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Archive for the ‘F & L in the News’ Category

[343] And Again

In a recent blog I wrote of state of California having to pay $2MM in legal fees to those who challenged its practice of placing greater C-19 restrictions on churches than on retail establishments.

Well, here’s another Golden State special. The state has ruled that the LA public school district violated federal law by reducing funding for low-income students attending Catholic schools. It is likely the school district will have to fork over millions to the Archdiocese of LA, which filed the complaint.

Imagine that, a secular organization found snookering a religious one out of what is rightfully theirs under the law. Have we seen that before?

I love these stories, because for decades the secularists have made the law their #1 weapon in their war against Christianity. Abortion, pseudo interpretations of the separation of church and state, and outlawing the teaching of creation in public schools, are but a few examples. It is time to flip the coin on the use of the law and the archdiocese is to be commended for doing just that. DC

[342] Norm Mcdonald

Stand-up comedian, Norm Macdonald, suffering secretly from cancer the past nine years, died recently. He was 61. MacDonald was a bit of a spiritual enigma, claiming to be a Christian, but not a particularly good or practicing one.

As Terry Mattingly wrote in the September 25th Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Macdonald “was laced with paradoxes — an edgy, courageous comic who often seemed unconcerned if his work pleased the public or his employers. Nevertheless, superstars such as David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Newhart and others hailed him as a deadpan comic genius, and mourned his passing.”

Though his eternal destiny is in the hands of the Lord, while he was with us, he had no tolerance for the all-too-common practice among entertainers of mocking Christianity.

“I think if you’re going to take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about,” said Macdonald. The comedian was fearless.  “I’m a Christian,” Macdonald once said to Larry King. “It’s not stylish to say that now.”

The always probing King then asked, “Are you devout? … You believe in the Lord?”

“Yes, I do,” Macdonald said.

If he did, we know his destiny. DC

[341] Gutsy and Not

In Louisiana, the gutsy John Bel Edwards, of all things a pro-life Democrat, recently signed three pro-life bills into law. Meanwhile, the not so gutsy Tony Campolo’s “Red Letter Christians” organization openly takes a stand against the Religious Right, but not on third rail issues like abortion, apparently for fear of alienating the political left. DC

[340] Bobby Bowden

Fortunately, much was made of the life of the recently retired football coaching icon, Bobby Bowden. According to his son, Tommy, the openly Christian and ragingly successful (411 wins, 12 ACC titles, and 2 national championships) Bowden coached until he was 80, because “he wanted to coach as long as he could to advance the kingdom of God. 

And advance it, he did. Former Florida State and NFL quarterback Danny Kanell said, “You could not go through a week at FSU without hearing the gospel message.”

Bobby Bowden’s Christian legacy is among the most admirable. It is characterized by a public faith, a professional excellence that gave him enormous credibility, and a love for others. Well done, Bobby, you have been a good and faithful servant. DC

[339] Sociology of US Religiosity

George Barna and his Cultural Research Center has sounded the alarm bell with respect profound changes in the nation’s religious and cultural landscape. He notes a 30-year decline in Christianity and confidence in religion. “In its first 200 years, America could count on the consistency of its people’s faith commitments, and with that, common views about morality, purpose, family, lifestyle, citizenship, and values,” says Barna. “But as my recent worldview research clearly shows, the United States has become one of the largest and most important mission fields in the world.”

Here are some key shifts since 1991.

–86% of US adults held a biblical view of God; the number is 46% now

–Regarding the Bible as the “accurate word of God from 70% down to 41%

–Muslims have gone from 0.5% to 3%

–Percent of Nones among Hispanics has leaped from 3% to 31%  

–Eastern religion adherents are double what they were a decade ago

–36% self-identified Christians believe in the possibility of reincarnation

–Confidence in religion is now at 40%, down from 67% in the 1970s

Barna does not see a bright future. “Christian ministry as practiced [in America] for the last five decades will be ineffective in meeting these new challenges.” He believes churches need to focus on equipping parents and reaching children with “absolute moral truth,” reviewing current church services and practices, while generating “bold and creative leadership.”

