Monday, December 30, 2013

Mennonites to license first openly gay pastor

from First Mennonite Church of Denver
Mountain States will be the first Mennonite Church USA conference in to license an openly gay pastor. Theda Good will serve at the First Mennonite Church of Denver. She's been on staff for more than a year. Good earned a master of divinity degree from Virginia's Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Read more details in the Mennonite World Review.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Katy Perry says she's left her childhood faith

Katy Perry says she is no longer a Christian. The pop star told Marie Claire Magazine she no longer believes in Heaven or Hell either--just a "higher power bigger than me because that keeps me accountable... I’m not Buddhist, I’m not Hindu, I’m not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God." Perry's parents are evangelists and she started out as a Christian singer.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Don’t like hearing Merry Christmas? Here’s some advice for you…

Texas megachurch Pastor John Hagee advises atheists who don’t like Christmas to “leave the country” or “take your Walkman and stuff it into your ears.” Here's what he had to say this past Sunday to his congregation.

Belief in the Virgin Birth among Americans

More than two-out-of-three Americans (73%) say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin. That's the finding of a Pew Research survey. A third of those with no religious affiliation (32%) say they believe in the virgin birth as well. There's a split though among the young and those that are older. Two-thirds of adults under age 30 say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin, compared with three-quarters (76%) of those age 30 and older. Read more at the Pew Research Center.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Megachurch pastor passes

Megachurch pastor Ken Hutcherson has died at the age of 61 after a long battle with cancer. Hutcherson led the Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington. The church has posted this message:
“Antioch Bible Church sadly announces that shortly before noon today our Senior Pastor Dr. Ken Hutcherson was ushered in the [presence] of the Lord. Please pray for comfort and peace for the family. The family asked that you give them some privacy at this time.”

2013 report on Megachurches

There are megachurches in 48 countries with 1,650 residing in the U.S. That's according to new research published on Church Executive. The denominations with the most megachurches: Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Evangelical Lutherans. Read more details on megachurches here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prophecy Preacher dies

Harold Camping has died. The end times preacher who made a splash in 2011 for predicting Judgment Day would take place in May of that year was 92 years old. He changed his date from May 21 to Oct 21 when he was proven wrong. Camping did the same thing in 1994. Camping fell at his home last month and never recovered from his injuries. Camping helped to found Family Radio, a Christian radio network based in Oakland, which was severely hurt financially by Camping's mistaken proclamations.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Part of polygamy law struck down

The stars of the TV show Sister Wives has won a lawsuit against the part of Utah's law banning polygamy. Read more at CNN here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Man of the Year: Pope Francis

TIME magazine has selected Pope Francis as its man of the year, saying "What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all... Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world.. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher." Read more here or watch TIME's video below.

Megachurch pastor's son: Apparent suicide

A former Florida megachurch pastor was found dead inside his apartment yesterday, according to numerous media reports. Isaac Hunter was pastor of Summit Church in Orlando, and the son of Joel Hunter, who pastors Northland church in Orlando. WESH-TV is reporting that church insiders says it was an apparent suicide. Hunter resigned from his own megachurch after he admitting to an affair. The Orlando Sentinel reports that his wife of 13 years had filed a domestic-violence petition against him saying he abused drugs and alcohol, and calling Hunter unstable. Read more in from WESH-TV here here and the Orlando Sentinel here.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Half-time challenge

A student at Mars Hill Bible School won $100k to pay for college during a halftime event at the SEC championship football game today in Atlanta. Brooks Bergman is a cancer survivor. Read the story here.

Underwood tweets Bible verse in response to critics

In response to criticism over her performance in Sound of Music Live!, Carrie Underwood tweeted, "Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight...1 Peter 2:1-25." Read more here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Evangelical Numbers are now Falling

Catholics and evangelical Protestants have joined oldline Protestants in declining numbers. The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches also shows the Pentecostal/holiness stream has slowed from the 1980s from 4 percent to barely more than one percent now. Read more details from the Christian Century here.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Airport chaplains

Many (airports) have chapels and are staffed by 350 chaplains worldwide. Read more from Associated Press here.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Paul Crouch Dies

Televangelist Paul Crouch died at his Southern California today at the age of 79, according to his ministry's website. Crouch built TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which claims to be the largest religious TV network in the world. Crouch and his wife, Jan, founded TBN in 1973. It has grown into 84 satellite channels and some18,000 affiliates. The ministry has had its share of detractors over finances and theology. A challenge came from within the Crouch family last year-- when their   granddaughter sued (along with others) accusing TBN of $50 million in financial improprieties. There is more on the accusations here and more on TBN here. Because of Crouch's health problems, particularly heart issues, his son Matthew has dealt with the day-to-day operations of TBN recently.

Reagan: "Not afraid of burning in hell"

Ronald Reagan's son is supporting atheism in a new radio advertisement. The ad for the Freedom From Religion Foundation features Ron Reagan saying, "I an unabashed atheist, and I’m alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government...Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Plagiarism charges against megachurch pastor

Syndicated radio host Janet Mefferd is accusing megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism in several of his books. Driscoll leads Seattle's Mars Hill Church. Read more at Religious News Service here. You can hear the radio interview below.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Supreme Court takes up contraceptive mandate

Can a Christian business opt out of Obamacare's contraceptive mandate? A FoxNews panel takes a look at the battle between religious liberty and women's rights.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Changes to Music Charts

Billboard is updating its Christian and gospel song charts. Digital and streaming information, will be added, according to the Sacramento Bee. Read the full story here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Online essay claimed Jews deserve wrath for Jesus death

The Boston Globe reports that a "Christian journal run by Harvard College undergraduates published an essay on its blog by an anonymous Jewish convert to Christianity who said that Jews killed Jesus and therefore deserve God’s wrath." Read the full story here.

