Thursday, June 14, 2007

This is not a joke!

Alas, this site has come to an end.

For the best in theological satire, please visit Tominthebox news network.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Church follows scripture, narrows door

BOSTON, MA - St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Boston has recently remodeled its entrance. That alone is not newsworthy. However, the reason for the construction project seems a bit surprising.

Father Samuel Anderson, Vicar of St. Luke's, told Religion Roundtable, "Our denomination has been straying from the scriptures for some time now. We have openly gay bishops here in the USA. What will be next? Our church decided to go back to the bible."

What the folks at St. Luke's found amazed them. Anderson stated, "Jesus gave us many commands that we simply were not following. Scripture is clear that we must obey to prove that we are saved. We decided to start with the front door of our church."

The construction effort is founded on the church's new mission statement. It is based on Luke 13:24 which says, "Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able."

"In light of verse 24," said Vicar Anderson, "we knew we had to redesign our front door. After all, how could anyone enter through a 'narrow door' when our door was so wide? We certainly did not want to be a stumbling block to others."

As you can see in the above picture, St. Luke's has not only narrowed the entrance, but has also shortened it. What's the purpose in this?

Vicar Anderson again, "We also want to avoid pride at all costs. Proverbs 29:23 tells us, 'One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.' We want to encourage this. Our short and narrow door now serves two functions: we obey the command to enter through the narrow door, and we bow before the Lord as we enter to worship."

So far the only complaints within the church have come from several folks who are gravitationally challenged (fat). Eli Weight told RR, "I really want to go to church, but I just can't get through the front door anymore. Last week, we tried to grease the sides of the door, but it just didn't work. Some folks at St. Luke's have told me this means I have lost my salvation. Now I just don't know what to do!"

When asked about Mr. Weight, the Vicar reassured us, "We will soon be starting a Jenny Craig program at the church. At the beginning of the class, the participants will be allowed to enter through the truck service entrance at the back of the building."

Friday, June 8, 2007

Youth start new denomination

TAMPA, FL - "The youth of America are starting a new revolution in church!" stated Zack Bell, formerly a member of the Coastal Community Church youth group.

Religion Roundtable has learned from its sources that a large number of youth in the central Florida region have joined together to form a new denomination. Zack Bell, spokesman for the youth said to reporters, "Our new denomination is named Youth Church in America (YCA). The denomination is open to anyone in middle and high school. Our purpose is to reach the youth of this country. Traditional churches, with lots of old folks, do not focus enough energy on youth. That is our goal and purpose."

Jenny Smyth, a 14-year-old member of the new denomination told us, "My parents aren't really sure what to think of all this. They want me to go to the same church with them, but they also want what is best for me. They know I need to be with other kids my age so I can fit in and be normal."

We at Religion Roundtable were a bit skeptical. We asked Mr. Bell several questions such as , "What do you believe? What will you do? Where will you be meeting? Where will the funding come from? What happens to the kids who graduate from high school?"

Bell responded, "We don't have all the answers right now. We do know this: we love Jesus! We are going to use lots of music and fun activities to reach youth. We will put a premium on advertising and pizza parties"

RR asked one final question, "Who will the elders be?"

Bell said, "There are always some kids who had to repeat first grade. Because of that, they are 19-years-old. Since they are the oldest we have, they will be the elders."

Several church leaders have spoken out against the YCA. Joel Osteen, for one, said, "This just doesn't seem right to me. It doesn't sound very biblical."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Baby rejects infant baptism - leads to brawl

QUEENS, NEW YORK - In what is believed to be a first, a baby within the Orthodox Church
In America
has rejected infant baptism.

This past Sunday was supposed to be a joyous occasion at St. Timothy's Cathedral in Queens. Joseph and Ruth Worchewicz were looking forward to the baptism of their infant son, Michael. Everything was going according to plan as they handed their baby over to Priest David Polashowski.

The Orthodox Church fully immerses its infants because, they say, the Greek word baptidzo means "I immerse." Desiring to be consistent with the bible, the Orthodox Church puts its infants completely under water in a brass tub. They reject the sprinkling of the Catholic Church.

