Saturday, February 14, 2009

Prison Monument

A monument at the gates of Louisiana's maximum security prison used to have a Bible Verse on it. Not any more. The warden had it stripped off after the ACLU complained. It was Philippians 3:13. Next to go: A Prayer of Protection inscribed on the opposite side of the Bible verse. It says: The light of God surrounds you. The love of God enfolds you. The power of God protects you. And the presence of God watches over you; Wherever you are, God is.

Bills about Abortion and Ultrasounds

Three states considering laws requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds. Connecticut, Indiana and Texas.

Wyoming: A committee voted down a proposal requiring women to view an ultrasound.

Nine states are considering laws that would require doctors to give women the option of seeing the ultrasound. Among them: Virginia, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, and Nebraska.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Church Closing for One Month

The First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland is closing for a month to save money. The 1500 member church will shut its doors during July. The 35 employees on staff have decided to give up two additional weeks of pay. The church is expected to end the fiscal year $185,000 in debt.

Pastor & Son Accused of Arson

A former pastor and his son are facing arson charges in an Atlanta suburb. Prosecutors say they set fire to the New Life Deliverance Church three years ago. Barrow County sheriff's deputies have arrested Quincy Arnold of Lawrenceville who once served as the pastor of the gutted church. His son was arrested last month.

Screwtape is a Hit

A stage version of CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is becoming a big hit in Chicago. It has already turned out to be the most financially successful show in the history of the Mercury Theatre. Nearly every show is sold out as church groups are coming in droves. There are reports Screwtape is taking in more than $50,000 a week. And it just started in September.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crosses in Classrooms

Some Boston College professors are complaining that the Jesuit University has placed some crosses in classrooms. Most of the crucifixes are from students who have returned from trips to Central and South America and to Europe. The issue was intensely debated when to college’s department chairs gathered recently. Meanwhile, the weekly student newspaper has given it’s approval. Georgetown University, also a Jesuit school, has a crucifix in every classroom for many years.

TD Jakes Step-son Arrested

The step-son of megachurch pastor TD Jakes has been arrested and charged with masturbating in front of Dallas undercover police officers in a park. Here’s more from KDFW-TV on the Jermaine Jakes case.

Obama on Church-State

Associated Press takes a snapshot of the Obama administration's start on church-state issues.

Praise Darwin

This is Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. To celebrate, the Freedom From Religion Foundation bought a billboards in Dayton Tennessee that says Praise Darwin, Evolve Beyond Belief. The city is located north of Chattanooga was the site of the infamous 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial”. Darwin's treatise On The Origin of Species was instrumental in the case fought over whether evolution should be taught in Tennessee public schools. The Freedom From Religion Foundation says it tried to buy a billboard inside the city limits of Dayton but was turned down.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama Church Search

Jon Stewart's Daily Show takes a look at the Obama family's search for a new church home in Washington.

Bishop Removed from Leadership Position

The Catholic Bishop who’s created an international controversy for his denial of the Holocaust no longer leads a seminary in Argentina. Richard Williamson no longer the director of the La Reja seminary on the outskirts of the Argentina capital. The Pope had rescinded William’s excommunication last month but the Vatican recently called on him to recant his views.

When in Rome..

The Deaf Baptist Fellowship in Rome, Georgia has been meeting at the Hollywood Baptist Church since it first began in 2003. Six deaf people joined pastor Mason Fenner on that first Sunday. The church began to grow and a youth service was added in 2005. The regular service now includes video and other visual aides. But there are no interpreters. The service is entirely done in sign language. The outreach is an effort of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Rare Collection Up for Sale

A collection of what many experts consider the greatest collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in private hands will soon go on sale at Sotheby’s. The 11,000 items are part of the Valmadonna Trust Library. The collection includes a 16th-century Hebrew Bible once owned by Westminster Abbey and a complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud that was printed in the 16th century. Valued at more than $40 million, the collection is on display in New York for another week. The seller is 88-year-old London collector Jack Lunzer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian Music Grammy Winners

