Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deadly Nativity Scene

A truck crashes into a nativity scene, killing one person in Ohio. Here's a video report.

Former Klansman Ordained in Black Church

A former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan is now an ordained minister in the largest black denomination in America. Johnny Lee Clary is part of the Church of God in Christ and lives in Miami, Oklahoma. Clary's father committed suicide when he was 11 years old and his alcoholic mother sent him to live with his drug-dealing aunt in California. For protection from gangs, he joined the KKK Youth Corps and eventually became the youngest leader of the Oklahoma Klan. He earned money by wrestling under the named Johnny Angel while openly supporting the Klan on shows like Oprah. But he quit in 1989. Not able to hold a job because of his history, Clary decided to kill himself as his father had done but picked up a Bible first. Before the night was over, Clary says he made a decision to follow Christ. Hear more of his story in this video.

CS Lewis College

The C.S. Lewis College is now scheduled to open in 2012. Oklahoma City-based retailer Hobby Lobby plans to start the Christian-oriented liberal arts college in Massachusetts on one of the campuses of Northfield Mount Hermon School. The retail chain has purchased 217 acres for$100,000 in cash. It will invest $5 million to renovate the property and let the C.S. Lewis Foundation set up its first college at the site under terms of the deal valued at $20 million. Read more here

Evangelist in Plane Crash

The son of evangelist Luis Palau was among the passengers on board the flight that skidded off a runway and crashed in Jamaica. Andrew Palau and his family suffered minor injuries when the plane broke in the three pieces. They escaped by jumping on a wing and then the wet sandy beach the plane came to rest on. They lost all of their documentation and belongings.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Was Jesus Wealthy?

A CNN article on the prosperity gospel here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Singer Dies in Wreck

Christian singer Derek Loux was killed in a one vehicle accident in Nebraska. He lost control of his SUV on an interstate near Cozad. His 2007 CD was entitled Paper Religion. He lived in Kansas City and leaves behind his wife, Renee, five girls adopted from the Marshall Islands and three adopted boys with special needs from Ukraine. The couple already had two daughters. The family asks for prayer here.

Fewer Christians, More Nonreligious

More than three-of-four Americans (78%) say they are Christians while about one-in-ten (13%) say they have no religion. That's according to a new Gallup poll. The number saying they have no religious affiliation is the highest ever for the yearly survey. In 1948, more than nine-out-of -ten Americans described themselves as Christians (91%). Only 2% said they had no religious identity. Read more about the survey here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scam at 2 Large Churches

Police are looking for whoever bought thousands of dollars of cell phones in the names of two Raleigh, North Carolina area churches. Someone posing as a member of First Baptist Church of Smithfield and Centenary United Methodist Church ordered the mobile phones from Sprint. When they arrived at First Baptist, someone intercepted the paackages, but Centenary got to its package before the scammer did.

Fake Christian School

US immigration officials have arrested a Southern California pastor for alledgedly charging internationals as much as $10,000 to help them get visas based on their agreement to attend his Christian university in Fullerton. Samuel Chai Cho Oh is accused of giving out phony diplomas at a fake graduation ceremony on a campus of California Union University where only a handful of the 300 students ever attended classes.

Texas Christmas in Iraq

Dad Sees Nativity play through video stream to Iraq. KTBC-TV in Austin reports.

Jesus' Era Dwelling Found

Here's a video report on the discovery of a house in Nazareth from Jesus' Time . More on the story here.

Nativity Display Returns

After being told to take down a nativity scene, a fire station in South Carolina has put it back up - along with other holiday decorations.The Charleston Fire Department had the station add Santa, a menorah, Kwanzaa Kinara, elves and reindeer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had threatened to sue if the nativity scene remained by itself.

Controversial Contraceptive Ads

The group behind new radio and TV ads are being accused of misleading Catholics. WLUK-TV in Green Bay reports.

Oral Roberts Memorial

Some 4000 people attended the memorial service for Oral Roberts at the school he founded. He died in California at the age of 91 and was buried Monday. A video that told the Oral Roberts story included messages from President Jimmy Carter, Jerry Lewis, Roy Clark, and President George H.W. Bush.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More on Sheppard Resignation

Paul Sheppard, who resigned Sunday as senior pastor of a San Francisco-area megachurch, sent a letter to church members which was read by an associate pastor during the service. According to some reports, he admitted to an affair in the letter and asked for forgiveness while others say he only confessed to a "moral failure" offering no specifics. Wayne Jackson will serve as interim pastor as indicated on the church's Web site.

He became senior pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in 1989 when he started the congregation with just 34 people. Abundant Life now has more than 6000 members. His radio program, Enduring Truth, is heard on more than 500 radio stations. The Salem Radio Network has already removed his broadcasts from Sheppard serves on the board of the National Religious Broadcasters and has spoken at Promise Keepers rallies. A native of Philadelphia, Sheppard studied at the University of Pennsylvania, the Center for Urban Theological Studies, and the Southern California School of Ministry. He holds a Master’s degree in Ministry and a Doctorate of Divinity. His latest book is called Build A Bridge And Get Over It!

Read more at the church's Web site here.

Baby Jesus Stolen

KGO-TV in San Francisco reports on a baby Jesus stolen from a nativity scene, found in a street.

Priest Wins at Poker

A South Carolina priest picked up $100,000 for his church in a poker tournament. Andrew Trapp of St. Michael Catholic Church won the money in the Million Dollar Challenge which will be televised this weekend. He says the winning will go toward building a new facility about 10 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach. Aiken started learing Texas Hold'Em while attending seminary. A retired New York Police detective won the tourney's top price of a million dollars.

