A new analysis of how strongly Americans believe in God finds no upward trends in atheism, agnosticism and doubt. However, surveys also show that various levels of belief and skepticism are masked by a common claim that 95 percent of U.S. adults believe in God.
The United Methodist Church has warned its Denver seminary that nearly $1 million in support will be cut off if the school does not resolve internal racial and cultural issues that prompted its Latino president to resign suddenly last May.
Despite the attention given to religious issues in this year’s presidential race, three public opinion experts have stated that the political force of faith and ethics questions has been overblown. Their assessment was not as blunt as the 1992 dictum “It’s the economy, stupid!,” but they came close.
A Finnish theologian, forced by U.S. immigration officials to leave the country despite holding a tenured professorship at Fuller Theological Seminary, is back at the California campus after only six weeks’ absence. Whether the scholar can become a permanent resident, however, is uncertain, said a lawyer who called the dispute with government officials “a sad political fight.”
Mainline Protestant denominations have steadily declined in membership for four decades in the U.S., so it was not surprising to learn recently that Protestants overall are losing, or have lost, their status as the nation’s religious majority.
Clifton Kirkpatrick, reelected recently as the top executive in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was also the unanimous choice to be president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for the next seven years.
Seminarians preparing to serve as pastors are increasingly taking out low-interest government loans to pay educational costs, but researchers say that trend is dangerously compounding the struggles of fledgling ministers and small churches.
An international expert in ecumenical and Pentecostal studies is being forced to leave the United States at the end of July because he does not fit post-9/11 visa definitions for continuing as a tenured professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, whose status as a legitimate religious institution was questioned.
“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Mark 10:31). “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 20:16).“Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:30).
As presidential campaigns swung into their final five months, President Bush worked at cementing his strong support from evangelicals and shoring up ties to Catholics by visiting and honoring Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
On the persistent question of whether churches should tolerate same-sex intimacy by any of its ministers, opponents won a series of victories in May as United Methodists met in Pittsburgh. If anything, the second-largest U.S. Protestant denomination strengthened its resolve against ordaining openly gay ministers.
The most popular names of Episcopal parishes in the U.S. are in a virtual three-way tie between churches with the word Christ (527), St. John (524) or Trinity (520) on their signs, according to a Michigan priest who recently launched a computer-aided search through the denomination’s annual Red Book.
The apostle Paul wanted women to cover their tresses while praying because he—like the rest of Hellenistic culture then—believed that the long hair of adult females was the sexual equivalent of male testicles, according to a newly published study.
This was to be a relatively calm year for Mark S. Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA has not experienced nearly the angst over homosexual issues that Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians have.
The news in early March that all United Methodists could receive a free drug discount card with savings up to 65 percent appeared at first glance to be a bold health-care step by a major denomination in the light of national disputes over how to help the nation’s uninsured.
June O’Connor, a noted professor of ethics, leads a double life—and without a whiff of duplicity. Primarily she teaches ethics at the University of California at Riverside. However, she also regularly takes on the persona of advice columnist for “Dear June,” a column that runs in the Catholic Digest.
Episcopal church leaders have reacted sharply to what one called an “unauthorized and clandestine” service in Ohio at which five retired conservative U.S. bishops, joined by a bishop from Brazil, confirmed 110 persons without the permission or presence of the diocesan bishop.
Hundreds of members of the large American Academy of Religion have petitioned the AAR board of directors to rescind last year’s decision to hold its annual meetings separately from the Society of Biblical Literature, starting in 2008. The concurrent conferences, usually held the weekend before Thanksgiving, have a combined registration annually of more than 8,000 scholars.
Taking a cue from the United Methodists and other media-savvy denominations, the United Church of Christ will spend $1.3 million for a trial television ad campaign in six metropolitan areas through Easter in hopes of gaining some visibility.
Churches seeking a new pastor tend to want a man under 40, preferably married to a nonworking woman who volunteers on church committees. It’s a caricature, but only slightly so, says sociologist Adair Lummis, who is describing not congregations from the 1950s, but those today.