Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bible Classes in Oklahoma

KOKI-TV in Tulsa reports on a bill in the Oklahoma legislature that would allow the Bible to be taught in public schools.

Suspects in Texas Church Fires

Investigators have released sketches of three persons of interest sought in a string of east Texas church fires. Here's a video report.

Scientlogy Lawsuit

KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reports on a lawsuit brought against the Church of Scientology as former members claims the religious group is tied to human trafficking incidents.

Friday, February 12, 2010

One Year Ago: Evolution Weekend

Last year churches across the country (about 1000 in all) agreed to take part in Evolution Weekend including a dozen Baptist churches like the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Missouri, the First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg, Maryland and University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. February 12th of last year was 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.

Catholic Colleges Survey

A new study says finds Catholic students at Catholic colleges are less likely to drift than Catholics at non-Catholic schools. The Catholicism on Campus report was put together by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. They surveyed students as freshmen in 2004 and then in 2007 as juniors. Read more here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Meyers Won't have to Testify

Joyce Meyer Ministry employees (including Meyer herself) will not have to testify in a civil lawsuit brought by the family of murder victim Sheri Coleman against her husband and accused killer, Christopher Coleman. Coleman worked for the Missouri ministry in its security department. But the judge decided that a six-month window had passed for depositions to be taken from Meyers or employees. The family's attorneys say that's an interpretation not used previously in any other circuit court or appellate court.

Missionaries May be Released Today

A CNN report on the Missionaries being held in Haiti.

Texas Fires Don't Shake Faith

USA Today reports here on how the Texas fires are affecting the faith of churches in the area.

Alabama Abortion Clinic

The state of Alabama has put a Planned Parenthood clinic in Birmingham on probation. An undercover sting showed that underage teens had been receiving abortions there without parental consent. The facility is required to show in the next few days to health officials how it will correct the violations. A representative of California's Live Action pretended to be a pregnant 14-year-old girl looking for an abortion. On an audio tape, an employee of the clinic can be heard suggesting that someone other than a parent or legal guardian could give consent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Help for Burned Churches

East Texans are stepping up to help the congregations who’ve lost their sanctuaries in a rash of fires. The burned churches in Athens and Tyler have been flooded with calls from people wanting to donate materials and labor to help them rebuild.

In the meantime, other churches are taking extra measures to keep their places of worship secure. Some have formed teams to patrol throughout the night. Others have hired security services.

Law enforcement says the fires appear to be the work of a serial arsonist or group of arsonists.

Praying for Congressman's Death

A Southern Baptist pastor in Southern California says his prayers may have helped lead to the death of Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha. Wiley Drake of Buena Park writes, “Maybe God took him out. Maybe God Answered our IMPRECATORY prayer that we prayed every 30 days.” Murtha died after complications from gallbladder surgery at the age of 77. Drake receieved national news coverage after he spoke about praying for the death of Barack Obama. He later said he changed prayers because he wants Obama to face charges that he is not a U.S. citizen and Drake even filed a lawsuit about it. Drake says he asked people to pray for Murtha's death because, among other things, Murtha used profanity.

Arrested for Witnessing

Youth pastor Matthew Snatchko was arrested in 2006 when he started a conversation about God with three shoppers at the Roseville Galleria mall in Roseville, California. A store employee overheard the discussion and told Snatchko to leave. He refused and a mall security guard arrested him. He was never charged with a crime and decided to file a lawsuit. A California court ruled in 2008 that the mall's ban on controversial conversations with strangers didn’t violate freedom of speech. But he's appealed to another court and will soon get a date for oral arguments. The mall owner says Snatchko was shown a copy of the rules for speech in the facility but his attorney says the mall has no right to regulate the kind of speech Snatchko was initiating.

Church Fire Victims

An Austin pastor hopes to inspire church fire victims. KXAN-TV reports.

Haiti Missionaries: Another Attempt

CNN offers more on whether the American missionaries accused of kidnapping in Haiti did anything wrong.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Focus Scores Big

Focus on the Family says its Web site is being overwhelmed by visitors, brought to the site by the group's Super Bowl ad. The site's traffic ballooned to 40 times its normal volume after the ad aired - with 50,000 unique visitors and 500,000 hits. USA Today's Ad Meter, a real-time consumer testing of the ads as they air, gave low marks to the spot featuring quarterback Tim Tebow. The controversy over the ad was possibly more important to Focus than the ad itself. Software marketing company Alterian SM2 says Focus on the Family got more social media attention than any company between December first and Super Bowl Sunday. More than Google, Anheuser-Busch and Doritos. Since the ad aired, the organization has had 5,000 new subscribers to its magazine Thriving Family.

More Arson in Texas

Two more east Texas churches went up in flames Monday night. Both are suspicious and haven't been declared the work of an arson yet. But federal officials are saying they believe a serial arsonist is at work. There have been seven fires set at seven east Texas churches since January 1 and one in central Texas.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Casket Ad Ranks 14

A Super Bowl ad for Doritos put together by an LA megachurch won $25,000 for being among the six final entries. Casket is about a man whose last wish is to be buried in a giant casket with Doritos chips. It was one of only three that aired during the broadcast and was created by Mosaic Church. The USA Today Ad Meter which measures how popular ads that air during the Super Bowl are with viewers, ranked Casket as the 14th most popular ad. You can see the advertisement here.

Bibles for Texas

Texas Southern Baptists are planning to flood the state with Bibles on CD that allows listeners to hear to Bible passages in their native language. They hope to reach all Texas households before Easter. Some residents without CD players or computers are getting real Bibles instead.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Appeal to Obama

Three Southern Baptist leaders have asked President Obama to intervene on behalf of volunteer missionaries jailed in Haiti on charges of child kidnapping. The 10 are back in jail after a Friday hearing. There are three more days of hearings starting Monday. The group is mostly from two Southern Baptist churches in Idaho. The three who sent a letter to the president was president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee Morris Chapman, SBC president Johnny Hunt and former president Frank Page.

Church Rater

Jim Henderson, a Seattle former pastor has started a Web site to rate churches called Church Rater. The Web site is free and open for anyone to say whatever they want about congregations. Users can post reviews and add a one- to five-star ratings of churches. Henderson has advertised on Craigslist for nonChristians who are willing to attend church service for pay. Their job is to anonymously write a review which may suggest the music is tedious or suggest whether the sermon seems sincere. Although most of the posts are glowing, not all of them are: "All (the pastor's) stories are centered around his perfect life.. (his) perfect blonde wife and Hallmark kids. And if we sign up for Jesus, we'll be perfect, too. Uhhhh ... is this really what Jesus told you to do?"
  • "The service feels like a late night talk show gone bad."
  • "Moved my family when pastor and his wife had marital problems, which divided the church. Church fell apart."