Kirk Franklin - Best contemporary R&B Gospel album for Fight for Your Life, Best Gospel song for Help Me Believe

Mary Mary - Best Gospel performance award for Get Up

tobyMac - Best rock or rap Gospel album award for Alive and Transported

CeCe Winans - Best pop/contemporary Gospel album for Thy Kingdom Come

From Gospel Singer to Suspect

He used to sing Gospel music but now he’s wanted by the police for murder. Rasheen Gamble is a member of the Harlem Heavenly Notes, nicknamed The Holy Ghost Band. The all brass ensemble played in churches and on the street, and was recently featured at the Apollo Theater. Police say Gamble shot a security guard in his building, wounded a neighbor and then fled.

Pastor's Conference

Pastors and minister workers are gathering in San Diego this week for a four-day conference for pastors. More than 2000 are expected to attend the 9th annual National Pastors Convention. Among the speakers: Megachurch pastor Bill Hybels who founded Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, controversial emergent church leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell. William Paul Young, author of the controversial bestseller The Shack, will be on hand as well.

Caylee Anthony Service

Thousands of people are expected at the First Baptist Church of Orlando at Caylee Anthony's memorial service this morning. The slain toddler’s disappearance gained national attention.

One of the largest services at the church was a service for the founder of Campus Crusade, Bill Bright. The church's sanctuary can hold more than 5,000 people.

Theives Hit Christian Radio Station

Someone has stolen a $16,000 natural gas-powered generator and a large trailer from a radio station owned by Bible Baptist College in Springfield, Missouri. The 60 kilowatt generator had not yet been installed or even delivered to KWFC, a noncommercial station. All the items had been paid for with donations from listeners and was intended to keep the station on-the-air during emergencies when power would go out.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Warren's Mag Debuts

Rick Warren's new Purpose Driven magazine is now on news stands. The Purpose Driven Connection is a quarterly magazine published with help from Reader's Digest. Besides the magazine itself, there is a study guide and DVD to foster small-group discussion. An Annual subscription will run you $29.99. The megachurch pastor wrote The Purpose Driven Life, a book that has sold more than 40 million copies.

Borat's Girlfriend: Methodist to Jewish

Actress Isla Fisher is undergoing conversion to Judaism. She was brought up a Methodist but had a daughter with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) who is Jewish. They are waiting until she completes the process before getting married. Fisher has taken on the Hebrew name Ayala, which means “doe,” and she no longer eats pork or other nonkosher food.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Contemporary Prodigal Son

Joe Eszterhas is a Hollywood screenwriter who’s credits include Basic Instinct, Flashdance and Showgirls. He’s now written the story of his return to the Catholic faith of his youth in Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith. He describes a self-destructive lifestyle that included drug and alcohol abuse and a battle with throat cancer.

Ministries Feel Financial Squeeze

Major Christian media ministries are feeling the economic squeeze:
  • James Dobson’s Focus on the Family cut more than 400 positions in the last four years.
  • Salem (owner of more Christian radio stations than anyone else)has sold four stations, cut one-tenth of its workers and reduced salaries by 5%.
  • Paul Crouch’s TBN (the nation's largest Christian TV network) has laid off many employees and workers and finding it difficult to fill up its programming schedule because of cutbacks by staples like T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer.

How Much is a Trillion?

Congressional leaders are throwing around big numbers when discussing the stimulus package under debate. One version of the bill calls for spending $917 billion. Nearly a trillion dollars. How much money is that?

We could spend one million dollars every day since the day Jesus was born and we would still not have one trillion dollars. Jesus was born about 2012 years ago. 2012 x 365.2 = 734,782.4. So if we spent one million dollars every day since the day Jesus was born, we'd have spent $734,782,400,000 or almost 735 billon dollars.

(Houston Chronicle)

Evolution Weekend

Churches across the country – about 1000 in all, have agreed to take part in Evolution Weekend. That includes a dozen Baptist churches such as the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Missouri, the First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg, Maryland and University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. . It’s February 13-15 because Thursday, February 12th is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The goal of the event is to present evolution as sound science and not in conflict with religion.