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Friday’s religion wrap

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

Nice cold brew to go with the pew

The Christian Post reports on a California church who has added beer to the menu for congregants who aren’t too interested in temperance while they get their weekly dose of the Bible.

Chris VanHall, leader of the Greater Purpose Community Church in Santa Cruz, says, “There’s nothing in the Bible that says you can’t drink alcohol in a responsible manner. VanHall also has plans to convert a downtown bookstore into a brewery-cum-church with proceeds from the profits of the brewery going to charity.

“I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if a church could figure out a way to make a product where they split the profits with local community service organisations, we were like, ‘hey, we love beer, we love making beer, why not do a brewery?’”

Give (cash, check or credit accepted) and you shall receive

Christianity Today brings news of survey results indicating four in 10 evangelical churchgoers are being taught the prosperity gospel, a third of Protestant churchgoers are being taught God will bless them if they donate money and two-thirds say God wants them to prosper.

LifeWay Research surveyed over 1000 Americans who attend a Protestant or nondenominational church at least once a month to explore the prosperity gospel and the links between giving to God and financial blessings.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, commented, “A significant group of churches seem to teach that donations trigger a financial response from God. A number of high-profile evangelical leaders have condemned the prosperity gospel but more than a few people in the pews have embraced it.”

Pope executes new stance on death penalty

Catholic Herald reports on Pope Francis’ change to the Catechism which now reads that, “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”. What does “inadmissible” actually mean? That is still up for speculation with some stating the ambiguity of the word means it would not be contradicting Church teaching.

The announcement came alongside a letter from Cardinal Luis Ladaria to all bishops which stated, “The new text, following the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in Evangelium vitae, affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.”

Cult pastor and the Fiji disaster  

The Guardian reports on a South Korean pastor who has been arrested for allegedly subjecting 400 of her congregants to ritualistic violence and holding them captive in Fiji. Shin Ok-ju was taken into custody upon returning to South Korea after members of her Grace Road Church contacted authorities about alleged abuse and passport confiscation.

After Shin predicted mass famine in Korea, many of her followers travelled to Fiji where they were soon prevented from leaving. Followers participated in ritual beatings, which Shin said “was done to avoid punishment from God”, and one even was reportedly left with brain damage from the ordeal.

Shin was previously sued by a mentally-ill man who Shin claimed could be cured of schizophrenia through prayer.   

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