Donate to RNS

Baptist decline * Drive-through prayer * Burial rights: Thursday’s Roundup

Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention declines. A Pennsylvania church opens a drive-through window. Lesbians in Berlin have a cemetery to themselves.

A neon drive-through sign.

Years ago, Southern Baptist Convention leaders said a conservative resurgence would stem the hemorrhaging that has afflicted more liberal Protestant denominations. Well, it didn’t turn out quite that way.

The nation’s largest Protestant denomination saw membership decline for the seventh straight year in 2013, according to an annual report released Wednesday.

Sign of the times?

A neon drive through-sign

A neon drive-through sign.

While we’re on the subject of Baptists, Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta’s first autonomous black Baptist congregation dating back to the Civil War, will be demolished to make way for a new $1.3 billion football stadium. This 151-year-old church, which birthed Morehouse College and Spelman College, is part of the American Baptist Churches USA.

 Dear God: A winning lotto ticket, please

Hope United Methodist Church in Voorhees, Pa., has a new evangelism tool: a drive-through prayer window. The idea came about when a bank became available on the adjacent property.

Wipe that sneer off your face

Cynical elderly people are at a higher risk of developing dementia, according to new research from Finland.

One person that will never happen to: Jimmy Carter. Adelle M. Banks considers Carter’s latest incarnation as women’s rights advocate.

 The man doth protest too much

A Tulsa, Okla., police captain who refused to set foot in a mosque hosting a police appreciation ceremony was rightfully punished for disobedience, a federal appeals court has ruled.


Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times wonders who is responsible for deepening the country’s culture wars: Politicians or Supreme Court justices? (Hint: Greenhouse thinks it’s the latter.)

A matter of time

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch conceded Wednesday it’s only a matter of time before gay marriage is legal across the country, even though he doesn’t think that’s the right way to go.

In cemetery news

To protect Jewish and other cemeteries worldwide, the U.S. House Thursday passed a bill that makes desecrating one a violation of religious rights.

And one of Berlin’s oldest burial grounds will serve as the final resting place for up to 80… lesbians. The plots are available regardless of religious affiliation. But hurry. The majority of the 80 spaces have already been spoken for.

Free speech? Not so much

The Washington Post has an interesting story on the D.C. Jewish community’s increasing tendency to disinvite people and groups that are critical of Israel.

In news overseas:

  • Muslim rebels stormed a Catholic Church compound in the capital of Central African Republic on Wednesday, killing as many as 30 people in a hail of gunfire and grenades, witnesses said.
  • From the Vatican, it looks like June 8 is the date of the prayer summit with outgoing Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. It’s also the Feast of Pentecost.
  • Cadbury Malaysia has pulled its Dairy Milk hazelnut and Dairy Milk roasted almond bars from shelves after the Malaysian Health Ministry found traces of porcine DNA in the products, which were labeled as “halal.”
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considered tapping Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel for the presidency, according to the Israeli paper, Haaretz. The presidency is a mostly ceremonial role and Shimon Peres is about step down.
  • You may have heard about the Sudanese woman who is in prison because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith. A new Pew Research analysis shows nearly a quarter of the world’s countries (22 percent) have anti-blasphemy laws. Ro Waseem writes in OnFaith that blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an.

A heartfelt thank you

Finally, we spent a lot of time last week asking you for donations. We’re happy to report we raised $26,000 during our spring fundraiser, and we have you to thank for that. Your contributions made it happen and we are so grateful.

Donate to Support Independent Journalism!

Donate Now!