CCM mag launches Kickstarter

CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) moved from print to digital subscriptions but is hoping to resurrect its print version. Salem Communications, which owns the magazine, has started a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $40,000. Read more here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Methodist Pastor found Guilty

A church jury found Pennsylvania pastor Frank Schaefer guilty of breaking church law. Schaefer officiated at his son's same-sex marriage. Read about the decision here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

School Cancels Christmas Toy Drive Under Legal Pressure

A South Carolina school has stopped its annual Christmas toy drive threats of a lawsuit. WLTX-TV has a video report, which is posted below.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Noah comes to the big screen

Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins are in the new movie from Paramount about Noah. Crowe has the title role while Hopkins was cast as Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah. Darren Aronofsky's big budget biblical epic also includes Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Ray Winstone. The film is set for an early 2014 release.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Calvinist Dropped from program at Baptist Seminary

A proponent of "new Calvinism" is no longer on the speaker schedule for a Southern Baptist conference in North Carolina. Associated Baptist Press reports C.J. Mahaney was "named in a highly publicized lawsuit alleging participation in what has been described as the biggest evangelical sexual-abuse scandal to date.." and now he won't be speaking at the 20/20 Collegiate Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read the story here.

Atheist takes over Preacher's Twitter Account

An evangelist has had his official Twitter account taken over by an unknown atheist, according to the Christian Post. The news site says the interloper has given Comfort an ultimatum: "Stop "denigrating" nonbelievers or you won't get your Twitter account back." Read more here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pastor may lose credentials over gay wedding

Frank Schaefer may lose his pastor credentials for breaking Methodist church law by officiating at his gay son's wedding. ABC News has a video report.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Atheist 'mega-churches'

At a recent service for atheists, "Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an "inspirational talk" about forgotten — but important — inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy. During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of "Lean on Me," ''Here Comes the Sun" and other hits that took the place of gospel songs." Read the Associated Press story here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How Billy Graham became an American icon

Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch were among the hundreds who attended Billy Graham’s 95th birthday party in the hills of North Carolina this past Thursday. CNN takes a look at Billy Graham's place in American society in an article here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

5 facts about atheists

Here’s what we know about self-described atheists and their beliefs:
  1. Their numbers are rising
  2. They tend to be male and younger than the general population
  3. 14% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit
  4. A quarter (26%) say they think of themselves as spiritual people
  5. Many feel a deep connection with nature and the earth
Read more here.

Happy Birthday Billy Graham!

Billy Graham was born in this day (Nov. 7) in 1918. Here's some significant events in the life of the Evangelist Billy Graham:

1918: Born William Franklin Graham, Jr on Nov 7 and raised on a 300-acre dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina by Presbyterian parents.

1934: Became a Christian at age of 16 after attending a revival meeting in Charlotte of traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham.

1936: Attended Bob Jones's college but soon dropped out 1939: Ordained by a church in the Southern Baptist Convention.

1940: Bachelor of theology, Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College) and meets Ruth Bell at Wheaton College.

1943: Graduates from Wheaton College in Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and marries the daughter of a missionary surgeon, Ruth McCue Bell; Became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois.

1945: Meets President Harry Truman and knows each President since that time.

1949: Los Angeles crusade puts Graham into the public eye. Scheduled for 3 weeks, the meetings were extended to more than 8 weeks 1950: Founds the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

1957: A revival in Madison Square Garden proved so popular, it was extended from six to 16 weeks

1964: Given the Speaker of the Year Award.

1969: Recognized by the Anti-Defamation League of the Bnai Brith.

1971: Recognized by The National Conference of Christians and Jews; His book The Jesus Generation sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks.

1975: His book Angels: Gods Secret Agents sells one million copies within 90 days.

1977: His book How to Be Born Again had the largest first printing in publishing history with 800,000 copies.

1982: Given the $1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

1983: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom; His book Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is published.

1996: Given Congressional Gold Medal Award.

1997: His autobiography, Just As I Am is published appears simultaneously on the three top best-seller lists in one week.

2000: Given the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award.

2001: Awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth 2003: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association moves from Minneapolis to Charlotte, North Carolina.

2004: Partial hip replacement in January as the result of a cracked pelvis from a fall; He suffers from Parkinson symptoms.

2005: Graham preaches his last crusade in New York. An estimated 210 million people in 185 countries have heard him preach.

2005: Ground broken in Charlotte, North Carolina for a library and museum dedicated to him. It costs $27 million

2007: His wife of 63 years, Ruth Graham, dies.

2007: The Billy Graham Library and Graham's boyhood home open to the public.

2008: Graham celebrates his 90th birthday with a private family dinner near the near his Asheville, North Carolina home.

2009: Billy Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program is heard around the world. His World Wide Pictures has produced and distributed over 125 evangelical films. Graham’s newspaper column, My Answer, is carried by newspapers both nationally and internationally. Decision magazine has a circulation of more than one million. Graham has written 24 books.

MORE INFO

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bible Society leader dismissed

The president of the American Bible Society was let go after just a few months on the job. It's not clear what brought about Doug Birdsall's dismissal. The board only mentioned differences in how to reach the ABS's goals. Birdsall went through lung cancer surgery this summer. Read more about the situation at Christianity Today here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Crouch hospitalized

Trinity Broadcasting Network founder Paul Crouch is in a Dallas hospital for a heart condition. The 79-year-old Crouch has a pacemaker and was having trouble breathing. He is presently in a court battle with his granddaughter. She says TBN fired her for uncovering wrongdoing, but lawyers for the ministry accuse Brittany Koper of embezzlement.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rob Bell on Oprah

Rob Bell will be interviewed today on a new episode of Oprah Winfrey's “Super Soul Sunday” over her Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN. They'll be talking about his book What We Talk About When We Talk About God. Bell is founder of Michigan's Mars Hill Bible Church and has stirred controversy among evangelicals with the theology in his books.

Britney Spears names Favorite Christian Author

Britney Spears says her favorite author is Max Lucado. The name of the Texas megachurch pastor came up in response to a Twitter question from a fan. Spears fan Emily Horan asked Spears to name her favorite book. The response was "Anything by Max Lucado." Lucado has written some 100 books with 82 million copies in print, according to the Christian Post. Read more here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Christian adoption movement slowing

Some evangelicals are so enamored of international adoption as a mission of spiritual salvation" reports the Associated Press, "that they have closed their eyes to adoption-related fraud and trafficking, and have not fully embraced alternatives that would help orphans find loving families in their home countries. Read the full story here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Robertson: Rebuke Deafness

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told a mother of a deaf child this week who wrote to his 700 Club the first thing to do to help her son is to rebuke the "spirit of deafness." Robertson went on to tell her that this method had worked for him in the past.

