Opinion by Daniel Darling, special to CNN
(CNN) - Perhaps you’ve heard that there is trouble brewing among evangelicals.
Younger Christians are weary of pitched cultural battles and are longing for the “real Jesus” – a Jesus who talks more about washing feet and feeding the poor than flashpoint issues like same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life.
If key evangelical influencers don’t listen, we are told, they are about to lose the entire millennial generation. Or, maybe that generation is already gone.
This story has been told with testimonials, chronicled in best-selling books and posted on popular blogs.
Here’s the short version: If only orthodox evangelical leaders would give up their antiquated beliefs, get more in step with the real Jesus, the church and the world would be better off.
(CNN)– Erin Burnett talks to former President Jimmy Carter about his letter to Pope Francis concerning the abuse of women.
Opinion by Justin Vollmar, special to CNN
(CNN) – When I was 18, I was drawn to a strict Christian sect known as Independent Fundamental Baptists. They convinced me that they were the only true church and I became a born-again, washed-in-blood Christian.
I left Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier school for deaf students, to enroll at Capital Baptist Deaf College, where I graduated with an unaccredited bachelor's degree in pastoral studies.
For the next seven years, I was a pastor in Silver Spring, Maryland, working 60 hours a week for little pay. My senior pastor was a harsh taskmaster, scolding me and always pushing me to work harder. Meanwhile, he earned $80,000 a year and played golf two times a week. I lived in poverty and did not see my children much. I got burned out.
I resigned my position and was shunned by the church. My faith in God was severely shaken. I started to have doubts about the Bible’s claims. I questioned whether God’s love, which is supposed to reside inside Christians, was real.
Still, I didn’t quit the church.
Opinion by Russell D. Moore, special to CNN
(CNN) – On my Christmas list of gifts to buy my evangelical friends, there's a little book of prayers.
This is less predictable than it may seem, since the prayers aren't from a celebrity evangelical preacher, but from a morbid, quirky Catholic who spent her short life with pet peacocks and wooden-leg-stealing Bible salesman stories.
But I think Flannery O'Connor's newly published "Prayer Journal" is exactly what Christians need, maybe especially at Christmas.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.
The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.
McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.
“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when they try to cast you aside. Just say I’m a leftover for God and leftovers just taste better the next day!”
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Best-selling author and megachurch pastor Rick Warren is one of the country's most influential Christian leaders.
But Warren and his wife, Kay, have nearly disappeared from public view since their son's suicide in April.
That changed Tuesday night, when Rick and Kay Warren spoke with CNN's Piers Morgan about the death of their son, how their faith has changed and their new mission in life.
Here are five things to know about the Warrens.
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.
Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.
But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.
An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.
“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”
(CNN) – The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's second largest church, said Boy Scout executives who pushed to allow openly gay Scouts without properly consulting members should be ousted from office.
In a resolution approved Wednesday at their annual meeting, Southern Baptist leaders stopped short of urging churches to cut ties with local troops in protest of the Scouting change, but didn't encourage them to stay, either.
Either way, the historic decision to allow gay Scouts could "complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts,” the Baptist resolution says.
The Boy Scouts of America initially planned to lift its longtime ban on openly gay youth without canvassing members, Southern Baptists charged in a resolution that passed overwhelmingly.
The executives behind that plan should be removed, the Baptists said.
(CNN) – For Southern Baptist pastor Tim Reed, it was Scripture versus the Scouts.
“God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
So when the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift its ban on openly gay youths on May 24, Reed said the church had no choice but to cut its charter with Troop 542.
“It’s not a hate thing here,” Reed told CNN affiliate Fox 16. “It’s a moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist church.”
Southern Baptist leaders say Reed is not alone. FULL POST
By Dan Merica and Adam Aigner-Treworgy, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The White House announced on Wednesday that President Barack Obama has named Melissa Rogers, a religious academic, to the highest religious outreach job in the White House.
Rogers, who worked with the Obama administration during the planning of his first inauguration in 2009, will become Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a job that includes working with outside religious groups and acting as the top White House official on religious issues.
The job was left vacant when Joshua DuBois stepped down in January after over four years in the position.
In a press release about Rogers, DuBois called her an "excellent and truly visionary choice to lead the White House faith-based office."
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.