Signs and Wonders: Lifestyles of the rich and Christian

by Warren Cole Smith
Posted 7/26/13, 10:40 am

Really? A new TV show, Preachers of L.A., caused a sharp response from Craig Parshall of the National Religious Broadcasters. The show, which shows the lavish lifestyles of celebrity preachers, shines a spotlight on some of the shameful abuses in evangelical Christianity. But rather than welcome the show as an unfortunate but necessary corrective, Parshall fears the program will create an IRS backlash and bring unwarranted targeting on legitimate Christian ministries. Parshall is the NRB’s director, senior vice president and general counsel. He said he feared a repeat of the “very public and very troubling investigation” into six televangelists several years ago. Parshall refers to Sen. Charles Grassley’s investigation of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and others. I know and like Parshall, and respect the work of the NRB, especially under President Frank Wright, but he is on the wrong side of history in this case. The overwhelming majority of evangelical ministries are excellent, and their leaders live modestly, even sacrificially. But the lavish lifestyles of a few cause those who don’t know better to think all Christian ministries are frauds. The NRB would serve the cause of Christ more effectively if it took the lead in rooting out these bad actors, rather than defending them.

20 weeks. A new survey says most Americans want abortions restricted at 20 weeks, not the 24 weeks where most restrictions begin. This survey, conducted by ABC and The Washington Post, has conflicting data, but in general seems to indicate that America is becoming more pro-life.  One of the more interesting aspects of this survey is the difference in the ways the two sponsoring news organizations, ABC and the Post, covered their own poll. The Post focused on the fact that Americans want more restrictions. ABC News focused on what it called “majority support for legal abortion.” Identical data, but different leads and different stories. And to think that some say there’s no such thing as bias in the media.

Homeschool U. Some colleges have a hard time evaluating homeschoolers, who are less likely to participate in the kinds of athletic, student government, and club activities that give colleges some indication of the likelihood of future success. And the activities that homeschoolers do engage in—worldview camps, mission trips, and the like—are difficult for many secular schools to understand and evaluate. But some colleges “get it,” and the web-site has identified them. According to the site, Grove City College is the number one college in the country for homeschoolers because it is “excellent academically, maintains its theological heritage without being dogmatic, and stresses interesting social and political distinctives, such as the Austrian approach to free-market economics.” Other schools on the list include Hillsdale College, Biola University, the University of Dallas, The King’s College, Patrick Henry College, and Liberty University.

Even Democrats agree. A Rasmussen Reports survey asked an interesting question:“Suppose a Christian wedding photographer has deeply held religious beliefs opposing same-sex marriage. If asked to work a same-sex wedding ceremony, should that wedding photographer have the right to say no?” Only 8 percent of respondents said “no,” and 6 percent sat on the fence. The overwhelming majority said “yes.” Republicans were almost unanimous: 96 percent said the photographer should be able to refuse the request. But even 77 percent of Democrats held that position. Of course, this question is not hypothetical. Two lesbians sued a Christian-owned New Mexico photography company over this very question. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission found Elaine and Jon Huguenin guilty of sexual discrimination, and the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in May. The Huguenins took the case to the New Mexico Supreme Court, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom and are still awaiting a decision.

Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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