Southern Religion

Kentucky 1st in child abuse/neglect

Kentucky is 1st in child abuse and neglect deaths, reports Ken Walker of the Western Recorder, that state’s Southern Baptist newspaper.

He and reporter Dannah Prather write:

Released by the Every Child Matters Education Fund of Washington, the report said 41 Kentucky children died in 2007 in circumstances where abuse or neglect was substantiated. That number was higher than the 26 deaths counted by the state. Federal authorities include situations where abuse or neglect occurred, even if it was not a direct cause of death.
. . .
According to the report, Kentucky’s average of 4.09 deaths per 100,000 children led the nation, followed by South Dakota (4.08), Florida (3.79), Nebraska (3.59) and Missouri (3.51).

“It’s heart wrenching that each day in America, five children will die from abuse and neglect, but what’s worse is that the real number is even larger,” said Michael Petit, president of Every Child Matters.

They are also writing about Baptist services to children, yet come right at the need, facts first, flinching from nothing. Baptist state newspapers can still do real journalism.

Read it here.


November 13, 2009 Posted by | Publications, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Kentucky 1st in child abuse/neglect

Updated: Evangelistic passion superheats at declining-budget/membership state baptist conventions

Search twitter using our convenient list of state Southern Baptist hash tags. Click the tag to launch a search.

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November 13, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC, WWW | Comments Off on Updated: Evangelistic passion superheats at declining-budget/membership state baptist conventions

News: ‘No’ to religious defamation laws; SBC IMB cuts; Watching Lottie Moon; clerical abuse; Christian Coalition goes green; RI Bishop’s cheek unturned

More than 100 organizations, representing both religious (some Muslim) and secular organizations, have signed a petition against the proposed U.N. resolutions on the “defamation of religions” – resolutions which will tend to reduce religious freedom.

Close Gitmo now more than 40 senior leaders of major faith groups in the United States said to Congress in a letter.

Homeless for the holidays: UN investigator accuses U.S. of shameful neglect of the homeless.

SBC International Missions Board’s trustees are talking of cutting 600 jobs. The Baptist Press is a PR service, however, not news. The Southern Baptist Convention’s IMB has a history of serious problems with its numbers. “Inflation” and “fabrication” are the key words.

Lottie Moon goes book promo: The PR release says the nation’s watching Southern Baptists Lottie Moon offering. Associated Baptist Press ate it up, as though even a shred of evidence were offered. Nope. Just hyperventilating bullet points from The State of Church Giving through 2007: What Are Our Christian Billionaires Thinking–Or Are They? (19th edition: $34)

Baptist clerical abuse reported every two weeks in Texas: So warned the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Phil Strickland a decade ago. He worked for the BGCT for “nearly 40 years” and knowing about those reports was part of his job. Christa explains.

Christian Coalition goes green: Once all about Bush Republican anti-environmentalism, they’ve joined forces with the National Wildlife Federation.

Feuding Bishop of Providence, RI, gives up turning the other cheek? It’s all about the politics of abortion. Mark Silk puts it in proper demographic perspective.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on News: ‘No’ to religious defamation laws; SBC IMB cuts; Watching Lottie Moon; clerical abuse; Christian Coalition goes green; RI Bishop’s cheek unturned

The right fluff

A state Baptist newspaper getting called out for excessive fluff is not surprising. A self-proclaimed fundamentalist doing the calling is downright shocking.

A letter to the editor in the Biblical Recorder, the state Baptist paper in North Carolina, carries the headline, “Too much fluff.” The letter is from Shelby resident Bill Rhymes, who identifies himself as a Sunday School teacher and choir member of Zion Baptist Church. Rhymes says he has been a Baptist for 74 years and taught Sunday School for 60 years.

“What concerns me are the last two editions of the Biblical Recorder,” Rhymes writes. “Inside was page after page of ‘fluffy’ writings about by-laws, rules, etc.”

An editor’s note at the end of the letter says the paper is required by the Baptist State Convention bylaws to print proposed changes to the convention’s Articles and Bylaws at least twice.

In newspaper lingo, stories with little news value are often called fluff pieces.

While that might indeed fit the bylaw changes mentioned by Rhymes, his reasoning is completely different. He said after seeing the information, he asked himself, “What could all of this possibly mean for bringing people to know and love Jesus Christ?”

