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Christian and Missionary Alliance Opens Second Investigation of Ravi Zacharias

New claims raise concerns that previous allegations were not thoroughly investigated by his denomination.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) is opening a second investigation into Ravi Zacharias following new claims of sexual misconduct reported by Christianity Today.

The denomination sent a letter to Alliance workers on Friday announcing that the leadership had “determined that we must look into these new allegations, in spite of the fact that Mr. Zacharias passed away earlier this year.”

Zacharias, a prominent apologist and ministry leader, was ordained and licensed by the CMA up until his death in May. The new allegations came from former employees at two Atlanta-area day spas Zacharias co-owned and frequented for massage therapy more than a decade ago.

Three women told CT Zacharias would touch them inappropriately, expose himself, and masturbate during treatments. In a follow-up article, World magazine reported additional allegations that a therapist was fired after complaining that Zacharias asked for “more than a massage.”

Terry Smith, vice president of church ministries for the CMA, said it is unusual to investigate sexual misconduct after the accused has died, but the denomination is “fully accountable” for its licensed ministers—no matter their level of celebrity or international renown.

The CMA holds that people are disqualified from leadership if their behavior causes “imminent harm to others or to the testimony of Christ.” Its formal disciplinary procedure prioritizes restoration, however, which isn’t possible when the offending minister has died.

“Normally when a worker is investigated, they’re alive so they can speak to the accusations against them and can receive whatever punitive steps the discipline committee gives them,” Smith ...

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Greg Laurie Tests Positive for COVID-19, Warns Against Blaming White House

The pastor and evangelical adviser says he doesn’t know if he was infected at last week’s event.

For months, California megachurch pastor Greg Laurie has spoken out against the instinct to politicize the coronavirus outbreak, preaching to his congregation to overcome outrage with outreach and look for opportunities to serve people who find themselves overwhelmed, scared, and angry.

But now he finds himself registering a positive test during one of the most politically heated moments of the pandemic.

Laurie, 67, shared the news of his infection today in the midst of a string of high-profile COVID-19 cases, including President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and presidential staffers.

He cautioned Americans against the impulse to blame the White House.

“Unfortunately, the coronavirus has become very politicized,” he said in remarks to CT. “I wish we could all set aside our partisan ideas and pull together to do everything we can to defeat this virus and bring our nation back.”

After news of Trump’s diagnosis broke, multiple people who attended the president’s Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House over a week ago also tested positive. The infected attendees included former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who sat in front of Laurie, and Notre Dame University president John Jenkins. Online, some began speculating that the gathering was a “super spreader event.”

“I don’t even know if I personally got the coronavirus at the White House,” he said. “I had tested negative before the event.”

A source familiar with the ceremony told CT the evangelical advisers who gathered to pray inside with the president earlier in the day on September 26—many of them sitting together, unmasked in the Rose Garden crowd—had actually all ...

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[Cfamily]5 Ways Mike Pence Has Shaped the Trump Administration
« Reply #1786 on: October 10, 2020, 01:00:12 AM »
5 Ways Mike Pence Has Shaped the Trump Administration

Loyal to the president, the Midwestern politician has been at work in the background.

Vice President Mike Pence, set to take the stage Wednesday night in a debate against Senator Kamala Harris, has largely been a background figure in the national discussion over Donald Trump’s presidency. But that may be more about his style than his substance.

Pence played a pivotal role in the administration’s first legislative victory, working out the deal that got the fighting factions of Republicans in the House and the White House to agree to pass the American Health Care Act, which would partially repeal and replace Obamacare.

Then, at the last moment, he had a condition of his own. The “Pence Amendment”—an idea he’d proposed for state-based waivers—couldn’t be called that. He didn’t want to take any credit. Tim Alberta, the conservative political reporter for National Review and Politico, sees this as a quintessential Mike Pence moment.

“The vice president’s persona—the wholesome, aw-shucks, milk-drinking Midwesterner—masks the skill set of a savvy political operator,” Alberta wrote. The former governor of Indiana will “get the job done, and avoid all acclaim in the process.”