As Priest Polashowski lowered young Michael into the tub, an amazing thing happened. As can be seen clearly in the picture above, Michael reached out his right hand and grabbed the edge of the basin. As the priest tried to push Michael down into the basin, the infant seemed to grab on even tighter.

Religion Roundtable has learned that at that point the priest seemed dumbfounded. Not knowing what to do, he placed his hand over the baby's face (see the picture above) and shoved downward. This was more than Mr. Worchewicz could handle. He reportedly jumped into the middle of the situation to grab his baby son. While doing this, Mr. Worchewicz knocked the priest to the floor.

It is difficult to determine exactly what happened next; we have no pictures of it. Conflicting reports indicate that either Mr. Worchewicz or Priest Polashowski threw the first punch. After that, as they say, "the game was on." The large contingent of the Worchewicz family battled with the church leaders for 7 to 10 minutes. Many punches were thrown, few actually landed, and many icons were destroyed.

Neither the family nor the cathedral would comment on the incident.

However, Baptists were happy to jump into the fray. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, "This is what can happen when infants are baptized. Some of these young ones somehow know deep down that it is wrong. They sense that they need to repent and believe before they are baptized. This young infant in Queens found a way to fight back."

There is no word yet as to what baby Michael might do if his parents attempt to have him circumcised.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Vatican declares second trinity

ROME, ITALY - During a special mass at the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI informed the world that the Roman Catholic Church has declared a second trinity.

Pope Benedict said, "The Catholic Church aims to meet the needs of the current world. We believe that the 1 billion Catholics need a trinity they can relate to. The original trinity seems very far off an incomprehensible to many of the young within our flock. They want to be able to understand the gods they are worshiping."

The Pope went on to reassure everyone that the existence of the second trinity in no way endangers the first trinity. "Don't worry. The Father, Son, and Spirit still exist."

So, the big question at St. Peter's Basilica was: Who makes up the new trinity? Pope Benedict quickly answered. "The Cardinals and I looked back over church history and chose the three people we thought were most deserving of this honor. Some who almost made the cut were St. Peter, St. Paul, Pope Gregory the Great, Mother Theresa, and John F. Kennedy. However, we believe that the three we chose are the most appropriate based on what they have done for Catholics all around the world."

The three members of the new trinity are Mary (the Mother Goddess), John-Paul II (the Pope), and Mel Gibson (the actor). Older members of the Catholic faith are reportedly pleased with the choices of Mary and John-Paul II. However, the selection of Gibson has raised some eyebrows - after all, he is still alive.

In responding to this criticism, Pope Benedict said, "Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ has done more for the Catholic faith than anything else since the Council of Trent. Our young believers have demanded someone they can relate to. We believe Mel's resume and looks will bring even more people into the faith."

The Vatican will soon be releasing a list of approved movies it is encouraging believers to watch. These include The Passion, Braveheart, The Patriot, and What Women Want. However, the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon films were not included because, according to Pope Benedict, "They just stink."

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Baptist Church Fasts - McDonald's Declares Bankruptcy

NASHVILLE, TN - The McDonald's restaurant in Riverton, TN has had a "fast" trip into bankruptcy. According to the McDonald's Corporation, their franchise in this suburb of Nashville recently went belly-up due to a rare turn of events.

Ronald Roth, owner of the Riverton McDonald's, blames Riverton Baptist Church, "It's all their fault. If not for their decision to boycott our restaurant, things would be going along fine. While they were eating here, we turned a nice profit. Since they stopped, we can't meet the bills. It just ain't fair."

What exactly is going on here? We at Religion Roundtable went to the senior pastor of Riverton Baptist to find out. Pastor James (Jimmy) Black was kind enough to sit down with us. According to Pastor Black, "This all began about two months ago. Our church had just completed building a new worship center. We went into a bit of debt ($850,000) in order to finance the building. We ran out of Sunday School space, and needed somewhere for our bored youth to meet. What else were we to do?"

Black continued, "We really needed God to answer our prayer as to how to pay for this building. As a church, we had tried fasting before but it just has never really worked out. Last year we tried to get the folks to give up fast food in order to pray for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. People weren't willing to do it. However, this year when they could see what they would be paying off, they rose to the occasion."