Pastor builds $1.7 million home

The pastor of the largest megachurch in North Carolina just built a 16,000-square-foot mansion for $1.7 million. WCNC-TV did an investigation of Steven Furtick and his ministry in the video here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stole computers from church: "Forgive me"

Someone stole computers from a Nevada megachurch--and then retunred them, asking for forgiveness. Read the story in Christian Post here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Florida Megachurch Suffers Major Drop in Attendance

Only about 650 people come each week to the Calvary Assembly of God in the Orlando area--even though the facility seats 5000. More on what's happened at the Christian Post.  Read the story here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Megachurch pastor: Horrors of marriage kept secret

A megachurch pastor has told his South Carolina megachurch that his wife has been repeatedly unfaithful to him and she has checked herself into a one-year rehab clinic because of emotional problems. Ron Carpenter didn't tell the Redemption World Outreach Center congregation when he expected Hope Hilley Carpenter to return. Read more at Charisma here and WHNS-TV here.

Andrae Crouch hospitalized

TMZ is reporting that gospel singer Andrae Crouch fell ill Sunday at his Los Angeles home and was hospitalized for a few hours. The 71-year-old Crouch told the celebrity news site that he believes the episode was diabetes-related.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Backlash at Rick Warren's Church

The controversial image   

Comments by Saddleback pastor Rick Warren and a video shown at the church have prompted hundreds of Asian American church leaders and their supporters have put out an open letter about “the continuing divide that persists in the North American evangelical church in the area of racial harmony.” The letter called on Evangelicals to “make a more concerted effort to both understand and address the concerns of (their) Asian American brothers and sisters.” Warren posted a photo (to the left) on Facebook that many Asian readers found offensive--a smiling Chinese woman dressed in Red Guard uniform with the caption "The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day." The Red Guard has a history of atrocities. Warren called it a joke, but ne commenter said it is like "joking about the Holocaust." He apologized a couple of days later. A video shown at a Saddleback video further created a stir, when a white actor pretended to be an Asian from the movie Karate Kid, speaking in a mock accent. Another apology was issued and the video was taken down. Saddleback opened a new branch this month in Hong Kong.

Bible Miniseries coming to Theaters

The producers of the 5-part TV miniseries called The Bible are re-editing the video, adding some footage, and releasing it for the big screen. The Son of God should be in theaters shortly before Ash Wednesday of next year.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oprah challenges Atheist

Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad told Oprah Winfrey she's an atheist who believes in “awe” and “wonder.” Winfrey told the 64-year-old swimmer that she isn't really an atheist because she couldn't believes in those things and not believe in God--because "that is what God is."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

InterVarsity sued for Firing woman over Divorce

A former InterVarsity Christian Fellowship worker is suing the Michigan nonprofit for firing her. Alyce Conlon says she was let go because of her marriage fall apart--even though men were allowed to remain at IVCF despite getting divorces and remarrying. Conlon worked at InterVarsity for 25 years.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lutheran Membership and Attendance declines

Numbers are down for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Weekly church attendance fell more than three percent last year. And in just 25 years, the denomination has gone from more than 5 million members to less than 4 million. Some blame the decision to ordain openly gay and lesbian clergy. You can read more in the denomination's official publication here.

Transgendered prof to leave Christian university

image of Ackley from YouTube video 
A theology professor at Azusa Pacific University is leaving the school. H. Adam Ackley taught at the California Evangelical university for 15 years as Heather Clements. Students from the school's gay-straight alliance held a demonstration before and after the daily chapel service on campus, according to the student paper. There was an attempt to work a deal out so that Ackley would stop teaching classes but stay at the school through the end of the semester, but the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports Ackley agreed to leave after today. Ackley's bio was already taken down from the school's theology department site, but the Huffington Post published an opinion piece from Ackley here.  Azusa is not commenting.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chuck Smith Dies



The founder of the Calvary Chapel movement has died. Chuck Smith was 86. He suffered through a long battle with lung cancer. He served as senior pastor at Calvary Chapel in Orange County California for more than four decades, helping to fuel the 1970s “Jesus movement."Some 1600 churches trace their beginning to Smith's efforts through Calvary Chapel fellowship.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Evangelical Sex Abuse Record 'Worse' Than Catholic

Billy Graham's grandson says Evangelicals are worse than the Roman Catholic church has been on dealing with sexual abusers. Boz Tchividjian, who teaches law at Liberty University, says the Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers. Read more here.

There's a Civil War Brewing at Rick Santorum's Christian Film Company

A lawsuit filed Monday in Tarrant County and first reported by Courthouse News describes escalating tensions between Santorum and other top executives that finally boiled over in recent days. Read more at the Dallas Observer here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lutheran Church gets first Women as Leader

Elizabeth Eaton becomes the first women to serve as presiding bishop over the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America today. Here is some background:
  • Age: 58
  • Hometown: Cleveland
  • Ordained: 1981
  • Previous position: bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod
  • Education: Master of Divinity degree, Harvard Divinity School
About a quarter of the ELCA clergy are women.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Film Review: ‘The Investigator’

Variety gives a generally positive review to a new Christian film called The Investigator here. The publication says, "This odd duck of a Christian evangelical production, written by Rich Romano (brother of Ray).. has grossed a respectable $100,000 and should continue to play well to its target demo as it expands...for much of its running time, it’s possible to lose sight of the movie’s agenda and get caught up in its hokey machinations." Find out more about the film at its website here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cali Christian College Fires prof for being Transgenered

A professor who was once chaired the theology department at Azusa Pacific University has been asked to leave after she came out as transgendered. Heather Clements taught theology at the school for 15 years, but begun referring to herself as H. Adam Ackley and sought hormone treatment, according to Religious News Service. You can read the full story here. Here's a video of Ackley recently speaking.

a Bible-to-go is wildly popular

NBC News takes a look at a popular new app called YouVersion. The digital Bible for the mobile phone has been downloaded more than 100-million times.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Which Bible translation sells the most?

