Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ohio Teacher Faces Dismissal

Faculty at Mount Vernon Middle School in Mount Vernon, Ohio testified yesterday in support of science teacher John Freshwater. The school board is holding a hearing to decide whether to fire the eighth-grade teacher. Members have already indicated they plan to dismiss him because he shared his Christian beliefs with his classes and taught them creationism. He's also accused of burning the image of a cross on a student’s arm during a demonstration of electrical current. A dozen other teachers testified that the student never complained but the boy’s parents are suing over the incident.

Abortion Clinic Fire

An investigation is underway into a fire at an Omaha, Nebraska abortion clinic - where most of the state's abortions take place. KMTV has more.

Hardcore Pastor Draws Complaints

An effort is underway to stop the appearance of Seattle megapastor Mark Driscoll at a conference in Chicago. The pastor of Mars Hill Church is scheduled to speak at the Gospel Coalition's Conference called Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth in April. But a memo is making the rounds that's critical of Driscoll for making a name for himself by offering graphic discussions of sexuality.

Cathy Mickels, former Washington state president of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum is crusading to get Driscoll removed from the agenda, claiming the pastor is “dragging the Church through the gutter.” Mickels say Driscoll is “only known for his crudeness and careless handling of Scripture” and “credits foul-mouthed comedian Chris Rock with teaching him how to preach”.

Driscoll has already drawn criticism for advice on his blog related to anal sex and lother sexual topics where he includes a link (but not an endorcement) to which features articles for women on sexual issues like masturbation, creative sexual techniques and domination play. Some of his provocative sermon titles include Biblical Oral Sex and Pleasuring Your Spouse.

Driscoll has not responded to the memo on his site.

Friday, January 16, 2009

County Tries to Charge School Group

Child Evangelism Fellowship is suing an Atlanta-area County for discrimination. The Evangelical ministry says Cobb County has refused to let it hold meetings in classrooms after school – unless it pays for the right, even though other groups can use the rooms for free. CEF’s Good News clubs meet in elementary schools around the country.

Prayer Breakfast

Tony Evans will speak at Barack Obama’s inaugural prayer breakfast. The Evangelical pastor of Dallas’ Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas is heard daily on the Urban Alternative radio program. The breakfast takes place Monday morning in Washington.

Moen Buys Websites

Christian recording artist Don Moen has bought several websites:,, and He already owns and The goal is providing churches and ministries cutting-edge media presentation technology. Moen is known for a best-selling series of worship albums.

Jakes on MSNBC

TD Jakes will host three specials for MSNBC. The Texas pastor lead a roundtable discussion of religious, Black and political issues. Some celebrity guests will make appearances as well. Jakes has a talk show set to debut on CBS next year.

Warren Quiet on Prayer

Rick Warren isn’t talking about his prayer. The megachurch pastor will give the premier prayer at the inauguration of Barack Obama. He’s been deluded with more than 100 requests for interviews about the prayer, since gay activists criticized his selection to offer the invocation. But Warren has decided not to grant any interviews before the inauguration, according to A. Larry Ross - who was also spokesman for Billy Graham.

Ross issued a statement saying Warren “will let his prayer speak for itself.”

The day before the inauguration, Warren will speak at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King was once the pastor.

Gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson will deliver the opening prayer at the events to take place at the Lincoln Memorial. About the selection of Robinson, Warren says:

“President-elect Obama has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen.”

This is Religious Freedom Day

Each year, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day and calls upon Americans to "observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship."

The day is the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.The goal is the promotion and protection of students' religious expression rights by informing educators, parents, and students about these liberties.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama Flip-flopped on Gay Marriage

Barack Obama has changed his view on same-sex marriage, according to the Windy City Times. The Chicago gay and lesbian publication says a 1996 questionnaire shows Obama supported for gay marriage. He was running for the Illinois Senate race at the time. During the presidential campaign, Obama said he opposed gay marriage but supported civil unions. Here is the questionaire.

Atheist Challenge Rejected

A Washington, DC judge has turned down a request to stop Obama's swearing-in ceremony from containing references to God. Atheist Michael Newdow had claimed it was a violation of church and state separation. But the judge said the religious references were similar to the prayers offered in state legislators that the Supreme Court has permitted.

The president-elect traditionally says "so help me God" in the oath and there is an invocation and benediction. This year, Rick Warren will deliver the invocation and Joseph Lowery will give the benediction.

Jesus a Muslim?

Broward County, Florida has accepted $60,000 worth of ads from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But the Americans Against Hate say the advertisements, posted on 50 buses, are offensive because they suggest Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Muslim.

Black letters on a white backdrop read:

ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

The County has rejected calls to take the ads down, so the Jewish led Americans Against Hate is planning to protest outside Broward's County Hall tomorrow at noon.

Angelo and Veronica

Christian singers Angelo and Veronica will perform a concert Saturday at Constitution Hall in Washington. The Dove Award-winning duo are part of President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural celebration.

The pair has sung backups for Michael Bolton, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant among others. They’ve toured with Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, CeCe Winans, and others. More info.

Campus Crusade & Gay-Lesbian Partnership

Campus Crusade at the University of Central Florida is planning to work with a campus gay-lesbian group on an HIV/AIDS outreach. The initiative has been dubbed Good News, Good Deeds.

This won't be the first time the group has partnered with organizations outside the Evangelical fold. Last year, Michigan State’s Campus Crusade worked with several groups to create a game show like the Price-is-Right to put the spotlight on the international sex slave trade.