Riverton Baptist decided to really sacrifice this time. They knew that a complete fast for even a few days was an impossibility. In fact, due to last year's failure, the guess was that even asking the body to refrain from fast food in general would lead straight to disaster. Although difficult, one option appealed to most (62%) of the church - they would give up McDonald's for three months. The results have been astounding.

Riverton Baptist has collected the money they would normally have spent at McDonald's and put it toward the new building. As of this past Sunday, the near 1 million dollar debt was completely paid off. "What a blessing from God this is!" said Pastor Black. "When you are willing to sacrifice and be right in the center of God's will, He delivers!"

Ronald Roth does not see things in quite the same manner as does Pastor Black. "Those Baptists have put quite a few people out of work. They are so selfish to think about themselves rather that the good folk of this town who now won't have McD's to sup at. It just goes to show that Christians do a lot more harm than good. Those terrorists!"

It is clear that most of the Riverton townspeople are divided over this issue. Nancy Harris, who attends the local Church of God, said, "There's no way I'm fasting now. I need my Cracker Barrel!"

Friday, June 1, 2007

Pastor takes heat for calling Gospel "A Really Good Idea"

SAVANNAH, GA - John Beatty, pastor of Woodbine Presbyterian Church (PC-USA) is taking heat from many sides for what he refers to as "an innocent remark."

During last Sunday's morning worship service, Beatty, in speaking from Ephesians chapter 2, referred to the gospel as "a really good idea." What he thought would be an innocent remark has brought about a firestorm of criticism.

Some of the older, more conservative members of Woodbine Presbyterian want Beatty to leave town. Arnold Davis, a seventy year member of the church, told Religion Roundtable, "The bible makes it clear that the gospel is much more than a good idea. As far as I can tell, it is the only way to heaven."

Younger, more open-minded members of the church are disgusted with Pastor Beatty for even bringing up the gospel. Chad Hatcher, a relatively new member of the congregation, told us, "Why even bring it (the gospel) up? We all know that the key is simply having faith. What your specific faith is doesn't matter, but you must believe in something. How long will it be before we can all be tolerant of each other's faiths?" Hatcher went on to say that it was time for Beatty to go.

A church meeting is scheduled for this coming Wednesday night. Beatty faces a tough challenge if he desires to remain at the church. As far as we can tell, almost no one wants him to stay. According to Beatty, "I guess I shouldn't have ever brought up the gospel. It's not like I said it was the only way to heaven. I just wanted to make a point that, to me, the gospel makes sense and seems like a good idea."

No one ever asked what God thinks of the gospel.

The church is reportedly looking forward to getting past this ugly incident so they can get back to their primary focus: missions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Woman pastor feels convicted - gets sex change

In a blog post from earlier today (May 30th), Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reported about a United Methodist pastor in Maryland who recently underwent surgery to switch from a woman to a man.

Dr. Mohler treats the subject in his normal intelligent and biblical manner. Of course there are numerous problems with a pastor, or anyone for that matter, trying to change genders. Thank you, Dr. Mohler, for your solid blog post.

However, Dr. Mohler may not be privy to all of our insider information. Religion Roundtable has heard from reliable sources that Rev. Ann Gordon (her name before the switch) made her change for biblical reasons.

Rev. Gordon reportedly struggled for most of the past two years with various bible passages that show only men to be pastors. She especially could not get past I Timothy 2:8-3:7. Rev. Gordon said, "I just could not ignore those verses. They make it so clear that God's plan is for only males to be pastors. Anyone denying this is purposely trying to distort scripture."

What was Gordon to do? She wanted to stick with scripture, and also wanted to obey her "subjective call to be a pastor." She could only find one answer. According to Gordon, "The decision was simple. In order to follow the bible, I had to have a sex change. What other choice was there?"

Today, the former Rev. Gordon, now the Rev. Phoenix, feels liberated. "Now I can do what God has called me to do - preach the word! And, I can do it by biblical standards. What a thrill it is to be right in the center of God's will."

There is no word yet from the church as to how they plan to handle the situation with the women deacons. Apparently, the husbands of the female deacons are very much against them having sex change operations.

