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New survey finds just 6 percent of Australians are heavily involved in the faith.

Australian Andrew Thorburn was forced to resign last month, just over a day after being named CEO of a professional football club in Melbourne. The reason? His leadership role at City on a Hill, an evangelical Anglican church with traditional Christian views on homosexuality and abortion.

The episode seems to reflect the state of Australian spirituality more broadly, as an overwhelming majority of the country isn’t involved in church and more than a quarter have negative attitudes toward Christianity, according to a recent report.

Released this month by the research firm McCrindle, The Changing Faith Landscape in Australia found that just under half (46%) of Australians claim Christianity as their religious affiliation. Yet only 16 percent attend a Christian church at least monthly, and just 6 percent say they are “extremely involved” with practicing their Christian faith.

Despite the trends, researchers also noted fertile ground for evangelism as most Aussies are open to changing their religious views.

“There's certainly a sense in Australia that we are a secular nation and that Christianity clings to the edge of the conversation, useful for a comment or sound bite when needed but not required for policy, etc.,” said Stephen McAlpine, a blogger and national communicator for the Christian ministry Third Space. “It very much feels like an ‘away game’ not a ‘home game.’ I think that we can play that to our advantage because most Aussies are not rejecting something they know from the past and did not like. They're simply not aware of Christianity.”

A third of Aussies do not identify with any religion or spiritual belief, while another 13 percent hold spiritual ...

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After a powerful quake hit the island of Java this week, a network of local Christians raced to help.

When Denny Tarigan arrived in the remote village of Gasol, the earthy smell of wet soil assaulted his senses.

The sound of ambulance sirens permeated the air. Cars and motorcycles filled the narrow dirt roads. As the Indonesian Christian aid worker looked around, he saw blue makeshift tents lined with mats and blankets that were full of earthquake survivors, including children and the elderly.

What he also saw: smiles on the villagers’ faces.

“The people are strong enough to survive this,” said Tarigan, who took a 10-hour car ride from his hometown of Yogyakarta to Cianjur, the regency where Gasol is located, on Wednesday.

“Most of them just don’t know what to do after this,” he said. “For now, they think that they need help from the government and other [disaster relief] agencies.”

While it is common in the United States for churches to engage in disaster relief, in Indonesia most humanitarian aid is provided by government agencies, international NGOs, and Muslim aid groups.

It is only in the past several years that Indonesian churches have started to engage in disaster relief, said Effendy Aritonang, the Indonesia country director for Food for the Hungry and secretary of the executive team of Jakomkris, the Christian Community Network for Disaster Management in Indonesia.

Engaging the aftermath

When the 5.6-magnitude earthquake occurred on Monday morning, Aritonang, Tarigan, and other members of Jakomkris kicked into action.

Made up of Indonesian nonprofits and churches, the team called for a coordination meeting to begin identifying needs and figuring out who could provide assistance.

A Mennonite group showed up to provide clean water. About 10 doctors and 20 nurses from a Christian ...

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John Markley says he raised concerns about fraudulent management, enrollment rate misrepresentation, and “compensation schemes.”

A former dean at Liberty University has sued the university, alleging he was fired in retaliation for his whistleblower reports to Liberty leadership and law enforcement.

The lawsuit, filed in the Lynchburg Circuit Court last Thursday, claims that over the past four years John Markley made “repeated good faith reports of disturbing violations” of state and federal law at Liberty, only to be terminated from his role as administrative dean for academic operations in June.

The university says that he was let go as part of a reorganization and that his allegations are without merit.

Markley’s suit lists 15 “improper activities” he said he raised concerns about, including potentially fraudulent management of Liberty charitable organizations and corporate subsidies; the intentional misrepresentation of acceptance rates and enrollment numbers for financial gain; and a compensation scheme for LU business executives.

“The improprieties witnessed by Dr. Markley were numerous,” the suit says. “Dr. Markley’s position provided an eye-opening perspective on the inner workings of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that operated to maximize profits without ethics and at the expense of truth and those willing to fight for it, and to the detriment of the students, and professors.”

Liberty spokesman Ryan Helfenbein said in a statement that Markley’s termination was “wholly unrelated” to any misconduct allegations and that the school did not learn about his communication with a federal agency until after he left.

The recent lawsuit, which alleges “retaliatory actions taken against employees of LU” is similar to one filed in October 2021 by Scott Lamb, Liberty’s ...

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Carol Wimber-Wong and eight former members accuse Dwelling Place pastors of $62 million fraud.

The widow of a legendary Vineyard leader is suing the pastors of a Southern California church for fraud and the alleged misappropriation of $62 million.

Vineyard Anaheim, the “mother church” of the Vineyard movement since it was planted by John Wimber in 1977, left the charismatic denomination without much explanation in March. The current senior pastor, Alan Scott, told the church that the Holy Spirit just led them to split. There were no big disagreements with the national organization, no disputes about direction, and no personal conflicts.

