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Most white evangelical voters plan to vote Republican in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to research by PRRI, including many of those 18-29 years old. But the voting bloc is changing, researchers say.

“White evangelical protestants have certainly been a powerful force in American politics for a couple of generations since the ‘80s and (Ronald) Reagan, but their clout in the general population is waning over the last 10 years,” PRRI CEO Robert Jones told USA Today. “There’s been a bigger loss at the younger end of the spectrum.”

According to PRRI, white evangelicals comprise 15% of the U.S. population, down from nearly a quarter in 2008. And the median age is 56. Younger evangelicals tend to think differently about certain issues than their parents, like same-sex marriage and the environment. (The New York Times recently interviewed young evangelicals about faith in the current political climate.)

The differences in ideology could eventually show up at the ballot box, but probably not this year, University of North Carolina professor Molly Worthen told USA Today.

“The religious right, as a network of very savvy political institutions, will continue to punch above its weight politically for decades,” Worthen said. “Even as we see that secularizing trend persist, it will not likely immediately translate to a huge turnout of votes for progressive political candidates.”

Race also plays a role in how evangelicals vote, according to a recent study by LifeWay Research and Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center. The research found 77% of white voters with evangelical beliefs voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, while 86% of African-American voters with evangelical beliefs voted for Hillary Clinton.

Most evangelicals haven’t changed their minds since 2016, according to the research. Nine in ten said they felt strong support for their preferred candidate then, and today, 88% say they still do.

Letter urges genocide designation in Myanmar
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear joined a coalition of leaders asking U.S. officials to label persecution in Myanmar “genocide.” In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, more than 70 humanitarian and faith leaders said Myanmar’s military-led campaign against Rohingya Muslims and other religious minorities qualifies as genocide and “crimes against humanity.” The group wrote, “We urgently encourage you to take immediate action by articulating a moral, political, and policy designation respecting the dignity and safety of victimized Burmese individuals.”

> Related: Christianity Today reports Christians in Myanmar also are in danger, although their plight is less well-documented and hasn’t received much response from the global church.

Officials pledge more aid for Iraqi Christians
The Trump administration has pledged $178 million to help religious minorities in Iraq, bringing the fiscal year total to nearly $300 million in aid for Christians and others persecuted by ISIS in the country.

Five statistics on global hunger
The Southern Baptist Convention designates one Sunday each October as Global Hunger Sunday, an opportunity to pray for and give to ministries that help relieve hunger, a global problem that affects around 795 million people worldwide.

Judge dismisses sexual abuse charges against Pressler
A Texas court has dismissed charges of sexual abuse, conspiracy, and negligence against Paul Pressler, who helped lead the Southern Baptist Convention’s return to conservative theology in the 1980s and 90s. The Southern Baptist Convention also had been named in a lawsuit filed by plaintiff Gerald Duane Rollins, but Judge R.K. Sandhill’s Oct. 15 order dismissed the charges against the SBC because the statute of limitations has run out, Baptist Press reported.

Study details America’s shifting theology
While more than half of Americans believe only those who trust in Jesus alone as Savior receive eternal salvation, a new survey by LifeWay Research found, an even larger percentage believe most people are good by nature.

Sources: Christian Post, Christianity Today, Baptist Press, LifeWay Research

 

 

 

 

Baptist volunteers still serving in Carolinas
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response to Hurricane Florence has resulted in 1.1 million meals served, Baptist Press reports, and more than 1,000 clean-up projects at homes damaged by wind and flooding. More than 100 people have professed faith in Christ through the ministry of Disaster Relief, the country’s third-largest relief organization.

Illinois volunteers joined the multi-state response just days after Florence made landfall in North Carolina.

Refugee cap unsettles some Christian leaders
Evangelical leaders have expressed concern over a new limit on refugees who will be allowed to resettle in the U.S. during the next fiscal year. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Sept. 17 the cap will be set at 30,000, down from 45,000 during the current fiscal year and 70,000 over the last three decades.

Christian doctor awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Congolese physician Denis Mukwege was named a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to help rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mukwege founded a hospital where he has treated thousands of women harmed during war in their country.