When asked about this, Rev. Phoenix responded, "We'll just have to wait and see if the female deacons will follow scripture or not."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

United Methodists proclaim "Free Willy" as favorite movie

In a recent survey conducted by the Barna Group, members of various religious groups in the United States were asked to name their favorite movie of all time (to view all of the results, see below). Some of the favorites were expected, some were surprising, and one was downright shocking.

By far the most shocking result was United Methodist's choice of Free Willy as their favorite movie of all time. In case you missed it, Free Willy is not exactly considered a classic. Rather it is generally considered to be a kids' movie about a Killer Whale named "Willy" who gets trapped and needs to be freed by some children.

What, then, would cause thousands of Methodists to vote for Free Willy over classics such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, The Sound of Music, and Star Wars? Bishop Karen Sanders, head of the Northern California Conference of the UMC, said that most Methodists probably have not actually seen Free Willy. Rather, they were just voting based on the title of the movie.

According to Bishop Sanders, "We Methodists know that John Wesley preached a lot about people having free will. Since we are Wesley's followers, we hold up the free will of people as the greatest of his teachings. We focus so much of our thought on free will that when we were asked what our favorite movie is, the answer was obvious: Free Willy. We believe that even John Wesley himself would have loved the movie, or at least the title."

Bishop Sanders further stressed that United Methodists all had a free choice in what movie they selected. "We in leadership positions put no pressure on any of our laypeople. The common folk, out of their own wisdom and insight, chose Free Willy on their own. Any pressure from the outside would have been unfair."

Below are all of the results of the Barna movie survey:
Hindus - Gandhi
Buddhists - Seven Years in Tibet
Muslims - Flight 93
Jews - Schindler's List (Raiders of the Lost Ark was a close second)
Orthodox - My Big, Fat Greek Wedding
Catholics - The Passion of the Christ
Anglicans - The English Patient
Lutherans - Luther
Presbyterians - Chariots of Fire
Baptists - Super Size Me
Pentecostals - Dirty Dancing
Mormons - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Animists - Poltergeist
Unitarians - No preference (anything is good)
Native Americans - Dances with Wolves
Secular Humanists - Brokeback Mountain
Atheists - Contact
Scientology - Anything with Tom Cruise

Monday, May 28, 2007

Billy Graham falls to knees, admits, "Calvinists were right all along!"

CHARLOTTE, NC - On Sunday May 27th, while speaking to Wesley Avenue Baptist Church in Charlotte, Billy Graham fell to his knees. His followers were afraid that the end had finally come for the frail evangelist. Was Mr. Graham going to meet his Lord?

The answer was a shock to those in the crowd. Mr. Graham was not dying, but rather admitting to something that has rocked the Southern Baptist world. Mr. Graham reportedly cried out, "Calvinists were right all along!" (Notice that in the above picture, taken just before Mr. Graham's collapse to his knees, he was trying to show the audience that he believes in all 5 points of Calvinism - note all 5 fingers.) At the time, he gave no explanation for his statement because he was crying uncontrollably. Franklin Graham replaced his father in the pulpit as Will Graham III helped his grandfather out of the church auditorium. Franklin Graham went on to preach that II Peter 3:9 shows that general atonement is true.

Later that day, Billy Graham released a statement to the press. The statement reads in full, "This year I decided to sit down and read the bible from Genesis to Revelation. With my busy schedule, I had never done that before. I committed two hours each day to just reading scripture (KJV of course). I was able to complete the entire bible in about two months. What I found shocked me."

Mr. Graham went on, "God's sovereignty is everywhere in the Bible! Now that I have read the entire bible, I can see it so clearly. I always believed in the 'T' and 'P' of the Calvinist's 'TULIP,' but I rejected 'ULI.' Now I can see that the Doctrines of Grace are true. The books of John, Romans, and Ephesians in particular cleared so much up for me. God has chosen those who will be saved. His atonement is obviously only for those who are redeemed (General Atonement no longer makes any sense to me). His magnificent grace is irresistible! Why would anyone want to resist it?"

Franklin Graham is reported to be deeply upset about his father's change of mind regarding Calvinism. According to insider information, Franklin will soon be ordering both Calvinix and Net Finney 2 for his father.

