There has been a lot of attention paid lately to the alarming numbers of a decreasing membership in mainline Protestant denominations in the United States in recent years.
Denominations like The Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) have annually reported losses in membership and attendance figures for their churches.
However, the denominations are not losing members at as high of rates as in 2013, according to their spokespeople. more >>
It started when Fox News broke the explosive story: "The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, or gender identity. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court."
The Houston Chronicle reported it began with Houston's new non-discrimination ordinance driven by Annise Parker, Houston's first openly lesbian mayor and approved by the city council in June.
A group of Houston pastors opposing the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot. But in a controversial turn the city unexpectedly tossed out the petition in August over alleged "irregularities." The opponents of the non-discrimination bill (which originally included among other things that men could use women's restrooms and visa-versa – but that point was pulled early over the criticism) filed a lawsuit, and the city attorney responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. more >>
There's a good piece by Andrew Walker in First Things on a popular international church network called Hillsong's apparent equivocation on marriage. At a recent New York press conference, the ministry's leader, Brian Houston, declined to answer whether the ministry affirms the biblical position. Instead, he stresses the church's need to stay "relevant."
Earlier this year the pastor of Hillsong's New York's congregation, the ultra hip Carl Lentz, shared similar views with CNN. His wife added: "It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That's their journey." Hmmm. If it's not the church's place to tell anyone how to live, then what is the church's purpose? Entertainment? Affirmation?
Socialization? And if it's not the church's role to counsel how to live, then who or what should? Perhaps it's the central message of our age that each autonomous individual chooses his/her own path without reference to others. more >>
Democratic Texas State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was heavily criticized for a political ad she ran against her disabled Republican opponent Greg Abbott. To clarify, she did not claim Abbott was an unfit candidate because he is disabled—that would be discriminatory.
She argued, and rightfully so, that Greg Abbott politicizes his disability yet he actively ruled and legally fought against the blind, deaf, and those with amputees among others. Despite his successful lawsuit for the injury he incurred 30 years ago, Abbott has consistently blocked disabled Texans from suing the state for discrimination under the American's with Disabilities Act.
Davis's logic, however, reveals the same fallacies about herself. She claims as a woman to support policies that safeguard and empower women yet has little to show for it. Consider the issue of birth control, for example. Davis, like the majority of female elected officials, claims women should have unfettered access to it. Yet, the birth control medications available and readily prescribed to healthy young women—Depo Provera, Ortho Evra, and the Nuvo Ring—are killing and/or destroying women's health. more >>
A well-known atheist has written a children's book in response to the wildly popular, Heaven Is for Real, focusing on the idea that there is no afterlife and that this life is all there is.
"Depending on how you choose to read it, 'Me & Dog' is either: 1. A sweet little book about a boy who goes on a walk with his dog, and accidentally steps on the dog's tail, and the dog apologizes because it has an adorable, fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of existence; or 2. An insidious, deviant little parable brainwashing vulnerable innocents into doubting the existence of God," author Gene Weingarten wrote for the Washington Post.
Weingarten, with the assistance of Eric Shansby, wrote Me & Dog to counter the immense popularity of Heaven Is for Real, which tells the story of a pastor's son who believes he died, went to Heaven, and lived to tell the tale. The Christian book, originally written for adults, was such a best-seller that it was adapted for all ages and even turned into a movie. It reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2010 and stayed there for 10 weeks. more >>
NEW YORK — Rich Wilkerson, Jr., the Miami pastor who earned instant celebrity status earlier this year when it was revealed that he had officiated Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's wedding, recently commented on some of the challenges he faces as a Millennial in Christian ministry and his concerns for today's youth.
Wilkerson, Jr. serves as an associate pastor at his father's Trinity Church in Miami and leads, along with his wife, DawnCheré, the young adult ministry called The Rendezvous (or The Vous). The Wilkersons reportedly serve upwards of 1,500 students and young adults through The Vous. According to Wilkerson, "young adult" might include anyone from age 18-35.
In addition to preparing to launch The Vous as a church of its own, Oxygen revealed in September an upcoming reality show revolving around the life and ministry of the Miami, Florida, pastors titled "The Wilkersons." more >>