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Morning Roundup 7/29/15

Bible in "Watchman"; Diverse Religions; Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom

Where’s the Bible in Harper Lee’s ‘Watchman’?Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman asks a good question (as only a religion reporter can) about the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird.

The most and least racially diverse U.S. religious groupsMichael Lipka

Here's a look at diversity but let me add a few reminders.

1. Many people attend churches and they do not necessarily know their denominational tradition. So we have to remember that the numbers are self-identified.

2. It is important to note that if you are going to have truly integrated churches, you have to see far more diversity in Anglo denominations and a basic dismantling of predominant African American ones.

Gay Rights May Come at the Cost of Religious FreedomEmma Green

Emma Green has a realistic look, and there is a clash, now and more coming, between LGBT rights and religious freedom issues. It's just naive not to see it coming, and it's disingenuous to pretend that you won't have to have laws on these issues.

Jenni Catron joined me in studio to discuss leadership principles from her book Clout for this episode of The Exchange. Don't forget to join me every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern for The Exchange.

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Pastor Exposed as Faithful to Wife of 17 Years

Despite the headlines, marital scandals dont define the church.

My husband and I bought a house today. It’s a green house on a little hill, built in 1927, and owned since 1966 by the local fire chief and his wife, now recently widowed. “Oh, the Flaherty house!” people around town said to us, “What a great family! What a great house!”

And so we bought it—the well-loved kitchen and bedrooms and front porch—the settings of half-a-century’s worth of lazy Saturdays and Sunday dinners and hectic Monday mornings. And lugging our cardboard boxes through the door, we found a note on the kitchen counter: “We hope,” she had written in the fragile penmanship of the elderly, “you have many happy years as we did in this home.” My house tells the story of a happy marriage.

The church, too, is a kind of house (1 Pet. 2:5, Heb. 3:6). Yet, tragically, the marriage stories of its well-known members and leaders are not always the happy kind.

Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor in my own denomination, recently resigned over an affair. He joins what seems like a long list of pastors whose reputation for sin now precedes them. Turning in disgust from our unrelenting newsfeeds, we might shake our heads and sadly accept the pronouncement of a Christian Post op-ed: “Moral failings among [Christian] leaders are becoming an epidemic.”

We are right to lament moral failure. Forgiveness and reconciliation are central to our Christian faith, but Tchividjian’s sin (and the sin of every pastor who is unfaithful) will still have grave consequences for himself and for the lives of his wife, his children, and the woman with whom he committed adultery. The effects will extend to the members of his church and to those who have read ...

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God and Country: Americans' Views of God's 'Relationship' with the U.S

What do Americans think about the United States and God? Fascinating new data.

Happy Fourth of July weekend folks, my American readers!

Two hundred thirty-nine years ago tomorrow, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, nearly a month before it would eventually be signed. I hope you're having a fun weekend, getting to enjoy some time with family and friends.

As I explained in a post last year:

Christians are, in a sense, dual citizens-- of the Kingdom and of the nation where they live. I live in a country that is not without fault, but I am proud to be a citizen of that nation. I teach my children to be proud of their nation-- not unaware of its challenges-- and patriotic citizens.

Just this week, LifeWay Research released some new data on how Americans view their country and how God relates with it. Here's an excerpt from our report:

In a nation founded on religious liberty, most Americans believe God has a special relationship with the United States, and they’re optimistic the best is yet to come. Despite headlines lamenting the global decline of the United States since the Cold War, 54 percent of Americans believe the nation is on the upswing, according to a September survey by LifeWay Research. Only 4 in 10 think “America’s best days are behind us.” And though the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God, 53 percent of Americans say they believe God and the nation have a special relationship, a concept stretching back to Pilgrim days. Even a third of atheists, agnostics, and those with no religious preference believe America has a special relationship with God. “‘God Bless America’ is more than a song or a prayer for many Americans,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “It is a ...

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A Lament for Charleston: What Makes This Mass Shooting Different

Christians respond to the deadly attack at a South Carolina church.

Among the startling details in America’s latest mass shooting was the location: a church Bible study.

A gunman killed nine people from a historic African American congregation in Charleston on Wednesday. The incident is the deadliest church attack in decades.

Violence has increased on church properties across the country. Dozens of US churches report fatal incidents each year, according to data from church violence researcher Carl Chinn.

Last year, 74 people died during violent altercations at churches. A quarter of those occured during attempted robberies.

Other motives included domestic violence and mental illness. Religious bias only triggered 6 percent of attacks, according to Chinn's assessment. (His research did not track racism as a factor.)

Like shooting suspect Dylann Roof, the vast majority of aggressors—nearly 8 in 10 of them—were not affiliated with the church.

Following the tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, writers and bloggers have explored the racial tensions underpinning the latest deadly attack on black Americans. We’ve excerpted several reports and reflections below.

Austin Channing Brown, The Only Logical Conclusion:

There have been far too many mass shootings in America…. But this is different.

Though the weapon is the same, gun violence, this is different because the driving force was white supremacy, this act the epitome of racism, the goal to kill black people. The level of terror that black people feel in America at this moment cannot be underestimated. Because when the driving force of such a massacre is the very thing imbedded in the roots of America, thriving on the branches of generation after generation, sitting in the pews ...

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Elisabeth Elliot on the Christian Father

Examining the male parents role.

This article originally appeared in the June 18, 1971, issue of Christianity Today. It was republished June 19, 2015, to commemorate the death of Elisabeth Elliot.

Time was when a gift indicated some degree of thoughtfulness. Nowadays when Father’s Day comes around it is no trick at all—it requires no thoughtfulness, hardly even any thought—to grab a bottle of shaving lotion for dear old dad. The supermarkets have arranged such items close by the checkout counter, for impulse buyers, which most of us are now and then. So we have a gift for father, and he thanks us for it but has no way of knowing whether we actually gave the matter some thought or are merely susceptible to advertising.

Most of us will acknowledge that we are indeed highly susceptible. We are buffeted and bludgeoned every day of our lives, from every side, by advertising that discolors, distorts, and in the end may even completely revise our images. To be a Christian in spite of this, to try to keep on being a Christian, to think in a Christian instead of a pagan way, and to accept ones God-given place in this world as Christians must accept their places, is a relentlessly hard job.

One of the images that has been grossly distorted, I believe, is that of the father. “Father image,” “authority figure,” “the old man,” these phrases are often used derisively or at least patronizingly. Television depicts with ho-hum regularity the baffled father, hopelessly naïve and incompetent, bested at every turn by his cute and clever wife and his brilliant and condescending children. He tries hard to swing with them but ends up stumbling and bumbling, providing little more than the big laughs.

Who is ...

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