Religion Lately: Rise of the New Evangelicals, Star Seed Possibilities, Perfect End-Times Beverage, & The Roof-Top Sex-Preacher
By Kenny Smith, Emory University
Imagine Evangelical Christians who reject militarism, consumerism, and cultural triumphalism, in favor of social justice, environmentalism, and religious reconciliation with other faiths. They might represent the coming norm. If so, will these new Evangelicals distance themselves from religion?
The future may be a ways off yet, as recent studies of American ministers note one major area of disagreement prevails: not creationism, nor the belief in the literal truth of the Bible, but whether or not the earth is 6,000 years old.
In Texas, Rev. Ed Young, often known as the “sex preacher” because he urges married heterosexual Christian couples to have far more sex than they typically do (every day if possible), is offering (along with his wife) a full 24-hour discussion about healthy sexuality and marriage streamed live from a bed atop Rev. Young’s church.
A skeptic considers the possibility that he is a “star-seed,”and a California psychotherapist offers a (free) online questionnaire designed to measure the degree to which human beings have been genetically and energetically “upgraded” by Star Visitors, and hence become star-seeds whether they know it or not.
In Clearwater, Florida, after 13 years of planning and building, the Church of Scientology prepares to open its new $145 million, 377,000 square foot “Flag Mecca” building, where wealthy Scientologists will receive “infinite power.”
In Salem, Missouri, a local library has been slapped with a lawsuit after blocking patrons’ online access to Wiccan and Native American websites on the grounds that they constitute “occult” and therefore “criminal” sources of information.
Young Christian celebrities, most notably Justin Bieber (sporting his new Jesus tattoo), Tim Tebow (with his unlikely win over the Pittsburg Steelers), and Demi Lovato (Disney star) may be making the Gospel cool for generation Z-ers. Speaking of Tim Tebow, a new Japanese anime video would seem to have it all: terrible things done to Tebow, Jesus and Satan dueling on Xbox, NFL executives cynically cashing in on football/Christianity, and an Atheist running amok.
The “countdown” to the Mayan apocalypse of 12/21/12 began on 12/21/11, and we’ve already had a Christian minister make a late-May rapture prediction (not Harold Camping). So, if you’re stressing out about the upcoming apocalypses, try new Island Time, a “lightly carbonated relaxation product [that] uses melatonin, valerian root and rose hips to provide a relaxing effect,” specifically recommended for allaying end time anxieties. “As we get closer to the end of the world people are going to feel a lot more stress,” says Matthew Tuttle, CEO of Tuttle Wealth Management in Stamford, CT, “people need to come to terms with the end of everything and the fact that they can’t do anything about it. [This drink] can’t save the world but it can make people more relaxed” about it! And while you’re at it, put some Island Time on ice for the “annihilation of humanity” party slated for Friday December 21, at 11:10pm, and don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook!
For hungry Jedi looking for guidance on their fast food journey, check out Darth Vader and Jedi Burgers. Is the Jedi spiritual path poised to really take off in America, becoming a faith for everyone?
Is American the Mecca of “make your own religion?”
The National Atheist Party calls for “no government favoring support of religion,” though they have also taken positions on other issues such as “gay marriage (for it) gun control (tighten it), abortion (a woman’s decision), immigration (reform it), energy (green it), and the economy (legalize recreational drugs to create revenue and jobs).” So far, they have 7,500 hundred registered members and a chapter in all 50 US states. While young Pakistanis have not quite arrived at this point in their politics, some are “adopting Atheism and openly questioning the existence of a God,” perhaps as a way of pushing back against “the rise of Islamist militancy in Pakistan as well as access to social media and other technological tools that allow people to share and explore new ideas.” Good luck with that.
In West Virginia, the state government plans to invest gambling revenues in this year’s “Jesus Fest” celebration.
In Great Britain, recent studies suggest that traditional religion may in fact be on its way out, with half of the adult population claiming no religious affiliation whatsoever, and over half of those who do identify as religious saying that they never attend religious services.