Pastor Resigns

A Southern California megachurch pastor has resigned after admiting to "moral failure" in a letter to church elders. Paul Sheppard has been with Abundant Life Christian Fellowship for 20 years. The church has four services with more than 1,000 people. Sheppard's Enduring Truth radio show airs on hundreds of radio stations. Read more at the church's Web site here.

Most Religious States

The South is the U.S. most religious region of the country and Mississippi is the America's most religious state. That's according to a Pew Forum study. Eighty-two percent of Mississipians say religion is important to their lives. Alabama and Arkansas are at 74%, then Louisiana with 72%, Tennessee 71% and South Carolina 70%.

At the other end is New Hampshire and Vermont, each at 36%, Alaska 37% and Massachusetts 40%. New England is the least religious region. That title used to go the Pacific Northwest but religion in the region is rising. Oregon is at 46% and Washington State is at 48%.

As for church attendance, Mississippians again leads the pack with 60% saying they attend at least once a week. Utah is second 57% and South Carolina third 54%. The least number of church-goers are in Alaska with 22%. New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine are at 23%.

Read more here.

Christmas Crook Hits Church

The community of Violet, Louisiana is rallying to replace gifts that were stolen from a church's toy give-away program. Here's a video report.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oral Remembered

KOTV in Tulsa has an interview with Richard Roberts about his father, Oral Roberts, who died last week.

Top Religion Stories

A survey of more than 100 religion journalists found these to be the top stories of 2009:

1. Barack Obama's June speech in which he pledged a new beginning in Muslim-U.S. relations during a visit to Cairo.

2. Health care reform and the role of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other faith groups played in shaping the debate.

3. Because Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was considered a devout Muslim, the role of that faith in terrorism again comes under review; some fear a backlash.

4. Dr. Carl Tiller, regarded as the country’s leading abortion doctor, is gunned down while ushering in his Wichita Lutheran church. Scott Roeder, charged with his murder, is described as a man suffering from delusions and professing radical religious beliefs.

5. Mormons in California come under attack from some supporters of gay rights because of their lobbying efforts in the November 2008 election on behalf of Prop. 8, which outlawed gay marriage. Later in the year, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire approve gay marriage, but it is overturned by voters in Maine.

6. President Obama receives an honorary degree and gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame after fierce debates at the Roman Catholic university over Obama's views on abortion.

7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America votes to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are in a committed monogamous relationship, leading a number of conservative churches -- known as the Coalition for Renewal -- to move toward forming a new denomination.

8. The recession forces cutbacks at a great variety of faith-related organizations -- houses of worship, relief agencies, colleges and seminaries, publishing houses.

9. The Episcopal Church Triennial Convention votes to end a moratorium on installing gay bishops, ignoring a request from the archbishop of Canterbury. At year’s end Los Angeles chooses a lesbian, Mary Glasspool, as assistant bishop. Earlier, an elected bishop in Upper Michigan, Kevin Thew Forrester, is rejected because of his extreme liberal views.

10. President Obama’s inauguration includes a controversial invocation by Rick Warren and a controversial benediction by Joseph Lowery, as well as a pre-ceremony prayer by gay Bishop Gene Robinson.

Source: Religion Newswriters Association

Warren: Newsmaker of Year

California megachurch pastor Rick Warren is the 2009 Religion Newsmaker of the Year for the Religion Newswriters Association.

House Dates to Jesus' Time

Archaeologists in Israel say they've found what could have been the home of a neighbor of Jesus during his childhood in Nazareth. It's the first uncovered from that period of time. The Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a water system, courtyard, clay vessels, and parts of a wall. It's near the Basilica of the Annunciation. Builders unearthed it while working on a new Christian center.

Commandments Removed

Officials in a Ohio town have given up on fighting a lawsuit filed against them to get the removal of the Ten Commandments from a public building. WLWT-TV has this video report.

Controversial Christmas Display

WNAC-TV in Providence discusses a controversial nativity scene of Jesus with a shot gun.

TV Show Pays Big Salaries

Freda Crews' Bible Study Time television and radio programs are paying her family nearly a million dollars a year. She gets a salary of $370,000 from the South Carolina nonprofit. Her husband received $416,000 a year until he died after a fall at the age of 75. Both a son and grandson are on the payroll. Freda Crews is seen on the TV show Time for Hope and William Crews appeared on The Awakening Hour before his death.

Senate Prayer "Crossed the Line"

Oklahom Senator Tom Coburn proposed a prayer on the Senate floor yesterday regarding the health care bill. Coburn said, "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray." Many assumed he was referring to 92-year-old Robert Byrd. The West Virginia senator has often been in the hospital or too ill to join other Senators. Byrd would have a difficult time getting out in the heavy snow to vote which would leave Democrats short of the 60 they need to pass the meaures. Senator Dick Durbin, the number-two Democratic leader, went to the floor to complain about about the prayer, saying, "When it reaches a point where we're praying, asking people to pray, that senators wouldn't be able to answer the roll call, I think it has crossed the line."

Charity Starts at the Top

The Charlotte Observer takes an indepth look at the "loose rules and scant oversight" that allows "nonprofits pay huge salaries" in the Carolinas. Read the story here.

Church Takes "Gay-affirming Stance"

"Evangelical church opens doors fully to gays" according to this Associated Press article . Read it here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disturbance in Church

St. Louis' KFUO-AM took a church service off-the-air this morning when someone collapsed in the congregation. The board operator thought he heard swearing but it was apparently confusing over the woman who fainted at the Blessed Savior Lutheran Church in Florissant.

No Charges in Pastor Shooting

The officers who shot and killed a Georgia baptist pastor in a botched drug sting three months ago have been cleared. WAGA-TV in Atlanta has this report.