MH News August 15, 2019
The Assemblies of God has elected its first woman as its top executive. Ohio minister Donna Barrett was voted in as AG general secretary during its biennial gathering this past week. Barrett had been appointed to the post last year to fill the unexpired of her predecessor. Since its founding in2914, the AG as ordained women as ministers and preachers. Twenty four percent of its ministers in the United Stats are women (compared to fewer than nine percent among Protestant pastors overall). AG claims 3.2 million members in 13,000 churches in the United States. Barrett will oversee the credentialing of ministers, chartering of congregations, maintaining church statistics, and managing the world’s largest Pentecostal archive.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to declare itself a “sanctuary church body” in an effort to signal its support for immigrants. Then the group marched nearly a mile to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Milwaukee to tape to the front door a document expressing their concerns. The document consisted of 9.5 statements of concern, mimicking the famous 95 theses nailed to the chapel door in Wittenburg in 1517 by their namesake and denominational founder, Martin Luther. This Lutheran body, one of three in the United States, numbers 3.3 million members organized into 9,100 congregations.
Results from a new Pew Research Center survey demonstrate that the more people know about a religion or denomination, they better they think and feel about them; except for one group: Evangelical Christians! The study is entitled What Americans Know About Religion. The study created a feeling thermometer, with a “temperature” of 100 indicating very positive feelings about a religion and a “temperature” of 0 indicating very negative, or cool, feelings. Persons were asked to answer at least 25 out of 32 questions designed to means knowledge about religion. Correct answers were correlated with self-described feelings toward that religion. The results were this: Americans feelings toward all religions were rated between a cool 43 degrees (Evangelical Christians) and warm 70 degrees (Jews) with Buddhists, Hindus, Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, and even Atheists falling somewhere between.
Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh and his wife, Beth Kissileff, recently penned letters to U. S. Attorney General William Barr urging him not to seek the death penalty for Robert Bowers, the man who killed 11 persons at worship last October. Bowers has pleaded not guilty to the 63-count indictment. “We are still attending to our wounds, both physical and emotional, and I don’t want to see them opened anymore,” wrote Perlman. “A drawn out and difficult death penalty trial would be a disaster, with witnesses and attorneys dredging up horrifying drama and giving this killer the media attention he does not deserve.” Perlman appealed to the Christian faith of Barr, a practicing roman Catholic. Pope Francis approved a revision to the Catholic Catechism that says capital punishment is “inadmissible” in all circumstances and that the church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”
Convictions about abortion throughout America have remained relatively unchanged over the last five years, according to research released by the Public Religion Research Institute of Chicago. By more than two-to-one, respondents to a 2018 survey said abortion should be legal in most or all cases (54%) while only 25% said abortion should be illegal in all cases. These latter were largely white evangelical Protestants (65%); Jehovah’s Witnesses (68%); Mormons (66%); and Hispanic Protestants (58%). Another 15% of people questioned had no opinion. In Alabama and Missouri, where laws have recently been passed to make abortion illegal with practically no exceptions, fewer than a fifth of the population says abortion should be illegal.