Pence is “the 24-karat-gold model” of what politically conservative evangelicals want in a politician, according to Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“I don’t know anyone who’s more consistent in bringing his evangelical-Christian worldview to public policy,” Land said in 2018.

Pence was raised Catholic and had a born-again experience as a freshman in college, making a personal ...

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The Pandemic Sent Thousands of Orphans Back to Their Families. Let’s Keep Them There.

The coronavirus outbreak will be either the worst or the best thing to happen to the world’s institutionalized children. It’s our choice.

In April, 19,200 orphans across Kenya went home. Their orphanages had closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In the Ukraine, 42,000 children in institutions were returned to their families in the same time frame, according to the International Leadership and Development Center, a child welfare charity in Kiev. Similar mass movements of orphans back to their families have been reported in Uganda and India.

Many will be surprised that orphans have homes and families to go to. But of the approximately 5.4 million children in orphanages around the world, the vast majority have a living parent and all of them have extended family, according to data from Save the Children and UNICEF.

Research indicates that institutions are not the best place for children to flourish and that the bonds of family are as important as access to education, food, and clothing for children to thrive. One study found that children lose approximately one month of development for every three months they spend in institutional care. Another study found that 1 in 3 children exiting residential care become homeless, 1 in 5 gain a criminal record, and as many as 1 in 10 die by suicide.

Institutions can cause or exacerbate attachment disorders and mental health challenges and can involve a greater risk of abuse, neglect, and maltreatment. Experts believe residential care should only be used as a last resort because, no matter how well-run an orphanage may be, it is still severely detrimental to a child’s well-being and development.

In December 2019, 198 nations signed a United Nations Resolution on the Rights of the Child which, for the first time, recognized the harm caused by institutionalizing children. However, the sudden pandemic, not the signed ...

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[Cfamily]Coronavirus Church Closures Are Not Persecution
« Reply #1788 on: October 12, 2020, 01:00:17 AM »
Coronavirus Church Closures Are Not Persecution

Restrictions on worship? are unsettling and, in some cases, illegal. But American Christians must protect the intensity and veracity of the term.

Amid mounting allusions to “persecution” because of the closure of churches on health grounds due to the pandemic, I want to provide some respectful perspective for my fellow American Christians.

I’ve worked my entire 20-year career on international religious freedom, meeting persecuted Christians from around the world. I’ve heard their stories, seen their tears and wounds, and lost friends. From those encounters, I’ve learned persecution is intense, and it is violent.

Therefore, I hope Americans will set the term persecution aside, so it doesn’t lose its intensity or veracity.

The United States is one of the most open and liberal countries for freedom of religion and belief. From our first settlers seeking freedom to practice their faith, to our founding values starting with the First Amendment and consequent laws and now a long-running string of Supreme Court victories, Americans of all faiths (and no faith) have become accustomed to ever-expanding religious liberties. It’s part of American exceptionalism.

And this exceptionalism carries over into how our country promotes and protects religious freedom for all internationally. During my time at the State Department under both the Obama and Trump administrations, we helped carry this out, preaching the values of religious liberty as a social good as well as confronting persecutors. The US is the foremost advocate internationally—full stop. Persecuted people of all faiths pray for our intervention and desire to flee to our shores.

With the pandemic, it’s been unsettling for Americans to see local and state governments direct the closure of churches (as well as synagogues, mosques, and temples) for health reasons. It’s ...

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[Cfamily]Political Riptides Rip Us Apart
« Reply #1789 on: October 13, 2020, 01:00:13 AM »
Political Riptides Rip Us Apart

A religious undercurrent mandates we stay calm and not panic as cultural oceans roil.

In 2017, nine people were caught in a riptide off a Panama City beach. Over 80 onlookers formed a human chain extending 100 yards into the Gulf of Mexico, rescuing the last person after just an hour. Riptide deaths usually result from people swimming against the tide until they lose the energy to resist its pull.

Similarly, Christ’s followers tread dangerous waters when trying to navigate America’s sociopolitical currents. How might churches overcome the loss of energy and resist political riptides? America’s polarization current is only part of the story. In 2016, 1 in 10 Bernie Sanders supporters voted for Donald Trump in the general election. How was that possible? According to the conventional left-right spectrum, this makes no sense. What else is going on?

