Saturday, January 31, 2009

Outspoken Super Bowl Players

Super Bowl Connections to Christianity on the field:

  • Cardinals QB Kurt Warner: “Everything I do and everywhere I go, I'm trying to represent Jesus."
  • Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin on the importance of faith: “Faith is who we are. That's first and foremost in my life. It's so much bigger than the game..”
  • Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger used to wear PFJ (Playing For Jesus) on his armbands until the NFL fined him for violating its uniform policy.
  • Arizona cornerback Roderick Hood: "Our quarterback is a definite leader and devout Christian. I think that has spearheaded our growth. Also, guys see the peace we have on the field and want to find that themselves."
  • When asked by a reporter, "Can you pray right now?" Arizona running back Tim Hightower said: "I can pray that whatever is going on in your life right now that you find God."
  • Pittsburgh Safety Troy Polamalu takes teammates to services at his Eastern Orthodox Christian church.
  • Steeler defensive lineman Aaron Smith said this when he discovered his son was diagnosed with leukemia: "It's really through the Lord's strength that I've been able to cope with this.”
  • Baltimore Ravens center Jason Brown is part of a group of NFL players in Tampa to sing in a gospel choir this weekend: "It's our responsibility as players to put God in football.”

Probe into Sex Abuse in California

Federal prosecutors are looking into how Cardinal Roger Mahony and other Catholic church leaders dealt with abuse allegations. KMIR-TV in Palm Springs has more.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fireproof is #1

Fireproof is now out on DVD. The indie pic was put together by Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia for just half-a-million dollars. But it took in $33 million this past year. That makes it the most financially successful American independent movie of 2008. That's more than the COMBINED totals for The Visitor, In Bruges and Rachel Getting Married and the Oscar-nominated indiesFrozen.

Kirk Cameron who once starred in Growing Pains stars in Fireproof. He agrees to a Love Dare help save his marriage. The Bible-inspired program has caught on.

Seminary Sues Former Employee

Dallas Theological Seminary going after one of its former employees. The school wants former CFO Rodney Bryant to pay back more than $165,000 – money the seminary says was embezzled. Bryant served as chief financial officer for eight years at the school until this past fall. Dallas accuses him of forging signatures of other employees and paying money directly to two companies that he runs. Bryant denies the charges. Here's the suit.

Lawsuit Against Evangelical Web Portal

Rodney Sampson started but now is suing his onetime partners. He claims they took millions of shares of stock in the company (Haywire Ventures) away from him before firing him in seven years ago. Sampson filed in Atlanta where he lives. Streaming Faith provides ministries a way to make video and audio feeds available over the internet. The CEO of the corporate parent of Streaming Faith says the lawsuit is “frivolous” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Next Chronicles Will Make The Big Screen

The Chronicles of Narnia film series will go on. Disney dropped the series last month, leaving it up to co-producer Walden Media to keep the series alive. Walden is owned by conservative Christian businessman Philip Anschutz and does not have the ability to pull off the large scale production on its own. But 20th Century Fox has decided to step in and take Disney's place.

The next installment in the series will be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It's expect to hit the big screen in 2010, just before Christmas.

The first film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe raked in a cool $745 million worldwide. The second film, Prince Caspian, made a respectable $420 million. That was more than any other Disney film made last year, except for WallcE. That’s not counting the fact that the DVD was among the top ten sellers last year which put another $83 million in Disney’s pocket. But for some reason, that wasn’t enough money for the entertainment giant.

The C.S. Lewis Society of California is glad to see Disney go. According to the Washington Times, Disney didn’t do much to work with people in churches and schools who have a special interest in Lewis’ work. Also, Disney made a change from the books written by CS Lewis by having in the second film, the main characters appear to be in their 20’s and flirty instead of showing them in their early teens and innocent.

Church Loses Members' Money

The Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland has lost all the money of members who invested in it. CNN has the story.

Cult Member Taken from Compund

Banned from the Super Bowl

NBC is refusing to air an ad to during Sunday's Super Bowl that portrays President Obama as an unborn child. The video has gotten more than 700,000 hits on YouTube in just 10 days. A Chicago-based Catholic organization called Fidelis submitted it to NBC. Here's the video.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama's Religious Affairs Director

Joshua DuBois is expected to be named as the man to revamp the White House office that handles faith-based initiatives. DuBois handled religious outreach for the Obama campaign – and is a 26-year-old Pentecostal pastor. The office is being renamed the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Besides dealing with money for religious and community groups, but the office will look for new ways to involve those groups in dealing with pressing social problems.

South Carolina Abortion Debate

WHNS-TV in Greenville has the latest on the abortion debate in the legislature.

Ted Haggard on Oprah's Show

Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard appeared on Oprah's show. A documentary about Haggard will be shown tonight on HBO.

