Southern Religion

Lost Shepherd Ted Haggard’s lessons for SBC leadership

Wade Burleson is able defender of the faith as he reviews Newsweek’s profile of Ted Haggard

It is when he turns to leadership that the Oklahoma Southern Baptist pastor is most eloquent:

We Christians should take an honest look at what it is we think qualifies a person to lead. I sometimes wonder if one of the problems of modern Christianity is that we have created such a false sense of super-spirituality that we succumb to a certain mode of pretending that we never struggle. Christians, especially we who lead, sometimes try to act as if we are perfect. We have pastors who bully those who question them, denominational leaders who call those who oppose their decisions “liberals” and other actions that lead me to believe we have a God-complex among some of our leaders. This false sense of moral invincibility has led to a climate where transparency, honesty, and personal integrity are no longer a part of our corporate faith. … .

Southern Baptist International Mission Board inflated, sometimes fabricated statistics of missionary accomplishment certainly raise those issues. Former IMB Trustee Burleson is expert on those matters. But his point is more general.

Burleson concludes:

The SBC church, institution or agency that believes the “leader” is beyond simple accountablity will find that leader has the capability to ruin the organization. When and if that happens, the fault will reside not only with the leader, but those laymen who were unable to see that a lack of transparency is the first indication that something is wrong.

Will his call to Southern Baptist reform be answered?

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on Lost Shepherd Ted Haggard’s lessons for SBC leadership

Baptists short evangelism budget?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Geoff Hammond, head of the denomination’s North American Mission Board, based in Alpharetta, told Southern Baptists at its national convention last summer of the launch of a long-range evangelism program with $1 million in initial funding, according to a Baptist Press report. But the budget presented in late 2008 showed zero dollars for that program.

A national missions committee leader resigned his chairmanship in protest over the new budget, and the mission board scrambled to say it was all a misunderstanding.

The Baptists will spend $750,000 on the program in 2009 on training and advertising in five states, including Georgia, mission board spokesman Brandon Pickett said. The money was not on the budget because it is left over from a 2006 program.

Still, that is less than the $1 million announced by Hammond, and some Southern Baptists think they see less emphasis on the evangelism that helped them add members and grow churches for decades.

We recommend the entire story [Here].

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Baptists short evangelism budget?

Children dead and wounded in Gaza

Glenn Greenwald’s “addendum II” to his account of Bill Moyers Journal on Israel/Gaza struck us as important:

According to the Report issued on Thursday (.pdf) by the U.N.’s Humanitarian Affairs Office, more than 1/3 of overall Palestinian deaths are children (34% of the almost 800 total deaths), and a similar percentage of the more than 3,000 wounded are also children (34.8%).

The Associated Press account of that U.N. report is [Here].

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Children dead and wounded in Gaza

Journalism & some journalists are Gaza casualties

Foreign journalists have been kept out by the Israeli military. The Guardian reports:

Throughout the two-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip most journalists have been kept out by the Israeli government on the pretext of security. And the Israelis are pleased with the results.

Foreign journalists have been forced to report without getting to the detail of what is going on. That meant, at least in the early days of the bombardment, that reporters who would have been in Gaza were instead reporting from Israeli towns and cities under fire from Hamas, and Israeli officials found it easier to get themselves in front of a television camera

Five journalists who were there when the attack began have been killed.

Israel bombed a Gaza City media building. The Committee to Protect Journalists wrote:

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the rooftop of Al-Johara Tower, an eight-story building located in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, which houses more than 20 international news organizations, according to multiple news outlets.

Al-Jazeera reported that at least one journalist was injured while filing a report from the roof of the building. The journalist was not immediately identified. Staff at Al-Shifa Hospital, where the journalist was taken, said the injuries were minor, according to a statement on Web site of the Iranian Arabic-language Al-Alam TV. Satellite transmission equipment on the roof of the building was also damaged in the attack, the Iranian English-language Press TV said on its Web site.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, defended the strike in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that communications equipment in the building could have been used by Hamas.

Reporters Without Borders has issued an appeal to Israel to stop preventing journalists from entering Gaza. It says in part:

In view of the scale of the military operations and the repercussion they are having throughout the world, we believe the Israeli government’s decision to exclude the press from the Gaza Strip is untenable and dangerous.

addendum: alternate sources

Gaza Blogroll: First-person accounts of the conflict in the Gaza Strip recommended by the Columbia Journalism Review.

Twitter search the #Gaza hash tag to follow tagged debate on twitter.

Twitter search the #israel hash tag.

Twitter search the #hammas hash tag.

Reporters Without Borders latest on media exclusion from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli human rights groups blog the impact on civilians in Gaza and in Israel.

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on Journalism & some journalists are Gaza casualties

American Baptist Church leaders mourn Gaza violence

Issued from the Valley Forge, PA., headquarters, the statement says

We mourn the fact that hostilities have broken out yet again in the Middle East between Hamas and Israel.

We call on both parties to break this cycle of ongoing violence, and we urge our own government to join with other nations in a new mediating role in the search for a just and lasting peace in the area. We advocate a mediating role for our government in the search for a just and lasting peace in the area.

The issues that continually roil this region are complex and they shall never be resolved through armed force. The welfare of each is linked to the welfare of the other. The ongoing violence and fear only fan the embers of resentment and hatred. Only sustained diplomatic efforts which acknowledge the human rights of the other can provide the possibility of peace.

The humanitarian crisis that has been created calls for immediate response.

We join our prayers with those of all who seek peace with justice mindful that our Lord Jesus has pronounced his benediction on those who work for peace.

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Comments Off on American Baptist Church leaders mourn Gaza violence

Persecution Complexes

One of 2008’s most important pieces of religious journalism: By Elizabeth A. Castelli:

A historian of early Christianity looks at contemporary evangelicalism’s persecution complexes in light of the Christian martyrdom tradition and the dangerously bruised egos of a massive movement that sees itself as victimized minority.


January 10, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Persecution Complexes

Favorite on-screen men of the cloth

Houston Belief’s list of small- and large-screen favorites begins with:

Irreverent as half of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo, Cheech Marin goes reverent in his newest role as a priest in a small Mexican town in the Hallmark Channel original movie Expecting a Miracle, debuting at 8 tonight.

And runs sixteen deep, all the way to Sean Connery as William of Baskerville in The Name of The Rose, just because “Hey, it’s Sean Connery,” [here].

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Cultural | Comments Off on Favorite on-screen men of the cloth