DC

[338] Burn, Baby, Burn

Harsha Walla, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has advocated torching churches in response to uncovering unmarked graves on the properties of former church-run boarding schools for Indigenous children

“Burn it all down,” she tweeted in response to the report of two more Catholic church burnings.

While some Canadians have condemned the torchings, others view it as “understandable.”

Persecution is breaking out. The implicit hatred of the gospel is becoming explicit. DC

[337] Religious Illiteracy

A blog by Ken Chitwood on “Men’s Network” website discussed a recent Pew Research report addressing Religious Knowledge. It used a 32-item quiz with questions ranging from the Hindu Pantheon to who started the Protestant Reformation. The findings were startling.  

We are a religious and religiously diverse nation, but even professing Christians have a woeful lack of religious knowledge. Worse, non-believers are more religiously literate than believers. Religious literacy, particularly among Christians is important. It helps people know what they believe, how to reach those of different faiths, and most likely will create more tolerance and peace in a crazed world. DC

[336] Blacks’ Spiritual Practice

Christiannewsnow.com recently reported a study from Pew Research on race and spiritual practice. Here are a few findings.

Blacks attend church more often than Americans overall.

Blacks pray more frequently.

Of blacks, 66% are Protestant, 6% Catholic, 3% other, and 21% unaffiliated.

Blacks favor racially diverse churches.

Among blacks, there is a concern about not being “as bold and courageous as we used to be,” with respect to social evils.

So what can we conclude from all this? Black people are a spiritual population. The worship and pray more than the average American. They are particularly holistic in their faith. It is not just a vertical (relationship with God) phenomenon. It is horizontal as well, with a call to be prophetic to the society of which it is a part. DC

[335] BJ Thomas

The ragingly successful country/pop/Christian star, BJ Thomas, died recently. He was 78. Thomas was, indeed, ragingly successful. Known as a Country singer, he had no less than fourteen Top 40 hits on the Pop charts and a dozen more on the Christian charts.

Thomas has quite a spiritual biography. After descending into severe drug addiction, he became a believer on January 28, 1976, shortly after his wife, Gloria made her commitment to Christ.

And from that point on, his biggest adversaries were not the secular media, but rather his evangelical fans. You see Thomas cut some of the best-selling Christian singles and albums of all time, but when he performed holistically (including some of this Pop hits along with the Christian material) he was openly heckled, shouted at, and abused by these followers of Jesus–Christian bullies who profess to believe in the Fruits of the Spirit.

There is no reason to believe BJ Thomas ever recanted his faith. He did, however, have little use for this kind of unjustified condemnation and avoided venues in which he would have to endure this incredibly indefensible treatment.

It is experiences like those of Thomas that feed my reluctance to describe myself as an evangelical or born-again Christian. I do not want to be associated with so many of those who so identify themselves. While our calling is to love God and love others, so many who proudly bear these labels are unintentionally tearing up the Kingdom of God, and are understandably better known for their judgmentalism and things they are against than their dedication to the First and Second Great Commandments.

What is so sad, is that the singularly accomplished Thomas perhaps did more for the Kingdom by publicly confessing his faith and singing to the glory of the Savior, than his detractors who stood in judgment of him.   DC

[334] The New Bullying

To make sense out of “cancel culture” necessitates a definition of this rather recent and insidious fad. It is a form of extreme ostracism, a public shunning, aimed at removing the object of cancellation from any cultural acceptance. Not infrequently, the victim is visited with a blizzard of rejection–and sometimes attacks–from those among the masses who uncritically buy into the initial thrust.

Cancel culture should be regarded as nothing more or less than what it is: bullying. Despite bullying becoming a universally condemned behavior, this form has thrived, because it rides the wave of what I call “consensus morality,” a sense of right and wrong based on nothing more profound than popular opinion. When people, or ideas, are not aligned with prevailing secular values they are damned.

By now, we Christians should see where this new bullying is heading: an effort to cancel the Christian faith by accusing believers of not only preaching foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18), but doing so in a spirit of intolerance toward any other version of truth.

Empowered by social media and instant worldwide communication via the Internet, cancel culture attempts are easily launched and can be devastatingly effective. In an age of increasing religious persecution, the faith is an inviting target for the bullies. But the church has endured worse. In fact, it will endure anything, because its founder has assured us the very “gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  DC