The top-selling Bible translations according to the Association for Christian Retail are:
  1. New International Version
  2. King James Version
  3. New King James Version
  4. English Standard Version
  5. New Living Translation
  6. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  7. New American Standard
  8. Common English Bible
  9. New International Readers Version
  10. Reina Valera 1960

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has the same translations at the top of its list, but some differences further down:
  1. New International Version
  2. King James Version
  3. New King James Version
  4. New Living Translation
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Reina Valera
  7. New American Standard Bible
  8. New International Reader's Version
  9. The Message
  10. Christian Standard Bible 

Read more about the lists at the Christian Post.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Focus on the Family Layoffs

Focus on the Family is laying off some 40 employees at the end of the month--while adding 11 IT and digital productions positions. Focus is restructuring after a $3 million budget drop. The ministry, founded by James Dobson, has less than half the number of workers it did a decade ago. Fellow Colorado Springs ministry NavPress is also layoff workers--about 20 of them. Read more at the Gazette here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Church makes R-Rated Film – Accidentally

A Dallas-area church just made an R-Rated film. The Motion Picture Association of America slapped the Retta Baptist Church movie My Son with an "R" rating for violence and drug use, according to the MPAA. But Retta pastor Chuck Kitchens says he's shocked because there's no profanity, sex or nudity and the violence is minimal. He thinks it has more to do with the movie’s faith-based message. The church planned to open the film a week from Friday (Sept. 20) but leaders are afraid other churches won't encourage parishioners to see an R-rated film. You can read more media stories at the website set up by the church for the film here. Below is the trailer.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Argument Over God ends in Murder

A California man is going to jail--possibly for up to 100 years--over an argument he had with an atheist friend about the existence of God. An Oakland jury found Douglas Yim guilty of killing Dzuy Dunh Phan with an assault rifle during a get-together at Yim's home. Prosecutors say alcohol and drugs were involved in the altercation. KPIX-TV has more here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Plege of Allegiance Challenged

An atheist couple is asking Massachusetts’ highest court to get rid of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. They object to the words “under God." It could take several months for the court to rule. Read more details at the Washington Post here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Texas Megachurch Under Scrutiny

The teachings of Kenneth Copeland's church are under a spotlight after a measles outbreak among its children. Copeland has bragged about not giving his great-grandchildren vaccines, calling it "criminal." But his daughter, Terri Pearsons, who now pastors Eagle Mountain church has encouraged the congregation to get shots after the measles outbreak in the congregation. Read more in an Associated Press article here.

Gospel Duo's former manager sues group

Christian singers Mary Mary are being sued by their former manager. Mitchell Solarek, who owns Maximum Artist Group, says he came on board two years ago to help Mary Mary get their career back on track. Solarek claims in the Tennessee lawsuit that he got deals valued at more than $3 million but was fired and is still owed $75,000, according to a report by celebrity site TMZ.com. Here's a video of Solarek on Mary Mary's WeTV reality show.

Evangelical attitudes toward gay rights

A growing number of Evangelicals are no longer strongly against gay rights, even though they oppose homosexuality. That's according to a study out of Baylor. Sociologist Brandon Martinez says, "As a moral issue, we predict that the opposition to gay civil rights will not have the same staying power as the abortion debate.. We've known that moderate and ambivalent evangelicals are there, but now they are actually starting to have a voice and beginning to be more political." Read more here.

Friday, August 30, 2013

mecca for Christian film industry

Jennifer Hudson and Oprah Winfrey will take part in T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest. The three days of conferences and concerts in downtown Dallas will bring 100,000 people to the area. Unlike previous MegaFests in other cities, this one will introduce the International Faith & Family Film Festival, an event organizers hope to spin off from MegaFest into its own annual Dallas tradition. Read more about the impact on the area and the Christian Film industry from DFW.com here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ted Haggard to Appear on 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' Episode

Ted Haggard
Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard will appear on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" during a "Where Are They Now?" episode this weekend to discuss his life after falling from grace when he made national headlines for a sex scandal involving a male prostitute in 2006. Read more at the Christian Post here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Video of vocal teacher at Christian school goes viral

An adjunct voice teacher at a Christian University got to sing with Kristen Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl. Sarah Horn was randomly plucked out the audience to join in singing a song from the musical Wicked. The video has gone viral, racking up several million views. Horn has told several media outlets, “On the walk to our car, my father reminded me that he had prayed 11 years ago that I would one day sing with Kristin Chenoweth..”

Monday, August 26, 2013

Billy Graham's Throat-slashing comment to Nixon

A recently released audio tape by the Nixon Presidential Library shows a comment from Billy Graham in 1973 to then President Richard Nixon that has gotten a reaction from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The exchange concerned the CBS television network coverage of Nixon’s first speech about Watergate.

Nixon: “What did CBS do? Did they knock it?”
Graham: “I felt like slashing their throats, but anyway God be with you.”

You can hear the exert on the audio file below. The tape was part of 340 hours of conversations released and posted online by the National Archives and Records. Graham's organization says:
Mr. Graham has always been the first to admit that he is a sinner saved by grace. In response to some of the things he said during the Watergate era, he admitted, “I sometimes put my foot in my mouth. I’ve made many statements I wish I could recall. I am an erring, fallible disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, and am subject to all the temptations, human frailties and errors of other disciples of the Lord.”

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Even in death, a popular pastor makes Chinense authorities nervous

On August 16th some 30,000 people attended a memorial service for a popular Christian pastor in Guangzhou, his home city. That does not count the many police. Officially, China has 23m Christians. The real number is somewhere between 60m and 130m. Read more in The Economist.

Public Prayer Heads to the Supreme Court

The public prayers of a small town in New York are now the focus of a U.S. Supreme Court case that may redefine the legal limits on religious expression at official functions across the country. Read more in Business Week.

