religion

Bill Campbell

In rural Kentucky, the call to be a preacher can come at an early age. Nick Wilson was born with it.

"We were always in church," he says. "Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Bible school, revivals. That's what life was."

His father, a grandfather and two great-grandfathers were Southern Baptist preachers. So is his brother. His sister married a preacher, and Wilson intended to follow the line.

After college, he attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., a training ground for Baptist preachers since 1859. But his ministry plans soon ended, because no congregation was interested in ordaining him. They all wanted a family man, and Wilson didn't measure up.

"First off, I'm single. That's a problem," he says. "They really want you to be married. But then if you throw in gay, it's over with."

Wilson says he knew from the time he was six or seven that he was "different." In time, he became open about his sexuality, even taking his boyfriend to church. But in the Southern Baptist world, homosexuality is morally unacceptable, so he was disqualified from the ministry.

"The scriptural view is what's ultimate," says Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary and an intellectual leader in the evangelical world. "The Apostle Paul very explicitly in 1 Corinthians says that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." [There's more from Mohler and the culture war being fought among Evangelical Christians in Tom Gjelten's Morning Edition story.]

Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation that allows mental health counselors and therapists to refuse to treat patients based on religious objections or personal beliefs.

Critics of the law say it could result in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As Nashville Public Radio reported earlier this month:

"A group representing gay and lesbian Tennesseans [asked Haslam] to veto the legislation. ...

"The Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT advocacy group, says the measure will make it harder for gays and lesbians to find counseling — particularly in rural parts of the state where religiously conservative therapists are common."

Haslam, however, said in a statement that he decided to sign the bill because it addressed two of his concerns. He said:

A debate over how to teach religion to public school students in Tennessee is rocking school districts around the state. Activists and concerned parents worry middle school students are being “indoctrinated” with a sanitized version of Islam.

The issue has made its way to the state legislature. One proposal would restrict discussion of religion until the end of high school. Chas Sisk of Here & Now contributor WPLN has the story.

The U.S is home to the most Christians in the world, but the number of Americans who identify as Christian is declining, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center. The survey of more than 35,000 Americans also found the number of people who consider themselves unaffiliated with any religion, or "nones," is growing.

According to Pew:

Flickr/Creative Commons/Carl&Tracy Gossett

A proposal to make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee is advancing in the state House despite constitutional questions raised by the state attorney general's office.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Jerry Sexton of Bean Station was advanced on a 2-1 vote by the State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday. Rep. Bill Sanderson, the subcommittee's chairman, said a formal legal opinion has been requested from Attorney General Herbert Slatery.

But Sanderson said preliminary word is that the state's top attorney said the measure could be constitutionally suspect.

The Tennessee Constitution says "no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship." Similar proposals to make the Bible the state book failed in Mississippi earlier this yearand in Louisiana last year.

PBS

The man known as “The Science Guy” is coming to WKU Wednesday evening. Scientist, author, and former PBS show host Bill Nye will speak at E.A. Diddle Arena as part of the WKU Cultural Enhancement Series.

Nye is a passionate spokesman for science education in the U.S., and he often warns his audiences that the country faces the threat of losing its reputation as the leading global innovator unless it starts putting greater emphasis on teaching young people science and math.

In February, Nye made headlines when he came to northern Kentucky to debate Ken Ham, the president of the group “Answers in Genesis” that operates the Creation Museum in Petersburg.

See the entire debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham here.

Ahead of his appearance in Bowling Green, Nye spoke to WKU Public Radio about science and religion, and what he thinks is the biggest long-term impact of the U.S. underperforming in science and math education.

WKU Public Radio: What do you think will happen to the U.S. if we don’t put greater emphasis on science education?

Nye: The U.S. economy will flag. It will fail. What keeps the United States in the game economically is not our manufacturing, as such—it’s our innovation. It’s our new ideas. This is the reason the U.S. is still doing very well economically around the world, even though all the stuff we wear is made somewhere else, and the cars we drive are largely made elsewhere.

Arkansas Pastor is New Southern Baptist President

Jun 11, 2014

An Arkansas megachurch pastor is the new president of the Southern Baptist convention. The Rev. Ronnie Floyd received 52% of votes from delegates to the annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

Floyd beat out the Rev. Dennis Kim, the Korean-American pastor of a bilingual Maryland church, who received 41% of the vote. Floyd has been pastor at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas for 27 years. About 8,500 people worship each week at one of the church's several locations. He was nominated by the powerful head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Rev.  Albert Mohler.

Mohler told the crowd of 5,000 meeting in Baltimore that Floyd is the person who can lead the Nashville-based denomination at a time of "horrifying moral rebellion" in the nation.

Three out of four Americans believe the Bible is the word of God, according to a new Gallup poll; some say the literal word, others that a supreme being inspired the text. But an increasing number also view the book as simply a collection of fables, legends and history.

A city council in upstate New York is not violating the Constitution when it opens its meetings with a prayer, the U.S. Supreme Court held Monday with a 5-4 vote.

It's an hour before suppertime, and the line outside Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., is wrapped around the building. The people are waiting for more than a Bible sermon; there's a raffle tonight. Twenty-five guns are up for grabs.

There's nothing new about gun raffles in Kentucky, even at a church. Last year, there were 50 events like this one in the state. The Kentucky Baptist Convention says it's a surefire way to get new people through church doors.

Days after a wide-ranging debate on creationism and evolution between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, the event is driving an online conversation. Themes of belief and literalism, logic and faith — and, for some, relevance — are being aired and disputed. And some wonder what the debate accomplished.

The video of the more than two-hour debate, in which Nye and Ham presented their views on how the Earth and its surroundings were created, has been viewed more than 830,000 times on YouTube. At one point, the live event drew more than 500,000 viewers.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to a ruling that allows a reference to "Almighty God" in the state homeland security law.