2014 Predictions for Churches
A couple of articles highlighting expected trends in the church over the next year. First of all, some predictions from The Institute of Religion and Democracy:

  • Polygamy will gain as an issue in religion and society.
  • Church attendance will increase in major cities.
  • …But Oldline Protestant denominations will lose at least another 300,000 members.
  • Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches will come precariously close to collapse.
  • Christians continue to increase in Israel while decreasing everywhere else in Mideast.
  • Anti-Israel sentiments will surface in the evangelical world, especially on evangelical college campuses.
  • Most evangelicals will remain against or ambivalent about mass legalization of illegal immigrants.
  • Religious Left groups will target denominations that do not ordain female pastors.

Then Thom Rainer gets his crystal ball out (Part 1 and Part 2):

  • Smaller churches will seek to be acquired by larger churches in increasing numbers mainly because of staff costs.
  • Downsizing of denominational structures.
  • Decline in evangelism and fewer non-believers becoming Christians.
  • More megachurches.
  • Greater number of churches moving to a unified worship style.
  • Increased emphasis on high-expectation church membership.
  • Increased challenges for congregations to build and acquire land due to restrictive governmental policies.
  • Increased emphasis on small groups.
  • Longer pastoral tenure.
  • Local churches increasing their roles in training for ministry.

The End of Morality Laws? Not Exactly
Polygamy campaigner, Professor Jonathan Turley (lead counsel in the “Sister Wives” case in Utah) says he’s celebrating the death of all morals legislation. Al Mohler points out that all law is moral, and therefore all that’s happening is the substitution of one set of morals with another, biblical morals being replaced with secular ones. “The removal of morals legislation and the celebration of that removal is itself a profound moral statement,” says Mohler, before highlighting the hypocrisy of Turley and others who still want to hold on to laws agains incest and bestiality.

We are seeing Psalm 2 being fulfilled before our eyes as men and women throw off God’s “bands and chains,” as they see them. The problem is that no one knows where this great experiment in “liberation” is going to end. It’s all very well for secularists to celebrate the ending of morality laws, but none of them have any idea, and even fewer seem to care, what kind of society will result 20, 50, and 100 years down the road. See Ari Fleischer’s article below for some indication of the damaging fallout from this reckless and rage-blinded disregard for possible consequences.

India Hails Polio-Free Milestone
I always like to include at least one link that shows a more positive view of our world, and this news is certainly worth celebrating. It’s three years now since India had its last reported polio case. It is a huge public health success, achieved through a massive and sustained immunization program, and rightly hailed by India’s health minister as a “monumental milestone.”

  • Nearly 2.3 million volunteers vaccinate some 170 million children under five years of age in India during every round of immunization.
  • Polio is capable of causing crippling disability or death within hours. It plagued societies in ancient times – and was present in more than 100 countries even in the 1980s, when it left 350,000 people paralysed each year.
  • Global cases have decreased since then as part of a mass eradication program – to 372 last year.

Click through for an illustrated history of polio to underline how thankful we should be for this wonderful news.

How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married
So says Ari Fleischer, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush:

If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.

  • Among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty.
  • When families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.
  • The number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America.
  • 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%.
  • In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.
  • Among white married couples, the poverty rate in 2009 was just 3.2%; for white nonmarried families, the rate was 22%.
  • Among black married couples, the poverty rate was only 7%, but the rate for non-married black families was 35.6%.
  • The majority of women who have children outside of marriage today are adult women in their 20s. (Teenagers under 18 represent less than 8% of out-of-wedlock births.)
  • Children who grow up in a home with married parents have an easier time becoming educated, wealthy and successful than children reared by one parent.

The U.S. is steadily separating into a two-caste system with marriage and education as the dividing line. In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high-school diploma or less.

Apple: Making a Difference One App at a Time
See, digital technology’s not all bad! Lots more companies should make films like this to show the difference their products and services are making to the world. Why should the media only tell stories and make films about corporate greed, insider trading, fat-cat salaries, and abuse of employees?