Three scholars asked 820 Chinese, English, and Semitic-language speakers to listen to the Cru-produced Jesus film in 228 different languages and rate those languages’ attractiveness.

Tok Pisin, an English creole spoken in Papua New Guinea, ranked highest, while Chechen ranked lowest. But the difference between them, on a scale of 1 to 100, was only a few points. The scholars could not find any inherent phonetic feature, such as fictive consonants or gliding vowels, that were consistently considered beautiful. People preferred women’s voices and ranked languages they thought they recognized an average of about 12 percent higher than those they didn’t know.

The Jesus film, with text taken from the Gospel of Luke, holds the world record for the most-translated film. In 2023, it was translated into Waorani, a language spoken by a few thousand people indigenous to the Amazon.

Spain: Evangelicals critique misogyny of Eurovision song

Evangelicals are upset that the song that will represent Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 uses a derogatory word for women. The word zorra is sung a total of 45 times in the song, which is also titled “Zorra.” Literally, it is the feminine form of the word fox and was translated for English-speaking audiences as “vixen,” but it more commonly means “b—” or “whore.”

“The song extols a term that is a cause of violence and humiliation for women, and repeats it ad nauseam,” said Asun Quintana, an evangelical pastor in Madrid and a leader in the evangelical feminist group Seneca Falls.

Ghana: Assemblies of God plans aggressive evangelism

The general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Ghana announced plans to plant 12,000 new churches and build a convention center that can hold centenary celebrations in 2031, when the Pentecostal denomination will mark 100 years in the West African country.

Israel: Coin weights challenge Temple Mount history

Three archaeological experts say ancient coin weights, found while sifting through the dirt removed from the Temple Mount in 1999, indicate that Christians occupied the much-contested religious site before it was taken over by Muslims in the seventh century. Muslim records say that before they came, Christians had been dumping trash at the Temple Mount.

Many historians think church leaders pointed to the desolation as the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies about the destruction of the temple and built a church only after seizing the mosque during the First Crusade. But the new evidence suggests Byzantine Christians had an earlier church there, challenging historic claims of Muslim priority. At least one scholar, however, thinks the weights could have been left later.

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Uzbekistan: Baptist church waits for new home

Officials in the southwestern city of Bukhara insist they “have already begun the renovation work” on a building for local Baptists three years after broken city pipes flooded the old building, making it structurally unsafe. The Baptist Union Church members were not permitted to either rebuild the building they have met in since 1971 or rent another space; religious groups are allowed to meet only in government-approved locations. The congregation has shrunk from 70 to 30 people.

China: Communist government giving Christians more severe sentences

House church pastor Kan Xiaoyong has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. Authorities accused him, his wife, and four other church workers of “illegal business practices” and using “heterodox teachings” to “undermine the implementation of law.” According to outside observers, the Communist government is attempting to stigmatize house churches by calling them “cults” and imposing increasingly severe sentences on leaders.

United States: Church of God in Christ to plant trees

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave $1 million to the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) to plant trees in cities and expand green spaces in urban environments. The money comes from a $1 billion fund created by the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2022. Individual congregations will propose local projects.

“Faith based … organizations are often critical to helping USDA programs reach the communities who need them most,” said cabinet secretary Tom Vilsack.

United States: SBC settles abuse lawsuit

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) settled a lawsuit accusing Paul Pressler—a Texas judge and one of the architects of the Conservative Resurgence—of raping a 14-year-old boy in the 1970s. The settlement amount is undisclosed. Seven other men have also accused Pressler of sexual abuse.

The evidence shows that leaders at Houston’s First Baptist knew of allegations that Pressler pressured a young man to strip naked and pray with him in his home. They deemed Pressler’s behavior “morally and spiritually inappropriate” but took no further action.

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The lawsuit, filed in 2017, prompted a Houston Chronicle investigation that found 263 Southern Baptist ministers and church workers who had sexually abused at least 700 boys and girls over a period of 20 years.

Mexico: Statue smashed in viral video

The viral video of a Baptist man attacking a ceramic statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe with an axe in his church prompted outrage among Spanish-speaking Catholics. Kevin T. Wynne, the American pastor of an independent fundamentalist Baptist church in Mexico City, denounced the ceramic statue as idolatrous and smashed it along with a statue of Santa Muerte onstage during a service. The congregation applauded.

Up to 10 million people every year travel to the shrine in Guadalupe where Mary, the mother of Jesus, reportedly appeared to an Aztec man in 1531.

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