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Copyright: Copyright 2016, Christianity Today

Despite Mike Pence, Most Evangelical Pastors Are Not Ready to Vote Trump
Almost half remain undecided, with pastors split over which candidate characteristic is most important. Political endorsements by pastors have been few and far between this election season. That may be because the most popular candidate among pastors is “I don’t know.” Despite vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s mission to assuage evangelical voters’​ doubts about the views of Donald Trump, a plurality of evangelical senior pastors (44%) remained undecided last month about which candidate to vote for, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research. Meanwhile, almost 4 in 10 plan to vote for Trump (38%), while about 1 in 10 plans to vote for Hillary Clinton (9%). Four percent support Gary Johnson. Two percent do not plan to vote. In addition, most evangelical pastors believe that Christians do not have to vote only for a candidate who has a reasonable chance of winning. A majority also believe that Christians can vote their conscience and end up supporting different candidates. And only 3 evangelical pastors in 100 have endorsed a candidate from the pulpit. These are among the findings of a new survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors conducted August 22 to September 16. (Evangelical and mainline pastors were categorized based on self-identification.) Most pastors are ambivalent about the major party candidates, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Donald Trump does better with pastors than Hillary Clinton,” he said. “But both candidates are still less popular than ‘undecided.’” Here is the breakdown for Protestant pastors overall: Evangelical pastors overwhelmingly believe voting is a Christian duty. Almost all (94%) say American Christians have a biblical responsibility to vote. That includes pastors of all denominational stripes—from ...Continue reading... [...]

Latest Survey: Most Evangelicals Are Not Voting Trump
Measuring Americans by beliefs, not self-identity, makes a big difference in 2016 election polls. Americans with evangelical beliefs have a great deal in common. They trust in Jesus alone, evangelize their neighbors, and believe the Bible is the final authority in their lives. But when it comes to voting, race and political affiliation still divide evangelicals, according to a survey from LifeWay Research taken before the second presidential debate. Overall, the split between those with evangelical beliefs who support Donald Trump (45%) and those who support Hillary Clinton (31%) isn’t that far apart. The divide becomes clearer when respondents are split by race. White Americans with evangelical beliefs favor Trump (65%) over Clinton (10%). Those with evangelical beliefs who are African American, Hispanic American, or Asian American vote virtually the opposite, favoring Clinton (62%) over Trump (15%). Party affiliation is also a stronger predictor of voting preferences than faith. Three-quarters of Republicans with evangelical beliefs plan to vote for Trump. Though a smaller sample, 75 percent of Democrats with evangelical beliefs plan to vote for Clinton. LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell said the divides among evangelicals will remain regardless of twists and turns in the election season. “This group of Christians shares the same core beliefs, but they don’t vote the same way,” said McConnell. “There are significant cultural and political divides among evangelicals that will remain long after the election is over.” Identifying evangelicals The representative online survey asked 1,000 Americans four questions about core evangelical beliefs on the Bible, the crucifixion of Jesus, salvation, and evangelism. Those who strongly agreed with all four (17%) qualified as having evangelical ...Continue reading... [...]

Before You Vote, Watch ‘Vertigo’
What Hitchcock's thriller can teach us about sexism, nostalgia, and the gospel's call to justice. As I write this, we’re less than 20 days from Election Day 2016. A great deal is at stake. It matters, doesn’t it, what we do with our minds and our hearts during this time? So why bother with movies? What film could possibly make a difference? Last week, I invited readers to watch a documentary that does, I believe, matter. This week, my recommendation is a murder mystery—one that a 2012 survey of film critics declared to be “the greatest film of all time.” Vertigo? That creepy Alfred Hitchcock movie? The one that makes us so uncomfortable we want to throw things at the screen? Hear me out. Vertigo seems familiar at first: A suave and sexy detective on the verge of retirement is persuaded to investigate “one last case.” Detective Ferguson begins following a mysterious and meandering woman to answer her husband’s questions. Madeline becomes his most confounding mystery. The more he shadows her around San Francisco, the more obsessed he becomes. And as her mysteries prove unsolvable, he grows desperate to possess and control her. Then, he loses her. Devastated, his ego shaken, his appetites unsatisfied, Ferguson falls into a funk. He wants back what never belonged to him in the first place. He meets Judy, who bears a suspicious resemblance to Madeleine. Despite her protests, he molds her into the image of his lost ideal. We’re dismayed by how he charms her, traps her, exploits her. How could this archetypal American hero—one played by Jimmy Stewart, no less!—morph into such a misogynist? The way that Vertigo shifts our sympathies from the detective to his victim convinces me that it’s as timely as ever. Oceans of ink have been spilled in the last few weeks on ...Continue reading... [...]

The Precarious Future of Assisted Suicide
'Culture of Death' sounds the alarm on pending medical bioethics legislation and other troubling trends. My country’s parliament recently passed the first national assisted-suicide legislation in our history. Prompted by the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision last year to strike down the previous law as unconstitutionally restricting individual rights to life, liberty, and security, Parliament is now arguing over how widely or narrowly to involve Canadian citizens—both patients and health care providers—in assisted suicide. In Culture of Death, first published in 2000, American lawyer and activist Wesley J. Smith warned that this debate was upon us. A new, updated revision of the book sharpens this warning, drawing on a wide range of cases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and the bellwether states of Oregon and Washington. Smith is not an elegant writer—his discussion of truly awful subjects is sometimes interrupted by jarringly flip remarks: “Nobody ever said Terri [Schiavo] would one day get out of bed and tap dance.” And in a discussion that too easily falls prey to amateurish fear-mongering, he sometimes fails to provide citations—and, weirdly, quotes Dutch documents in stilted English translated by Google. Nonetheless, Smith is generally a clear writer, he has immersed himself in these issues for years, and the portrait he paints is, on the whole, convincing and therefore ghastly. People really are suffering grim and painful deaths over several days by having food and water tubes removed against their will. Depressed and debilitated people really are being pressured into suicide by family members and physicians wanting them out of the way. Comatose or otherwise unresponsive patients really are being treated as vegetables: useful for what can be harvested from them ...Continue reading... [...]

Incredible Indian Christianity: A Special Report on the World’s Most Vibrant Christward Movement
Why it’s the best and worst of times for India’s burgeoning churches. The world’s most unexpected megachurch pastor might be an illiterate, barefoot father of five. Bhagwana Lal grows maize and raises goats on a hilltop in Rajasthan, India’s largest state, famous for its supply of marble that graces the Taj Mahal. He belongs to the tribals: the cultural group below the Dalits, whose members are literally outcasts from India’s caste system (and often called “thumb signers” because of how they vote). Yet every Sunday, his one-room church, with cheerful blue windows and ceiling fans barely six feet off the ground, pulls in 2,000 people. His indigenous congregation draws from local farmers, whose families’ members take turns attending so that someone is tending the family’s animals. The cracks in the church’s white outer walls are a source of pride: They mark the three times the building has been expanded. Thousands of colorful flags stream down the sanctuary along the blue beams that support the corrugated metal roof. Their rustling approaches a roar. When asked the reason for the flags, Lal responds, “For joy!” laughing heartily. The decorations are normally used at weddings. “The same feeling should be inside the church. People should feel this is God’s place.” Yet consider a contrasting megachurch in southern India. A taxi drives under the shadow of Hyderabad’s four-story elevated train, whose massive support beams are marked with alternating colorful gods and goddesses. The roadside, lined with movie posters and squatter tents, gives way to clusters of large stone elephant-headed gods waiting to be painted with customary bright colors. The taxi turns into a dense traffic jam: a mile-long jumble of buses, motorcycles, ...Continue reading... [...]