Mohler celebrates 25 years at Southern Seminary
Celebrating his 25th anniversary as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert S. Mohler addressed what he says is the most pressing issue facing the church today. “Among the many challenges the church will face in the present and coming generations,” Mohler said in Table Talk magazine, “few will equal the challenge of maintaining a steadfast commitment to biblical Christianity in the midst of an increasingly hostile environment.”

Mission offering for North America sets new record
Southern Baptists’ two major missions offerings reached record or near-record levels in 2017, according to entity leaders. North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell reported last week that Southern Baptists gave $61.1 million through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering—marking the first time the offering has exceeded $60 million.

The International Mission Board also reported Southern Baptists gave $158.9 million through the 2017 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering—the second-highest Lottie Moon Offering ever received.

Research finds connection between youth church attendance and later mental health
Research by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that church attendance and certain religious practices during adolescence tend to result in better mental health in adulthood. People who attended religious services at least once a week as kids or teens were about 18% more likely to be happier in their 20s, Forbes magazine reported on the research. Weekly attendance is associated with the development of character strengths, including greater volunteering, a greater sense of mission, and more forgiveness.

Related: In September, thousands of students around the country gathered for See You at the Pole prayer meetings on their campuses.

‘Social justice’ statement crystallizes simmering debate
Baptists and other Christians took to Twitter and other online forums last week to debate a statement signed by theologian John MacArthur and other evangelical leaders on the potential dangers of social justice. In the statement, the signers, which now number in the thousands, affirm that “lectures on social issues” in the church and “activism aimed at reshaping the wider culture” “tend to become distractions that inevitably lead to departures from the gospel.”

Southern Baptists have been among the evangelicals talking about the statement. And while he didn’t use the terminology, New Orleans Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley seemed to touch on similar concerns in his convocation sermon on “Baptist Blues.”

White House meetings with evangelicals are illegal, group says
Religion News Service reports that watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State is demanding President Donald Trump stop meeting with evangelical advisors. The group alleges the meetings are in conflict with a 1972 law that governs federal advisory committees.

Related: Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear was among 100 evangelicals in attendance at a White Hosue dinner Aug. 27. Greear has spoken publicly about his desire to see the SBC distance itself from partisan politics, a commitment he reiterated on Twitter.

Kavanaugh completes hearings, awaits vote
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was the subject of often raucous hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, and now will face a full vote he’s expected to win—but barely. Senate Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage.

“Careful consideration of potential justices for our nation’s highest court is understandable and even commendable,”  Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore told Baptist Press. “But the hysteria around the confirmation hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week is a sign of a dysfunctional political climate.”

Anne Graham Lotz asks for prayers in cancer battle
Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz announced Sept. 4 she has breast cancer and will have surgery later this month to treat the illness. The daughter of late evangelist Billy Graham referenced Psalm 46:1 in announcing the diagnosis. “God has been…and is…my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in this trouble. Therefore, I will not fear.”

McCain services filled with Scripture
Memorial services for Sen. John McCain, who died Aug. 25 after a battle with brain cancer, included 10 readings from the Old and New Testaments. See the list at Christianity Today.

The Christian Post, Baptist Press, Religion News Service, Christianity Today

 

More than half of American churchgoers say their political views match those of most people at their church, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. And 57% of Protestant churchgoers under 50 say they prefer to go to church with people who share their political views. “Like many places in America, churches are divided by politics,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “And churchgoers under 50 seem to want it that way.”

Search committee named to find next Southwestern president
A committee of nine Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees has been appointed to find the Fort Worth school’s next president. The committee is tasked with finding a replacement for Paige Patterson, who was moved to emeritus status in May and terminated a week later, after coming under fire for his response to alleged sexual assault on the campus of Southeastern Seminary, where he previously served as president. The Southwestern committee includes an Illinois Baptist—Denise Ewing of First Baptist Church, Winthrop Harbor.

Southern Baptist chaplain exonerated
A U.S. Army chaplain accused of discrimination has been cleared of all charges, Baptist Press reported. Chaplain Jerry Squires told a soldier earlier this year he couldn’t perform a marriage retreat for her and her same-sex partner; he also rescheduled the event so another chaplain could perform the retreat. The Army dropped its investigation Aug. 24 after determining Squires had handled the matter in accordance with military policy.