Christians Paying a Heavy Price in Egypt

Egypt’s large Christian community has suffered some of the severest blows following a bloody crackdown by the military-backed government against followers of the Muslim Brotherhood last week. Scores of Christian churches, schools and private homes were attacked across the country. Many were burned, and Christian groups reported that at least six people were killed. Read more at the Washington Post here. Meanwhile, Fox News Juan Williams says the Muslim Brotherhood is preying on Christians because 'they can't touch the United States.' Watch more in the video here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Atheist wears pasta strainer on head for photo

A Texas college student is the first in the country to be allowed to put a pasta strainer on his head for his driver's license. Eddie Castillo says he is part of a group of atheists who "worship" the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The idea started eight years ago in a letter protesting the teaching intelligent design. Here's a video report from Everything Lubbock.

Outbreak at Megachurch

There's a measles outbreak among members of a Texas megachurch. Eagle Mountain International Church led by Terri Copeland Pearsons, the daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland. She encouraged members to get vaccinated because of an outbreak in the church's daycare--even though her father has promoted the idea that vaccines can lead to autism, a view debunked by medical science. Here's a video report from WFAA-TV about how the church is connected to the outbreak.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Pope is calling

Pope Francis is taking the time to call people who've written him notes or gone through some difficulty. The unexpected papal calls usually begin with him saying, "It's the pope." Among his calls:
from Wikipedia Commons
  • Alerting a newspaper stand in Buenos Aires he would not need daily delivery anymore
  • Telling his shoemaker to continue making black shoes, that he would not be switching to papal red leather loafers
  • A Italian man whose brother was killed
  • A woman to thank her for a book she sent
  • A 19-year-old student who write to Francis, was told to refer to him with the informal "tu" because even "Jesus and the apostles used the `tu'
The Italian daily newspaper Corriere suggests, if you get a call from the Pope:
  • Ask Francis (a soccer enthusiast) about the recent game between Italy and Argentina
  • Ask how Benedict XVI is doing
  • Don't bring up Vatican policy or scandal
  • Don't ask for any favors
  • Don't use exaggerated titles like "magnificent"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting to Know.. James Dobson

  • MINISTRY - Founder of Focus on the Family, his show ended in February 2010, now with a new radio program no affiliated with Focus called Family Talk 
  • AGE - 77 years old 
  • HEALTH - heart attack in 1990 
  • DEGREE - Ph.D. in child development 
  • TEACHING - former professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine 
  • WIFE - married more than 40 years to Shirley Dobson who chairs the National Day of Prayer 
  • FATHER - ordained Nazarene minister. So was Dobson’s grandfather and great-grandfather 
  • BOOKS - has written more than 25 books starting with Dare to Discipline in 1970

Sunday, August 18, 2013

School: God is Dead poster stays

Parents of students at Covington, Georgia high school are trying to get the school to take down a display they say is offensive. The poster that's caused the outrage has a quote from Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible which reads God is Dead. Alcovy High School administrators are defending the project, saying it is designed to educate students about Salem Witch trials and the hunt for Communists during the McCarthy era. Here's a video report from Atlanta's Fox affiliate.


Churches changing bylaws after gay marriage ruling

Worried they could be sued by gay couples, some churches are changing their bylaws to reflect their view that the Bible allows only marriage between one man and one woman. Read the Associated Press story here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Churches destroyed in Egypt

Egyptian mobs have attacked more than two dozen Christian churches and church-related facilities, including schools and cultural centers, according to CNN. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group once led by more recently deposed President Mohamed Morsy, is blamed for the violence. Read more here.

Getting to Know.. Rick Warren

Rick Warren
Born: 1954, San Jose, California
• Childhood: Raised a Southern Baptist in Redwood Valley, CA
• Residence: Trabuco Canyon, California.
• Family: 4th generation pastor, married, 3 adult children
• Dress: wears Hawaiian shirts and sandals when he preaches
• Education: Bachelor of Arts from California Baptist College in Riverside; Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California
• Church: Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California; More than 23,000 people attend Saddleback regularly and the church has baptized more than 14,000 people in the past decade; it has more than 20 services that feature different styles of live music from heavy metal to reggae
• Books: The Purpose Driven Church (1995) has sold a half million copies and The Purpose Driven Life (2002) has more than 30 million in English-language sales
• Profits: Gave 90% of his profits from The Purpose Driven Life to his church
• Warren has given "purpose-driven training" to more than half-a-million pastors. One out of 20 US churches have taken the 40 Days of Purpose exercises.
• Favorite Bible verse: Acts 13:36, "He served God’s purpose for his generation. And then he died."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First woman as presiding bishop for Lutherans

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has northeast Ohio Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as it's first women to lead the denomination. Eaton won, 600-287, on the fifth ballot over Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. He has held the position for a dozen years.The ELCA was formed a quarter of a century ago when three Lutheran groups merged. About a quarter of the clergy in the ELCA are now women. The smaller and more conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod remained independent and does not ordain women. Eaton takes office November first.  Read more here.

Getting to Know.. What is an Evangelical?

When conducting surveys The Barna Group defines an Evangelical as those who:
• Say they are "born again" Christians*
• Say their faith is very important in their lives today
• Believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians • Believe that Satan exists
• Believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works
• Believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on Earth
• Describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today

* Barna says: A "born again" Christian is one who has "made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today" and who believes that "when I die, I will go to heaven because I have confessed my sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting to Know.. Church-State Legal Decisions

Some major church-state US Supreme Court decisions:

• 1947: Everson v. Board of Education A state may not pass laws "which aid one religion" or "prefer one religion over another."

• 1948: McCollum vs. Board of Education Rules against religious instruction in public schools

• 1971: Lemon v. Kurtzman A test for determining violations of the First Amendment prohibition of any law establishing religion.

