Politically Partisan Pastors

Over the last week I have seen one red, gray and blue graphic more than any other.  It seeks to tell the complex story of pastoral political affiliation in the United States in a single image. The widely shared graphic comes from Kevin Quealy's June 12 New York Times article "Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows."  Quealy's article reports on the most ambitious research of its kind, which was undertaken by Eitan D. Hersh and Read More …

Less & Less of the Old Testament?

Earlier this month Yonat Shimron's Religion News Service article "Is the Old Testament Dying?" captured my attention. Put differently: Is the First Testament losing importance for those who follow the Way of Jesus? Do Christians have far greater biblical literacy in the Christian Scriptures than in the Hebrew Scriptures? Less & Less? Shimron's article answers the initial and repackaged questions affirmatively based on a new book by Brent Strawn titled The Old Testament Is Read More …

The End of Biblical Literalism

For the last 40 years Gallup has polled Americans on their view of the Bible.  For the purposes of this research, respondents are asked to choose between inspired by God not to be taken literally actual word of God to be taken literally, and fables, history, and moral precepts recorded by people. Over the entire 40 year period the most common way Americans have interpreted the Bible is as a book that is inspired by God but not to be taken literally.  That perspective has held rather Read More …

Americans Like but Don’t Read the Bible

Last week LifeWay Research released the results of their latest poll of Americans' thoughts about and readership of the Bible.  It turns out that overall Americans continue to hold this sacred text in high regard even as readership rates and biblical literacy decline. Previous research by the American Bible Society found that at least one Bible is present in 87% of American homes.  Also, more than 75% of American homes have an Internet connection they could use to access the Bible online. Read More …

Fading America: Disappearing Dream – Emerging as Developing Nation

When did you first realize that the so-called American Dream has died?  Or, put in nicer terms, when did you realize that the American Dream as understood in a popular sense is realistically attainable for a shrinking portion of those living within the borders of the United States? Perspective A few hours before writing this post I had a lengthy conversation with an older Baby Boomer.  This person is greatly concerned that the current President is providing many people with false hope Read More …

The Immigrants Creed

I have heard about immigrants more often this year than any year since I worked in the field of refugee resettlement in the 1990s. As a student of history, I know that the country I have called home for my entire life - America - is a land of immigrants.  Without immigration, I would not reside here today. As a person of faith, I am committed to welcoming, valuing, and loving all people.  As a Christian love of neighbor is a fundamental faith practice. The United Church of Christ explains Read More …

Christian Alternative Facts

The term "alternative facts" is one of the most popular phrases of 2017. On Friday evening I found that it was being applied to Christianity on Twitter with the hashtag #ChristianAltFacts. I was quickly drawn in by a few remarks by academics and lingered to appreciate the wisdom of a wide range of tweeters. "Jesus thinks your gun is awesome. #ChristianAltFacts" --@evandeneykel (Eric Vanden Eykel, Assistant Professor of Religion, Ferrum College) "Nothing important happened after Read More …

Americans Feel More Positive About Most Religions

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, between June 2014 and January 2017, American views shifted to become more positive about about most of the world's great religions.  More specifically, survey respondents were asked to to rate a variety of groups on a “feeling thermometer” that ranged from 0 to 100 (with higher numbers reflecting warmer or more positive feelings). Respondents warmed to several religions during this two and a half year period, including Atheists Read More …

The Disappearance of Young Pastors

Last week I saw a link to Kate Shellnutt's article, "Only 1 in 7 Pastors is Under 40" appear on my social feeds a few times before I clicked through to read it and to learn about the latest research on the topic. The research was conducted by the Barna Group and Pepperdine University. It included 14,000 pastors. Findings include: Average Age of Protestant Senior Pastors 2017: 54 1992: 44 Young Senior Pastors  2017: Only 1 in 7 is under age 40 Getting Personal This topic Read More …