Tuesday News Briefing: Tornado survivors share stories, church-goers inflate attendance, and a Baptist raps

Meredith Flynn —  May 20, 2014

Where_Was_God_posterTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Film documents storm recovery
One year after a tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma, survivors are sharing their stories in a new documentary film. “Where was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm” was produced and promoted in partnership with several churches and faith-based groups, including the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

“We want to remind people that God is always near, no matter what,” said pastor and executive producer Steven Earp. “There is not a single thing that we could ever go through that our heavenly Father does not understand, and there is not a single dark place that He has not already walked.” Read more at BPNews.net.

Sudanese woman won’t recant, faces death sentence
A Sudanese doctor was sentenced to death after she refused to reject her Christian faith. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, 27, was convicted of apostasy April 30 and given 15 days to recant. “I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim,” she told the judge, according to Morning Star News. Ibrahim, who is due to give birth soon, is married to Daniel Wani, a South Sudanese Christian who also is a U.S. citizen.

Her sentence, set to be carried out two year’s after her child’s birth, is representative of “increasing Islamization” of Sudan sparked by the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Christianity Today reported. Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

Americans inflate church attendance
It’s easier to be honest online, at least about church attendance. A new study by the Public Religion Research Institute found Americans inflate their levels of religious participation, especially when answering questions about it over the phone. For example, 36% of Americans who took PRRI’s telephone survey said they attend services weekly or more, compared to 31% who answered an identical question on a self-administered online survey.

Among white evangelical Protestants, 9% answering over the phone said they seldom or never attend services, while 17% reported the same on the online survey. PRRI reports young adults, Catholics and white mainline Protestants are most likely to over-report their church attendance. Read more at publicreligion.org.

‘Gay Christian’ publisher out of National Religious Broadcasters
WaterBrook Multnomah resigned this month from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) network over a controversial book published by an affiliated imprint, Convergent Books. “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” by Matthew Vines theorizes that Scripture doesn’t condemn monogamous same-sex relationships.

Though WaterBrook Multnomah and Convergent are separate entities with the same leader, employees of both companies are reported to have worked on the book. According to a Christianity Today report, NRB President Jerry Johnson wrote in a letter to his board, “This issue comes down to NRB members producing unbiblical material, regardless of the label under which they do it.”

Baptist history gets hip-hop treatment
“Now this is a story all about how the Baptists became what they are now…” Rapping seminary study Ashley Unzicker took the outline from one of her classes and set it to the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song, creating a 5-minute ode to Baptist history that starts with religious persecution in England, and concludes with the election of Fred Luter as the SBC’s first African American president. Now, that’s fresh. Watch the video on YouTube.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.