MH News October 24, 2019

Los Angeles
At a public ceremony celebration his 50th year as a Christian pastor, Rev. John MacArthur took aim at Beth Moore and Southern Baptists. She needs to “go home,” he said of the popular Bible teacher. “There’s no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period, paragraph, end of discussion.” Expanding upon his condemnation of her for being a female preacher, he described Southern Baptists as having given up the fight for biblical authority because they have taken a “headlong plunge” toward women preachers. The exchange has generated significant critique and conversation on social media, giving rise to the hashtag #NotGoingHome. MacArthur is pastor of Grace Community Church in the great Los Angeles metro area and host of both the “Grace to You” radio program and the annual “Truth Matters” conference.


The Public Religion Research Institute, affiliated with the University of Chicago, reported broad agreement on social issues among religious people in spite of what is known as the Culture War. Asking questions related to the upcoming election year, the Institute reported this week that health care, terrorism, and immigration (in various orders of priority) remain the chief social concerns of most religious people in the United States, including Protestants, Evangelicals, and Roman Catholics, with health care being the only issue that ranked in the top three priorities of all eight categories of respondents. Other issues that ranked high with some religious groups include foreign interference in elections and climate change; crime was rated by Black Protestants and employment by Hispanic Protestants. Interestingly, neither abortion nor the Supreme Court ranked high enough as concerns to chart. Asked to self-identify using 17 categories, majorities of Americans interviewed chose these six words: Environmentalist: 71%, Spiritual: 70%, Traditional: 68%, Progressive: 67%, America first: 65%, Humanist: 65%.


The United Church of Christ (UCC) announced that enough money has been donated through their 5,000+ congregations and other networks to pay off the medical debt of 5,888 residents of the south side of Chicago. The average debt is $907, and the total debt is $5.3 million; but because of negotiated settlements, all it took to liquidate this debt was $38,000!! The announcement was made at Trinity UCC church by their pastor Dr. Otis Moss III (the church that was instrumental in the conversion and baptism of Barak Obama as a young man). Because of the success of this effort, the UCC is planning a second debt-relief campaign for Giving Tuesday, December 3.


The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has a new leader, the 51-year-old Walter Kim. Kim is pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, a position he has held since 2019 and a position he will hold during his leadership of the largest network of American Evangelicals. A Korean American affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America, Kim was previously pastor of the historic Park Street Baptist Church in Boston and has served on the NAE’s board of directors. The NAE counts more than 40 denominational partners, each with representation on the board. This appointment comes at a time when the word “Evangelical” has been heavily politicized with polls showing that white Evangelicals are the largest and most loyal supporters of President Donald Trump.


The Pew Research Center reported that the “religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip.” The Center reported on extensive telephone conversations conduced over the last year: 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points in a decade. Those referred to as Nones (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular) has increased to 26%, up from 17% in 2009. In keeping with other social indicators, the decline in affiliation is sharpest among the young: 84% of those born before 1945 confess faith while only 49% of Millennials describe themselves as Christians. Attendance at church events (including worship) has also declined: 45% of respondents indicate attendance at least once a month with 54% say only a few times a year.