10 Least Religious States

Is religion an important part of your life?
(percentage who responded “yes”)

Vermont 42
New Hampshire 46
Maine 48
Massachusetts 48
Alaska 51
Washington 52
Oregon 53
Rhode Island 53
Nevada 54
Connecticut 55

Source: Gallup

Holocaust Remarks Led to Divide

Israel's highest religious authority has canceled a March meeting scheduled with Catholic leaders and cut ties with the Vatican. The chief rabbinate is upset that Pope Benedict XVI decided to reinstate a bishop who has denied the Holocaust.

Bishop Richard Williamson was excommunicated two decades ago and was recently reinstated. But Williamson told a TV interviewer last week that the evidence "is hugely against six million Jews being (killed in the Holocaust)… and not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber." The Vatican has distanced itself from the remarks.

This does not affect contacts between the Vatican and the state of Israel – which has a separate relationship with the Roman Catholic church from the chief rabbinate's office.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Member Dies

Onetime Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell is dead. He passed away at his Florida home, apparently from a heart attack. Powell played in the contemporary Christian music band called Vision in the mid-80’s and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. He took part in Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion tours in recent years.

There are now only two members of the band still alive who survived the 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of three members and the road manager. Two other members passed away in recent years of other causes.

Top 10 Most Religious States

Is religion an important part of your life?
(percentage who responded “yes”)

Mississippi 85
Alabama 82
South Carolina 80
Tennessee 79
Louisiana 78
Arkansas 78
Georgia 76
North Carolina 76
Oklahoma 75
Kentucky (tie) 74
Texas (tie) 74

Source: Gallup

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Threat to Blow up Holiest Christian Site?

Benjamin Netanyahu says if Israel gave up control of Jerusalem, al-Qaeda would target the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – considered by many to be Christianity's holiest site. Netanyahu leads the Likud party and is expected to win February’s general election in Israel. He says if terrorists are able to destroy the Holy Sepulchre, where it is believed Jesus was buried, it would trigger a major religious clash in the Middle East.

Financial Woes for Schuller Church

Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral is having financial trouble. The southern California megachurch is selling a four-story office building on its campus for $34 million. And the church recently sold a 170-acre plot of land to the city of San Juan Capistrano for $10 million.

Book Awards

Here are the 2009 Christianity Today Book Awards.

Cult Compound

KOB-TV in Albuquerque explains why deputies visited a cult compound in Northeastern New Mexico.

Ed Young on The Colbert Report

Ed Young, pastor of the Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, a guest on The Colbert Report. See it here.

Actors Who've Played Jesus

The Philadelphia Weekly has a story about six actors who’ll only ever be known for playing Jesus.

The Aquarian Gospel

Hollywood is set to film a $20 million movie called The Aquarian Gospel. It speculates about what happened in Jesus’ life between the ages of 13 and 30. Drew Heriot will direct and plans to portray Jesus as a wandering mystic inspired by eastern religions who travels across India, living in Buddhist monasteries. The role of Jesus will be played by several actors and some parts will be created by computer animated actors for the 2010 release.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lawsuit Over MySpace Lesbian Post

An appeals court has thrown out a lawsuit against California Lutheran High School in Wildomar, California. The court decided that the school is private business and upheld a ruling against two students who had filed suit. They were expelled over an alleged lesbian relationship which was exposed on MySpace by another student in 2005. The school is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Car on Church Roof

The BBC has some unusual video of a car that landed on a church roof. See the story here.

The Amazing Race

The oldest contestant on the upcoming season of The Amazing Race has connections to the Evangelical community. The CBS show tapped 68-year-old Mel White. He’s a one-time speechwriter for Pat Robertson and Billy Graham turned gay-rights activist. He’s teamed with his son, Mike White who wrote the screen play for School of Rock and Nacho Libre.

The show will feature 11 teams. Over the 12 episodes, they will travel more than 40,000 miles in 22 days to nine countries, including Switzerland, India and Russia. Challenges will range from a bungee jumping to the cold of Siberia and the heat of India. The show premiers February 15th at 8pm, Eastern. More Info

New Haggard Accuser

Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard's newest accuser speaks with KRDO in Colorado Springs.

Sex Ed at Church

A Greenville, South Carolina church is starting an sex education class. WHNS-TV reports.

Haggard Apologizes

Ted Haggard is apologizing for his relationship with a church member while pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Current pastor Brady Boyd told the congregation that the church paid the young man off with insurance money. Even though the man says they had a sexual relationship, Haggard says there was no physical contact between them. Haggard resigned from New Life in 2006 after revelations of gay sex with a male prostitute. This week, HBO will show a documentary on what happened called The Trials of Ted Haggard. It was put together by the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Purpose Driven Connection

There was The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church. Now, there’s The Purpose Driven Magazine. Only it’s called the Purpose Driven Connection. A one-year subscription will run you $29.99. Single copies are about $10. You’ll find the new it on newsstands, Christian bookstores and at national retailers like Wal-Mart. Of course, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren, graces the cover. The publication is a product of Reader’s Digest.

Moment of Silence Outlawed

WTHI-TV in Terre Haute has a story on Inidiana's "moment of silence".

