Most Britons do not believe the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus, a study has found.
By Ben Leach
Last Updated: 10:20PM GMT 20 Dec 2008
Young people were particularly doubtful about the nativity, with 78 per cent of 16-24-year-olds saying they were not convinced of its historical reliability.
Overall, 70 per cent were sceptical of the baby’s birth in a manger to a virgin mother, according to the poll of 1,000 people by the British Marketing Research Bureau.
Almost a quarter of those questioned who described themselves as Christians admitted they did not believe certain aspects of the Bible’s teaching about Jesus.
The survey was commissioned by St Helen’s Church in Bishopsgate, London, which has produced a film of “sound evidence” supporting the Bible’s account. The Rev Charlie Skrine, curate of the church, said the survey showed that “most of the UK believes that the accounts of Jesus’s birth aren’t good history“.
He added: “Combined with a general lack of understanding about the real meaning of Christmas, this leaves people without the hope that Jesus offers.”
Simon Gathercole, a new testament scholar at Cambridge University, said people were sceptical because they were not aware the origins of Christianity were anchored in real history.
He added: “Jesus was born while Augustus was emperor of Rome just before Herod died. We’re talking about events that are anchored in real history not in ancient Greek myths.”
A separate study by Mothers’ Union, a Christian charity, showed that more parents encourage their children to believe in Father Christmas than in the nativity.
A spokeswoman for the charity said the survey “raised concerns that the church needs to do more to support families in the spiritual nurture of their children”.
She added: “The church needs to get across the fact that in times of both adversity and prosperity, it has a universal message which enables people to connect with something outside themselves.”
The study of 1,000 parents found that one in five do not encourage their children to associate Christmas with the nativity. Five per cent do not encourage their children to believe in Father Christmas.
It also found only four per cent plan to attend church services more with their children in 2009.
It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Saturday that he believed the basic premise of story of the three wise men was true.
Last year, Dr Rowan Williams appeared to cast doubt on it, but speaking on BBC Radio 4, he argued that the idea of astrologers following a bright star to Bethlehem made sense in the historical context.
Asked if he believed the men – who according to the gospel of Matthew, took gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus – existed, Dr Williams said: “Yes I do. I think I trust the beginning of Matthew’s gospel in broad outline, because the notion that there are astrologers, perhaps of partly Jewish background, just outside the boundaries of the Roman Empire who might be on the watch for this, getting involved in the politics of Herod’s last days in Jerusalem.”
A former priest has been charged with 93 child sex offences stemming from an alleged paedophile ring operating in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The 65-year-old was arrested in connection with offences police allege took place at a Catholic boys’ school in New South Wales, Australia.
Police suspect dozens of boys may have been abused during alleged “hypnotic prayer” sessions at St Stanislaus College, located 45 miles east of Sydney, according to local media reports.
The former priest, who was not named in the statement, was charged in May with 33 offences and has been issued with another 60 offences relating to at least 13 alleged victims, police said.
The allegations reportedly included claims of late night prayer and chanting sessions in which boys were sexually abused.
The priest is the fourth person arrested by the Strike Force Belle police unit, which is investigating a number of sexual offences that allegedly occurred at one Catholic and one Anglican school in the town of Bathurst, according to a police statement.
“We are currently sifting through a significant amount of information and as a result we have broadened this investigation.
“Inquiries are continuing and we cannot rule out further arrests.”
The allegations come just five weeks after Pope Benedict apologised for sexual abuse in the Church during a visit to Sydney.
An ex-priest has been charged with 60 additional child sex offences stemming from an alleged paedophile ring at a Catholic boy’s school in Bathurst.
The 65-year-old was arrested and charged with the offences that police allege took place at St Stanislaus’ College from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.
News Limited reported that eight more former students had come forward to tell their stories of being abused during those years.
Police suspect dozens of boys may have been abused during alleged hypnotic “prayer” sessions at the boarding school in central western NSW.
The names of at least three former staffers of the college appeared on a police search warrant when detectives arrived to the school in July to search its archives.
The ex-priest was charged at Hurstville police station.
He was previously charged in May with 33 offences stemming from evidence of alleged victims, and now faces a total of 93 charges relating to at least 13 alleged victims.
He was released on bail on Tuesday and is due to appear at Bathurst Local Court on September 15.
Currently, 615 boys attend St Stanislaus’, of which 188 are borders.
St Stanislaus’ principal John Edwards said last week he first became aware of the allegations several years ago and referred the claims to police.
He said the allegations included claims of late night prayer and chanting sessions in which boys were sexually abused.
Edwards said the school was served with a search warrant on July 3 which stated the names of three former staff members.
