Requiems on the Religious Right

Once again, it’s time for Religious Right strategists to sing requiems while the chaplains of the Lifestyle Left prepare to dance at inaugural balls.Two years ago, everything was different. Evangelicals were drinking non-alcoholic toasts on Capitol Hill and oldline Protestant progressives were holding crisis prayer meetings in the Oval Office. And two years from now, who knows? Some of the players may even consider dropping out or forming new teams.”Obviously, many Christians have encouraged a virtual blanket identification of their… Read more

Pastors in Glass Houses

Every month, 1,300 U.S. pastors are fired or forced to resign.Nearly 30 percent of ministers have been terminated at least once. In a decade, 40 percent of today’s pastors will be in another line of work. Seventy percent say they have no close friends.The numbers don’t improve at home. The divorce rate for U.S. pastors is up at least 65 percent in 25 years. More than a third admit to “inappropriate sexual behavior” with church members. Eighty percent say their… Read more

New Church-State Storm in Colorado

Looking at a map, it’s obvious that warm, volatile masses of religiosity rolling out of the Bible Belt will sooner or later hit the icy, skeptical air of the wide-open West.The fronts often collide near Colorado Springs — home base for dozens of national and international Christian ministries — creating awesome church-state storms.”I think of it more in terms of tectonic plates,” said State Treasurer Bill Owens. “It’s like Colorado’s where these two great forces come together and the earth… Read more

Billy Graham and the Age of Altar Calls

Billy Graham always reminds his listeners that they don’t know if they’ll live another day or have another chance to repent.A decade or so ago, variations on this theme began appearing in news reports after his crusades. A kind of “last altar call syndrome” developed, with reporters reminding readers that this would probably be the evangelist’s last visit to their region.Certainly, no one missed the symbolism of June’s crusade in Minneapolis — the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s home since 1950…. Read more

Persecution? What Persecution?

The dominoes began falling when Haik Hovsepian-Mehr dared to start a global campaign to save a fellow Iranian pastor.Mahedi Dibaj was on death row in 1994, charged with apostasy for converting from Islam to Christianity. He was released, to the joyful surprise of Iran’s tiny Protestant community.Then Hovsepian-Mehr was kidnapped, tortured and murdered. Then Dibaj disappeared. Then Tateos Machaellian, who followed Hovsepian- Mehr as leader of Iran’s Protestants, was murdered. Police said they had discovered Dibaj’s body while hunting Machaellian’s… Read more

Yom Kippur, sin and Dr. Laura

On Yom Kippur, Jews are asked to meditate on their sins, vow to make changes and then soberly face the future.For 10 million-plus radio listeners, this probably sounds like calling in to talk with Laura Schlessinger. While most radio counselors offer moral cosmetic surgery, “Dr. Laura” has stormed ahead of the pack by performing radical operations — with little or no anesthesia.It all comes down to the Ten Commandments, she said. Basic moral laws are becoming even more relevant in… Read more

Climbing out of CCM Purgatory

Bonnie Keen was on stage doing what she does best — singing harmony — when she heard an alarm clanging in her soul.As a member of the trio First Call, she was singing behind one of gospel music’s superstars. While Sandi Patty held the spotlight, Keen found herself paying especially close attention to many details of the concert.Everyone talked about freedom and letting God take control, while the tightly choreographed show marched in lock-step with studio backing tapes. The stars… Read more

Tips for the Truly Pro-Life

The back of the Anaheim Hilton ballroom was lined with news crews, but the cameras were turned off while Cathy Brown and Laurie Wideman shared the spotlight.They weren’t “the news” on this day. The American Life League was honoring Pat Buchanan and, since this was his next-to-last speech before the Republican National Convention, reporters were dispatched to see if he would endorse, or attack, Bob Dole.So this was a Religious Right rally, with all the trimmings. Singers belted out gospel… Read more

Where are the Catholic Voters?

It’s time for Mass: do you know where the Catholic voters are?This used to be an easy question. All but a few Catholics were found in pews in rock-solid Democratic parishes, part of a national political coalition that blended populist economics and working- class family values. Those days are gone.”There’s more than one Catholic vote now. All of the polls show that,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, a 30-year veteran of politics in a state in which 30 percent… Read more

Is Your Pastor a ‘Tame’?

They are the worker bees who cluster in ecclesiastical hives.They are the faithful company men who thrive in the downsized world of denominational bureaucracies.Call them what you will, but an anonymous Roman Catholic priest has written an insider’s guide — a kind of “Primary Liturgical Colors” — to understanding many modern priests. According to “Father X,” too many shepherds are quietly guiding their flocks toward major changes in how they live and worship.The key word is “quietly,” because he calls… Read more