Sin, Repentance, and Kansas

Every year, the Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kan., has “Repentance Sunday” and seeks God’s forgiveness.During a period of meditation, worshippers are asked to write their sins on pieces of paper. Then everyone goes to the front of sanctuary, where the notes are burned in urns.”It’s always a very moving service,” said the Rev. Joe Wright, who leads the 3,000-member congregation. “Tossing your sins into the flames is something that really touches you.”This year, “Repentance Sunday” began a chain reaction… Read more

Franklin Stands Up

It is one of modern Christendom’s most familiar images.Evangelist Billy Graham finishes inviting his listeners to get up out of their seats and to come forward to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Then as the crusade choir gently sings “Just As I Am,” he steps back from the pulpit folds his Bible against his chest, closes his eyes, bows his head and silently prays while people flow down the aislesWilliam Franklin Graham III uses many of his father’s… Read more

Christian Persecution

It’s possible to buy a Christian slave in southern Sudan for as little as $15.Last year’s going rate for parents who want to buy back their own kidnapped child was five head of cattle — about $400. A boy might cost 10 head. An exiled leader in Sudan’s Catholic Bishops Conference reports that 30,000 children have been sold into slavery in the Nuba mountains. In six years, more than 1.3 million Christian and other non-Muslim people have been killed in… Read more

No Doctrine? Call the Lawers

The data sheet for would-be bishops asked for the usual facts — driver’s license number, Social Security code, college degrees.But by page two, it was clear that this is the 1990s.”Have you ever been convicted of … (a) Sexual abuse of a minor, (b) Incest, (c) Kidnapping, (d) Arson, (e) Murder, manslaughter or assault, (f) Sexual assault, (g) Sexual exploitation of a minor, (h) Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, (i) Commercial sexual exploitation of a minor, (j) Felony… Read more

Billy, Hillary, Sin, and America

Two very symbolic Americans — Billy Graham and Hillary Rodham Clinton — recently preached very different sermons on the state of nation’s soul and what should be done to heal it.As a rule, politicians receive more media attention than clergy. However, this time Graham was preaching in the U.S. Capitol and he used that pulpit to deliver a sobering call for Americans to repent before it’s too late.Soon, the world “will enter the third millennium,” said the elderly evangelist, during… Read more

Looking For News at the Evangelical Press Association

COLORADO SPRINGS — This year’s national Evangelical Press Association convention theme was “Justice, Mercy and the Power of the Word” and much of the talk centered on hot social issues.This week’s early sessions included questions about racism, AIDS, poverty, abortion, hunger, teen pregnancy, immigration, divorce, drug abuse, gay rights and the tax status of religious groups, to name a few topics. All of this took place amid election-year talk about culture wars and family values, in a city known as… Read more

Justice vs. The Worldly Wise

OK, here’s where things stand in the war of words between the U.S. Supreme Court justice and the “worldly wise.”According to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the elites that rule American intellectual life think that Christians who believe in Easter and other biblical miracles are irrational fools. According to many outraged journalists, politicos and intellectuals, it was irrational and foolish of him to lash out like that at the American people.”We are fools for Christ’s sake,” said Scalia, at a prayer… Read more

Starting Year Nine: Notes and Quotes

Every day, journalists who cover religion face waves of letters, press releases, magazines, books and, now, Internet versions of all of the above.Some of this is news. Most of it isn’t. But many items fall somewhere in between and create drifts of paper in my office. As of this week, I have written this column for eight years and I’d like to start another year by sharing some tidbits I couldn’t trash.* An interesting Newsweek report last summer described an… Read more

TV vs. Traditional Faith

Everyone now and then, people on TV dramas or sitcoms quote scripture, kneel before crosses, mention Jesus by name or perform other acts that symbolize religious devotion. What happens next is rather predictable, according to the Media Research Center’s third annual “Faith In A Box” study of television entertainment and news. A commercial or two later, these true believers usually rob, rape, seduce or shoot someone, or at the very least act like bigots. “It appears to be OK for… Read more

Jewish Life, Passover, and Pop Culture

The premiere issue of Jewish Family & Life includes a recipe for Matzah Brei. You need six eggs, beaten, two cups of half and half, four matzahs and four tablespoons of vegetable oil. The rest is simple: soak the broken matzahs in the milk and cream for two minutes, then remove and soak in the eggs. Fry the results until golden and you have what amounts to Jewish french toast. This is rather standard fare for a Jewish publication during… Read more

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