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Friday’s religion wrap

The Journey team selects stories that got us talking this week. 

Egos may be bruised: Survey shows evangelicals deeply confused  

Christianity Today reports on a new survey by Ligonier Ministries which explores what Americans “believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible”. The results indicate that there’s a deep confusion within the minds of American evangelicals about Christian core doctrines.  

“Overall, US adults appear to have a superficial attachment to well-known Christian beliefs,” said Ligonier Ministries. “For example, a majority agreed that Jesus died on the cross for sin and that he rose from the dead. However, they rejected the Bible’s teaching on (1) the gravity of man’s sin, (2) the importance of the church’s gathering together for worship, and (3) the Holy Spirit.”  

It was better news when it came to millennial evangelicals: “There has been a significant change for the better among millennials across a range of questions when compared to previous State of Theology surveys—so much so that they score higher than any other age group in several areas,” said Ligonier.  

Legal fire-fight extinguished with big payout   

National Review reports on a Christian fire chief who reached a $1.2 million settlement over his termination. Kelvin Cochran was the Atlanta fire chief until he self-published a book which included his thoughts on a Christian view of sex and marriage, including his belief that sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman was “contrary to God’s will”.  

While Cochran “consciously included LGBT employees” in his work, his book Who Told You That You Were Naked? reached the hands of a gay city council member and soon after he was suspended without pay. The city’s mayor condemned Cochran’s religious beliefs and he was soon fired from his job. Cochran was denied due process and there was no evidence that he had discriminated against anyone in his job.  

He took the matter to court and a judge ruled that “key city policies were unconstitutional, including policies that the city claimed he violated”. The financial settlement is, according to National Review, an “important moment in the fight for religious liberty”. 

AI and faith: A match made in heaven?  

TNW explores the rising influence of artificial intelligence (AI) and what it might mean for religion. While some might fear robot overlords like something from Terminator, author Debrah Lee Charatan is more hopeful that the technology will strengthen religion.  

“AI technology could, for instance, create virtual biblical figures with which people could speak with and learn from,” writes Charatan. “Bots could be ‘taught’ scripture and the ability to offer religious guidance, in or out of the synagogue.”  

There are concerns though about the potential for AI to gain super-intelligence: there are predictions that by the 2040s, “an AI god will not only have emerged, but have written its own bible and be worshipped by many”. 

Big surprise with homeless disguise  

CBN News reports on a pastor’s homesless stunt which has since gone viral, racking up more than one million views. Harvest Bible Chapel senior pastor Dr James MacDonald dressed up as a homeless man and camped outside his church with a shopping cart. While some walked straight past him into church there were others who provided food, drinks and financial donations; one family even offered him to come into the church for shelter.  



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