Christian leaders advocate for refugees
A group of evangelical leaders, including Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, sent a letter to the federal officials in August asking them to consider opening U.S. borders to 75,000 refugees for resettlement in fiscal year 2019. The number is about 50,000 higher than a limit reported being considered by the Trump Administration, The Christian Post reported.  

Illinois churches ready families for fall with shoes, haircuts, backpacks, and prayer
Across the state, churches launched students and families into the back-to-school season with a number of outreach initiatives tailored to specific needs in their communities. In Harrisburg, Dorrisville Baptist Church gave away more than 500 pairs of gym shoes while in Chicago, Another Chance Baptist Church sent kids back to school with backpacks and new glasses. Read about back-to-school outreach and more from IBSA churches in the current issue of the Illinois Baptist, online at ibonline.IBSA.org.

-LifeWay Research, Baptist Press (2), The Christian Post, Illinois Baptist

Saddleback reaches baptism milestone
Saddleback Church celebrated its 50,000th baptism Sunday, Aug. 12. The Southern Baptist congregation headquartered in Lake Forest, Ca., has 19 campuses. Saddleback was founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren.

“Each of these lives represents an individual changed by and committed to a relationship with Jesus Christ,” the church tweeted about the milestone. “We are in awe of what God has done in the last 38 years and are hopeful and expectant for what he will do in the years to come. Thank you, God!”

‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’—like you’ve never heard it before
At a recent conference, author and pastor John Piper wrote two new verses for “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” the hymn that wrapped up the meeting. The verses reflect his theological standpoint—which is more Reformed than that of the hymn’s author. Christianity Today asked church music experts to weigh in: As the culture around them changes, should hymns stick to their original theology?

NAMB forms new group to step up evangelism efforts
The North American Mission Board announced last week the creation of an evangelism and leadership group tasked with promoting evangelism in Southern Baptist churches. Georgia pastor Jim Law will head the new group, Baptist Press reports.

Rwandan government imposes new rules on churches
Rwandan officials have imposed new restrictions on religious practice in their country, including the requirement that all pastors have a theological degree from an accredited school. The government has also instructed pastors not to encourage their congregations to fast for long periods of time, Christianity Today reports.

Church fraud on the rise
Reported cases of financial fraud in churches rises about 6% each year, The Christian Post reports, and is expected to reach the $60 billion mark by 2025. The growing problem could be solved by requiring churches to complete a specific IRS form, says one tax law expert.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post

Former missionary charged with sexual assault
Mark Aderholt, a former International Mission Board missionary and associate executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, was arrested July 3 on charges of sexual assault of a child under 17. The charges stem from alleged incidents in 1997, when Aderholt was a student at Southwestern Seminary. He later served as an IMB missionary in Europe, and since 2017, with the South Carolina Convention. He resigned his post there in June.

Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer of the convention, said July 10, “Our hearts are grieved, but we are trusting the authorities.” Aderholt’s arrest comes amid investigations of assault charges against other Southern Baptist and Christian leaders, leading Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler in May to label this season the SBC’s “horrifying #MeToo moment.”

Supreme Court in the spotlight after Kavanaugh nomination
The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court encouraged many Christians and conservatives, but the pick is troubling for black Christians, writes Wheaton College’s John C. Richards. “The truth is that many Black Christians aren’t so much looking for a more conservative court as they are looking for a more fair and neutral court—devoid of political influence.”

Should Kavanaugh be confirmed, a conservative Supreme Court could reconsider the implications of 1973’s Roe v. Wade, which lifted state restrictions on abortion. Abortion rights group Center for Reproductive Rights reported which 22 states are likely to ban abortion, should Roe be overturned by the Court.

New research: Americans and the Bible
About half of all Americans count themselves as “Bible users” who engage with Scripture at least three to four times a year, according to the 2018 State of the Bible survey by Barna and the American Bible Society. A larger percentage, researchers found, are curious about what the Bible says.

Most Christians invite their friends to church
Almost two-thirds of churchgoers have invited someone to church in the last six months, according to new data by LifeWay Research. But 17% say they don’t know anyone to invite.

Sources: Baptist Press, Baptist Courier, AlbertMohler.com, Christianity Today, Christian Post, Barna Research, LifeWay Research