Officials in Dugger, Ind., have decided against heading to court to challenge a claim from the Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State that a 26-foot cross reading "Jesus Saves" situated on public land is a violation of the Constitution, as it appears to endorse Christianity. Instead, the town will sell the property.
The Dugger Town Council decided earlier this week to have the small crop of land and its cross appraised to see how much they might sell for, according to Dwight Nielsen, the town council president. Nielsen suspects the half-acre site could be worth as much as $2,000 or $3,000.
"Our legal fees would probably run that much on the first day," he told the media. more >>
Jack Schaap, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond in Indiana who was fired earlier this week for an alleged adulterous affair, has confessed to cheating on his wife with a teen girl belonging to the megachurch.
The Board of Deacons addressed the scandal at a church meeting Wednesday night, WGN-TV revealed, and said that Schaap, 54, has admitted to the inappropriate relationship with a church member who was not named. The girl, currently 17, was 16 years old when her relationship with Schaap began.
The former pastor, who had led the 15,000-member congregation for the past 11 years, has not yet made any public remarks on his firing nor the affair. The FBI reportedly has launched an investigation into Schaap's involvement with the young girl – although the age of consent in Indiana is 16, so it is unclear if the married father of two will face any criminal charges. more >>
Megachurch pastor Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church of Hammond in Indiana has been fired for an undisclosed "sin" and it has been revealed that the church and an affiliated college is being investigated by local authorities as well as the FBI. An extra-marital affair, possibly with a teenager, might be the reason for Schaap's dismissal, according to various sources.
"At this time, we deeply regret the need to announce that First Baptist Church has dismissed our pastor, Dr. Jack Schaap, due to a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor. First Baptist Church is in full cooperation with our local authorities in their investigation of this matter. Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people," the church shared in a press release.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich shared with local publication the Times of North West Indiana that a criminal investigation had been launched into the church along with Hyles-Anderson College, although he declined to comment on what specifically they were looking into. more >>
The Episcopal Church is set to become the first major U.S. religious body to bless same-sex marriages after its bishops decided on Monday at a meeting in Indianapolis to change the definition of marriage in their code.
The church's Chamber of Bishops has already agreed upon the change, and the new liturgy is expected to pass the House of Deputies later this week, as confirmed by Ruth Meyers, a chair of the Episcopalians' Subcommittee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music. The policy was approved by a 111-41 vote with three abstentions on Monday, CNN revealed.
"Today the Episcopal Church affirmed the human dignity of a deeply stigmatized population that is far too often victim to discrimination, bullying and abuse," remarked the Rev. Lowell Grisham, a leader of the Chicago Consultation said in a statement. more >>
An Indiana church that allowed a four-year-old boy to sing a short song containing the lyrics "ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven" is receiving death threats after a video of the performance went viral on the Internet.
The incident occurred at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg and the video shows the toddler singing: 'I know the Bible's right, somebody's wrong/ the Bible's right, somebody's wrong/ Romans one, twenty-six and twenty-seven/ Ain't no homos gonna make it to Heaven." At the end of his song, the toddler receives loud cheers from worshipers who stand to their feet to applaud him. The pastor, Jeff Sangl, appears on stage to the left of the boy also appearing delighted with the performance.
The Bible passage mentioned in the song, Romans 1:26-27, comments on men and women abandoning "natural sexual relations for unnatural ones" and is cited by Christians to support their belief that homosexuality is one of many sexual sins. more >>
A national atheist activist group says an Indiana church's plans to use tax exempt bond financing to help construct a campus for its ministries is a violation of the state's constitution and the separation of church and state clause in the Constitution.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation says the city of West Lafayette cannot legally subsidize Faith Church's "Faith West Project" with $7 million in economic development revenue bonds. FFRF's co-president Dan Barker sent a letter of complaint to Mayor John Dennis and the City Council.
In a video posted on Faith Church's website, the church's pastor Steve Viars said that asking whether it is appropriate for government to allow a tax exempt bond to be issued for a non-profit religious organization like Faith is a "very reasonable question." However, the tax exempt bond financing is done for all types of organizations, including religious ones. more >>