“We don’t really understand why,” Scott said in a recording of a Sunday service obtained by CT. “I wish I really could sit before you today and say, ‘Here are the six reasons,’ ‘Here’s our issues,’ ‘Here are our grievances,’ or whatever. … We don’t always know what’s on the other side of obedience.”

But Carol Wimber-Wong, who cofounded the church with her late husband John Wimber and remained an “active and tithing member” until the church left the Vineyard, has a simpler explanation for what happened. There were not six reasons, she and eight other former members and leaders allege, but 62 million.

The former members claim Alan and Kathryn Scott knew they wanted to leave Vineyard USA but lied about it when applying for the leadership positions at the Anaheim church so they could take control of the $55 million mortgage-free building and $7 million in the bank.

“The Scott Defendants concealed their true intentions,” the lawsuit claims. “Defendant Scotts sought the position as Senior Pastors of Vineyard Anaheim with the deceitful motive of controlling tens ...

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The evangelical actor faces recent pushback for her decision to leave Hallmark for Great American Family, whose Christmas movies will center on “traditional marriage.”

The Hallmark Channel turned holiday movies into a festive, feel-good, and always snowy empire. But this year, the network lost one of its queens of Christmas to new competition.

Candace Cameron Bure left Hallmark for Great American Family, founded in 2021 by former Hallmark executive Bill Abbott.

“I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord,” she said. “And [they] wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.”

Bure—an outspoken evangelical with her own line of DaySpring Bible devotionals, a son at Liberty University, and a brother who also brings faith to Hollywood—was drawn to the new network’s focus on faith and family programming.

The switch comes just as Hallmark gears up to launch its first Christmas rom-com centered on a same-sex couple, but Bure said her departure was not a response to the LGBT representation on the network. She stated that her contract at Hallmark was up and that Great American Family presented a new opportunity for her.

When Bure recently told the Wall Street Journal that she thinks the new network “will keep traditional marriage at the core” rather than feature same-sex couples, she received a wave of criticism from celebrities like dancer JoJo Siwa and country singer Maren Morris.

“I have a simple message: I love you anyway,” Bure responded to critics in a post on Instagram this week. “To everyone reading this, of any race, creed, sexuality, or political party, including those who have tried to bully me with name-calling, I love you.”

Her “traditional marriage” comment sparked deeper discussion about the two networks. Abbott had left the Hallmark Channel’s ...

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Survivor claims the camp misled his family by withholding prior knowledge of his predator’s pattern of misconduct.

Logan Yandell is one of a string of young men who attended Kanakuk Kamps in the 2000s, who were groomed and abused by a popular counselor, and who later signed confidential settlements, adding a layer of legal restrictions to the anguish they suffered in the aftermath.

Their accounts of being sexually abused by a trusted leader who cloaked nudity, masturbation, and molestation in camp fun and Christian teachings have slowly come to light more than a decade after serial abuser Pete Newman went to prison. Some victims have opened up in recent news coverage and survivor testimonies; others revealed details in anonymous “John Doe” lawsuits.

Yandell and his family did not know all these stories when they settled back in 2010—not that at least dozens of Kanakuk campers had been through the sexual abuse he had and not that others had reported Newman’s inappropriate behavior to the camp years earlier, raising concerns about sleepovers, skinny dipping, and naked four-wheeling.

Now, 27-year-old Yandell believes the settlement he and his parents agreed to is fraudulent. In a lawsuit filed this week in Missouri, Yandell claims Kanakuk misled his family.

“Neither Logan nor his parents would have agreed to the settlement terms if not for the Defendants’ false statements,” said Brian Kent, one of the lawyers representing the family in the suit. “The Yandells were told that Kanakuk had no prior knowledge of Newman’s sexual exploitation of children. The representations made by Defendants regarding prior knowledge of Newman’s patterns of sexually abusing minors were blatantly false.”

This is believed to be the first abuse lawsuit to bring fraud allegations against the Branson, Missouri, ...

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The one-time theology student believed politics should have “heroic ambition,” and speeches should be written, on occasion, for the angels.

Michael Gerson, an evangelical columnist and speechwriter who believed politics could have noble and moral purpose, died on Thursday at the age of 58. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2013.

Gerson crafted the language of faith-inspired politics for president George W. Bush from 1999 to 2006. He fused a theological vision of moral purpose with a practical policy agenda—and in the process produced some of the era’s most memorable phrases, including “armies of compassion” and “axis of evil.”

He gave Bush’s speeches about compassionate conservatism and moral internationalism their rhetorical framework: starting with the “inexorable” call of the historical moment, adding the demands of duty and conscience, naming the various temptations that could lead the American people astray, and ending with a clarion call to do the right but difficult thing, forging forward with “confident hope.”

