The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Texas Baptists List Ministers Convicted
of Sex Offenses
BY ADELLE M. BANKS (c) 2007 Religion News Service
he Baptist General Convention of Texas has disclosed the names of convicted sex offenders whom officials believe have served as ministers at affiliated churches.
The state convention listed nine perpetrators whose names are on Texas' sex offender registry or have been convicted of a sex offense. Those names matched people listed in the convention's file of clergy sexual misconduct incidents.
"We felt posting the names of those who have been convicted would raise the awareness that this is a concern that churches need to be aware of," said Emily Prevost, a staffer of the convention's congregational leadership team.
The Web site (www.bgct.org/brokentrust) includes information about the convictions of offenders or a link to descriptions about them on the Web site for the state offender database.
"Baptist General Convention of Texas records indicate that these persons may have been ministers in a BGCT-affiliated church," the convention site reads. "Additional names will be posted as the BGCT is provided with accurate information about clergy who are convicted of a sexual offense. This page should not be considered exhaustive or complete as the BGCT does not have the resources to make private investigations."
Prevost said the convention, with 5,600 churches, has collected reports of clergy sexual misconduct since 2000. Church officials --whether affiliated with the BGCT or not -- can inquire whether a ministerial candidate they are considering is named in those reports.
Some of the churches affiliated with the BGCT are also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but the state convention has distanced itself from the Protestant denomination in recent years.
Gary Ledbetter, a spokesman for the more conservative Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said his group encourages its more than 1,800 churches to do background checks on volunteers and employees but has no plans to duplicate BGCT's new efforts.
"I respect what the BGCT is doing, but right now, we don't have a similar plan," he said.
Study: Atheists Think `Radical Christianity' a Threat
More than half of atheists and agnostics think "radical Christianity" is just as threatening in the United States as "radical Islam," according to a new study.
The Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif.-based research firm, found that 56 percent of atheists and agnostics agree with that view. The firm, which often looks at opinions of religious Americans, delved into the beliefs of people of no faith and compared them to religious adults over a two-year period.
Researchers found that the proportion of atheists and agnostics increases with each younger generation. They make up 6 percent of Elders (those 61 and older); 9 percent of Boomers (ages 42-60); 14 percent of Busters (ages 23-41) and 19 percent of those between 18 and 22.
Those of no faith tend to be younger and are more often male and unmarried, researchers found. They are less likely to be registered to vote (78 percent versus 89 percent of believers). They are also less likely to serve or personally help a poor or homeless person (41 percent versus 61 percent of believers).
Researchers also found that these disparate groups had some commonalities. They were equally as likely to consider themselves to be good citizens, as placing their family first, and as being reliable and loyal individuals.
The findings were based on a series of nationwide telephone surveys between January 2005 and January 2007. The studies included a total of 1,055 adults who identified themselves as agnostics or atheists, giving the overall sample a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. The cumulative sample of 3,011 adults with an active faith had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.
Poll Says Seven in 10 Republicans Doubt Evolution
Republicans are far more likely to doubt the theory of evolution than Democrats, according to a new Gallup Poll.
Sixty-eight percent of Republicans say they doubt that humans evolved from lower life forms over millions of years, while only 40 percent of Democrats hold the view. The poll was conducted by telephone June 1-3, 2007 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Evolution proved to be a hot-button issue among GOP presidential candidates during a May debate. Three of the 10 candidates in the debate -- Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- raised their hands to indicate they don't believe in evolution.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an Episcopalian, said he believes in evolution but qualified the statement saying, "I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also."
McCain's loose belief reflects the view of a large number of Americans. In a separate Gallup poll this May, respondents were asked to choose between three hypotheses about human origin and development. Just 14 percent believed God had no part in the process, while 43 percent believed God created man in present form. A full 38 percent took a centrist view, affirming that man evolved but God guided the process.
Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, asserted a stronger position on creation during a CNN debate on June 5.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth," he explained. "A person either believes that God created the process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own."
Trinity Broadcasting Network Acquires Biblical Theme Park
BY ADELLE M. BANKS (c) 2007 Religion News Service
Trinity Broadcasting Network has become the new owner of the Holy Land Experience, a biblical theme park in Orlando, Fla.
"This marriage will bring an unprecedented synergy to both ministries and the production that is done there will be seen by a worldwide audience," said Paul F. Crouch Jr., vice president of administration for the Santa Ana, Calif.-based TBN.
Crouch said the acquisition comes as the network offers local programming through Orlando's WGTL-TV Channel 52, which it acquired last year, and will simultaneously "provide `The Holy Land Experience' with much-needed promotion to bring more people to the theme park and Orlando as a whole."
The ownership change came as five members of the network's leadership, including Crouch, and his parents and TBN founders Paul F. and Janice W. Crouch, were announced as new board members of the theme park.
"The mission of The Holy Land Experience is to bring the Bible to life for everyone who comes through our gates," said Tom Powell, president of the theme park. "The strength of the TBN leaders will empower The Holy Land Experience to carry on this important mission, in new and creative ways utilizing 12,000 television stations and 67 satellites."
The Orlando Sentinel reported that the tourist attraction – which features music, drama and portrayals of Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection -- has experienced financial troubles and declining attendance.