JonathanFalwell, the younger son of the late Jerry Falwell, was unanimously chosen June 3 to take his father’s place in the pulpit of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. The 40-year-old minister has since 1994 been executive pastor of the 24,000-member congregation, which affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention in 1996.
The mainstream news media, derided by some critics as liberally biased, actually overemphasizes the importance of religious conservatives, according to findings announced by two progressive-oriented groups based in Washington.
As Jack Kevorkian was released June 1 from a Michigan prison after serving eight years for second-degree murder in the assisted death of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease, new polls suggested that his cause retains strong support.
Poetic resemblance: Jewish theologian Neil Gillman once asked an Israeli astronomer, “Was the big bang loud?” Somewhat indignantly, the astronomer replied: “Of course not, there was no air so there was no sound.” When he found out that Gillman is a theologian, the astronomer smiled and said, “You know what? Big bang is much more theology than it is science. Both are poetry” (Cross Currents, Spring).
Active membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to drop, registering a dip of about 46,000 members last year to 2.26 million, according to statistics released by PCUSA officials in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Catholic bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, has publicly lambasted Republican Rudy Giuliani’s support of abortion rights, adding his voice to a conservative chorus of critics rebuking the front-running GOP presidential candidate.
The stereotypes seem etched in stone, as definitive as the Decalogue: Democratic politicians are hostile to faith; they believe that church and state should remain forever separate; they’re uncomfortable in front of evangelicals.
A former religion professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania was sentenced June 1 for soliciting sex with what he believed were preteen girls. Saying the crime “cries out for incarceration,” Judge Scott A. Evans sentenced David B. Eller, 61, to two and a half to 10 years in state prison followed by five years of probation.
A Malaysian woman who converted to Christianity and waged a seven-year fight to legalize the change now stands in danger of being jailed for apostasy after the Muslim-majority country’s highest court ruled that she does not have a constitutional right to convert from Islam.
A survey sample of senior pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention found that exactly half of them say speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift given to some believers today— whether those utterances occur in public worship or are “private prayer languages,” a term used in an escalating dispute within the denomination.
Three former presidents and a crowd of 1,500 helped to dedicate the $27 million library and history complex at Charlotte, North Carolina, created to honor renowned evangelist Billy Graham, who has met with every U.S. president since Harry Truman.
Silent retreat: Brian Doyle, sometime contributor to the Christian Century, reports that his sister, who lives in a monastery, once went on a summer-long silent retreat. He asked her what her first words were when she broke her silence. She grinned and said “Pass the butter,” and when he complied, she laughed: those actually were her first words after the retreat. He also asked her if it had been hard to remain silent. At first it was, she said, but then it had become a prayer (U.S. Catholic, June).
National group addresses election reform, other issues
Jun 12, 2007
Bob Edgar, the former member of Congress who led the National Council of Churches for seven years, has been selected as president and CEO of Common Cause, a national advocacy group addressing campaign finance reform, government accountability, election reform and related issues.