America’s largest Protestant denomination is in decline. Yup, we’re talking Southern Baptists who meet next week in Houston.
Though the SBC added 270 churches last year, it lost more than 105,000 members and 188,000 Sunday worshipers, according to its Annual Church Profile. Most troubling to Baptists, baptisms slid 5.5 percent, or 314,956 people, over the previous year.
Stay tuned for more on the SBC right here at RNS.
Our friend Jaweed Kaleem at HuffPost writes that the FBI will begin formally tracking hate crimes against religious groups. On the recommend list: Sikhs, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, even — you guessed it — atheists.
Folks at the Hindu American Foundation are happy about that. On Wednesday, they unveiled a report on hate crimes against Hindus. It singled out four countries —Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Pakistan ¬— as “egregious violators.”
Our own Lauren Markoe caught up with Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, who has a new book called “Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future.” Schwarz says loyal, institutional Jews are out of touch with the younger, innovation generation.
“Mr. Jesus died for the bigots as well,” the late Will Campbell used to say to those who wondered why he hung out with the KKK. David Anderson has a short tribute to the folksy raconteur who died this week.
In North America, Latin America and Europe gays are accepted, a new survey shows; in sub-Saharan Africa and predominantly Muslim countries, they’re not.
Muslims are used to having their faith openly denigrated by public officials, says Melody Moezzi, a writer, activist and attorney, referring to Tony Blair’s recent statement about a “problem within Islam.”
“But being accustomed to abuse doesn’t mean we bruise less. If anything, being beaten repeatedly in the same spot makes each successive blow all the more painful,” she writes.
John Esposito, the Georgetown dean of all things Islam, says such talk is dangerous, too.
To wit, a Texas man who threatened to blow up the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn., apologized to the imam and mosque leaders, then pleaded guilty to a federal charge.
“I also understand not all Muslims are terrorists,” Javier Alan Correa told the judge. “I was just ignorant at that time, plus I had been drinking alcohol so I wasn’t thinking very clearly.”
A retired Australian bishop urged Roman Catholics around the world to sign an online petition to Pope Francis calling for a Vatican III-type council to take effective measures to end the sexual abuse of children in the church.
Jonathan Merritt interviews disabilities champion Amy Julia Becker who declined prenatal testing in her third pregnancy, even though she was at high risk for having another Down syndrome baby.
A South Carolina high school valedictorian tore up his graduation speech and recited the Lord’s Prayer instead. Cheers erupted. The recitation was a form of protest after the school board adopted a new policy that allows non-sectarian prayer at meetings.
Funny, I thought the Lord’s Prayer was nonsectarian.
A lesbian couple denied an order of cupcakes for their commitment ceremony ordered a cake for a wedding celebration for two dogs. You know how this ends. They were quoted a price and asked how soon they needed it.
What’s the No. 1 best selling book in Norway? No. It’s not “Fifty Shades of Gray.” The taciturn Scandinavians have been buying Bibles in great quantities. Who woulda thunk it?
Republicans in Congress quashed a proposal by New Jersey Democrat Rep. Rob Andrews to allow humanists into the Army’s chaplaincy corps.
“They don’t believe anything,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it — your son’s just worms, I mean, worm food.’”
Not to be outdone, Virginia’s GOP lieutenant governor candidate, E. W. Jackson, wrote that Maharishi Yoga will open you up to the devil: “The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it.”
Speaking of evil spirits, The Home and Garden section of The New York Times has a story about space clearers. No, these aren’t people who move furniture around. They’re psychic scrubbers who cleanse the home of bad energy or negative vibrations — usually with a prayer and a spritz of a water bottle.
You could spend $350 to $1,000 to have your home cleared. Or you could subscribe to the Roundup and clear your mind for $0. Your choice.