives." He works for a pet website. Here's the video:

Moscow May Clamp Down on Religion

Russia's Justice Ministry is proposing a new law that would fine anyone sharing their faith if they are not a leader of a registered religious group. Only officially authorized missionaries would be allowed to pass out religious literature, preach and talk about their faith in public. If passed, anyone violating the law would face a fine up to $170.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Robbery At Church

A deacon at a Texas church says three men robbed him Sunday at the church. 77-year-old Bill Hammett was locking up thousands of dollars in collections in the church office safe at Sunnyvale First Baptist in the Dallas suburb of Sunnyvale. He was beaten and robbed during Sunday morning services though he fought back.

Gay Marriage Bill Rejected

New York state lawmakers had turned aside an attempt to make gay marriage legal in the state. Voters in Maine made a similar decision last month. The vote in the New York Senate was 24-28 - eight votes shy of the number needed to pass the legislation. A wider-than-expected margin. The Assembly had already passed the bill and the Govenor had agreed to sign it. Senator Eric Adams told fellow lawmakers, "When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out." Senator Ruben Diaz disagreed, saying "You should carry your Bible all the time."

Megachurch Pastor Faces Brain Surgery

Matt Chandler will undergo surgery Friday afternoon to remove a tumor located in the frontal lobe of his brain. He leads the 6000-member Village Church, in Highland, Texas. Chandler says his doctor told him that he is positive about a recovery but won’t know the full results after the surgery is performed. The tumor could be malignant. Chandler knew something was wrong last week when he had a seizure at home.

Jesus Called for Jury Duty

A women in Birmingham, Alabama changed her name from Dorothy Lola Killingworth to Jesus Christ. County officials say the 59-year-old woman was disruptive when she reported for jury duty this week. They say Christ refused to answer questions but only would respond with questions herself.

Christmas Ban Lifted

Loudon County Virginia has reversed itself after banning Nativity scenes and Christmas trees at the county courthouse which have been fixtures on the grounds for years. The vote was 7-1 after dozens of protestors showed up at the meeting. A petition against the ban got more than 1000 signitures.

Operation Christmas Child

USA Today offers this report on how VeggieTales and Amy Grant are helping Operation Christmas Child.

Killer Given Bible by Victim's Mom

A Michigan woman gave a Bible to the man who killed her son in a drunken driving crash in June. He and another teen were bicycling with a church group when Kevin Babcock ran a red light and hit two of them. He had no driver's license at the time of the accident. Lynne Jacobs gave him the Bible in a Holland, Michigan courtroom, as Babcock was given between 25 and 40 years in prison. Babcock offered the family an apology, but said he did not expect forgiveness."I don't feel I deserve it."

Abortion in Health Bill

President Obama says he doesn't care fo the language about abortion in the health care bill passed by the House. He's trying to get Congress to change it. He told ABC News his goal is to keep the "status quo” on abortion. The House bill would stop federal money from going to health plans that include abortion coverage except in the case of rape or incest or if the life of a pregnant woman is in danger.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jokes Against Jesus March

An Austin church and comedy club are at odds over noise levels. KXAN-TV reports.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bible Across America

A handwritten Bible has sold on eBay for just over $15,400. It crisscrossed the country this year as part of the Bible Across America project in honor of the 30th anniversary of the New International Version, published by Zondervan. More than 31,000 different people wrote a verse for each of two copies during the 22,579-mile journey. One copy was sold online with the proceeds going to Bible distribution and the other went to a museum. The printed version of Bible Across America goes on sale next month.

Pastor May Have Brain Tumor

A Texas megachurch pastor is facing surgery after suffering a seizure Thursday. Doctors found pastor Matt Chandler has a brain mass. He leads the Village Church in Highland, Texas with more than 6000 members.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Church Reinacts Thanksgiving

WTHI-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana reenacted the first Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

College Sued Over Prayer

A California college is headed to court because it opens its public ceremonies with prayer. Americans United for Separation of Church and State are trying to stop the practice by Saddleback College in Mission Viejo and have filed a lawsuit against the practice. A school attorney says the school plans no changes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baptist Leader Faces Surgery

The head of the Southern Baptist Convention has prostate cancer. Johnny Hunt says he'll have surgery in January. He pastors of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church of Woodstock. He took the reigns of the largest Protestant denomination in the US during June 2008 and was re-elected at this year's summer meeting.

Obama Over Bible

More Americans mistakenly attribute a Bible verse to Barack Obama than to Scripture. Proverbs 31:8-9 says:
"You must defend those who are helpless and have no hope. Be fair and give
justice to the poor and homeless."

A Harris Interactive poll found only 13% accurately identified the Bible as the source of this verse while 16% thought it came from President Obama. 9% awarded it to the Dalai Lama, 8% named Martin Luther King Jr. as the source, 4% cited Oprah Winfrey, and 3% named U2 singer Bono. A third of respondents said they had no idea.

Battle Over Abortion & Communion

A congressman and a politician are squaring off. WPRI-TV has the story of a Catholic Bishop and a Kennedy fighting over abortion and communion.

Anti-religion Billboards

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports on atheist billboards.

