"There does not seem to be revival taking place in America," says pollmeister George Barna announcing his latest report, The State of the Church. "Whether that is measured by church attendance, born again status, or theological purity, the statistics simply do not reflect a surge of any noticeable proportions. The increase in Bible reading may be setting the stage for such a revival, but it does not appear to be occurring at the moment."
The Washington Post lionizes the former presidential candidate in its Sunday edition. "The last month [of Bauer's campaign] was just a final step in his departure from the conservative religious orthodoxy," write Hanna Rosin and Dana Milbank. "At its most idealistic, it was his effort to salvage a movement and a political party he has come to see as misguided and tainted by money." Among the myriad comments treading the line between reverence and eulogy is Bill Kristol's prediction that "sooner or later, [Bauer] will be vindicated."
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last September that reciting the Lord's Prayer at public municipal council meetings violates the country's freedom of religion. The Canadian Jewish Congress says the Ontario Legislature should apply the ruling to itself as well. The Legislature says that's not going to happen.
One of the more interesting—and sad—incidents of Pope John Paul II's visit to the Holy Land came Saturday night, at an ecumenical meeting held by Diodoros I, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. The papal nuncio in Jerusalem, Pietro Sambi, offered the unscripted suggestion that all present recite the Lord's Prayer. Rather than being a sign of Christian unity in one of the most essential essentials of the faith, it highlighted the tremendous divisions that still separate Christians. Almost all Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Ethiopian Coptics, and Greek Orthodox present—including Diodoros I—remained silent. The Pope used the occasion to condemn division in the church. (see also The Washington Post's coverage of the meeting).
Human rights organizations have filed lawsuit against the Nigerian state of Zamfara, saying the recently introduced Islamic law of shari'a violates the national constitution. As the case went on, a Nigerian man's hand was amputated under the law.
Pat Robertson gave up his ordination as a Southern Baptist minister when he ran for president in 1988. Today, on his 70th birthday, Robertson says he's celebrating by reaffirming the ordination vows he took in 1960. But can he reaffirm something he gave up? The pastor of Freemason Street Baptist Church, where Robertson was originally ordained, says no.
Canada Post has denied the United Church of Canada's request for a stamp commemorating the 75th anniversary (when Methodists, Congregationalists and most Presbyterians in the country joined). Peter Wyatt, identified in Canada's National Post only as a church official, is apparently furious. "It is puzzling, disappointing and disheartening to sense that institutions that have been part of the main line fabric of this country are disappearing off the screen or regarded as dispensable," he says.
Saying the feminist leader would not be able to comment on the Roman Catholic church's positions on homosexuality and abortion, Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont, rescinded Steinem's speaking invitation for the college's Peace and Justice" series. A spokeswoman for the college resigned in protest.
More and more often, say Chicago-area church leaders, youth sporting events are being scheduled for Sunday mornings. A local clergy association has mailed out a "friendly reminder" asking that leaders be more sensitive in their scheduling.
Bergen, New Jersey's The Record looks at Christian film critics and their opinions of the Best Picture Academy Award nominations. ChristianityToday.com's Film Forum did the same thing last week.
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