A new Barna Research Group (BRG) survey has found that people who do not consider themselves to be Christian rated "evangelicals" 10th out of 11 groups in terms of favorable impression, just ahead of prostitutes.
Released in December, the poll of 1,002 adults, though, discovered that non-Christians were not as dismissive of all Christians. Military officers received a "favorable" opinion from a majority of non-Christians (56 percent). In comparison, 44 percent had positive views of clergy, 32 percent had a positive impression of born-again Christians and 22 percent had favorable opinions of evangelicals.
"Somehow, born-again Christians have a more favorable image than do evangelicals, although few adults are able to identify any substantive differences between those two groups," BRG president George Barna said. "This is most likely a result of the thrashing that evangelicals receive in the media. It seems millions of non-Christians have negative impressions of evangelicals."
Source: Barna Research Group
Pastors Not Upbeat Over Faith's Future
A large majority of pastors expect alternative religions and New Age spirituality to become more influential in the next decade. According to a study released in November by Ellison Research of Phoenix, 82 percent of ministers predict a growing influence of non-Christian faiths and 55 percent think New Age's impact will increase in the next 10 years.
The alarming findings of a survey of Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists and Pentecostals/charismatics reveal many pastors are not upbeat about Christianity's future in America.
The 567 pastors polled by the Arizona organization were at their most pessimistic when asked about "overall freedom of religion in the U.S.," with 44 percent anticipating declining religious liberty. In addition, 41 percent predict a decreasing influence of Christianity in Americans' daily lives in 2012 compared to 2002.
Regarding subjects related to the future of churches, 33 percent predict an increase in "the proportion of Americans who attend a Christian church," but 44 percent believe church attendance will decline. Despite gloomy expectations over the future church, 35 percent believe "the number of Christian churches in the U.S." will increase in the next 10 years--though the same percentage think it will decrease.
By Eric Tiansay
Source: Ellison Research of Phoenix,
The Associated Press
Conviction in Pastor's Deliverance Case
A Detroit-area minister was acquitted in November of four sexual assault charges, but was found guilty of one reduced count after three women accused him of touching them inappropriately during deliverance services. Gennaro Piscopo, 50, pastor of Evangel Christian Church in Roseville, was found guilty of the one charge and sentenced to five years probation. Piscopo was charged in April with five felony counts of criminal sexual conduct after the women, who are between the ages of 35 and 45, accused him of inappropriate touching while laying hands on them during services.
Source: The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News
TV Evangelist Sued By 'Hurt' Woman
(ogonek) TV evangelist Ernest Angley has been sued by a Cleveland woman who claims that she was hurt while taking her sick mother to see the charismatic healing preacher. In a lawsuit filed in December, Gloria DeFrancesco, 61, says she took her ailing 94-year-old mother to Angley seeking a healing prayer in August 2001, but the minister's workers allegedly blocked them from the stage and assaulted her in the process.
Angley is pastor and founder of Grace Cathedral in Akron, Ohio. DeFrancesco is seeking more than $25,000 in damages from Angley, his ministry and six employees. She claims she suffered a detached retina when the workers assaulted her as she tried to take her mother on stage for a prearranged healing session with Angley.
DeFrancesco alleges her injuries required a hospital stay and surgery, and she suffered "severe pain, emotional and psychological trauma." Angley could not be reached for a comment.
Source: The Akron Beacon Journal, Charisma News Service
"Next Friday we will be serving hot gods for lunch."
"Women's Luncheon: Each member bring a sandwich. Polly will give the medication."
"Congratulations to Tim and Rhonda on the birth of their daughter October 12 thru 17."
"Hymn: 'I Love Thee My Ford.'"
"Sign-up sheet for anyone wishing to be water baptized on the table in the foyer."
"Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep."
"The District Superintendent will be meeting with the church bored."
"As soon as the weather clears up, the men will have a goof outing."
"Fifth Sinday is Lent."
"Thank you, dead friends."
"Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding."
"We pray that our people will jumble themselves."
Religious Teens' Positive Outlook
Worship has a positive impact on teenagers, according to a study that tries to determine religion's role in adolescents' lives.
A survey of thousands of 12th-graders nationwide has found that teens who attend worship and rate religion as important have positive self-images, are optimistic and enjoy school.
"The more religious the kids are, based on its importance to them or their attending worship, the greater their positive outlook on life," said sociologist Chris Smith of the University of North Carolina, where the National Study of Youth and Religion is being conducted. "They have more self-esteem and confidence. The more religious they are, the less they hate school."
The second part of a four-year project, the study required the teens to respond to questions about their attitudes concerning themselves, school and the future.
Released in December, the survey found 31 percent of students attended religious services weekly, and 30 percent said religion was important to them. In both cases, these teens were "significantly more likely" than nonattending or nonreligious youth to enjoy life, feel they have useful lives, and hope for the future and have a sense of pride and satisfaction.
Source: The Washington Times
Where Would Jesus Shop? Mega-Retailing Outreach
Hundreds of people are flocking to the country's mega-retailers not for bargains, but to hear the gospel presented by an innovative outreach that has the blessing of the shopping outlets.
Usually held in the parking lots of Kmart and Wal-Mart, the "Soles for Souls" campaigns have distributed thousands of new athletic shoes, while offering a brief gospel presentation at the same time.
"These shoes are clothing the soles of your feet, but what is clothing the soul of your heart?" David Bennett, founder of Soulsavers Ministries, which presents the outreach, typically asks the people during the evangelistic campaigns. He added that "people from all walks of life that may never come to a church are hearing the gospel for the first time and getting saved right in these parking lots."
Started in 1998 from Maui, Hawaii, by Bennett and his wife, Lisa, Soulsavers Ministries aims to "help reach, raise up and release the lost."
Bennett, 35, an ordained minister through the Assemblies of God, says the outreaches are sponsored by Kmart and Wal-Mart as well as other retailers, including Albertsons, KB toys and Toys "R" Us.
Source: Charisma News Service
Minister Fined For Forced Prayer
A Nebraskan pastor and his wife were each fined $100 in the fall after being found guilty of false imprisonment for holding a teenage visitor to their church against his will while they and members of the Pentecostal congregation prayed for him.
Chris Haines, 16, alleged that he was forcibly detained when he attended a youth group activity at Dwight Sandoz's Assemblies of God church in Minatare in February 2002. Haines told a court in October that when he tried to leave he was forced to stay while members of the church prayed in tongues around him.
Sandoz and his wife, Nadine, denied the charge. Their attorney said the pair acted reasonably and were only trying to keep Haines from hurting himself and others. A similar charge against the Sandozes' son, Joshua, was dropped for lack of evidence.
County Court Judge Glenn Camerer said the Sandozes could have called the police or Haines' mother. "You have to be careful when you take the law into your own hands," he told them.
Source: The Scottsbluff Star-Herald