Saturday, February 28, 2009

Study of Religion and Medicine

Center for Spirituality and The Mind - University of Pennsylvania
Brain Scans: A workshop for high-tech imagery: this is your brain on prayer--or meditation or speaking in tongues. Researchers also study changes in blood pressure, hormones and immune-system function during spiritual practices.

Center for Spirituality & Healing - University of Minnesota
Shaman Outreach: Fifty faculty members from a dozen academic areas conduct research into alternative medicine and healing traditions, including those of shamans serving the local community of Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia.

Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health - Duke University
Community of Scholars: Academic powerhouse that promotes research to improve our understanding of "spirituality, health and human flourishing." Aims to push the interdisciplinary field into a "new era of significance, visibility and impact."

National Center for Complementary And Alternative Medicine - National Institutes of Health
Federal Faith: Alternative medicine established this beachhead with the Federal Government in 1991. NCCAM funds research and serves as a clearinghouse for consumer information on acupuncture, herbs, hypnosis and more.

Templeton Foundation - West Conshohocken, Pa.
Private Philanthropy: Family foundation established by the late philanthropist Sir John Templeton. Its mission is to address big questions and foster dialogue between science and religion through grants, prizes and book publishing.

Source: TIME Magazine

The Biology of Belief

"Social demographer Robert Hummer of the University of Texas has been following a population of subjects since 1992, and his results are hard to argue with. Those who never attend religious services have twice the risk of dying over the next eight years as people who attend once a week. People who fall somewhere between no churchgoing and weekly churchgoing also fall somewhere between in terms of mortality."
From a TIME Magazine article says a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that faith may indeed bring us health. Here's more.

Pope to Visit Israel

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel in May. He will be escorted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. The last Papal visit to Israel took place nine years ago. John Paul II visited Bethlehem in the West Bank at the time.

Israel and the Vatican have been at odds recently after the pope removed the excommunication of a Bishop who questions the Holocaust.

Obama Ahead of Jesus in Hero Poll

Who are your heroes?

1. Barack Obama
2. Jesus
3. Martin Luther King Jr.

4. Ronald Reagan
5. George W. Bush
6. Abraham Lincoln
7. John McCain
8. John F. Kennedy
9. Chelsey Sullenberger
10. Mother Teresa

Source: Harris Poll

Challenging the Ten Commandments

The Supreme Court has issued a ruling in a case involving the public display of the Ten Commandments. Here’s more details on the ruling. This video is CNN’s report on the group that wants to put up a monument in a park next to a Ten Commandments monument.

Dobson Resigns

James Dobson has resigned as chairman of Focus on the Family. He made the announcement at a chapel service this week. The Colorado Springs-based ministry has nearly 1000 employees - though more than 200 were laid off last year. The 72-year-old Dobson says he’s healthy but wants to focus on grandparenting and leave running the organization to a younger crowd. He’ll remain the voice on the ministry’s daily radio show (with more than one-and-a-half million listeners) and he'll keep writing the Focus newsletter that goes to even more supporters. Former Air Force General Patrick Caruana will take Dobson’s place as chairman. Dobson's wife, Shirley Dobson is also stepping down as a director. No word on her replacement. Executive leadership continues in the hands of current president Jim Daly who took over guidance of the $138 million annual budget a couple of years ago. .

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ten Commandments Ruling

The Supreme Court has issued a ruling in a case involving the Public displays of the Ten Commandments. A lower court in Denver told Pleasant Grove City, Utah that it had to let the followers of the Summum religion put up a monument in a public park if it allowed the display of a Ten Commandments monument. The city refused and the group filed a lawsuit. A federal judge ruled in favor of the city. Then a three-judge panel reversed that decision. Next, the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case. It split, leaving the decision against the city to stand. Now the Supreme Court is weighing in.

The justices say there’s no need to make room for the new monument. In an unanimously ruling, the high court decided permanent monuments in public parks do not have to go through the same rigors of free speech as speeches and leaflets in public forums.

A First for Regent

It's a first for Pat Robertson’s school. Regent University now has a young Democrats' group. Regent Democrats got official recognition as a student organization in late January. Evangelical colleges with student Democratic organizations include: Wheaton College, Anderson University, Biola University.

Faith-based Charities Steady

An Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability survey finds 72% of parachurch ministries have exceeded, met or came close to their contribution goals in the final quarter of 2008. Forty-one percent put a hold on salary increases, 38% froze or reduced hiring and 18% laid off staff.

Thirty percent have stopped capital projects, 23% postponed or cut back on computer upgrades,

Meanwhile, the National Association of Church Business Administration says 57% of churches congregations had experienced a drop in contributions.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gay Ordination Vote

The Presbyterian Church, USA in central North Carolina has voted to allow gays in partnered relationships be ordained. The vote was 177 in favor and 139 opposed. The proposal needs a majority of the 173 presbyteries and at least half of them are expected to have voted by the end of February.

Dove Awards

Here are the nominations for the Gospel Music Association's 40th annual Dove Awards.

Gay Comments Cause Uproar

Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe has sparked outrage for calling homosexuality an “abomination” and “offense to God” as he quoted from the Bible during a debate on giving same-sex partners health benefits if they are state employees. Here is a audio tape of his comments provided by KUSA-TV.

High Court to Rule on Cross

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether its constitutional to have an eight foot cross, a memorial to fallen US soldiers, sitting on federal land in California. The cross is located in the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County. The Veterans of Foreign Wars placed a smaller wooden cross there in 1934 and the larger cross was added later. When a group wanted to add a Buddhist shrine along side the cross, they were turned down. That’s when the ACLU sued to get the cross removed. A federal appeals court sided with the ACLU, preventing Congress from transferring ownership of the land to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This past fall the Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kentucky Trust Plates Move Forward

Kentucky’s House Representatives have passed a bill that would allow the state to issue license plates that have the phrase In God We Trust printed on them. The Governor threw his support behind the effort last year. The measure now goes to the State Senate.

Texas Abortion Bill

Texas lawmakers may soon pass an Abortion bill. KXAN-TV in Austin has more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Divine Employment

WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids has the story of a new organization working through churches helping the unemployed find work.

Hat in Church Leads to Stabbing

Baltimore police are looking for a man who stabbed his son over a hat. The two argued near the Carter Memorial Church of God when his 19-year-old son refused to remove his hat. The man got a knife from his car and stabbed his son in the left buttock.

Graham Slashing Jobs

Billy Graham’s organization plans to cut about 55 jobs. That’s 10% of its workforce. They’ll have a month left at the job and get a severance package. Billy’s son, Franklin, now runs the ministry. Donation levels remain flat for the North Carolina nonprofit over the past year.

Colbert on Prayer

The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert talks about prayer during last nights program.

One Year Ago.. Christian Singer Dies

A pioneer of contemporary Christian music passed away one year ago today. Larry Norman died of heart failure in Salem, Oregon at the age of 60. Norman stirred controversy in the 70’s with songs like Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? and I wish We’d all Been Ready. The Gospel Music Association inducted him into the group’s Hall of Fame in 2001. He introduced Randy Stonehill to Christianity and produced Stonehill's first few albums.

40 Days for Life

KLRT-TV in Little Rock reports on a campaign to end abortion.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Police Investigate Death of Priest

Connecticut's WFSB-TV has the story of a police investigation of the death of a priest from the Norwich church rectory.

Sex and Porn in Little Rock

A church in Little Rock tackles the topics of sex and porn. KLRT-TV has the story.