Critical Condition

It might be the residual effects of the televangelism scandals of a few years ago. Or perhaps the popularity of religious broadcasting has run its course. Whatever the explanation, even ministries with reputations of integrity are apparently not immune to financial problems.

As described in a “very special critical report” sent to supporters by D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, expenses have been running greater than income, and the ministry is nearly $3 million behind. According to the letter, Coral Ridge laid off 17 staff members in January and an additional 25 this summer. It has cancelled television and radio air time in over 20 markets. But, said the report, “layoffs and air time cuts just aren’t enough.” At one point, the report states the ministry needs a quick influx of almost $3 million to survive. Kennedy explained in the letter why he didn’t notify supporters of the need more quickly: “I just don’t do that—at least not easily.”

Enough Is Enough

The Procter & Gamble Company claims it has fielded over 150,000 phone calls and letters in the last decade alleging that its trademark logo is a satanic symbol. In recent months, the average number of calls has exceeded 300 a day, contributing to the company’s latest response: a libel suit against James and Linda Newton of Parsons, Kansas.

According to the suit, as reported in National & International Religion Report, the Newtons made statements and distributed literature charging that, during a national television talk show, P&G supported the church of Satan. (The company claims no one representing it has ever appeared on the show.)

Respected religious leaders have spoken out on Procter & Gamble’s behalf in an effort to squelch the rumor. Like other accusers P&G has confronted in the past, the Newtons are distributors of Amway products, some of which compete against goods produced by Procter & Gamble.

TV Station Goes Dry

The television station KSL, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has decided not to continue accepting advertisements for beer and wine for its local programming.

In announcing the decision, KSL vice-president and general manager William R. Murdoch cited a “tragic rise” among youth in alcohol-related deaths. He also expressed concern about alcohol’s contributions to child abuse and family breakdown. The CBS affiliate will honor existing contracts, but will accept no new ones. The decision affects only local programming; it has no impact on commercials appearing as part of CBS network programming.

The Utah Alcohol Policy Coalition commended KSL. Said coalition chairman George Van Komen, “There is no questioning the fact that advertising of alcoholic beverages contributes to the death and injury of many thousands of citizens of this country annually.”

What’s In A Building?

One can only hope more people are satisfied with their churches than with their church buildings. A recent survey that explored the relationship between religious life and church architecture found that only 62 percent of the respondents are satisfied with their church’s physical facilities, while 28 percent are dissatisfied, and 56 percent would make “significant changes” in their buildings if they could.

The survey of religious structures in New England was conducted by the Michael Rosenfeld architectural firm, based in West Acton, Massachusetts. It highlighted the multi-faceted purpose of a religious building. Buildings are expected, for example, to make a contribution to worship through their religious symbolism. But they must also be functional—equipped with adequate space for social events, classroom education, and perhaps day care. The two key findings were that churchgoers desire more light in their sanctuaries and more flexibility elsewhere in the building. Among the survey’s results:

• 68 percent agree that “overt symbolism” is important in a religious building.

• 51 percent said their buildings have inadequate classroom space.

• 44 percent said inadequate access for the elderly and disabled was a problem.

Briefly Noted

Recovering: From a heart attack described by a ministry spokesman as “mild to moderate,” Focus on the Family president James Dobson. Dobson became uncomfortable while playing basketball, but was able to drive himself to a nearby hospital. He is cutting back on activities, but he is expected to make a full recovery.

Estimated: By organizers of Southern Baptists’ six-week “Here’s Hope” evangelistic campaigns earlier this year, 101,000 professions of Christian faith. Over 22,000 Southern Baptist churches participated.

Developed: For use in charismatic churches, a new Sunday-school curriculum, by the Strang Communications Company, which publishes Charisma magazine.

Died: On August 2 at the age of 66, Fred Sonnenberg, long-time professor at Canadian Bible College in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.