‘Virtual preaching’ transforms Sunday sermons

high tech churches A new generation of pastors is using technology — high-def videos, and even holograms — to beam their Sunday morning sermons to remote “satellite” churches that belong to their congregation.

While some say physical presences is important, others point out that the Apostles themselves wrote letters to churches to be read while they were not present.

Kenya’s constitutional vote on sharia courts pits Muslims against Christians

Kenya In this predominantly Christian nation, Christians are worried about a Muslim community that is growing in numbers and influence, and they have been vocally backed by U.S.-based Christian groups.

Muslims are wary of the rising power of fundamentalist Christian organizations backed by American Christians.

Muslim-turned-preacher out as Baptist school dean

A Baptist minister who toured the country to talk about his conversion from Islam to Christianity is no longer the dean of Liberty University’s theological seminary following allegations he fabricated or embellished facts about his past, the school said Friday.

The university founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell said that a board of trustees committee concluded Ergun Caner made contradictory statements. Although it didn’t find evidence that he was not a Muslim who converted as a teenager, it did discover problems with dates, names and places he says he lived, a statement said.

Caner will remain on the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary faculty, but won’t be dean when his term expires on June 30.

New global organization for 80 million Protestants launched

Two global Protestant groups are meeting in the United States to launch a new organization — the World Communion of Reformed Churches — representing more than 80 million Christians in Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and other churches around the world.

Survey: 72% of Millennials ‘more spiritual than religious’

religion survey Most young adults today don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.

Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, “many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only,” Rainer says. “Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.”

US study sheds light on Africa’s unique religious mix

Africa religion study In the space of a century, Africa has morphed from a continent dominated by traditional beliefs to one where the majority of people are Christian or Muslim, a US study showed Thursday.

The vast majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa are deeply committed to the world’s two largest religions, according to the study by the Pew Research Forum on Religion and Public Life.

More churches promote martial arts to reach young men

Martial Arts Recruitment efforts at the churches, which are predominantly white, involve fight night television viewing parties and lecture series that use ultimate fighting to explain how Christ fought for what he believed in. Other ministers go further, hosting or participating in live events.

The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing.

Indian Police Arrest “Assaulted” Christian Couple

India A pastor and his wife remained behind bars Friday, December 18, after they were mistreated by militants and police detained them for “forceful” conversion of Hindus to Christianity in India’s state of Karnataka, Christians said.

Church groups have reported increased pressure on Christians in several states where authorities have been cracking down on what they view as “forced” conversions by missionaries and church leaders.

America’s Christian Right: Down But Not Out

Christian Right The ‘Christian Right’ has been a major power broker in U.S. politics for 30 years, having played especially important roles in the 1980, 1994 and 2004 presidential elections, and in Republican administrations since the tenure of former President Ronald Reagan.

It appeared at its apex after the 2004 ‘values vote’ election, but now seems on the decline under President Barack Obama. The Christian Right has no clear leader or central movement organization to guide it, and many younger evangelicals are turning away from their parents’ emphasis on a narrow set of contentious social issues.

Nevertheless, it remains a powerful political force capable of resurgence, Forbes writes.

Christian Right organizations are experiencing increased contributions and activism, as Obama and a Democratic Congress push socially progressive legislation.

Questioning sports evangelism

John 3:16 In big-time sports, God often gets a prominent place on the field of play. A shout-out here, a prayer there. But this faith surge is being powered by a brand of conservative Christianity that is — like two teams competing on the field — very ‘us’ vs. ‘them,’ USA Today religion columnist Tom Krattenmaker writes.

should we be pleased that the civic resource known as “our team” — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?

Convert Languishing in Jail in Ethiopia for Handing Out Bibles

Ethiopia Christian sources in Ethiopia said that, contrary to Ethiopian law, 39-year-old Bashir Musa Ahmed has not been formally charged since his arrest on May 23 in Jijiga, capital of Somali Region Zone Five, a predominantly Muslim area in eastern Ethiopia.

Zonal police arrested him after he was accused of providing Muslims with Somali-language Bibles bearing covers that resemble the Quran, the sources said.

Muslim Parents Deny Threatening Daughter With Honor Killing Over Christianity

Fathima Rifqa Bary The Muslim parents of an Ohio teenager who fled to Florida fearing an “honor killing” for converting to Christianity today blamed their daughter’s fears on the husband and wife pastors who took their daughter in and didn’t report her presence for more than two weeks.

He said he believes the Ohio girl fled to Florida last month after being brainwashed by the pastor of Global Revolution Church of Orlando, who she met on Facebook.

Stakes High for Christians in India’s Elections

India With elections underway in India, its 2.3 percent Christian minority – which faced a deadly spate of attacks in the eastern state of Orissa last year – is praying for a secular party to come to power.

Along with the Muslim community, Christians fear that if the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies form the next government or an ideologically loose coalition comes to the helm, their already compromised welfare may further deteriorate.

North Korean Christians Question Regime’s Claims

North Korea Even as the North Korean government this month allowed two high-profile, U.S. Christian bands to perform at a music festival in Pyongyang, the fear of punishment authorities have instilled in North Korean Christians keeps most of them from publicly revealing their faith.

As many as 400,000 Christians are estimated to worship secretly in the country, and Suzanne Scholte, head of an association of some 60 groups campaigning for change in the country called the North Korean Freedom Coalition (NKFC), estimates that more than 200,000 North Koreans are held in political prison camps for various perceived “disloyalties” to the regime, including adherence to Christianity. [video]

Saudi Arabia authorities release Christian blogger

Hamoud Bin Saleh In a surprise move, a Saudi Christian arrested in January for describing his conversion from Islam and criticizing the kingdom’s judiciary on his blog site was released on March 28 with the stipulation that he not travel outside of Saudi Arabia or appear on media.

The country’s penalty for “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, is death, although in recent years there have been no known cases of kingdom citizens formally convicted and sentenced with capital punishment for the offense.

Most US Christians define own theology

Religion Trends A sizable majority of the country’s faithful no longer hew closely to orthodox teachings, and look more to themselves than to churches or denominations to define their religious convictions, according to two recent surveys. More than half of all Christians also believe that some non-Christians can get into heaven.

“Growing numbers of people now serve as their own theologian-in-residence,” said George Barna, president of Barna Group, on releasing findings of one of the polls on Jan. 12.

Rome hosts Vatican-Muslim summit

Catholic Islamic interfaith dialogue Muslim and Vatican officials are holding historic talks in Rome to establish a better inter-faith dialogue and defuse any future tensions.

CatholicMuslim ties soured after Pope Benedict XVI’s speech in 2006, in which he linked Muslims with past violence.

The speech provoked Muslim outrage and triggered violent protests.

Son of top Hamas leader converts to Christianity

Christianity The son of a Hamas MP who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization in the West Bank, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian.

Archbishop of Canterbury claims Christian doctrines is offensive to Muslims. Fails to note Islamic doctrine is offensive to Christians.

Rowan Williams As if he did not already have his hands full with the (pending) schisms within the denomination he supposedly leads, the ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’ keeps finding opportunities to court controversy.

Dr Williams also said violence is incompatible with the beliefs of either faith and that, once that principle is accepted, both can work together against poverty and prejudice and to help the environment.
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