It's that time of year again when not only are nights getting colder and darker, but so too the atmosphere in many churches and Christian homes. The debate begins at the first sign of the autumn leaves and abruptly comes to a halt on November 1st – after all, Halloween comes to its demise for another year.
By now, you've heard the many origins of this ambiguous holiday from The Catholic Church's claim of it being derived from All Hollow's Eve (the day to commemorate those martyred for their faith), to the many Evangelicals and some pagans who believe it a version of Samhain that was created to allow pagans to continue practicing paganism under the guise of a Christian cover. Most Neo-pagans celebrate Samhain, which falls near the date of Halloween and is considered an in-between time when the veil between worlds is thinnest and the Celtic New Year is celebrated.
Research reveals a lot of speculation when it comes to the actual practices of Halloween. Some say it's rooted in the immigration of the Irish who brought much of their folklore back to the states such as Jack-o-Lanterns, which may have originated in the form of a turnip. They believed by carving frightening faces on them, it would ward off the evil spirits that passed between worlds on Samhain night. more >>
A student petition to stop atheist HBO talk show host Bill Maher from speaking at the University of California at Berkeley's fall commencement ceremony has reached over 3,000 signatures. The petition has called Maher a "blatant bigot" and "racist" over his strong opinions about Islam.
"Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment. Bill Maher's public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities," reads the Change.org petition, started by Khwaja Ahmed, a member of the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition.
"Too many students are marginalized by his remarks and if the university were to bring this individual as a commencement speaker they would not be supporting these historically marginalized communities. It is the responsibility of the University of California to protect all students and uphold a standard of civility." more >>
In case you didn't know it, if you are a conservative Christian, you are just like Boko Haram and ISIS. At least, that's what the secularists are saying. More absurd still, they actually believe this.
Of course, secularism has been waging war against religion for centuries, but more recently, in America and Europe, the rhetoric of secularism has become more extreme and shrill.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, critics complained that the Court's eminently reasonable decision was "anti-scientific." more >>
Within the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of commentary on Bart Campolo, a former United Methodist youth pastor and son of famous liberal evangelical speaker and author Tony Campolo, leaving Christianity to become a devotee of "secular humanism." Before his "deconversion," Bart became semi-famous in his own right in some Christian circles, among other things founding the Mission Year young-adult service organization.
Ed Stetzer wrote a thoughtful piece for Christianity Today on how evangelical Christians can react in a constructive and loving way. Another wayward son of a famous evangelical, the ever-nuanced Franky Schaeffer, responded by blasting that centrist evangelical magazine as "the disgusting reactionaries of Bob Jones ilk, just dressed better" and Stetzer as a "smarmy prick."
My interest here is neither in second-guessing the senior Campolos' parenting nor in determining if their son was, according to Christ's parable of the sower, a "path person," a "rocky soil person" or a "thornbush person." more >>
An atheist organization has launched a social media campaign in the hopes of creating awareness for the secular electorate.
The New Jersey-based American Atheists launched the #AtheistVoter campaign on Tuesday as the midterm congressional elections draw near.
A new study from Christian Research company Barna Group reveals that unchurched Americans are the most resistant to outreach efforts by the church and friends than they've been in 20 years.
Data collected from 42,855 interviews show that 47 percent of U.S. adults who do not attend church said they were open to being invited to church by a friend – down from 65 percent in 1993.
However study results indicate that personal invitations from friends are the most effective way to draw church visitors compared to other outreaches. more >>