Even when key lines or the bulk of a speech was written by someone else in the White House, a colleague recalled, “Mike’s conceptual architecture was always indispensable.”

In the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Gerson was described as “the man whose words helped steady the nation.” A few years later, Time magazine named him one of the country’s most influential evangelicals.

He believed the work of writing speeches was a high calling.

“On most days,” he once said, “you are writing for the next day’s headlines. In a few moments, you are writing for American history. … And then there may come a time, once or twice, when you are writing for the angels.”

Gerson was born into an evangelical family in New Jersey ...

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US Religion Census finds independent congregations have surged in the last decade.

Call it the rise of the nons.

Not the “nones,” who have commanded attention for years, as the number of Americans who don’t identify with a specific religious tradition has grown from just 5 percent during the Cold War to around 30 percent today. This is the nons—nondenominational Christians, people who shake off organizational affiliations, disassociate from tradition, and free themselves from established church brands.

The number of nondenominational churches has surged by about 9,000 congregations over the course of a decade, according to new decennial data released by the US Religion Census. Little noticed, they have been quietly remaking the religious landscape.

There are now five times more nondenominational churches than there are Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations. There are six times more nondenominational churches than there are Episcopal. And there are 3.4 million more people in nondenominational churches than there are in Southern Baptist ones.

If “nondenominational” were a denomination, it would be the largest Protestant one, claiming more than 13 percent of churchgoers in America.

“The two biggest stories in American religion are the nones and the nons,” said Ryan Burge, professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and an expert in religious demographic data. “We are in a transitional period for Protestant denominations.”

Nondenominational Christians don’t show up in the polls that sample and survey American religion, because people don’t think of “nondenominational” as an identity. They are more likely just to say “Christian,” or perhaps “Protestant.” If prompted, they might specify whether ...

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People around the world have found a passionate community in the hit show about Jesus. With a new season, can it keep navigating fan, investor, and religious demands?

Andrew Cheng and Catherine Williams had their impromptu wedding near craft services, right before shooting a scene in The Chosen of the feeding of the 5,000. The extras­—like so many Christians on the set and so many viewers around the world—were surprised at the close community they found in the hit show.

“It was just bonkers,” Cheng told CT after his wedding to Williams. “Everything was great, except Jesus wasn’t there to turn water into wine.”

In June, The Chosen wrapped filming the scene for its third season that premieres Friday, with about 10,000 fans serving as extras for the multiday shoot in Texas.

Maybe not since Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ has there been a biblical hit like this. Other Hollywood projects like Noah or The Young Messiah flopped with Christian audiences for various reasons. But because this show is financed through fans, it has a following unlike any studio project.

The first season debuted in 2019 as a massive crowdfunding success, raising $10 million. Now it has a devoted following all over the world and has been translated into more than 50 languages. The showrunners are planning seven seasons and fundraising $100 million. People often encounter the show with low expectations of didactic Christian content and are surprised to find something more compelling.

Distributor Angel Studios is trying to continue The Chosen’s success in other projects. The first season of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga will begin streaming in December. It also drew millions in crowdfunding. Angel Studios founders, brothers Jeff and Neal Harmon, have described The Chosen as their House of Cards, the show that launched Netflix.

The show still operates like ...

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Operation Christmas Child spokeswoman recalls the power of a yo-yo she received in a Ukrainian orphanage.

God’s love entered Elizabeth Groff’s life in the form of a yellow yo-yo packaged inside a shoebox.

She remembers the feeling of light—in sharp contrast to the darkness that surrounded her for so much of her childhood.

At the time, she didn’t know anything about Samaritan’s Purse or Operation Christmas Child, which sends shoeboxes of gifts to children in need around the world. Groff was born in a small town in Southern Ukraine. Both of her parents were alcoholics and her father was killed in an alcohol-related accident when she was just a year old, she said.

Her mother wasn’t able to properly care for her on her own, so they went to live with her grandparents. While there, her mother gave birth again to a little girl named Tanya. Their mother was rarely home, so even though she was just a child herself, Groff took on much of the responsibility of caring for her little sister.

“I kind of had to grow up and become the head of the household at a very young age,” she told CT.

Her mother gave birth to a third girl and Groff’s load increased.

Then tragedy struck. Groff’s mother fed the new baby alcohol instead of milk and the little girl died at seven months old.

“That was really hard for me. I was taking care of her,” Groff recalled. “I felt like I did something wrong.”

Although she was only seven, Groff decided in that moment that she needed to find a better life for her sister Tanya. She impulsively decided to run away with the four-year-old.

“I just took her by the hand and got on the bus and we left,” she said.

They didn’t get very far, but it would turn out to be the gateway to a better life for both of them.

The police spotted the ...

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