Frank Page, current president of the Southern Baptist Convention and author of "Trouble with the TULIP," said on Monday, "I don't know what we Baptists are going to do now. Billy Graham had determined our theology for so long. What now? I can sense a storm brewing at this summer's convention."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Liberty names shocking new president

LYNCHBURG, VA - In a shocking turn of events, Liberty University has named Rosie O'Donnell as the school's second president.

After the recent death of the school's founder, Jerry Falwell, there was much speculation about who his successor would be. Names such as Jerry Falwell, Jr., Ergun Caner, James Dobson, and even Bill O'Reilly were mentioned. Apparently Rosie was not even on most people's radar screen.

However, Rosie announced on Friday that she had appeared for the final time on "The View." Almost everyone thought she was leaving due to her recent cat fight on the show over her belief that our troops in Iraq are terrorists. In O'Donnell's statement about leaving "The View," she wanted to set things straight. According to Rosie, she has not singled out our troops as being terrorists. "All Americans are terrorists!" she responded.

Only later, however, did she indicate the real reason why she is leaving TV. "When Liberty contacted me," she said, "it was just too good to pass up. I am so grateful to Liberty for its tolerance of the fact that I do not even have a college diploma. What a great opportunity it will be to positively impact the lives of so many young people. I can see a few changes coming in Lynchburg."

When asked what changes Rosie has in mind, she gave no specifics. However, the presence of both Elton John and Richard Simmons on the platform behind her gave some clue of what is coming.

Ergun Caner, head of the seminary at Liberty, was asked for his reaction to the situation. "Well," said Caner, "at least she's not a Muslim or a Calvinist."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Carter Blasts Baptists

Atlanta, GA - At a press conference on Thursday, former president Jimmy Carter blasted Southern Baptists by saying, "Southern Baptists are the worst people in the history of this country."

When asked why this is the case, he said that Southern Baptists are "too legalistic, too intolerant, not loving enough, and do not have a good foreign policy."

Earlier this week, as he was promoting the sales of his new Sunday School pamphlets, Carter took an unprecedented shot at current President George W. Bush. Carter accused Bush of having the worst administration in the history of this country. He later admitted, off the record, that Bush's foreign policy was actually better than that of one other president - Jimmy Carter (see 1979: Iran, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Moscow Olympics).

Now that Carter, a former president and former Southern Baptist, has made harsh statements about members of these two groups, other organizations have been put on the alert. The Boy Scouts of America, 4-H, the National Rifle Association, Habitat for Humanity, and Act Up (all former or current Carter clubs) are all bracing for a blast from the former president.

Charlton Heston, former president of the NRA, reportedly said of Carter, "Bring him on."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Youth Group learns from Bible - shaves heads

Above all else, the youth group at Madison (Wisc.) Second Lutheran Church wants to follow the biblical model in all it does. Jeremy Thompson, youth pastor at Madison said, "Our youth are just amazing! They just want to be like Jesus in all they do! They know the bible is His Word, so they researched youth groups in the Bible!"

What the youth at Madison found was quite interesting and surprising. Jack Davis, president of the youth group reported, "We thought we would find examples of youth groups all through the New Testament. I was sure Jesus must have been part of a youth group growing up. The weird thing is that he seemed to have spent most of His time with His parents. I guess that's just the culture He grew up in."

Thompson and Davis were relieved to find at least one example of a biblical youth group. "It's not exactly what we were hoping for," exclaimed Davis, "but we are going to do our best to follow the example. I memorized the passage because it is so important to the health of our youth group. It comes from II Kings chapter 2."

"He [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, 'Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!' And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys." II Kings 2:23-24

Pastor Thompson and President Davis have wisely decided not to follow the example too closely. According to Davis, "We know that we shouldn't go around insulting the elderly. That's just not Christ-like or cool. Also, I know I don't want to be torn by a bear, whatever that means. So, instead, we decided that we would all try to be like Elisha. We decided as a youth group that the best thing we could do is shave our heads to look like him."

When asked exactly how shaving heads is honoring to God, Pastor Thompson answered, "We just want to be as biblical as we can be!"

