Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 14, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 14, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Oklahoma Megachurch Departs PCUSA, Cites Scriptural Issues
  • Survey Finds a Faith-Oriented America
  • Iran Quietly Releases Convert Christian Prisoner
  • Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years

Oklahoma Megachurch Departs PCUSA, Cites Scriptural Issues

A megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has left the Presbyterian Church (USA), citing unscriptural teachings, meetings, and even worship in the denomination. According to the church, the PCUSA has "walked away" from scripture, AgapePress reports. Three-thousand-member Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church has voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with the PCUSA. Co-pastor Tom Gray says for the last 30 years, there has been a steady decline in the PCUSA's adherence to the strict teachings of scripture. But when the denomination made an authoritative decision in June to allow local churches to ordain homosexuals as pastors, Gray says he knew his congregation could no longer remain in the PCUSA. The Tulsa pastor says "The Kirk," as the church is known, will be joining the Evangelical Presbyterian Church because they are a "strong mission entity."

Survey Finds a Faith-Oriented America

AgapePress reports a new Gallup poll finds that eight out of nine Americans have links to a religious congregation or faith group, and most of the rest still believe in God or a higher power. The survey conducted for Baylor University found that about 60 percent of Americans are Protestant (with evangelicals outnumbering mainline churchgoers) and about 20 percent are Catholics. Jews and other religious groups comprise around eight percent. Another one percent, although unaffiliated with any religious group, said they believe Jesus is the Son of God, and nearly a third of the unaffiliated say they pray at least occasionally. The survey also found that more Americans have read The Da Vinci Code than The Purpose Driven Life or the Left Behind novels.

Iran Quietly Releases Convert Christian Prisoner

Compass Direct News reports Tehran prison authorities sent Iranian Christian Hamid Pourmand home in late July, informing him that he would not be required to serve the remaining 14 months of his three-year prison sentence. No explanation was given for the surprise release of Pourmand, now 49, although prison officials had granted him occasional home visits of three days or more with his family during the past year. After his July 20 release, Pourmand reportedly was warned that attending church services could cause his release orders to be revoked, sending him back to finish his prison term. In February 2005, a military tribunal in Tehran found Pourmand guilty of deceiving the Iranian army by concealing his conversion from Islam to Christianity, despite evidence presented to the contrary.

Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years

A new study by The Barna Group shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twentysomethings disengage from active participation during their young adult years. While a spiritual dimension to their lives gives teens a fertile ground for their explorations, there is also a substantial amount of unorthodox spiritual activity, such as with psychics or witchcraft. Half of teens attend a church-related service in a typical week, while over 75 percent discuss matters of faith with peers. One-third of teenagers say they participate in a Christian club on campus at some point during a typical school year. So there is clearly a broad base of opportunities that Christian churches have to work with teenagers. At the same time, research underscores how fleeting that influence may be: twentysomethings continue to be the most spiritually independent and resistant age group in America. Most of them pull away from participation and engagement in Christian churches, particularly during the “college years.”