A religious undercurrent, which we call “political denominationalism,” moves just below the surface of our political discourse. Mere opinions are no longer allowed; one must have unwavering convictions. Political commitments increasingly define us, yet at the same time, are increasingly irrelevant. Other forces now pull us.

Modernity affirmed an ordered world discernible through rational, scientific inquiry. It rejected the authority of religious and private beliefs in favor of progress and technological advance. Conversely, postmodernism rejected claims that history progresses or possesses any inherent meaning.

Add the contrast between modern and postmodern to the classic divide between liberal and conservative, and political perspectives get even more complicated. In the accompanying illustration below, the left-right spectrum represents America’s liberal-conservative continuum. The vertical line represents the modern-postmodern continuum. ...

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[Cfamily]Justo González: Seminaries Need More Latinos
« Reply #1790 on: October 14, 2020, 01:00:15 AM »
Justo González: Seminaries Need More Latinos

The theological education crisis is not financial. It's demographic.

Over Cuban coffee and a meal, theology professor Benjamin Wayman discussed recent developments in theological education—particularly among Latino pastors—with church historian Justo González at his home in Decatur, Georgia. Acknowledging past and present failings of theological education in the North Atlantic, González identified promising paths for reaching more pastors on a demographic and global scale.

Could you describe the nature of your work for the church here in Decatur, Georgia, and abroad?

I consider myself first of all a pastor, even though I don’t pastor a church. I try to write as a pastor, pastoring both the church and other pastors. I quit teaching full time in 1977; I taught 16 years before that. My main occupation since that time has been twofold. One has been to write; the other has been to try to develop agencies and systems to support the theological education of Hispanics and Latinos.

What is the main focus of the Hispanic Theological Initiative?

The Hispanic Theological Initiative is mostly concerned with producing people who are capable of teaching and reading at the highest level of theological education (PhDs or similar degrees). It has been very, very successful. When I went to [American Academy of Religion conferences] back in the ’70s and the early ’80s, it would be a great joy to see friends I didn’t see frequently. We were a handful. When I resigned from teaching, I was the only Latino faculty member at any Protestant seminary in the country. When I go now, the joy is to see so many people I don’t know, Latinos I don’t know, mostly the result of the HTI. The HTI has made a tremendous impact.

There’s still a lot to do. I think the ...

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Source: Justo González: Seminaries Need More Latinos

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[Cfamily]Half of Protestant Pastors Back Trump
« Reply #1791 on: October 15, 2020, 01:00:20 AM »
Half of Protestant Pastors Back Trump

Recent Lifeway Research offers insight into how pastors are voting in 2020.

Almost all Protestant pastors plan to participate in the 2020 election, but around a quarter still haven’t decided who will get their presidential vote.

In the latest election survey, Nashville-based LifeWay Research found 98% of Protestant pastors in the U.S. say they plan to vote in the presidential election.

When they cast their ballot, 53% of pastors likely to vote say they plan to do so for Donald Trump. Around 1 in 5 (21%) say they are voting for Joe Biden. A similar percentage (22%) say they are still undecided. About 4% say they are voting for a different candidate.

“Pastors vote like any other American,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “The large number of pastors who are still undecided may reflect difficulty in finding a candidate who aligns with their overall beliefs. Also, some pastors are intensely private about their political preferences and may prefer to respond ‘undecided’ than to even confidentially share their voting intentions.”

Presidential votes

Compared to 2016, the president has much higher levels of support among pastors this year.

In a 2016 LifeWay Research survey, 40% of pastors were undecided midway through September. Around a third supported Trump (32%). Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party nominee, garnered 19%, while Libertarian Gary Johnson had 4%.

For the 2020 election, support for the Democratic and third-party candidates remains similar, but around half of the number of undecided pastors in 2016 now say they will vote for Trump.

“There were a lot of unknowns in 2016, including Trump being an outsider candidate and little sense of how others would respond to supporting his candidacy,” said McConnell. “Pastors ...

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Source: Half of Protestant Pastors Back Trump

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