No word yet on how many of the girls in the youth group will be shaving their heads.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Democrats oppose abstinence - cite virgin birth

Democrats in the House of Representatives report that they will allow abstinence education funding to expire in June. Despite outcry from conservative Republicans, the Democratic leadership seems determined to do away with all abstinence education programs in public schools.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, told the media last week, "All the research studies that the Democratic party has funded have come back with the same results. We have found that abstinence education programs do not reduce either the rate of pre-marital sex or teen pregnancy."

Pelosi was then asked by a reporter about other research studies that showed opposing results. The Speaker dismissed those studies as part of the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy."

Pelosi then surprised everyone in the press with the following statement. "I don't see why all of these conservative Christians are so upset about this. Don't they know their bibles? Look in the book of Luke. The bible says that a virgin gave birth to a child. If Mary was a virgin, she had therefore been abstinent. But what happened? She still got pregnant. You see, even the bible shows us that abstinence cannot and does not stop unwanted pregnancies."

Harry Reid, Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate, agrees with Pelosi, and added the following. "We are also concerned about jobs. If kids really did start being abstinent, we would have no need for Planned Parenthood. What are we going to do? We can't put all of those hard-working Planned Parenthood employees out of work. Let's be honest. Our culture needs teenagers to be having pre-marital sex. It keeps people working."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lost ark found - contains KJV bible!

Earlier this week, the United States Army stunned the world by disclosing an amazing discovery. General David Spellman told reporters that while on routine patrol, some soldiers in Iraq stumbled upon the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Spellman said, "Our young men were hunting for insurgents in what appeared to be an underground bunker. They were close to the ancient city of Babylon. When the soldiers burst through an old door, they came across a large stone container. They opened it, and there was the ark!"

The ark was rushed to the "Green Zone" in Baghdad. The U.S. and Israel are reportedly negotiating on a transfer of the Ark to a secret location in Jerusalem.

General Spellman further shocked the world with the following statement. "You reporters all know what that Hebrews 9:3-4 says, 'Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.' Well, when we opened the ark, we found one other thing. We found an original copy of the King James Version (KJV) Bible."

The news of this find has shocked the English-speaking Christian world. Tommy Daniels, pastor of Independent Bible Church of Dothan, Alabama said, "We have been saying for years that the KJV was the real bible, and now here's proof. We can finally get rid of all those other fake bibles like the NIV, NKJV, and Message. Our kids will be safe from error. God has saved for us a perfect copy of His Word."

The find of the KJV is having far-reaching implications. Jewish leaders do not know what to do with Matthew through Revelation. Protestant leaders are wondering what to do with their non-KJV versions of the bible. Bible publishing houses such as Zondervan are facing huge drops in NIV and Message sales. In fact the only group not affect by this find appears to be the Catholic church. According to Pope Benedict, "The Catholic faith has never let the bible interfere with how we do things, and we are not about to let this find change that. The Holy Scriptures are too difficult for any man to interpret."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Snake handling on the rise in Baptist churches

According to a new report, snake handling is on the rise within Baptist churches across the country. The report, released by NAMB this past Tuesday, says that the practice of snake handling as part of Sunday morning worship services has risen in Baptist churches from 2% in 2006 to 17% this spring.

Al Wittner, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, LA reported the exciting results of snake handling. According to Wittner, "A few weeks ago, we began with just a few black snakes. The folks in the pews felt a little uneasy at first, but they warmed up to it very quickly. By this past Sunday, we added Rattlers and Copperheads. I think the added dimension of poison really increased interest. We had at least 40% of our members in attendance, which was the highest percentage in years."

NAMB's report also indicates that some churches are planning on adding snake handling as a third ordinance. Along with baptism and the Lord's Supper, snake handling will be a regular part of church gatherings. Pastor Wittner said, "We haven't yet decided whether or not to make snake handling an ordinance. But, if it keeps bringing the lost in through the front doors of the church, we might just have to do so."

When asked what has brought about the recent increase in snake handling, NAMB indicated that it can be traced to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's recent conference on the last 12 verses of the book of Mark. At the end of the conference, the majority of the scholars said that they believe the last 12 verses are original. This has caused many pastors and laypeople to study those 12 verses.