Police have laid 60 fresh charges against a former Catholic priest who allegedly sexually abused students at a private boys boarding school in central west New South Wales.
Brian Spillane taught at St Stanislaus college in Bathurst in the 1970s and 1980s and faced court last month on 33 charges relating to sexual assault of five former students.
His court appearance prompted another eight alleged victims to come forward, saying they too had been abused druring late-night prayer sessions.
A special police strike force was set up to investigate claims against Spillane and two other former St Stanislaus staff members.
Yesterday the former priest was arrested at Narwee and taken to Hurstville police station.
He was charged with 60 new offences, bringing the total number of charges against him to 93.
He was bailed and will appear in Bathurst local court on September 15, but his lawyer has already expressed concern that he will not get a fair trial because of the way the case has been covered by the media.
AMSTERDAM – A Montgomery County grand jury indicted a Catholic priest on charges he sexually abused three local children.
The abuse is said to have occurred in the small Montgomery County town of Palatine.
But the Rev. John W. Broderick most recently worked for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, not the Albany Diocese.
Broderick faces three counts of sexual conduct with a child younger than 11 years old.
The indictment indicates three separate victims and that the alleged abused occurred between 2005 and 2007. The court papers also state Broderick provided alcohol to the underage children.
At the time of his February arrest, state police characterized Broderick as a spiritual advisor to the family of the boys he’s now accused of abusing.
The Montgomery County district attorney is handling the criminal prosecution and attorney John Aretakis claims he’s representing the family in a civil suit.
“A lot of times I’m criticized because the claims are 20 to 30 years old. Well, this claim is not. This abuse happened in 2007,” Aretakis said.
The Syracuse Diocese suspended Broderick without pay weeks before his arrest. A spokeswoman for that diocese said Tuesday the suspension was not related to the sex charges and adds that Broderick had been unassigned — meaning he wasn’t working at a church — for the past four years.
Albany Diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb says they only learned about the arrest of the Syracuse-based priest through media reports and that the Montgomery County family hasn’t contacted them either.
“The family never came to us with a complaint. We don’t even know who they are. Certainly we’d assist them if they did,” Goldfarb said.
Aretakis claims there are two additional victims — one too afraid to testify and another whose grand jury testimony didn’t lead to an indictment.
My thanks to the Daily Telegraph – Aussie edition – for reporting on a pastor (priest) in Sydney who faked terminal cancer to hide the fact that he was addicted to Internet porn.
Incredibly, the pastor, who had released a hit song that reached number two in the Ozzie religious charts, and whose wife gave up her job to care for him, was only rumbled by his Church after they reportedly became suspicious about fake emails he had sent himself from “medical practitioners.”
Bizarrely, Father Guglielmucci forced himself to vomit all over himself every night and appears to have drugs to remove all his hair.
And all to hide a 16-year obsession with porn.
“This is who I am – I’m addicted to the stuff, it consumes my mind,” he told the paper, adding that he is sick why he had to come up some ort of explanation of what was happening to his body.
I’d say he is sick, but not in the manner to which he describes himself.
His wife – even though she now knows the scale of his frauds – appears to think otherwise and says he’s still a good man, but has been rapped by lies that have spiralled out of control.
16 years of porn addiction? Jeez – that means he was downloading smut on dial-up modem connections.
Now that is sick…
Thomas Nelson’s new Study Bible, The Chronological Study Bible, has caused quite a stir in the media and Blogsphere. It’s interesting to me that the pundits would discuss it even though the actual Bible isn’t due to release until September and none of the writers have actually seen a finished copy. I will try and address some of what has been written in this post, but first let me provide some context.There are many factors that fuel our creative processes as we develop new products. The first strong factor is the growing Bible illiteracy among Christians:
• The Bible Literacy Report I finds that 98% of English teachers say that Bible literacy gives a distinct academic advantage and 90% say it is critical to a good education. They also said that an alarming loss of Bible knowledge among teens is eroding students’ ability to understand British and American literature impairing their study of art, music, history, and culture.
• The Bible Literacy Report II reveals that English professors surveyed at leading universities – including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford – unanimously agree that, regardless of one’s faith, an educated person needs to know the Bible.
• Recent Time Magazine and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reports indicate that most Americans can only name one of the four Gospels and cannot name the first book of the Bible; and 60% cannot name five of the Ten Commandments.
The second strong factor stems from our own research with the Barna Group, which revealed the felt need from our customers to have Bibles that help them actually get into and read a book that, too many, can seem intimidating and difficult to understand. These two factors motivated us to develop the Chronological Study Bible. We wanted a product that would help people see the whole story, from beginning to end, without duplication or confusion (as the Canonical order can sometimes cause) especially for people new to the Bible. The project gives readers historical and cultural context not found in a typical Bible. It provides users with some anchors to historical events and shows them what was happening in the world during biblical times. This adds relevance for many readers.
