A photo of a baptismal font.

A baptismal font, courtesy Shutterstock. courtesy Shutterstock

Prince George is in the minority. His parents (William and Kate) married in a church and so he was baptized there. But as Cathy Lynn Grossman reports, baptisms are in free fall, and parents who marry outside the church are unlikely to baptize their children.

One reason for the decline in the rite of baptism may be the rise of nonbelief.

Those nonbelievers are winning the culture war, according to Herb Silverman.

He may be right. Especially when you consider stories like this:

The executive director of the Spartanburg (S.C.) Soup Kitchen told the Herald-Journal she would resign from her job before she let atheists volunteer and be a “disservice to this community.”

You may have read about the $20,000 bathtub and $452,000 walk-in closets that the now suspended Roman Catholic Bishop of Limburg ordered for his residence.

But did you know about the BMWs that German bishops drive? Did you know that the Diocese of Cologne might be richer than the Vatican?

Read this fascinating account of Germany’s Catholic hierarchy, which has a taste for pomp and luxury even as its churches are shrinking.

Not only Catholic bishops have a thing for bling.

In my home state, the Southern Baptist pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in America is building a 16,000-square-foot gated estate on a large wooded lot near Charlotte, N.C. Tax value on the 19-acre property owned by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church? $1.6 million.

Jonathan Merritt gives Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church a dressing down:

“I agree with Driscoll’s book on its core message — Christians should learn to pick their battles better — but with such a long pattern of divisive rhetoric, name-calling, searing sarcasm, and downright offensive insults, I’m not convinced he’s the right messenger to carry it forward. If Mark Driscoll wants Christians to stop infighting, maybe he should start with himself.”

Kaboom!

Nearly 10 years after the blockbuster success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” studios are looking to the Good Book for good screenplays. They include upcoming movies on Cain and Abel, Noah, Moses, Pontius Pilate and Mary.

Slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev took part in a 2011 triple murder — including two Jewish victims — in a nearby suburb of Waltham.

In an effort to convince lawmakers in Ohio to abolish the death penalty, a Catholic priest is traveling across the state with three men sentenced to death and later exonerated.

Gavin MacLeod, the “Love Boat” captain, has a new moniker, “ambassador for Christ.” He tells all in his new book.

Now that same-sex marriage is allowed in New Jersey, retired Catholic priest, the Rev. Tom Pivinski and his partner of over 20 years, Malcolm Navias, celebrated an interfaith wedding at their home in Asbury Park.

On the biz front: Time Warner Cable, one of the country’s biggest cable operators, has agreed to carry Al Jazeera America, giving the Qatar-owned broadcaster exposure to millions more households as it seeks to build an audience in the United States.

On the abortion front: The New York Times has an interesting story on a little-known Wisconsin law known as the “cocaine mom” act. The law allows child-welfare authorities to forcibly confine a pregnant woman who uses illegal drugs or alcohol. It’s part of widening legislation to protect the unborn.

A Texas prisoner wants to connect to the spirits of his dead parents and needs a lock of their hair for a Native American ritual he believes will help find them. A federal appeals court says the request appears harmless and has sent the case back to a lower court for review.

More overseas news:

A special U.N. rapporteur released a scathing report Wednesday detailing widespread human rights abuses in Iran. The report said 1,500 “anti-religious websites” are closed each month, including those containing content on the minority Wahhabi strain of Islam as well as the Baha’i faith.

But there’s also a bit of good news from Iran: A Southern California preacher who was briefly detained after protesting outside an Iranian prison was let go.

The gathering momentum for women’s driving rights in Saudi Arabia is running into pushback from conservative clerics.

The leader of Poland’s Catholic Church has come under a wave of condemnation by appearing to suggest that children are partly to blame for being sexually abused by priests.

And in Latin America, a string of child sex scandals has left some wondering what’s really changed in the Vatican.

Finally: The Vatican has announced it will be engaging in “sporting diplomacy” with a new team. St. Peter’s Cricket Club will be made up of priests and seminarians from cricket-loving countries. And the Vatican threw down a challenge to longtime rival the Church of England: Form a team and make it the Anglicans versus the Catholics at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.

Sign up below and we’ll let you know who’s winning.

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. I’m ‘not so sure” Mark Driscoll is the one to be carrying a message of peace and unity forward, I’m totally and completely sure! These “pastors’ who live an lavish lifestyle while fleecing the flock hold no respect from me only contempt. Add to that comments from Mr. Driscoll himself only confirm ones suspicions that the only “peace” he wants is more money and the forcible conversion of anyone who doesn’t believe, look or act exactly as he decrees a Christian should look, act, and believe. It’s people like Mr. Driscoll who have forced me not to think of myself as a Christian but more as a follower or ‘believer’ but the ‘Christian” tag has unfortunately become synonomyous with right wing hate and bigotry and I have no desire to fall under that description.

  2. David Lloyd-Jones

    May I mildly object to your calling secular rationalists, or even just the secular, “nonbelievers”?

    For starters these people believe in the tangible real world — which is more than can be said for a large percentage of the soi disant “religious” among your fellow-Christians.

    Have a little respect, will you please!

    -dlj.

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