Southern Religion

Ministerial holiday stress, resignation/firing?

Merry you’re fired and a very happy and prosperous new I quit.

How often do pastors leave not only the church where they’re employed but also the ministry, either because they want to or because they must and can’t get another job in their field?

According to SonScape Retreats, which specializes in helping vocational ministers, life pressures “drive 1,600 shepherds out of the ministry every month.”

They go on to say:

That’s 19,000 pastors each year – not including the missionaries and specialized ministers who add the pressures of crossing cultures and raising funds to the mix.

The intense combination of a frenetic Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years church activity schedule and church members facing holiday crisis can drain the most skilled and resourceful of ministers.

Reflect on it, and your credulity may not be strained by the report that, every Monday morning, 40% of all ministers consider changing professions.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Science | Comments Off on Ministerial holiday stress, resignation/firing?

Why isn’t Billy Graham active in a local church?

Aging evangelistic warhorse Billy Graham recently moved his church membership from Dallas, Texas, to Spartanburg, S.C. Although he lives in Montreat, N.C., some 60 miles from his new church, which he apparently "attends" almost exclusively via television viewing.

Why isn’t Graham active in a church that is local to him?

Former Biblical Recorder editor Tony Cartledge thinks Graham should be.

Do you?

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Comments Off on Why isn’t Billy Graham active in a local church?

Women’s Missionary Union cutbacks are official

Ethics Daily reports that the WMU cutbacks are official. Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) organizations which could have prevented them, did not.

Is anyone smiling?


Overview of WMU cutbacks in the Jan2. Nasheville Tennessean.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Women’s Missionary Union cutbacks are official

No inaugural prayer at all? Not likely

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a 34-page legal complaint seeking to bar prayer from the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration.

There is some debate over the possibility that the suit filed by Michael A. Newdow, 17 other individuals and 10 groups has a chance of success.

We think Scott Walter, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was on target when he told the Washington Post:

Newdow’s lawsuit over the inauguration is a lot like the streaker at the Super Bowl: a pale, self-absorbed distraction. And anybody who looks at it carefully can see there’s not much there.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Religion | 2 Comments

Abstinence pledges are a public policy failure

Abstinence pledgers gain no sexual behavior advantage and are for some reason harmed, as George W. Frink explains:

Purity Ring

Premarital teenage virginity pledges don’t delay premarital sex and do result in more unsafe sex, concluded a large, well-designed study by Janet E. Rosenbaum at the Johns Hopkins School Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Earlier, nonpartisan studies of abstinence-only sex education similarly concluded that it doesn’t work.

This study compared similar pledgers and non-pledgers and did find one, telling difference, as CNN reported:

Unmarried pledgers, however, were less likely than non-pledgers to use birth control (64 percent of pledge takers and 70 percent of non-pledge takers said they used it most of the time) or condoms (42 percent of pledge takers and 54 percent of non-pledge takers said they used them most of the time).

Please read the rest.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Abstinence pledges are a public policy failure

Broken Communion only God can fix?

Giving voice to the current spiritual division of attendance at a Southern Baptist Lord’s Supper, Ed Kilgore writes:

On the night in question, the pastor offered a brief homily reminding the congregation that the Lord’s Supper was limited to “believers” and “the godly.” Knowing what I know about contemporary Southern Baptist views these days, I had to wonder if I was outside the circle of fidelity and godliness.

It’s not as though the pastor’s warning was surprising in any sense. It was, in fact, a pale, watered-down version of the “fencing of the altar” exhortation that was central to the Calvinist eucharistic tradition from which Baptists originally developed. It was a faithful reflection of St. Paul’s strictures against “unworthy reception” in his first epistle to the Corinthians. And it was in no way as restrictive in its tone or scope as the Roman Catholic/Orthodox limitation of communion to members in good standing–and without unshriven mortal sin–of their own faith traditions, or even the Anglican/Lutheran requirement of baptism prior to communion.

But that Baptist pastor’s words did cause me to ask myself whether he or many of the people around me would consider me a “believer.”

For nearly two millennia, of course, Christian “belief” was measured by adherence to creeds, confessions, and such big theological issues as the Trinity or the Atonement. Receiving the eucharist “worthily” also usually revolved around more than the moral condition of the communicant, and required in most traditions a common belief about the nature of the celebration itself–transubstantiation or consubstantiation, real or symbolic presence, sacrifice or memorial.

