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Extreme Athletes Dont Have to Settle for Adrenaline Highs

Action-sports ministries help wakeboarders, surfers, skaters, and snowboarders ground their passions in gospel truth.

Action sports have slowly made their way into the Olympics over the years, and the International Olympic Committee announced that surfing, climbing, and skateboarding will be among the new sports added to competition at the 2020 Games in Tokyo. On the winter side, skiing has been a staple since 1936, and snowboarding was added back in 1998.

About 10 percent of the Olympic athletes on Team USA prepared for competition at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. All around our state, athletic prowess is in the air. It’s no coincidence: Training at this altitude is thought to improve performance. The mountains have become a destination for a range of dedicated athletes.

People flock to ski towns each winter, and beach towns each summer, often bringing with them idealistic notions of outdoors and adventure. These action sports, which appear to offer a sense of freedom and excitement, end up building a culture of highs and lows.

Pitkin County, home to Colorado’s ski mecca Aspen, has a suicide rate that is three times higher than the national average, while Utah’s Salt Lake County—home to training facilities for the winter Olympics—has a suicide rate twice as high as the national average.

Skiing, snowboarding, surfing, wakeboarding, and skateboarding attract a certain kind of person, athletes tell you. They’re creative. Individualistic, yet crew-oriented. Fearless, yet calculated. They worship at the feet of waves, peaks of mountains.

“It’s all about adrenaline. It’s about quick fixes; it’s always about what’s next,” said Mark Heger, national director of the wakeboarding ministry Wakewell near Dallas. “You’re constantly filling this void with ...

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News: Brazils Presidential Drama Reflects Political, Denominational Divides

Interim president Michel Temer gets evangelical support from Congress but faces a country split by faith and politics.

Brazil has a new president, albeit temporarily. After sitting president Dilma Rousseff was accused of doctoring public finances to hide the country’s growing deficit, politicians—including the evangelical contingent—voted last week to begin her impeachment trial.

Brazil suffers its worst economy in recent history, with high rates of unemployment and inflation making the country unattractive to foreign investors. Rousseff’s alleged manipulations ahead of the presidential elections in 2014 only made things worse, some say. She denies any wrongdoing.

During the trial, which could last 180 days, vice president Michel Temer is at the helm. The 75-year-old, like about 65 percent of his countrymen (and former president Rousseff), is Catholic.

But Brazil isn’t as Catholic as it used to be (92% of the population in 1970). For years the country’s Catholics have been converting to Protestantism, and Brazil now has one of the largest evangelical populations in the world. Nearly a quarter of the population is evangelical, split by hundreds of different denominational and theological lines.

Temer faces the challenge of appealing to the largely evangelical opposition that wanted Rousseff out of office for her financial mismanagement as well as supporters in his own party, who consider her ousting a coup against the government elected by the people.

After protests by both sides, which led millions of Brazilians to the streets in recent months, Temer’s task is unifying the country.

Christians are expressing opposing views on the new government in the pulpits, in pews, and on social networks.

During the impeachment process, the Evangelical Parliamentary Front party (known by its Portuguese acronym FPE) brought ...

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Thu, 19 May 2016 12:00:00 PDT
I Overlooked the Rural Poor—Then Trump Came Along

This election has urban evangelicals paying more attention to the plight of small-town America.

I never saw the Donald Trump phenomenon coming. Even as someone with many conservative friends and family members, I didn’t know anyone who supported him during his Republican run. But nearly everyone I know either has a college degree—which statistically narrowed one’s chance of voting for Trump in the primaries—or lives in a city, or both.

Trump’s ascent ultimately revealed a large demographic of Americans who were off my radar. Early primary polls showed that his supporters were more likely than voters overall to be poor, white, without higher education, and from rural counties or small towns. Though class conflict and rural/urban divides are not one and the same (there are people of all classes in small towns and in cities), their overlap exposes profound class and cultural divisions in America.

Many evangelical leaders have publicly grappled with Trump’s popularity. As America clusters in cities and suburbs—now home to a record 80 percent of the population—our church planting, poverty relief, and outreach ministry have shifted accordingly. For many, rural communities and small towns are faceless places we road-trip through on our way somewhere else.

The rise of Trump brought for me conviction of sin: I did not have ears to hear and take seriously the suffering and frustration of impoverished whites in what one reporter has called “the vast open reaches of the country.” Many small-town and rural communities face unprecedented crisis. Their pain is now driving our national political life.

Since the 1990s, evangelicals have increasingly focused on “strategic” church planting in elite centers of cultural impact. Pastors like Timothy Keller helped us rediscover ...

Continue reading...

Thu, 19 May 2016 12:00:00 PDT
I Overlooked the Rural Poor—Then Trump Came Along

This election has urban evangelicals paying more attention to the plight of small-town America.

I never saw the Donald Trump phenomenon coming. Even as someone with many conservative friends and family members, I didn’t know anyone who supported him during his Republican run. But nearly everyone I know either has a college degree—which statistically narrowed one’s chance of voting for Trump in the primaries—or lives in a city, or both.

Trump’s ascent ultimately revealed a large demographic of Americans who were off my radar. Early primary polls showed that his supporters were more likely than voters overall to be poor, white, without higher education, and from rural counties or small towns. Though class conflict and rural/urban divides are not one and the same (there are people of all classes in small towns and in cities), their overlap exposes profound class and cultural divisions in America.

Many evangelical leaders have publicly grappled with Trump’s popularity. As America clusters in cities and suburbs—now home to a record 80 percent of the population—our church planting, poverty relief, and outreach ministry have shifted accordingly. For many, rural communities and small towns are faceless places we road-trip through on our way somewhere else.

The rise of Trump brought for me conviction of sin: I did not have ears to hear and take seriously the suffering and frustration of impoverished whites in what one reporter has called “the vast open reaches of the country.” Many small-town and rural communities face unprecedented crisis. Their pain is now driving our national political life.

Since the 1990s, evangelicals have increasingly focused on “strategic” church planting in elite centers of cultural impact. Pastors like Timothy Keller helped us rediscover ...

Continue reading...

Thu, 19 May 2016 12:00:00 PDT
Pew: More Sermons Endorse Clinton

Fewer pastors are politically engaged this election; fewer still are speaking for Trump from the pulpit.

The candidate behind the biggest Republican push to allow pastors to back politicians from the pulpit has received fewer sermon endorsements than his presidential opponent, who favors the current ban.

According to a new Pew Research survey, 1 percent of churchgoers said their pastor has spoken positively of Donald Trump, compared to 6 percent who heard praise for Hillary Clinton.

Trump was also the subject of more pastoral criticism: 7 percent said their leaders spoke against Trump and 4 percent against Clinton.

Trump’s religious freedom platform centers around his promise to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches and other tax-exempt non-profits from endorsing or disavowing candidates, but still allows them to speak generally about political issues.

“After 30 years of the so-called conservative leaders who have been elected by evangelicals, none of them thought to advocate for the repeal of the Johnson amendment, giving evangelical leaders political free speech,” Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University president and early Trump endorser, toldTime magazine. “[Trump] thinks it is going to be a revolution in the Christian world.”

Even with the current the ban, which has been part of the tax code since 1954, about 1 in 10 recent churchgoers say their leaders discuss the candidates, Pew found. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 (64%) say they’ve heard clergy speak out about political issues. The most common issues: religious freedom (40%), homosexuality (39%), and abortion (29%).

Candidates come up most often in sermons at black churches, where 28 percent have heard their pastors praise Clinton and 20 percent have heard them oppose Trump. Presidential talk was reported far less among white ...

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Thu, 19 May 2016 12:00:00 PDT
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