What's Hot in Church Design

What’s “in” and what’s “out” for church design according to Pete Ed Garrett of Studio Red Architects.

hidden sound and lighting systems
technology on a par with a large concert hall
redesigning existing buildings
green friendly touches
Coffee bars, book stores
video games and food courts

traditional religious architecture
ornate iconography
cathedral-type churches
steeples and stained glass

Church Gives Shoes

WISH-TV in Indianapolis has the story of a Church giving shoes for kids.

Obama & the Christian Right

CNN speaks with the head of the Family Research Council about how Christian conservatives view Obama, particularly on the issue of abortion.

Scam at Rick Warren's Church

Two members of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church face criminal fraud charges along with four others in an alleged $52-million investment scam. They recruited sales people to push the scheme from one of the megachurches addiction recovery program. They even gave prospective investors copies of Warren’s bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life. They raised funds for Carolina Development came through promising big payouts from luxury developments that would be built next to celebrity-designed golf courses. What’s left of the company is being sold and given to settle IRS bills. Investors will get back less than 20 cents on the dollar.

Robinson's Prayer

When HBO rebroadcasts the concert that took place at the Lincoln Memorial, kicking off the presidential inauguration festivities, Gene Robinson's 4-minute prayer will be shown.

The Episcopal priest’s invocation was not a part of the live broadcast nor the HBO repeats because Robinson spoke just before coverage began. The Presidential Inauguration Committee is taking the blame for the omission.

Robinson has been a controversial figure ever since he became the denominations first openly gay Bishop. He was critical of Rick Warren's selection to give the invocation at the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol. But after Robinson was picked to give the concert prayer, he issued a statement in support of Warren’s participation.

Fired Over Pregnancy

A former school guidance counselor is suing Christ the King Church in Omaha, Nebraska for firing her. The church let 42-year-old Tracy McGinnis go last year after she disclosed her out of wedlock pregnancy. The suit claims the dismissal was discrimination.

Jerusalem Syndrome

Police in Jerusalem have a unit set up to deal with what psychologists call Jerusalem Syndrome. About 35 tourists are admitted each year to the hospital for suddenly thinking they are characters out of the Bible or prophets, once they begin walking around the Biblical city. Some of those are diagnosed with the Syndrome. The typical patient is making their first trip to the Holy Land, is middle-aged, has strong religious beliefs, comes from a small town and is part of a religious tour group, according to a doctor at local health facility. Patients usually don’t remember what happened during their break with reality.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tom Hanks: Mormons UnAmerican

A few days ago, actor Tom Hanks said:
"The truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make
Proprosition 8 happen (the California initiative banning gay marriage). There
are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them."

He now tells People Magazine:

"Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's
Proposition 8 as "un-American." I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the
promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a
right to vote their conscience -- nothing could be more American. To say members
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to
Proposition 8 are "un-American" creates more division when the time calls for
respectful disagreement. No one should use "un- American" lightly or in haste. I
did. I should not have."

Mother of David Koresh Murdered

The mother of cult leader David Koresh is dead. Police in Chandler, Texas (near Tyler) say Bonnie Clark Haldeman was stabbed to death by her sister who is now in custody. Beverly Clark is being held without bond.

Koresh founded the Branch Davidians. He became nationally known after refusing to comply with federal agents in 1993 when they attempted to arrest him for stockpiling weapons at his Waco compound. The standoff went on for weeks and ended when the complex caught fire, killing nearly 80 people, including Koresh.

Haggard's Church Responds to New Allegations

KRDO-TV is set to air new sexual accusations against former mega-pastor Ted Haggard and the church he founded in Colorado Springs. The current pastor of New Life Churc h, Brady Body, told the congregation this morning:

"A wound has been reopened. While scandal and tragedy has been part of our past, it will not be our future... We gave (the new accuser) the counseling and help he needed in his life."
Boyd went on to say the church settled a lawsuit with the man in 2007 for more than six figures. Here's KRDO's report before Body made the annoucement.

One Year Ago.. ESPN Anchor Suspended

An ESPN anchor was suspended one year ago for a speech that included obscenities aimed at Notre Dame, the icon painted behind the school's football goal posts dubbed Touchdown Jesus - and Jesus himself. Dana Jacobson was booed off the stage in Atlantic City during a roast of two radio personalities who host Mike & Mike in the Morning. One of them attended the University of Notre Dame and she went to the University of Michigan. Jacobson, who co-hosts the show ESPN First Take apologized and called her comments "foolish and insensitive".

More Accusations Against Haggard

The Ted Haggard sex scandal just won’t go away for New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The former pastor of the mega-church says a male volunteer has approached church officials with an "overwhelming pool of evidence" (according to quotes from the current pastor in the Rocky Mountain Times) that he held a long sexual relationship with Haggard. The church has reached a financial settlement with the accuser.

Haggard isn’t commenting on the new accusations. Meanwhile, HBO is airing a documentary about him starting Thursday, the same day Haggard is scheduled to make an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live. He's already taped an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The documentary is called The Trials of Ted Haggard.

After a male prostitute came forward with evidence, Haggard admitted "sexual immorality" in 2006 and resigned from New Life (he founded the church in 1984) and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.