Contrary to the belief in some circles, there is no persecution of Christianity in the United States. But the narrative that there is, based on cases where the Christian majority was not allowed to oppress a minority or to impose itself on to a minority, is still strong. In Akron, Ohio, some ranking church members took it one step further, and asked the local sheriff’s department to stage arrests of their pastors to make a point during their Sunday sermons. But then, the footage of the arrests was posted on the internet as if the arrests were real.
Updated with the link
A First Amendment watchdog group is suing the Internal Revenue Service for failing to challenge the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors engage in partisan politicking from the pulpit.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates total separation of church and state, filed the lawsuit Wednesday (Nov. 14) in U.S. District Court in Western Wisconsin, where the 19,000-member organization is based.
The lawsuit claims that as many as 1,500 pastors engaged in ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ on Sunday, Oct. 7, when pastors endorsed one or more candidates, which is a violation of IRS rules for non-profit organizations.
IRS rules state that organizations classified as 501 (c) (3) non-profits — a tax-exempt status most churches and other religious institutions claim — cannot participate or intervene in ‘any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any political candidate.’
The statistics, some evangelicals say, can no longer be ignored.
Eighty percent of young evangelicals have engaged in premarital sex, according to a new video from the National Association of Evangelicals. and almost a third of evangelicals’ unplanned pregnancies end in abortion.
It’s time to speak honestly about sex because abstinence campaigns and anti-abortion crusades often aren’t resonating in their own pews, evangelical leaders say.
In some instances, that is beginning to happen:
» At this month’s Q conference in Washington, participants were asked at the end of a session on “reducing abortion” if churches should support the use of contraception among their single 20-somethings. Responding by text message, 64 percent said yes, 36 percent said no.
» A “Sexuality and Covenant” conference this week (April 19-21) co-sponsored by Mercer University and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship includes on its agenda the statement that “marital sexual relationships” are not available for many Christians.
» In addition to its video, the NAE is preparing to distribute information packets to pastors that include testimonies from birth mothers and adoptees, as well as definitions of almost a dozen “prevention methods” ranging from abstinence to sterilization.
“This cultural moment calls for a both/and approach that I think can be challenging for churches,” said Jenell Williams Paris, a Messiah College professor, at the Q conference. “Both lift up the ideal of premarital chastity, and support people who do otherwise with knowledge and resources that can help them prevent pregnancy.”
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon yesterday hosted conservative writer Neil Mammen on Today’s Issues, where Wildmon warned that “if President Obama is re-elected again” he will “threaten our religious freedoms” by making hate speech laws to “shut you down if you have anything critical to say about homosexuality.” Conservatives have been warning, dishonestly, of impending hate speech laws for years now, with groups warning of churches being closed and pastors getting arrested and going to prison. While their nightmare vision never seems to come true, Religious Right leaders like Wildmon never fail to make such claims in order to rile up their supporters and stoke fears of equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Nigeria’s pastors run multi-million dollar businesses which rival that of oil tycoons, a Nigerian blogger who has researched the issue has told the BBC.
Mfonobong Nsehe, who blogs for Forbes business magazine, says pastors own businesses from hotels to fast-food chains.
“Preaching is big business. It’s almost as profitable as the oil business,” he said.
The joint wealth of five pastors was at least $200m (£121m), he said.
Evangelical churches have grown in Nigeria in recent years, with tens of thousands of people flocking to their services.
Mr Nsehe said the richest pastor, Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, was worth about $150m.