Nativity Complaint

Grace Church of the Nazarene in Clarksville, Tennessee plans to go forward with its nativity scene over ACLU objections. The civil rights group says the city's riverfront Christmas observance, planned for December 11th and 12th, violates the First Amendment.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alcohol Ban Dropped

Michigan's Cornerstone University is lifting it's 68 year ban on alcohol use by faculty and staff. They have had to sign an alcohol abstinence statement each year. The school's president says the practice will be stopped because an internal study concluded the view is not defensible Biblically since there is no prohibition against moderate alcohol use. The Baptist Bible Institute of Grand Rapids started Cornerstone in 1941. It dropped a ban on student dancing five years ago.

Computer Fraud Scheme

The California Attorney General's office is going after several companies that used to a computer scam to defraud churches. The companies leased equipment to less than tech-savvy churches for enormous amounts of money. The company may have operated in 10 other states, offering what sounded like free computers and kiosks that could serve as message boards. If the churches didn't cough up as much as $45,000, they companies hit them with late fees and filed lawsuits against them. Among those under investigation: Urban Interfaith Network and Television Broadcasting Online, Balboa Capital, United Leasing Associates of America, Banc of America Leasing and Capital LLC. BoA says it was unaware of what was going on.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shocking Sign Outside Church

"The Church Should Go To Hell." That's the message that's turning heads outside of the Downtown Orlando Baptist Church. WOFL-TV reports the marquee is not a prank.

TBN Host: DUI & Fatal Crash

Orange County, California authorities say TBN contributor and Trinity Music City Church pastor in Nashville, Steve Galiher, was driving drunk and going 85 miles per hour in his company-owned BMW when he hit another car in April. The 70-year-old driver who was hit recently never recovered from his injuries and died recently. Galiher told police he only had two glasses of red wine but was charged on suspicion of drunken driving resulting in an injury. Manslaughter charges may follow.

Giving Away Darwin

What former teen idol Kirk Cameron is doing to debunk evolution. CNN reports.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cyber Attack

A New Jersey teenager has been given a year in prison for orchestrating a cyber attack on Church of Scientology Web sites almost two years ago. 19-year-old Dmitriy Guzner pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges. He has denied being part of an underground group that protests the Church of Scientology as prosecutors claim.

Grad Ceremonies at Megachurch

The ACLU is threating to sue a Connecticut school board for holding graduation ceremonies at a local megachurch. The Enfield Public School system has used the First Cathedral in Bloomfield as a graduation site for several years because of its size.

Handwritten Bible

A unique copy of the Bible is for sale on eBay. It was written by hand, one verse at a time, by more than 31,000 people across the country. The 2200 page Bible is leather bound and comes in three volumes. Christian book publisher Zondervan is the seller. The money will go to The International Bible Society. The nonprofit group translates and distributes Bibles. A published version will be sold in stores next month. You can bid on the Bible here.

Scientology Accused of Criminal Conduct

A member of the Austrailian Parliament attacked The Church of Scientology last night during a session of the legislative body. Senator Nick Xenophon raised allegations of widespread criminal conduct within the church, saying he had received letters from former followers detailing claims of abuse, false imprisonment and forced abortion. The Independent Senator called for a Senate inquiry into the religion and its tax-exempt status. The church says it has tried to meet with Xenophon and he has refused.

Transgender Law

Christian groups are mobilizing to pack tomorrow's city council meeting in Tampa, Florida when a final vote will be taken on whether to extend the city's anti-discrimination laws to include transgender individuals. A preliminary vote on the change passed unanimously at a November 5th meeting. If approved, the proposal would extend existing laws prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to include "gender identity or expression."

The Florida Family Association says the law would allow cross dressing males to patronize women's restrooms. And the Community Issues Council says it would allow "sexual predators" to go into public restrooms of the opposite sex and force local business owners and landlords to accept cross-dressers. The city's attorney contends the changes are not meant to protect the occasional cross dresser, but individuals who are undergoing sexual reassignment surgery.

Next Fireproof

A followup to the movie Fireproof will explore the topic of fatherhood. Fireproof starred Kirk Cameron as a firefighter. The 2008 independent movie was produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georiga which plans to start filming Courageous this spring. It should hit theaters a year later, telling the story of four fathers in law enforcement who go through a tragedy together. Fireproof made more than $33 million on a budget of about half-a-million.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

County Sued over Bibles, Cross, Prayers

Some Tennessee students are suing the Cheatham County School District for alledgedly promoting Christianity in violation of the US Constitution. Specifically, the suit points to the distribution of Gideon's Bibles in class, a teacher with a cross hanging on a classroom wall and prayers during school events.

Going Rouge

Sarah Palin's new book Going Rouge doesn't acknowledge her co-writter on the cover. Evangelical Christian writer and pro-life activist Lynn Vincent is not mentioned until she's thanked several other people. Collaborators sometimes trade such credits for higher fees, but their names usually appear prominently in the acknowledgments. Vicenct's previous books include a biography of General William Boykin and a history of the Democratic Party. The Los Angeles Times suggests parts of the book are Vincent's and not Palin, such as a reference to Blaise Pascal's philosophy in Palin's conversion from Catholicism to Evangelical Protestantism.