Mark 16:17 -18 has caused the stir. In this text, Jesus says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

According to Pastor Wittner, "We had never really thought much about that last chapter of Mark . Then, after we heard about what happened at Southeastern, we decided that we needed to take another look. We certainly believe in Jesus, so we thought we had better pick up serpents. We haven't yet drunk any deadly poison, but this is scheduled for our fall revival. No volunteers have come forward, but I have faith that they will."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

NIH Promotes Infant Baptism

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved a new policy that will be implemented on January 1, 2008. In this new policy, the NIH will begin promoting infant baptism within all denominations.

Stephen Luther, public spokesperson of the NIH, explained the rationale for this decision. According to Luther, "Recent studies have consistently shown that infants who are baptized are significantly cleaner than those who are not. Factors such as amount of water, holiness of the water, who is holding the baby, and who does the baptizing do not seem to affect the outcomes of the studies. The key is that the infant must have been baptized."

The NIH plans to take the findings of these studies to the U.S. Congress. Congress will then have to decide what to do with the results. Some high-ranking government officials have already weighed in with their opinions. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has indicated that the government has the responsibility to ensure the cleanliness of all children. Pelosi will reportedly introduce two bills in the spring of 2008. The first bill would make church attendance mandatory for all children ages 1-3. The second bill would make infant baptism mandatory for all of the attending children.

President Bush, when told of Pelosi's actions, immediately indicated that he would veto any bill that made infant baptism mandatory. Bush said that Pelosi's bills would in no way help the US win the war in Iraq; therefore, he would veto the bill. Bush further stated that the "generals on the ground" must decide about infant baptism.

As far as denominations are concerned, those in favor of both the NIH findings and Pelosi's bills include Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists. Spokesmen for all of these denominations said that they always knew infant baptism had both spiritual and physical benefits. They are reportedly also excited about the probability of increased attendance at their worship services.

Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that the scientific findings were ridiculous. According to Patterson, "If an infant is sprinkled with a few drops of water, that isn't going to clean his dirty diaper." Patterson went on to say that even if a law is passed enforcing infant baptism, Southern Baptists will defy the law.

We are told that Patterson is already planning civil disobedience rallies all over the South. The biggest damage Southern Baptists could do is to the restaurant industry. If Patterson calls for a boycott of barbecue establishments, the pork industry could take a big hit. The same is true for the macaroni-and-cheese and butter beans industries.

"The ramifications of the NIH's findings are wide ranging," said Patterson. "One thing is for sure, we Baptists are ready for a fight."

Friday, May 18, 2007

IMB to rename its Christmas Offering

The International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) announced today that it will be changing the name of its annual Christmas offering.

Bubba Wilson, an IMB trustee from Mobile, Alabama made the announcement. According to Wilson, "A few weeks ago we were looking through some old Mission Board records and stumbled across some very shocking news about Lottie Moon. Now keep in mind that we are all very grateful for the work she did in China so many years ago. However, we came across an old journal of hers. In her own handwriting, Ms. Moon admitted that she used a private prayer language. We were all dismayed and knew what we had to do."

Within the next week, the majority of the IMB trustees had flown in to Richmond, Virginia. Their meeting reportedly took place over a span of three days. During the meeting, tempers flared on both sides. However, in the end the board approved a measure that would remove Lottie Moon's name from the Christmas Offering.

Mr. Wilson further stated, "A great deal of prayer, fasting, and soul-searching went into this decision. We just felt we needed to make this stand or the integrity of all Southern Baptist churches would be in danger. We hope no one's feelings get hurt over this."

When asked why the trustees were so upset over Ms. Moon's private prayer language, Mr. Wilson said that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 did not allow that. Mr. Wilson was quickly reminded that Lottie Moon lived well before the year 2000. Mr. Wilson replied that he had not thought of that. Then when Mr. Wilson was informed that the BF&M 2000 does not speak to the issue of a private prayer language, he retorted, "Well, if it's not in there, it should be!"

The remaining question is: What will the new name be for the Christmas Offering? No decisions have been made, but a few possibilities have been leaked to the public. These include "The Purpose Driven Christmas Offering," "Your Best Christmas Offering Now," "Why the Miraculous Spiritual Gifts Have Ceased Christmas Offering," and "Jesus and Santa Both Love You Christmas Offering."

The IMB reportedly still hopes to surpass its goal of $150 million this Christmas.