• 1980: Stone v. Graham Struck down a Kentucky law requiring 10 Commandments displays in public classrooms

• 1983: Marsh v. Chambers Legislative prayer ruled constitutional

• 1984: Lynch v. Donnelly Allowed a nativity scene to be included in a city's multifaceted holiday display

• 1989: County of Allegheny v. ACLU Prohibited the display of a nativity scene at a county courthouse

• 1992: Lee v. Weisman Invocations and benedictions at public school graduation ceremonies declared unconstitutional

• 2002: Zelman v. Simmons-Harris Religiously affiliated schools may participate in taxpayer-funded tuition voucher programs

• 2004: Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow The court ruled that Newdow had no standing to bring the lawsuit asking whether the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance recited at public schools violated church-state separation

Monday, August 12, 2013

The brother of Benny Hinn returns to ministry-was it too soon?

Sam Hinn was re-ordained Sunday by a group of ministers seven months after he left his Florida church following his admission to a four-year affair, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Read the full story here.

Texas Pastor changes mind on proposed policy

Pastor John Hagee
Megachurch pastor John Hagee has dropped his opposition to a local ordnance that "seeks to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in San Antonio." here.
Read the story in the San Antonio Express

Friday, August 9, 2013

Franklin Graham protest

Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, is headed to Iceland to preach next month on the 28th and 29th of September. But there is a problem. People wanting to protest his services are reserving tickets but they don't plan to attend. They mostly object to the festival in Reykjavík because of his stand on gay issues. Social media-fueled The protest was first reported by an Icelandic-language news site called Visir.is here. The Graham site set up to promote the event is here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hymnal Controversy

Editors of a forthcoming Presbyterian, USA hymnal have decided to not include the popular Christian song In Christ Alone by a 9-6 vote. They asked writers Keith Getty and Stuart Townend to change Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied to as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified. The decision by the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song has drawn fire from Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore and Samford University's Timothy George, who leads the school's divinity school. They suggested a liberal theological bent is causing the editors to avoid references to God's wrath. George wrote a post about it (which you can read here) titled "No Squishy Love." He asked, "Why do many Christians shrink from any thought of the wrath of God"

However, the committee chair, Mary Louise Bringle of Brevard College, indicated the committee was concern focused on the word satisfied because it is a reference to a specific theology promoted by medieval theologian Anselm. She writes about the controversy in the Christian Century magazine here and says the committee decided to reject "the view of Anselm and Calvin, among others, that God’s honor was violated by human sin and that God’s justice could only be satisfied by the atoning death of a sinless victim." The Glory to God hymnal is due out in a few months.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Should Military Chaplains Have to Believe in God?

A theologian who doesn't believe in God wants to be the Navy's first humanist chaplain.  NPR reports:
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives an instructing the armed forces to only allow religious organizations that believe in a higher power to endorse chaplains. And so far, the Navy has not indicated whether it will accept the Humanist Society as the endorser of Jason Heap.
Listen or read the story here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Satanists face charges

Police in Mississippi are looking to arrest a group of Satanists from New York for desecrating graves. Here's a video report.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Leah Remini's sister rips Scientology

The sister of celebrity Leah Remini's is talking about why the sisters have left Scientology after decades with the group.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pastor defends church sign calling Zimmerman jury racist

A sign put up in front of the New Era Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama by the pastor says "George Zimmerman Jury Supported White Racism." Another signs proclaims, "Rape A White Woman And You Will Die In Prison."  Michael R. Jordan tells AL.com, "I condemn the white pulpits for not taking a stand against racism. They are to blame for this too." Read the full story here.

Church sign stirs emotions after Zimmerman case

The electronic sign outside a south suburban Chicago church has become a flashpoint of opinion on the George Zimmerman acquittal. "It is Safe to Kill BLACK PEOPLE in Amerikkka" read the digital message at First Baptist Church of University Park, on space usually reserved for a motivational quip or the title of Sunday's sermon. Read more from WLS-TV here.http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=9174302

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Is Pope Francis the Catholic Princess Diana?

"There are obvious differences between a Catholic pontiff and a princess. But watching Francis’ first few months in office, it’s hard not to notice that he seems to have taken a page from the late Princess Diana’s playbook. The Princess of Wales knew where she went, the media followed. Her activism brought global attention to homelessness, HIV/AIDs, and, most prominently, land mine. Just as Diana ventured far from Buckingham Palace to wrap her arms around landmine victims in Africa and elsewhere, Pope Francis has taken the papacy out of the Sistine Chapel and into the streets."

Read more at CNN here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

New TV Show: Preachers of L.A.

A group of prosperity teachers are getting their own reality show. The Oxygen network will debut Preachers of L.A., a look at six mega-pastors in Southern California. "P. Diddy. Jay-Z. They're not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris and living in large houses," said Bishop Ron Gibson in one of the show’s episodes. The show has sparked a petition on change.org to stop the network from launching what the site calls “a poor representation of the Kingdom of God.” You can see the petition here. Here's the trailer:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Liberty Loses Appeal on Obamacare Suit

An appeals court has turned aside a challenge to Obamacare by a Christian university. Liberty University claimed the law makes large employers provide health insurance to full-time workers. Liberty's attorneys claimed forcing people to buy an unwanted product is a violation of the constitution's Commerce Clause. But a panel of the 4th Circuit voted 3-0 against the school, which plans an appeal to the Supreme Court. The judges said the mandate does not force employers to buy an unwanted product since they many self-insure.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Symbols removed at baseball stadium

Christian symbols at Busch Stadium are being removed and replaced. A fan complained about the a cross and a "Jesus fish" drawn in the dirt on the pitcher's mound, so the St. Louis Cardinals have decided to get rid of them. A member of the grounds crew etches them on the mound before most home games.

Gay Comments Get Pastor Arrested

American preacher arrested in London for preaching against homosexuality, but will not be prosecuted. Find out more from Fox News' O'Reilly Factor. Watch it here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Preachers assaulted at gay pride festival

A group of people attacked two sign-carrying preachers at the Seattle gay pride festival Sunday. Their signs said Jesus saves from sin and repent or else. One woman tried to take one of the signs and then a group of men grabbed it while the crowd applauded. One of the men, Jason Queree, began beating the preacher. He was later arrested. Here's a video of the altercation.

