The numbers of Christians living in Iraq, mostly Catholic and Orthodox, have been dwindling for more than two decades. One exodus of Christians began during the prolonged Iran-Iraq war that stretched from 1979 to ’88. The short, violent gulf war of 1991 was followed by 11 years of United Nations economic sanctions, which church leaders say have made life miserable and survival tenuous for many.
“I tell you, that on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Luke 17:34-35, NRSV.
The hugely popular “Left Behind” series of novels continues to frustrate mainstream pastors and biblical scholars who object to an “end-times” theology they consider just as fictional as the books’ genre. The readers are real, however. The tenth and most recent volume in the series, The Remnant, picked up 2.4 million orders in the two months before its July release.
A new translation of the Bible has created a tug of words between camps in the evangelical world. Moderates and conservatives are fighting with ultraconservatives over a gender-inclusive New Testament, part of Today’s New International Version Bible, which is based on the best-selling New International Version (NIV).
The latest wave of sexual abuse scandals crashing upon Catholic parishes and chanceries has apparently missed most Protestant churches. In fact, analysts and insurers give credit to mainline churches for adopting policies and practices in the early 1990s aimed at protecting minors from coercive intimacy in congregational settings.
Though some Catholic leaders blame homosexual priests for much of their church’s sexual-abuse problems, the predominantly gay Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches has had no sexual-abuse liability claims filed against the denomination in the past 25 years. Yet the California-based church body has not been free of offenders.
Journalists covering religion regularly cite membership figures for the various religious organizations. They want to give readers an idea of how many people might be affected by developments in a particular group or tradition.
With his folksy, conversational style, Pastor Frank Harrington turned Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta into a megachurch over three decades. At its peak, Peachtree had nearly 13,000 names on its rolls—six times the membership when Harrington assumed the pulpit in 1970.
The ever-effervescent Robert H. Schuller—who says he invented the megachurch—was bubbling about the architectural atmosphere of the Crystal Cathedral, which is replete with statuary, greenery and fountains. He said the architectural plan ensures that the nearly 10,000-member church he founded will last for years, regardless of who is in the pulpit.
In the death chamber at San Quentin just after midnight on January 28, a confessed killer was executed by lethal injection. He was convicted two decades ago for the murder of an 81-year-old woman during a botched burglary in which he cooked noodles in her kitchen as she died.
Before the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Church of America in 1961, the former group ran an ad campaign suggesting, “I was a Unitarian all along and never knew it.” The Unitarian Universalist Association could revive such a slogan today in view of recent surveys.
When the U.S. declared war on global terrorism after September 11, Osama bin Laden “must have had a sense of relief when America came attacking” in Afghanistan a month later, says the author of a suddenly popular book on the rise of religious violence.
Garry Trudeau’s long-running Doonesbury comic strip rarely spares the rod—or sharp pen—when satirizing presidents, cigarette companies and hardened conservatives. But he showed a soft spot with stronger-than-usual religious touches in his first newspaper strips dealing with the September 11 atrocities and their aftermath.
Oklahoma-raised Bill Bright came to Los Angeles in 1944 and started a business selling candies, fruits and jams. He was drawn to the large First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood and there came under the considerable influence of Christian educator Henrietta Mears.
When Jesus played in theaters in 1979-80, the New York Times said it was “little more than an illustrated Gospel, with nothing in the way of historical and social context.” The portrayal of Jesus by actor Brian Deacon was along “conventional” lines, the newspaper said.
Last fall, mainline denomination lobbyists scored big in the game of Washington politics when Congress passed legislation to provide $435 million in debt relief for developing countries—part of the international Jubilee campaign endorsed by the pope, evangelical celebrities and rock stars, plus lawmakers right and left.
Callers to the California headquarters of an odds-defying denomination—one that worldwide has 300 churches made up largely of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons—are greeted by the recorded voice of the founder and chief executive: “This is Reverend Troy Perry.
Most New Testament scholars believe that besides following the Gospel of Mark's narrative of Jesus's ministry and passion, the authors of Matthew and Luke independently drew from a common collection of Jesus sayings in composing their Gospels.