Saturday, April 25, 2009

School Prayer Law Moves Forward

Missouri lawmakers have approved a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing Missourians' right to pray in public places, including schools. If the State Senate goes along with the house, the proposal would appear on a statewide ballot next year. Although supporters say it doesn’t allow anything that’s not already permitted, they hope it will prevent students from being stopped from praying in public schools. Detractors say it’s pointless and a waste of money to hold a statewide election on a constitutional amendment that would have no practical effect.

What Would Jesus Do?

The novel that inspired the phrase What Would Jesus Do is being turned into a film. Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps What Would Jesus Do? was has sold more than 40 million copies since it was first published in 1896. Entertainment Group is producing the film and Nasser Entertainment will distribute it. John Schneieder (Bo Duke in the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard) will play one of the roles of four people: a singer, a newspaper editor, a wealthy philanthropist and a Minister (who loses his faith). Each one vows to walk in the steps of Jesus by asking themselves What Would Jesus Do?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Waiting for IRS Reaction

33 pastors are still waiting to hear from the IRS about their protest during last year's presidential election. They told their congregations to cast their ballots according to the conservative views they say are espoused in the Bible. Some directly endorsed John McCain for president. The coordinated protest across the country called Pulpit Freedom Sunday was designed to be a direct challenge to the agency’s rules preventing religious nonprofits from supporting or opposing political candidates.

Baptists Lose Members

Southern Baptists lost members last year and baptized the fewest people in more than 20 years. Baptisms fell for the fourth straight year to just over 342,000. That’s a drop of just over one percent, according to the denomination’s Annual Church Profile put together by LifeWay Christian Resources. Total membership fell by more than 38,000 (that’s a .02 percent drop).

Preacher Probe Ongoing

A congressional probe of several televangelists is not over. Senator Charles Grassley started the investigation 17 months ago. He’s looking into the finances and extravagant lifestyles of Kenneth Copeland, Randy and Paula White, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long. Some of them have provided Grassley with requested documents but some are dragging their feet on cooperating. The Senator is considering sending out subpoenas for requested documents.

Bama Lawmakers on Miss USA

Alabama lawmakers have passed a resolution praising a Miss USA contestant for her comments against gay marriage. The Alabama House has approved the resolution about Carrie Prejean yesterday on a voice vote. During the competition, judge Perez Hilton asked her about gay marriage during Sunday’s telecast. Prejean said she felt marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Seminary Closes School

Sinking enrollment has lead to the closure of the School of Church Music and Worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The 65-year-old program will merge with the School of Leadership and Church Ministry to form a new School of Church Ministries. The Louisville, Kentucky school has recently struggled financially. Administrators faced a budget shortfall of more than $3 million shortfall at the end of last year. Since then 35 administrative positions have been cut.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dove Winners

Steven Curtis Chapman won the Dove Award for artist of the year tonight in Nashville. This is the seventh time he’s won the top honor. Last year, Chapman’s seven-year-old daughter was killed when she was accidentally hit by a vehicle driven by her older brother at the family's home. Other winners:
  • Female Vocalist of the Year: Natalie Grant (her 4th year in a row)

  • Male Vocalist of the Year: Brandon Heath

  • Song of the Year: Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath

  • Group of the Year: Casting Crowns

Global Warming Survey

Nearly half of Protestant pastors believe global warming is a real man-made problem. About the same number disagree. A recent poll asked whether pastors strongly or somewhat agree that man-made global warming exists.

  • 47% of all the pastors surveyed agreed
  • 75% of mainline pastors agree
  • 32% of evangelical pastors agree
  • 61% of mainline pastors reported preaching about the environment several times a year or more
  • 23% of evangelical pastors reported preaching about the environment several times a year or more

Source: LifeWay Research

Megachurch Pastor Critique

Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll takes on the teachings of Joel Osteen in the video below.