Atheist speaks at Texas Megachurch

The author of a book called I Sold My Soul on eBay spoke at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio Sunday. Senior pastor Randy Frazee says it was a chance to challenge his congregation. Read the story here.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ad cuts "God" from Declaration of Independence

A new video advertisement for Samuel Adams quotes the Declaration of Independence--but leaves out a reference to God. The actor in the ad says, "All men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But that's not what the document says. It reads “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Samuel Adams’ Facebook page, which you can see here, has received many comments on the topic. The beer company blames the decision on the ethics laid out in The Beer Institute Advertising Code (a voluntary agreement among companies in the industry) which says "Beer advertising and marketing materials should not include religion or religious themes." You can see the ad below.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pastor confronts congregation

The video of a pastor in Shiatook, Oklahoma who spent time during his service insulting specific members of his church has gone viral. Jim Standridge of the Emmanuel Baptist Church is not apologizing either. Here's a video report from CNN and another from KOKI.



College Student ordered to remove cross

The president of California's Sonoma State is apologizing for an employee telling a junior who was working at orientation to take off her cross. President Ruben Armiñana says it was a mistake and "should have never happened." Read more on the story here and see a Fox News interviews with her here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sequal planned for The Bible

A sequel is in the the works to the cable miniseries The Bible. NBC says it is on board to air it. Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey will again produce it--as they did The Bible series for the History channel. The new series has a working title: A.D.: Beyond the Bible.

Monday, July 1, 2013

America’s First Public Monument to Atheism

American Atheists unveiled the nation's first public monument to atheism over the weekend in a square outside the Bradford County courthouse near Jacksonville, Florida. Read the TIME magazine story here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Texas Pastor ask for helicopter donations

A Texas megachurch pastor asked his congregation to donate more than $50,000 - for his helicopter. And that those who give will likely get a new car or some other desired "mode of transportation." Here's a video report from KRIV-TV in Houston.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Newspaper criticized for Virgin Mary cartoon

The Santa Fe Reporter published a cartoon of a woman, bearing a resemblance to the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. Here's a video report from KOAT-TV.

wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rick Santorum takes Helm of Movie Studio

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has a new job. He's taking over as CEO of EchoLight Studios, a Christian film studio based in Dallas. Santorum joined EchoLight's board a year ago. The studio will release a Western-themed film later this year called The Redemption of Henry Myers.

U2's Bono on Christian Radio program

Bono will be interviewed on the Focus on the Family radio program today by president Jim Daly. They will discuss music, activism, and particularly how Bono's work with HIV/AIDS and poverty is driven by his faith. The U2 singer said
during the pre-recorded interview Insecurity is your best security if you're an artist. You write out of that hole, that void.. They call it "the God-shaped hole" but music fills it, Bono. And what's so powerful about the Psalms are, as well as they're being Gospel and praise. songs of praise, they are also the Blues."

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Stomp on Jesus" prof returns

The professor who took students through a "stomping on Jesus" exercise is getting rehired. Florida Atlantic University on Friday says Deandre Poole will again work as a adjunct instructor in communications for the summer and fall semesters. The university says Poole did nothing wrong--even though when the controversy broke, it announced that the exercise would not be allowed again at Florida Atlantic. Poole was placed on leave and prevented from coming back on campus at first--the university claimed to base the decision on threats against him. Many Christian groups called for his dismissal after telling students to stomp on a piece of paper with "Jesus" written on it. One student argued with Poole over the exercise. Poole reported the student to administrators and the student went public-saying he was facing charges for refusing to "stomp on Jesus." Florida Governor Rick Scott wrote a letter to the university president, calling the exercise "offensive, even intolerant." But the school's faculty senate defended Poole on the basis of academic freedom, pointing out that students were not punished for objecting to the lesson.

Girl Kicked off Football Team

A Christian school kicked a 12-year-old girl off the football because, school officials say, she will cause the boys to lust after her if she plays. Maddy Paige had four sacks to her credit as a starter last season playing defensive end, before Strong Rock Christian School in Locust Grove, Georgia cut her. WXIA-TV has a video report below.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pastor defends Paula Deen against charges of racist

Pastor Gregory Tyson is coming to the defense of celebrity chef Paula Deen--and so is TV station WTOC. The Savannah, Georgia station aired the comments of the Black pastor of the First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church who says, although Deen admits to "using the N-word" that "doesn't make her a racist."

WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather

CS Lewis to be Honored

A Service to dedicate a memorial to CS Lewis will be held at Westminster Abby on November 22, marking the 50th anniversary of his death
.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Russian Orthodox Survey

Most members of the Russian Orthodox Church don't seem to take their faith very seriously. A new poll of Russians who say they belong to the church reveals 52% have never read the Bible, 24% rarely go to church and 28% rarely pray. The poll from the Russia's Public Opinion Foundation reveals one-in-four Russians consider themselves non-believers.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Superman in Church

A Christian-focused Hollywood marketing firm is suggesting churches tell parishioners to go see the movie Man of Steel, which opened this weekend. Warner Bros. is contacting pastors, inviting them to early screenings, offering discussion guides and has put together film trailers highlighting the possible faith angles of the movie. You can see one of them below. There's even a suggestion sermon title Jesus: The Original Superhero. Grace Hill Media offers sermon notes for churches using multimedia into their services.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Baptists Pass Resolution on Boy Scouts

The Southern Baptist Convention is expressing its opposition to the new Boy Scout policy on gays--but the denomination stopped short of telling churches to drop all ties with the organization. The resolution, approved to today at the annual Southern Baptist meeting that's taking place this year in Houston, also called on the Scouts to get rid of its leadership. The vote was strongly in favor of the resolution, but it was not unanimous.

The Guy Behind eHarmony: Neil Warren

1934: Born September, 18 near Des Moines, Iowa

Family: Marylyn Mann, wife of 46 years, 3 married daughters, 9 grandchildren

1956: Graduated from Pepperdine

1959: Master's in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary

1967: Doctorate in psychology from Univ of Chicago

1975-82: Assis prof and dean Fuller Theological Seminary's Grad School of Psychology 

2000: Launched eHarmony (favorite dimension of "Marrital Compatibility" is adaptability)

2007: Retired from eHarmony

20012: Returned to eHarmony as CEO

Monday, June 10, 2013

Getting to Know.. Alice Cooper

Real name: Vincent Vurnier (legally changed his name in 1973)

Born: Detroit, Feb 4, 1948

Music: 28 albums

Beliefs: Became a Christian in 1990

Family: father a pastor, grandfather an evangelist, wife Sherley a ballet instructor, 3 children

Other: Radio host, Phoenix restaurant, Solid Rock Foundation (nonprofit Christian organization)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Who are Evangelicals?

