Weekly News Round Up, June 15, 2012

On Fridays, I post some of the more interesting articles I've come across throughout the week to help you keep current on what's happening in the the church, both in America and abroad. I also post up some fun things that I come across. I post these up to inform and get you thinking, not because I endorse the content.

Southern Baptists see continued membership decline

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The nation's largest Protestant denomination continues to see a decline in membership.

Statistics released Tuesday by the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway Christian Resources show membership in 2011 decreased by .98 percent to just under 16 million. That marks the fifth straight year of decline.

Pew survey: Doubt of God growing quickly among millennials

Washington (CNN) – The percentage of Americans 30 and younger who harbor some doubts about God’s existence appears to be growing quickly, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. While most young Americans, 68%, told Pew they never doubt God’s existence, that’s a 15-point drop in just five years.

In 2007, 83% of American millennials said they never doubted God’s existence.

More young people are expressing doubts about God now than at any time since Pew started asking the question a decade ago. Thirty-one percent disagreed with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God,” double the number who disagreed with it in 2007.

Graham ministry turns to Web to save souls

NASHVILLE, TENN. — The remarkable success of Montreat evangelist Billy Graham’s Crusades for Christ did not come from his preaching alone but also the immense amount of preparation and follow-up that went into planning each revival.

Now, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is taking that experience and harnessing it to save souls through the Internet in a way that perhaps only such a large and established organization can.

The basic premise is simple: Use search engines to find people who are looking for answers to life’s big questions and direct them to a website, www.peacewithgod.net.

Iranian Authorities Shut Church in Tehran

Authorities in Iran this week ordered the closure of a church in the capital, Tehran, amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking services, according to a human rights group. The order came from Iran's Revolutionary Guard's Intelligence branch on Tuesday (June 5). The Revolutionary Guard, also known as Sepah, is known for its military aggression.

"Unfortunately, it is now official – the church in Janat-Abad [district] was ordered to shut down," said Monsour Borji, an Iranian Christian and advocacy officer for rights initiative Article 18. "If no reverse decision is made, this Sunday [June 10] no meeting will be held."

Pacquiao follows new, spiritual path

LAS VEGAS -- Manny Pacquiao admits that he fell victim to the trappings of his enormous success. That's what can happen when you are one of the highest-paid, most famous athletes in the world.

But Pacquiao believes he has righted the ship with a newfound devotion to his Catholic faith, which he believes saved his marriage and has him living a less tumultuous life so that he can better focus on his boxing career and job as a congressman in the Philippines, where he is a national icon.