Rhymes said he wondered who would read the information and what Jesus would think about all the “excess garbage in what is supposed to be an inspirational publication about Him.”

“I’m afraid He would have said, ‘I never said these things, I never mentioned petty mounds of rules and bylaws about following Me.’ Jesus would have said, ‘I spoke the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. That is all you need for salvation with Me.'”

Interestingly, the comments section focuses on Rhymes’ view of salvation and quickly becomes a debate between opposite sides in the Southern Baptist Convention controversy.

More revealing is the last part of the editor’s note, which says printing the proposed bylaw changes is “a laudable safeguard and should inspire trust in the process by which this Convention of churches conducts the business that enables them together to care for others, share the gospel and dare to attempt great things for the Kingdom.”

Now that is fluff.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Publications, Religion, SBC | 1 Comment

Lesbian approved for ordination by San Francisco Presbytery


The San Francisco Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church(USA) by a vote of 156 for and 138 voted Nov. 10 to ordain as a minister Lisa Larges. She is blind and a lesbian who has sought for more than 20 years to become a PC(USA) minister. The decision has been stayed and she cannot be ordained “until all legal hurdles are overcome [.pdf],” perhaps 18 months hence.
Leslie Scanlon of the Presbyterian Outlook wrote:

During a late-night meeting that Presbyterians followed coast-to-coast via Twitter, the presbytery voted 156-138 to allow Larges to be ordained. And it voted 157-144 to approve That All May Freely Serve, for which Larges serves as minister coordinator, as a validated ministry.

Mary Holder Naegeli, a minister from San Francisco Presbytery who has been involved with earlier legal challenges to Larges’ efforts to be ordained, released a statement to the news media on Nov. 11, saying that “enough signatures were collected at the close of the meeting to secure a Stay of Enforcement while a remedial complaint is filed with the Synod of the Pacific Permanent Judicial Commission.”

Naegeli’s statement also says that until that complaint is resolved in the church court system, Larges cannot be ordained.

The vote to permit Larges’ ordination is seen as groundbreaking in part because Larges has declared a “scruple,” or a conscientious objection, to the section of the PC(USA)’s Book of Order that limits ordination to those who practice chastity if they are single or fidelity if they are married.

The highest Presbyterian Church court, General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, has not yet ruled on the central question of whether conscientious objections to the “fidelity and chastity” requirement should be permitted.

Here is her statement before the San Francisco Presbytery [.pdf] affirming the Essentials of Faith and Polity.
In a statement after the vote, Larges said:

Change is happening in the churches. People are realizing that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have long functioned as contributing members of their faith traditions. It is time to tell the truth – we are all created in God’s image.

Some blogs were unrestrained in their celebration (1, 2, 3). Others were more philosophical (1) and before the vote Pastor Bob explored church law in some detail. As he did, focusing on the “scruple” issue, afterward. Her scruple may be read in her Statement of Departure [.pdf].

Her approval and subsequent developments have been closely attended to on twitter. Her supporters used and use the hash tag #sfpby.


November 13, 2009 Posted by | Churches, PC(USA), Presbyterian, Religion | | Comments Off on Lesbian approved for ordination by San Francisco Presbytery

Dan Gilgoff goes sane (following the pope’s example)

He writes

Four hundred years after it put Galileo under house arrest for arguing that the sun, not the Earth, is the center of the universe, the Roman Catholic Church this week sponsored a conference on the search for extraterrestrial life. At a time when the relationship between Christianity and science has been widely portrayed as an adversarial one (think Bill Maher’s Religulous or the recent God & Country debate on Darwin’s Origin of Species) the conference reminds us that leading authorities from both camps—like the pope and the worlds’ top astronomers—believe the two need not be in conflict.

It was the Vatican’s first conference on astrobiology, reported Riazat Butt of the Guardian.

Father Jose Funes, current director of the Vatican Observatory, said n an interview published last year with L’Osservatore Romano:

This is not in contradiction with our faith, because we cannot establish limits to God’s creative freedom. To say it with St Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’, why could we not speak of a ‘brother alien’? He would also belong to the creation.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Religion, Science | Comments Off on Dan Gilgoff goes sane (following the pope’s example)