FaithWorld

Most U.S. Protestant pastors see Islam as dangerous – survey

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American Muslims at the Atlanta Masjid of al-Islam mosque, 9 Feb 2007/Tami Chappell

Here’s an interesting survey that was released on Monday by LifeWay Research, which is the number crunching arm of the South Baptist Convention, America’s largest evangelical group.

It says that two-thirds of Protestant pastors in America regard Islam as a dangerous religion. You can see their press release here. The full survey has not been posted on their site.

But in a nut shell, the survey of over 1,000 pastors of different Protestant denominations found that 45 percent strongly agreed with the statement “I believe Islam is a dangerous religion,” while 21 percent agreed to it “somewhat.”

The survey was conducted in October, before the massacre at the Fort Hood army base in Texas allegedly by a Muslim soldier.

Christian Coalition joins hunting group in climate change fight

Remember the Christian Coalition of America?

Under the political operative Ralph Reed in the 1990s it was an electoral force to be reckoned with as it mobilized millions of conservative Christians to vote for mostly Republican Party candidates and causes.

It has since lost influence and political ground to other “religious right” groups such as the Family Research Council. But it remains a sizeable grassroots organization and is still unflinchingly conservative.

So it will no doubt surprise some to see that this week it has joined with the National Wildlife Federation – whose 4 million members and supporters includes 420,000 sportsmen and women – to run an ad urging the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that among other things addresses the pressing problem of climate change.

Texas Southern Baptists see conversion opportunities among Muslims

The latest issue of Southern Baptist Texan to arrive in my mailbox has a front page story which caught my eye about a new evangelism drive aimed at the state’s Muslim population. You can see their on-line report here.

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The increasing presence of Muslims in Texas is an opportunity Texas Southern Baptists must not miss, says Bruno Molina, an SBTC ministry associate specializing in ethnic evangelism and outreach. To that end, a series of workshops—including one next month on engaging Muslim women with the gospel—and three printed resources aimed at helping Texas Southern Baptists understand Islamic beliefs, are planned for the fall and into 2010,” it says.

We are praying for Muslims during a month (Ramadan) that they are seeking God and waging spiritual warfare on behalf of Muslims in the form of evangelistic prayer,” Molina was quoted as saying.

Southern Baptists (and Republicans): old, white and in decline?

The evangelical Protestant revival has been one of the most dynamic religious and social movements in the United States in the last three decades. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, one in four U.S. adults now count themselves as followers of this faith tradition.

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So it may come as a surprise to some non-American readers of this blog that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) – with 16 million members, America’s largest evangelical denomination and the country’s second largest after the Catholic Church — is ringing the alarm bells of decline.

Its research arm LifeWay Research released the following projections this week at the convention’s annual meeting in Kentucky:  it said its numbers would fall nearly 50 percent by 2050 “unless the aging and predominantly white denomination reverses a 50-year trend and does more to strengthen evangelism, reach immigrants, and develop a broader ethnic base.”

What Darwin and evangelicals had in common: hatred of slavery

Back in January we reported on a new book which argued that a hatred of slavery did much to form Charles Darwin’s views on natural selection as he sought to prove that blacks and whites had a common ancestor and were not separate species or products of “separate creations” as many of the 19th century defenders of white supremacy maintained.

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I did a blog at the time to draw attention to my colleague Mike Collett-White’s story on “Darwin’s Sacred Cause” by Adrian Desmond and James Moore and said that it had piqued my curiosity enough that I might be tempted to read it. I have done just that and think it raises a couple of issues that will be of interest to readers of this blog. (Photo: A portrait of Charles Darwin is displayed as part of an exhibition in Darwin’s former home Down House, Kent, England, 12/02/2009, REUTERS/Stringer, UK)

For starters, much of the credit for the anti-slavery movement has been taken by evangelicals and other Christians such as the Quakers, who were indeed often the driving force behind it.  There was much excitement in U.S. evangelical circles two years ago about the release of the movie “Amazing Grace” about British anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce who was an ardent evangelical. Much ink has been spilled on this topic, notably in 2005 by Adam Hochschild in his superb book “Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery.”

PETA urges Southern Baptists to go vegetarian

PETA members protest in outfits of lettuce leaves in Taipei, 22 May 2008/Pichi ChuangA handful of activists from People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) urged Southern Baptists meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday to try the vegetarian option. “For Christ’s Sake, Go Vegetarian,” read one of their signs outside the convention center in downtown Indianapolis, where the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), America’s largest evangelical denomination, is holding its annual meeting.

“The Bible’s greatest message is compassion,” said PETA campaign coordinator Ashley Byrne, who said she hoped to convince Southern Baptists to adopt a diet that was compassionate to animals by not eating them.

The SBC, like the broader U.S. evangelical movement, is divided about what action to take on “creation care” or environmental issues such as climate change.

Southern Baptists hold meet amid falling baptisms

SBC President Frank Page and President George Bush, 11 Oct 2006/Larry DowningAmerica’s largest evangelical denomination, the 16-million strong Southern Baptist Convention, is holding its annual meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday against the backdrop of a decline in the number of yearly baptisms.

This is serious stuff indeed for a group that places much emphasis on the conversion experience, the acceptance of Jesus as a person’s savior and the rite of passage that goes with this acceptance: a public immersion in water or baptism.

In April the SBC released its latest baptism numbers — figures it tracks closely, underscoring the importance attatched to them.