Now, knowing the motivators behind the project’s development, allow me to address some of the points made by recent posts:
• This is a new idea. No, not really. Chronological Bibles have been around for some time. In 1975 Edward Reese developed the Reese Chronological Bible. Then, in 1984, F. LeGard Smith developed a Narrated Bible that was later released as the Daily Bible in Chronological Order that users found extremely helpful. So, as one writer described, the “rejiggering” of the books of the Bible isn’t new or sacrilegious.
• Scholars Won’t Like it. It was not developed for them. The Chronological Study Bible was created by biblical scholars for people who are seeking to study and understand the historical and cultural context within the time frame of the Holy Scriptures. Scholars typically already possess this knowledge.
• What’s the right chronology for the biblical narrative? That depends. Any two attempts to reformat the Bible will exhibit numerous differences. The chronological arrangement of the Bible requires conjectures and choices to be made based on particular data. A chronological Bible is, therefore, an approximation designed to clarify the historical setting and assist further study and Bible reading.
The scholar team that assembled this product had to make some judgment calls. In the Bible’s introduction they say this to the reader:
Rearranging the Bible is, of course, a fallible human effort. Even those who have earned advanced degrees in the various fields of biblical studies would disagree on any particular arrangement. The editors of the Chronological Study Bible have been forced at times to make hard decisions, and to choose one location at the neglect of another that is equally plausible. In such instances, an honest effort has been made to acknowledge another possible arrangement and to present its case fairly. This allows the readers to decide the issues for themselves.
Rearranging the order of the Bible’s books may appear to some readers to be a violation of the integrity of the Bible. The goal of the Chronological Study Bible is not to replace the time-honored canonical arrangement, but instead to honor time as the setting in which the biblical record appeared. Readers who study this Bible will return to their traditional (in canonical order) Bibles better equipped to read them.
• The book of Psalms (and other Narrative sections) is split up. Yes they are and for good reason. We wanted the reader to feel the emotional and spiritual significance of the narrative sections. For example, what better way to understand David’s emotion and passion after he confesses his sin with Bathsheba than to place Psalm 51 right there in the story instead of tucked in with the other Psalms? The Chronological Study Bible allows the reader to discover that moment of spiritual history as it happened instead of asking them, via a footnote, to find it elsewhere and hope they turn the pages.
• The motive is strictly financial. Certainly to grow our business and mission we need to develop products that make a profit. However, that’s not our primary goal. We listen to pastors, consumers, book sellers and our own creative selves and the driving force behind our product development is Nelson’s mission to inspire the world and bring more people into God’s word. Our motive is no more financial than any newspaper’s motive to sell print or Internet advertising. In fact, knowing my team, it’s less.
• The product is radical. Not really, it’s different. Looking through the eyes of someone who has had trouble understanding the Bible, this could be a refreshing alternative. It may also seem “different,” but as we’ve seen in so many other venues different can be good especially when we learn more about it. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was teased and taunted as a young boy for his “different” body and now that perfect swimmer’s build has propelled him to become the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. Different isn’t bad, it’s just different.
Bibles are developed for many reasons. Most of the time they are developed based on a particular customer felt need and out of a sincere missional desire to fulfill that need. We have many consumers who, for the most part, don’t understand the Bible and yet want desperately to hear God’s voice from His scripture. We also have a group of people who find the traditional Bible difficult to read, difficult to become engaged with, and they don’t understand the relevance or context of what’s being written. Hence, they feel lost and give up trying to figure it all out. The Chronological Study Bible easily fills those needs through a unique approach to reading and studying the Bible. It’s our hope that many people will find it refreshing and a new way to seek God’s wisdom for their lives.
Disgraced Baptist pastor Royden Wood has this morning been sentenced to one year in jail and three years’ probation.
The former church minister was convicted of assault and sexual assault involving church members.
Last week, Wood — the former pastor at the now-defunct Ambassador Baptist Church — seemed unconcerned at the prospect of jail time.
“It was fun. It doesn’t scare me a bit,” he said, his wife Linda by his side.
“I had a good time there,” he said of his time awaiting bail. “I have an intense and passionate desire to help people and I was a tremendous blessing to many in jail. The other inmates were constantly asking me, ‘Why are you so happy?’ It’s easy to be in jail. It’s hard to be out here.”
Wood was convicted in April of nine assaults on three boys at the church’s alternative school in the 1980s, and three sex-related charges involving two female church members who had breasts touched over their clothing. Six more sexual assault charges were laid in July.