Southern Religion

Unholy moly! Atheist evangelism rolls


Atheist outreach is having its say via ads on 800 United Kingdom buses.

They answer Jesus Said ads which ran on London buses in June. The "Jesus Said" ads pointed to a Web site which warns that failure to accept Christ will invoke God’s wrath:

God’s wrath includes the prospect of eternal punishment — it is appointed to men to die once and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). You will rise from the dead and will face the Judge and know that you rejected His kind and merciful answer. You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels (demonic spirits) (Matthew 25: 41).

Comedy wrinter Adriane Sherine found that offensive and, supported by the British Humanist Association and Professor Richard Dawkins, led the Atheist Bus campaign to raise £135,000.

This iteration of the campaigin was launched on Oct. 21, and is the successor to a failed campaign which was launched and closed in midsummer after Sherine wrote a blog post, Atheists — gimme five, in resonse to the Jesus Said ads on the sides of London buses.

The atheists’ ads say (as in the picture above):

There’s probably no God.

Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Inspired by the British, the American Humanist Association bought ads during the Christmas season in and on 200 Washington, D.C., buses. The ads said:

Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.

The Pennsylvania Friends of Christ responded in D.C. with ads which said:

Believe in God. Christ is Christmas for goodness’ sake.

Another group, started by a stay-at-home Catholic housewife with lobbying experience who partnered with the Catholic nonprofit Center for Family Development in Bethesda, MD., quickly raised the money to run D.C. bus ads which said:

Why believe? I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake. – God.

We don’t know about the British, but in overview, U.S. atheists are more confused than evangelistic. The Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape survey found that 21% of U.S. atheists professed a belief in God.

Mayhap they’re mostly backsliders who, despite the bus ads, may readily be persuaded to return to church. Or if unbaptised, to begin their walk. Especially in light of the persuasive poise of U.S. Christian response.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , | 9 Comments

Inflated and fabricated Southern Baptist mission numbers

Former Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board member Wade Burleson persuasively argues that key mission numbers are inflated and some are fabricated.

In a Jan. 2 blog entry A Proposed New Year’s Resolution for the Southern Baptist Convention: Integrity in Numbers, he writes:

For example, in the Fast Facts posted on the International Mission Board web site, one reads that 5,551 missionaries were responsible, either directly or indirectly, for 25,497 new church starts in 2007, and 609,968 baptisms.

He explains that "planting" a church is a complex, time-consuming, typically expensive process.

Likewise, the conversion and Christian nurture process which attends baptism is also complex and time-consuming.

Yet IMB numbers suggest that each of the 5,551 missionaries in the field:

  • Plants an average of five new churches per missionary in 2007.
  • Baptises an average of 120 new members per missionary in 2007.

The numbers defy belief, he and some of those who commented on the blog suggested, and are not supported by the documenting data required to answer questions like:

“Where do these churches exist?”, “How many people attend?”, “Who pastors them?”, “How many are still in existence?” etc . . .

He reports having inquired:

I have asked some of our SBC missionary personnel to give me the names of those baptized under their care as reported on the Annual Statistical Report – only to be given a blank stare by many. It seems there is no record of either the names of those baptized or churches they attend. The baptism number is simply that – a number.

How are the numbers padded?

. . . all that IMB field missionary personnel have to do is simply say they started a church, and it is recorded as a “new” church start. Or, sometimes, as reported to me by several field missionaries, they report on some excellent Bible study groups they have started, and “presto” – several new churches are born and wind up being reported by their supervisors on the Annual Statistical Report. Or, as has happened in various regions, statistics are given about “new” church starts that have nothing to do with SBC personnel; they have been started by indigenous people groups that have absolutely no connection with SBC personnel in the area.

He bases his views on confidential reports from those in the field:

I have had missionary personnel from different regions in the world write me with concerns about the reporting process and ask “When is somebody going to challenge the numbers?”

His view is supported by comments from Montgomery, AL., pastor Alan Cross, who wrote:

I wrote a similar post on the now defunct SBC Outpost last May. To back up what you are saying, I communicated with missionaries from 4 different regions before writing my post. None of them were connected but they all told the same story. Pressure from superiors (both administration and trustees) had created an environment where numbers were being exaggerated and sometimes fabricated.

Cross also indicated sweeping problems with the reported numbers. He wrote:

There are CPM’s (church planting movements) that have been reported that do not exist presently, or if they ever did, they are not able to be found now. There are church plants that have been reported that do not exist, or if they do, they are totally the work of indigenous believers. The baptism numbers are totally wrong.

They seem to agree about why numbers are being exaggerated and fabricated. As Burleson wrote:

The fault lies with the system we have constructed that puts such an ungodly emphasis on numbers.

Their desire for simple reform is painfully clear.

Such systems are, unfortunately, rarely self-correcting.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment