RNB Roundup: religious political correctness in England; more religion news

RNB Religion Shorts: a compendium of blurbs and links to, for the most part, religion-related stories you may have missed.

Religious Broadcasting

Turns out it rains on the just, the unjust, and religious broadcasters alike:

To make ends meet, religious broadcasters are tightening their belts and going back to basics. That means sticking with time-tested formulas, postponing innovations and counting on loyal (largely senior) audiences to keep donating even when it hurts.

“The industry is at a crossroads,” says Paul Creasman, associate professor of communications at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C. “The audience is dwindling, and they have to figure out what to do. But the Web is not the answer because older audiences don’t use the Internet . . . and younger audiences will go to the Web for content, but they’ll probably be less likely to donate.”

– Source: Broadcast ministries feel economic pinch, Religion News Service via the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 7, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Earlier, Christianity Today reported that the ‘give-me-money-and-God-will-give-you-more-money-to-give-to-me’ crowd has also run into financial turbulence — though not all due to the economic crisis.


Ex-pastor joins list of 10 biggest bankrupts

A former fundamentalist church pastor who lost millions of investors’ dollars through questionable property deals is one of Australia’s worst bankrupts, owing at least $34 million.

The total owed by former Gold Coast lawyer Glenn Phillip Duker could hit about $40 million, because some debts he personally guaranteed do not appear on his bankruptcy notification.

Insolvency experts say Mr Duker, now of Melbourne, is among the nation’s 10 biggest bankrupts in the past decade.

Mr Duker is a former pastor with Revival Centres International, which has branches in Queensland. He threw in the financial towel on January 9 after seven years of living a rich life while losing millions of dollars of other people’s money.

His church, however, has stood by him. Its deputy leader, Vic Semoilenko, said in December it was “sad that people [complaining about Mr Duker] could be so bitter, and it was sad that people could make so many errors and then want to blame others for their errors”.

– Source: Ex-pastor joins list of 10 biggest bankrupts, Brisbane Times (Australia), Feb. 12, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Faith Healing

Church advert claiming preacher could heal the sick branded ‘irresponsible’

The poster and leaflets for “healing evangelist” Don Double listed medical conditions including cancer, Aids and blindness alongside the message: “Are you ready for a miracle?”

An investigation was launched after a man complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the advert for the event at Cardiff’s All Nations Church.
The ASA agreed that the poster, and a similar leaflet sent to 15,000 homes, was misleading and could affect vulnerable people.

The church said the word “healing” should not have been included, and that Mr Double did not refer to himself as such.

However, it told the authority: “People who had attended his crusades had been healed of their illnesses.”

The ASA said in its ruling: “We considered that some potentially vulnerable readers, in particular those suffering from the listed conditions, might infer that Don Double could offer treatment for those conditions.

“We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to mislead.”

Jermaine Jakes

T.D. Jakes’ Son Charged With Indecent Exposure

Jermaine Jakes, son of The Potter’s House pastor T.D. Jakes, has been arrested and charged with indecent exposure.

According to a Dallas Police Department arrest warrant affidavit obtained by CBS 11 News, Jakes exposed himself to two undercover vice detectives at Keist Park on January 3.

The affidavit says Jakes walked up to one of the detectives at the park with his pants unzipped. Jakes then began to masturbate while making eye contact with the detective, according to the affidavit.

– Source: T.D. Jakes’ Son Charged With Indecent Exposure, CBS 11 News (Dallas, Texas), Feb. 11, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Homosexuality and Religion

Faith forms a bond for a lesbian priest and a Mormon father of three

Who could have foreseen what would happen between the Mormon filmmaker and the lesbian priest?

Not Douglas Hunter, even after he took a leap of faith and trained his camera on the Rev. Susan Russell.

Hunter felt a religious obligation to cross the same boundary Jesus is said to have traversed 2,000 years ago when he spoke of embracing the outsider.

No group was further outside Mormon circles, Hunter thought, than gays and lesbians. Mormonism, he knew, viewed homosexual acts as sins, and Mormons would become among the most generous supporters of California’s Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that was approved by voters last fall.

It was in early 2007, after the death of a close family friend, that Hunter decided it was time to put his religious ideals to the test.

Filmmaking provided the vehicle.

“The engagement of the ‘other’ was so important in the teaching of Jesus that it had to have a place of centrality in my own faith,” he said. “What’s your reward if you only love people who already love you?”

Hunter didn’t know where to start, so he turned to his computer. He typed in random search terms — “Christian gay,” “gay theology.” The search led to a clip of Russell on YouTube and then to her personal blog, called An Inch at a Time.

As Russell told her story to Hunter, he realized that he wasn’t just filming, he was learning from her. He was especially moved by the priest’s concept of romantic love, with its emphasis on spiritual and emotional intimacy as a precursor to physical expression.

Hunter also felt his empathy growing for gays and lesbians, especially friends who felt compelled to hide their sexual orientation. Perhaps that was because he, too, held a secret: Hunter had been sexually abused as a child by two neighbors in his native Philadelphia.

Something else was occurring: Hunter and Russell were becoming friends. As election day neared last November, Hunter began showing up at “No on 8” rallies alongside his documentary subject.

Russell’s initial curiosity about Hunter gave way to admiration, particularly over his decision to vote against the same-sex marriage ban and to speak out against it. She realized that she was sharing in his transformation. And that filled her with a sense of wonder.

“It isn’t a risk for a priest from All Saints to go to a Prop. 8 demonstration, but it is for a devout, straight Mormon father of three,” Russell said. “It just speaks volumes about how deeply Douglas walks the talk in terms of really putting his faith into action.”

“As a Mormon, I have a responsibility and commitment to listen to my church leaders,” he said. “At the same time, listening to my church leaders does not absolve me of the ethical responsibility to listen to the voice of the other.”

– Source: Faith forms a bond for a lesbian priest and a Mormon father of three, Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 7, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See also: How various religions view homosexuality

The Church Around The Corner

Former Pastor, Son Charged in Church Arson

BARROW Co. — Barrow County authorities say they have arrested 49 year old Quincy Arnold of Lawrenceville in connection with the arson of the New Life Deliverance Church.

Arnold is a former pastor of the New Life Deliverance Church. He is charged with arson, conspiracy to commit a crime, being party to the crime of vandalism to a place of worship, and insurance fraud.

Quincy Arnold’s son, 24 year old Maurice Arnold, of Dacula, was arrested in January by the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office. The younger Arnold was charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, and vandalism to a place of worship.

– Source: Former Pastor, Son Charged in Church Arson, WXIA (Atlanta, Georgia), Feb. 12, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Religion and Science

Jerry A. Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. His new book, Why Evolution Is True, has just been published by Viking.

For The New Republic, Coyne wrote a summary review of:

Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution
By Karl W. Giberson
(HarperOne, 248 pp., $24.95)

Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul
By Kenneth R. Miller
(Viking, 244 pp., $25.95)

Seeing and Believing: The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail.

The ideas that made Darwin’s theory so revolutionary are precisely the ones that repel much of religious America, for they imply that, far from having a divinely scripted role in the drama of life, our species is the accidental and contingent result of a purely natural process.

And so the culture wars continue between science and religion. On one side we have a scientific establishment and a court system determined to let children learn evolution rather than religious mythology, and on the other side the many Americans who passionately resist those efforts. It is a depressing fact that while 74 percent of Americans believe that angels exist, only 25 percent accept that we evolved from apelike ancestors. Just one in eight of us think that evolution should be taught in the biology classroom without including a creationist alternative. Among thirty-four Western countries surveyed for the acceptance of evolution, the United States ranked a dismal thirty-third, just above Turkey. Throughout our country, school boards are trying to water down the teaching of evolution or sneak creationism in beside it. And the opponents of Darwinism are not limited to snake-handlers from the Bible Belt; they include some people you know. As Karl Giberson notes in Saving Darwin, “Most people in America have a neighbor who thinks the Earth is ten thousand years old.”

So the most important conflict–the one ignored by Giberson and Miller–is not between religion and science. It is between religion and secular reason. Secular reason includes science, but also embraces moral and political philosophy, mathematics, logic, history, journalism, and social science–every area that requires us to have good reasons for what we believe. Now I am not claiming that all faith is incompatible with science and secular reason–only those faiths whose claims about the nature of the universe flatly contradict scientific observations. Pantheism and some forms of Buddhism seem to pass the test. But the vast majority of the faithful–those 90 percent of Americans who believe in a personal God, most Muslims, Jews, and Hindus, and adherents to hundreds of other faiths–fall into the “incompatible” category.

Catholic Church

Richard Williams, the ‘bishop’ who despite his idiotic and hateful denial of the Holocaust was rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI, does not limit his utterly dumb comments to the denial of facts, but also makes pronouncements on other issues he apparently is unqualified to speak out on:

Bishop Williamson takes aim at women’s trousers and ‘The Sound of Music’

[Williamson wrote] a letter entitled “Women’s trousers are an assault upon woman’s womanhood”. This sets out the case that “women’s trousers, as worn today, short or long, modest or immodest, tight or loose €¦ represent a deep-lying revolt against the order willed by God”.

Apart from Jews, freemasons, Western systems of government and modern women’s apparel, Williamson also rages at Hollywood and the global entertainment industry by bashing the rock group Pink Floyd (a “revolt against everybody and everything”) and ‘The Sound of Music’.

Pink Floyd: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”

“By putting friendliness and fun in the place of authority and rules, it invites disorder between parents and children,” says Williamson of the 1965 musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Is there a seamless thread linking Holocaust denial, fantasies about Jewish-masonic conspiracies, hatred of feminism and disgust for light entertainment and pop music? No, it’s not that simple. But as Williamson’s example shows, the leap from one rabid prejudice to another is easily made.

– Source: Bishop Williamson takes aim at women’s trousers and ‘The Sound of Music’, Tony Barber, Finantial Times, Feb. 3, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Mr. Willams may want to stop talking and spent a little more time listening. After all, the Bible says: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” (Proverbs 17:28)

By the way, given the mention of Pink Floyd — one of our favorite bands — here’s a list of The Religious Affiliation of the 100 Greatest Rock Musicians.

‘Political Correctness’

Richard Littlejohn sounds off in the Daily Mail regarding the ‘sick’ behavior of “the ‘diversity’ nazis at the North Somerset Primary Care Trust” — who suspended a nurse after offering to pray for the recovery of an elderly patient.

Christians haven’t got a prayer in ‘diversity’ Britain…

Nurse Caroline Petrie has been suspended and could even be struck off. What was her offence? Did she turn up drunk? Did she dispense the wrong medicine or forget to empty a bedpan? Was she knocking out prescription drugs to the local pusher?

Perhaps she was guilty of neglect, of deliberate cruelty, or of practising a bit of freelance euthanasia.

No. Her ‘crime’ was to offer to say a prayer for one old lady on the ward. It’s what we used to call an act of Christian charity.

But that was enough to bring her to the attention of the ‘diversity’ nazis at the North Somerset Primary Care Trust.

The next day she got a call from her ‘co-ordinator’ telling her not to report for work and informing her that her disgraceful behaviour was the subject of a disciplinary hearing.

The most intolerant people in Britain are always those who preach ‘tolerance’ most loudly.

There’s only one word to describe hatchet-faced harridans like administrator Alison Withers and the tell-tale creeps trying to get a dedicated nurse such as Caroline Petrie sacked for dispensing a little Christian kindness.


– Source: Christians haven’t got a prayer in ‘diversity’ Britain…, Opinion, Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail, Feb. 3, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See, on the same subject, Melanie Phillips’ opinion, also in the Daily Mail: British police running from Muslim demonstrators, a Christian nurse facing the sack for offering to pray for a patient – this is the way a society dies

Meanwhile, “A row has broken out over guidelines on NHS workers discussing religion with patients and colleagues, as a nurse suspended for offering to pray for a patient was asked to return to work.” Caroline Petrie “has vowed not to change because she cannot separate her faith from her profession.”

Ready for the next PC issue?

Christian foster mother struck off after Muslim girl converts

A foster mother with 10 years’ experience was struck off after a Muslim girl in her care converted to Christianity, it has emerged.

The woman has been banned by her local council for failing to prevent the teenager from getting baptised, even though the girl was 16 and made up her own mind to change religion.

The ruling has increased concerns that Christians are becoming victims of discrimination in Britain, following the case of Caroline Petrie, the nurse suspended for offering to pray for a patient.

The foster mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, insists that she did not pressurise the teenager to convert, and actually tried to discourage her initial interest.

The girl, who is now 17, was taken into care after being assaulted by a family member, saw baptism “as a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start,” the woman said.

“I offered her alternatives. I offered to find her places to practise her own religion.

“I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go: ‘I am interested and I want to come [to church]’.”

The carer claims that social services were aware that the girl was attending her evangelical church, and council bosses only objected when she they found out she had been baptised.

Apostasy — the repudiation of one’s faith — is strongly condemned in the Koran and is considered taboo in Muslim communities.

Officials advised the teenager to reconsider her decision and stop attending Christian meetings, and in November struck the carer off their register, claiming she breached her duty of care as a foster parent.

“They consider that in some way she should have taken steps to prevent the conversion,” said solicitor Nigel Priestley, who is representing the carer.

– Source: Christian foster mother struck off after Muslim girl converts , Telegraph (UK), Feb. 8, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Speaking of Muslims, the UK’s decision to bar far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering England is weird considering all the Islamic hate preachers already there:

Over at the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover wonders: wonders, “We welcome those who preach terror and death. So why ban an idiotic Dutch MP with noxious yet non-violent views?” … Lord Ahmed, a supposedly moderate Labour peer, had been reported as saying that he would mobilise 10,000 of his coreligionists if Mr Wilders were allowed to come here, though he strongly denies he ever said this. … The same Lord Ahmed invited an Al Qaeda terror suspect to visit Westminster three years ago.

Melanie Phillips, also at the Daily Mail, concurs:

So let’s get this straight. The British government allows people to march through British streets screaming support for Hamas, it allows Hizb ut Tahrir to recruit on campus for the jihad against Britain and the west, it takes no action against a Muslim peer who threatens mass intimidation of Parliament, but it bans from the country a member of parliament of a European democracy who wishes to address the British Parliament on the threat to life and liberty in the west from religious fascism.

It is he, not them, who is considered a ‘serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society’. Why? Because the result of this stand for life and liberty against those who would destroy them might be an attack by violent thugs.


A source guide to the Bahá’í Faith

A series of Bahá’í holidays that begin March 2 with a 19-day fast is a chance for journalists to explore the world’s youngest monotheistic religion — and one of the most widely dispersed. The Bahá’í Faith (the two words are uppercase because it is a proper noun) has just 5 million-plus believers, but it is a global and growing community, with adherents in more than 200 countries.

Bahá’ís believe that humanity is a single race, so they emphasize racial unity, gender equality and dialogue among different faiths. Those core beliefs express themselves in commitments to universal human rights, women’s rights and education. Bahá’ís have often been persecuted, especially in Iran, the land where the faith was born — and that suppression has also contributed to their public profile.

This edition of ReligionLink provides a source guide to covering the Bahá’í Faith.

– Source: A source guide to the Bahá’í Faith, ReligionLink

About RNB’s Religion News Roundup

RNB Religion Shorts: a compendium of blurbs and links to, for the most part, religion-related stories you may have missed.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday February 12, 2009.
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