The National Association of Evangelicals defines an Evangelical as someone who believes:
• The Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. That there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
• In the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his virgin birth, in his sinless life, in his miracles, in his vicarious and atoning death through his shed blood, in his bodily resurrection, in his ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in his personal return in power and glory.
• That for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
• In the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
• In the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
• In the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Southern Baptists Membership Declines

As Southern Baptist representatives get ready to meet next week in Houston, word is out that the denomination is still losing members. There were about 100,000 fewer U.S. members in 2012 than the previous year. The numbers were just released by the SBC's Lifeway Christian Resources. This is the sixth drop in a row for the largest Protestant denomination . Baptisms also fell--by 5.5% from 2011 to 2012.

Narnia Book facts

  • Written by Christian apologist CS Lewis
  • Published in 1950
  • Seven Books in the Series
  • Sold more than 100 million copies in 47 languages
  • A lion named Aslan is a Christ-like figure
  • Rights Owned by HarperCollins
  • First editions are selling on the web for as much as $20,000
  • JRR Tolkien's response to Wardrobe: "It really won't do, you know"
  • JK Rowling says she adored Lewis' stories and they influenced Harry Potter

  • A music video on Saturday Night Live featured a hip hop song entitled Chronicles of Narnia (Lazy Sunday). You can see the video below.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Getting to Know.. Scientology

• 1911: L. Ron Hubbard is born in Tilden, Nebraska
• 1930's: Hubbard becomes known as a science fiction writer
• 1940's: Hubbard serves in the Navy during World War II
• 1950: Dianetics is published, putting forth the view that man is immortal, basically good and has loops of memory from past lives called "engrams" that must be cleared to bring unity with the universe and psychological and physical health. Drugs and other tools of psychology just create needless suffering
• 1953: Hubbard formally establishes the Church of Scientology (no relation to Christian Science)
• 1977: The FBI raided Scientology centers in Los Angeles and Washington and found evidence that Scientologists had been wiretapping
• 2000: Battlefield Earth is released, a movie based on a Hubbard novel starring John Travolta; it cost more than $100 million to produce and market but earned only $21 million
• 2000's: Scientology is considered a Cult by the governments of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Canada, etc.
• 2007: Financial gifts to the Church of Scientology by various celebrities are revealed, including:
Tom Cruise - $5 million (over the previous four years)
Kirstie Alley - $5 million (in 2007)
John Travolta - $1 million (in 2007)
Kelly Preston - $1 million (in 2007)
Priscilla Presley - $50,000 (in 2007)
• 2008: Actor Jason Beghe leaves the Church of Scientology. He took courses from the organization for 14 years and even appeared in promotional spots, but in a YouTube video he calls Scientology “destructive” and a “rip-off." Beghe had roles G.I. Jane and X-Men: First Class, and has been featured in numerous TV dramas.
• 2009: A New Jersey teenager is given a year in prison for orchestrating a cyber attack on Church of Scientology Web sites almost two years ago. 19-year-old Dmitriy Guzner pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges. He has denied being part of an underground group that protests the Church of Scientology as prosecutors claim.
• 2009: A French court convicts the cult and six of its members of organized fraud.
• 2009: The Church of Scientology buys a church building in Northern Kentucky. Scientologists pays $1.64 million for a building that once housed The Florence Baptist Church until the congregation moved into a new $15 million facility.
• 2010: The city of Clearwater fines Scientology more than $410,000 for not getting its new building up to snuff fast enough.
• 2010: A lawsuit brought against the Church of Scientology as former members claims the religious group is tied to human trafficking incidents.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Laws vs Church Doctrine

A teacher who was fired for having a child through artificial insemination has gotten the support of an Ohio jury. They said the Catholic archdiocese violated anti-discrimination laws by firing Christa Dias when she became pregnant and order she be paid $170,000. The church's lawyer said the dismissal was for violation of church doctrine and having a contract saying she would follow it. The school argued that Dias, who is gay, never intended to abide by that contract. WCPO-TV has this video report:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting to Know… Bill Hybels

1951: Born in of Dutch ancestry and raised in Calvinist theology in Kalamazoo, Michigan
1974: Hybels married his longtime sweetheart. They have two adult children (Shauna and Todd) and two grandchildren. 
1975: founded Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois with about 12,000 members. Willow's annual leadership summit, draws some 50,000 pastors and key volunteers attend or tune in via satellite.
1980s: Served as a chaplain for the Chicago Bears
1990s: One of President Bill Clinton's closest spiritual advisers.
More than 2000 non-Catholic pastors chose Willow Creek as the most influential congregation in the US.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Iran hauls off Christian pastor in new sweep

CNN interviews Lisa Daftari on the increasing tensions between Christians and Muslims in Iran.

Lutheran Church Votes in First Openly Gay Bishop

Guy Erwin is now a Lutheran Bishop in California. Here's a video report.

Pastor says Boy Scouts can no longer meet at his church

Church leaders at an Alabama church are unhappy with the decision by the Boy Scouts to allow openly gay members. Watch a video report from WBRC-TV below.

Getting to Know.. the Church of God in Christ

• Also known as COGIC
• more than 6 million US members
• National headquarters in Memphis
• Founded in the early 1900s by Charles Harrison Mason, a son of slaves and a former Baptist preacher
• America's largest black Pentecostal denomination
• Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his last sermon, at Mason Temple, COGIC's mother church

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Survey suggests Americans are becoming less religious

A new Gallup poll shows 75% of Americans believe the country would be better off if it was more religious even as the country is becoming less religious. KTBC-TV has reaction to the survey in Austin.