Nowadays, in the United States at least, such ancient indicia of “belief” have largely receded into the background. And among Protestants, the old disputes have been supplanted by one big dispute: the proposition of biblical inerrancy, and with it, a host of highly political and cultural arguments over issues of gender and sexuality, from the preeminence of men in family and community life, to gay and lesbian “lifestyles,” to abortion.

Please read the rest.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Comments Off on Broken Communion only God can fix?

Christophobia is what, Rick?

Responding to Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren’s Sunday screed denying he had compared homosexuality to incest and pedophilia, Frink wrote:

Giving his critics no credit for good faith, Warren began with a false denial of his earlier incendiary assertions and climbed a tree of polemic, concluding that those who took offense at his views were suffering from "Christophobia."

"Christophobia" is an attack word, and of course not a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV psychiatric disorder. It has been in use for more than a decade, as William Safire explained in On Language:

As Christianist, with its evocation of Islamist, gains wider usage as an attack word on what used to be called the religious right, another suffix is being used in counterattack to derogate those who denounce church influence in politics.

”The Catholic scholar George Weigel calls this phenomenon ‘Christophobia,”’ the columnist Anne Applebaum wrote in The Washington Post.

She noted that he borrowed the word from the American legal scholar, J.H.H. Weiler.

The word was used by Weigel ”after being struck by the European Union’s fierce resistance to any mention of the continent’s Christian origins in the draft versions of the new, and still unratified, European constitution.”

There’s more –>

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Comments Off on Christophobia is what, Rick?

Focus on the Family dumps Beck interview because he’s a Mormon

A Christmas Sweater

A Christmas Sweater

For passing Proposition 8, tolerance of Mormons is fine, says the behavior of Focus on the Family chairman & founder Dr. James Dobson.

He signed the letter which opens with:

We write firstly to express our deep gratitude to you and the entire LDS community for the large and impressive contributions of your church and its members in protecting marriage in California and Arizona.

When Underground Apologetics objected to Mormon author Glenn Beck’s interview promoting his book “The Christmas Sweater,” though, Focus caved. They pulled it off the Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink site.

The Focus explanation to Joel Campbell of The Mormon Times:

You are correct to note that Mr. Beck is a member of the Mormon church, and that we did not make mention of this fact in our interview with him. We do recognize the deep theological difference between evangelical theology and Mormon theology, and it would have been prudent for us at least to have pointed out these differences. Because of the confusion, we have removed the interview from CitizenLink.

Bruce Tomaso wrote for the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog:

Focus on the Family represents itself as promoting Christian values. Many — but clearly not all — Christians believe that one of those values is tolerance.

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your National Day of Service event?

A call to voluntary service isn’t what Focus on the Family Action anticipated [.pdf] in the trench warfare days prior to President Elect Obama’s landslide Nov. 5 victory.

Rather than seeking to curtail freedoms, the Obama Presidential Inaugural Committee has invited Focus on the Family, among others, to involved itself in a volunteer effort which is to be part of pulling the nation out of the deepest hole it has been in since the Great Depresson.

The Committee wrote:

Every time our nation faces crisis, our national experience has shown Americans rise to the challenge. While government has an important role to play in helping rekindle our economy and addressing the problems of a distressed nation, President-elect Obama believes each of us, as Americans, have a responsibility to do what we can for our communities and fellow citizens. We are one nation.

The United States is once again at a crossroads and that is why the President-elect hopes to use the occasion of his Inauguration to rally our nation to commit to service in our communities. We are asking for your organization’s participation in meeting this challenge.

In 1994, Congress transformed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday into a national day of community service to further commemorate a man who lived his life in service to others. As a tribute to that legacy and the very real needs of our nation, the President-elect and Vice President-elect will launch a national organizing effort on the eve of their Inauguration to engage
Americans in service. This national day of service will fall on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19, 2009 and, unlike past calls to service, President-elect Obama will ask Americans to do more than just offer a single day of service to their cities, towns and neighborhoods. He will
ask all of us to make an ongoing commitment to our communities. Never has it been more important to come together in shared purpose to tackle the common challenges we face.


You may wish to begin by downloading a guide to organizing a service event.

Everything in order, use the Event Creation Webform to register you National Day of Service event.

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

For unto you is born this day …

Black Madonna of Czestochowska

Jesus and Mary: Black Madonna of Czestochowska

Poland’s holiest relic and one of the country’s national symbols.

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on For unto you is born this day …