Campus Crusade Facts:

  • Founded by the late Bill Bright in 1951
  • Based in Orlando, Florida
  • Membership: 55,000 students at about 1100 campuses
  • Active in 191 countries

My Beliefs Not a Church's

The number of people who would agree with the statement:

“I am personally more likely to develop my own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church.”
  • All US Adults – 71%
  • Born again Christians - 61%

    Under the age of 25 - 82%
Source: Barna Research

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New ORU President

Mark Rutland may become the next Oral Roberts University president. The school’s Presidential Search Committee is recommending him for the post. Right now, Rutland is president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. He’ll visit the campus before the end of the month and then the Trustees will vote on whether to ask him to take the position. Radio listeners know him from his 30-minute daily radio program, Herald of Joy. The Texas native attended Emory University and earned his doctorate from the California Graduate School of Theology. More on Rutland.

Meanwhile, the school laid off 53 people this week in a belt tightening move. More on the layoffs.

Teachers Gets Happy Surprise

A Nashville preschool teacher got a surprise at her door this week. Someone had put a bag on Jerri Hewlett’s porch. Inside was a Bible and her credit card bill which she used to pay for her college teaching certificate. The bill had gone to the wrong address. And the woman who got it decided to pay it off. Nearly $2500. Hewlett teaches at Nashville’s First Baptist Church.

Who Would Jesus Smack Down?

The New York Times takes a look at a megapastor who's upsetting liberals with his "hellfire theology" and conservatives who've dubbed him the "cussing pastor".

Christianity No Longer on Autopilot

The number of people who would agree with the statement:

"Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith."

  • Evangelical Christians -64%
  • Hispanics -60%
  • All US Adults – 50%

Source: Barna Research

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Protests Against Rick Warren

Atlanta’s gay community is planning a protest against Rick Warren on Monday. He’s one of the speakers at Ebenezer Baptist Church during the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service. Warren’s opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage helped California outlaw same-sex marriage.

ORU Layoffs

Oral Roberts University is laying off dozens of employees today. The Tulsa school had already announced it would cut about 10% of its workers – about 100.

Former president Richard Roberts stepped down in 2007 after accusations he used school funds for personal use. Roberts denied the allegations. ORU has agreed to pay his annual salary through the end of his contract - for a total of $447,200. With help from an Oklahoma businessman, the school has reduced its debt from $50 million down to just over $15 million.

Bibles Flying off Shelves

The publisher of the English Standard Version Study Bible has run out of copies. Crossway Books started offering the ESV this fall and is rushing another order to print. The next batch should be available February 26th.

Moral Guidance

The number of people who would agree with the statement, "My religious faith was becoming even more important to them than it used to be as a source of objective and reliable moral guidance?"

Born again Christians - 91%
African Americans - 84%
Conservatives - 84%

All US Adults - 74%
Political moderates - 70%
People who consider themselves to be Christian but are not born again - 67%
Political liberals - 65%
Americans who do not affiliate with Christianity - 39%

Source: Barna Research

Denominational Loyalty

Regular Churchgoers

  • 70% would be at least somewhat open to switching denominations
  • 51% do express preference for one denomination, but would also consider others
  • 44% report having one preferred denomination, but they would also consider others
  • 30% say they would only consider attending one denomination
  • 11% percent have a small number of denominations they would consider with no particular favorite among them
  • 9% say the denomination does not factor into their decision of what church to attend
  • 6% do not have any particular denomination they prefer, but they do have certain ones they would not consider

  • 60% would only consider attending a Roman Catholic church
  • 40% would at least be open to another denomination
  • 29% have a preferred denomination but would consider others
  • 11% do not show a specific preference for attending a Catholic parish

  • 67% have a preferred denomination though they will consider others
  • 60% are exclusively loyal to one denomination
  • 33% do not have any preference for one specific denomination
  • 16% will only consider attending their current denomination

    Non-denominational churchgoers
  • 32% prefer a non-denominational congregation
  • 29% say they will only consider a non-denominational church
  • 16% have a small selection of denominations they would consider (including non-denominational) with no specific preference
  • 15% don’t have a specific preference but do have some denominations they would avoid
  • 9% don’t pay attention to denomination when selecting a church
    Source: Ellison Research

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jakes Film Breaks into Top 10

The T.D. Jakes film Not Easily Broken raked in $5.6 million in just 724 theaters across the nation this past weekend. That puts it at number nine overall in its debut. The pro-marriage movie was marketed like Tyler Perry’s films and distributed by Sony. About 70% of the audience was female and 69% were over the age of 30, according to Sony’s exit polling.

Jakes is the senior pastor of 30,000-member The Potters House in Dallas.

In comparison, another church film, Fireproof, debuted at $6.8 million last September and eventually brought in $33 million.

Meanwhile, CBS is holding Jakes’ new TV talk show until this fall. The media company blames the current economic climate for the move. It’s one of many syndicated shows in the works that will have to wait to see its debut. The show was originally planned to start this Spring.

Obama Invites Gay Bishop

Barack Obama is asking the first openly gay man to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church to give the opening invocation on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial to start inauguration week. The ordination of Gene Robinson has split the Episcopal Church.

The decision comes on the heels of Obama's invitation to Evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation on Inauguration Day. That brought criticism from the gay community over Warren's view of homosexuality. Robinson said the choice of Warren was "a slap in the face".

Alamo Hearing

A hearing is scheduled in Litttle Rock, Arkansas today for 20 children taken from the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound by child welfare workers. The cult leader is facing federal charges relating to sex with minors.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Boston's First Deaf Priest

The Archdiocese of Boston will soon have its first deaf priest. Shawn Carey will be ordained for Boston on May 23 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Carey grew up in Westfield but was unable to take part in regular religious education classes at his home parish because they were not able to accommodate him. His family eventually found a Protestant tutor to help Carey prepare for his first communion. He planned to become a lawyer and studied political science and business at Providence College. It was only after graduation he decided to become a priest.