Latin Pastor to Schuller Church

Robert Schuller’s megachurch has hired an Argentinian preacher to lead its Hispanic ministry. Dante Gebel has appeared on in TV shows and movies and written several motivational books. The Crystal Cathedral in Southern California has a 10,000-member congregation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Osteen at Yankee Stadium

Joel Osteen is renting out the new Yankee Stadium for about $1.5 million. The Houston televangelist will be the first non-baseball attraction when he speaks on Saturday Tickets are $15 each.

Preacher Sues CNN

WSB-TV reports on a preacher suing CNN for his arrest by security guards while on a sidewalk outside the network's Atlanta headquarters.

Bono On the Soul

U2's Bono from his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times: "Then comes the dying and the living that is Easter. It’s a transcendent moment for me — a rebirth I always seem to need. Never more so than a few years ago, when my father died. I recall the embarrassment and relief of hot tears as I knelt in a chapel in a village in France and repented my prodigal nature — repented for fighting my father for so many years and wasting so many opportunities to know him better. I remember the feeling of “a peace that passes understanding” as a load lifted. Of all the Christian festivals, it is the Easter parade that demands the most faith — pushing you past reverence for creation, through bewilderment at the idea of a virgin birth, and into the far-fetched and far-reaching idea that death is not the end. The cross as crossroads. Whatever your religious or nonreligious views, the chance to begin again is a compelling idea."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Carolina Pastor Indicted

A Charlotte pastor faces charges of tax evasion. Anthony Jinwright leads the 2000 member Greater Salem City of God. Prosecutors say he lived a lavish lifestyle and made millions while filing false state and federal tax returns, tax evasion and making false statements to federal agents.

The Gospel Of Green

Newsweek profiles Evangelical environmentalist Peter Illyn.

Lawsuit Over Evolution

The Institute for Creation Research is suing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board over a decision not to let it train science teachers by confer a master's degree in science education. The state board ruled the program did not meet state academic standards but the Institute says it came down to its views on evolution.

Miss Cali Controversy

She didn’t win the Miss USA contest Sunday night but first runner-up Carrie Prejean (Miss California) is getting most of the attention. A judge asked her about legalizing same-sex marriage. Her answer: "I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there. But that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be.” Prejean says she’s gotten 1,000 new Facebook messages. The title went to Miss North Carolina, Kristen Dalton.

Monday, April 20, 2009

High Court Rejects Challenge

Khristian Oliver’s death sentence will stand. The convicted murderer had ask the Supreme Court to rule that his constitutional rights were violated by Texas jurors because they used Bible during deliberations. Oliver fatally shooting and bludgeoning his victim with the barrel of a gun. While jurors were deciding whether to impose a death sentence, they read a passage about a murder committed with an iron object.

Church Head: Jesus Not Only Way

Jesus is not the only way to God. That’s what the head of the Episcopal church told people attending a special convention. Katherine Jefferts Schori said to insist Jesus is the only way to God is to "limit God."

Schori made the remarks in Peoria, Illinois where she had come to shore up support for the denomination. The local Diocese decided to leave the Episcopal Church in November and realign with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. The Episcopal Church has battled local organizations in recent years over homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Name Change for Armstrong Church

The Worldwide Church of God is changing its name. The organization founded by Herbert W. Armstrong was considered a cult by Evangelicals for years. But after Armstrong's death in 1986, the church took a conservative theological turn. The denomination will now be known as Grace Communion International. It’s also become a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

10 Years Ago.. Columbine

Ten years ago today, two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado went on a shooting rampage, killing a dozen classmates and a teacher. They injured 23 others and then killed themselves.

Dave Cullen’s new book titled Columbine tackles some popular misconceptions about the shootings – such as reports that Cassie Bernall was asked if she believed in God before she was shot to death. The 17-year-old Christian supposedly answered "yes" before her death. Her heroism and was popularized by many in the Evangelical community. Cullen says it was another student, Valeen Schnurr, who proclaimed her belief in God as she was shot. Schnurr, on the other hand, survived the attack.