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#ChurchToo Culture Weekly Review

WEEKLY REVIEW: Re-Purposing Abortion Clinics, Faith Healer Todd Bentley Sanctioned, Lois Evans, Religious Liberty, and The Inspiration Networks

Re-Purposing Abortion Facilities.  A remarkable thing is happening in at least 20 American cities.  Pro-life groups are taking over former abortion facilities and turning them into pro-life facilities:  crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life offices, or memorials.   According to WORLD, this radical restoration is happening in Austin, Chattanooga, Grand Rapids, Toledo, Wichita and other cities.  Among the examples cited by WORLD: “The old Planned Parenthood building in Bryan is now headquarters for 40 Days for Life. The Choices Chattanooga pregnancy center occupies part of a building that used to belong to an abortion business. The Greater Toledo House of Prayer is constructing a memorial park on the former site of an abortion facility. The list goes on.”  However, the restorations are not without cost.  The horrific abortions that took place in these facilities have left the buildings with physical, emotional, and spiritual baggage that the new owners must deal with.  Read Leah Hickman’s excellent story for more.

Based on our careful review of numerous first-hand reports, some of them dating back to 2004, we state our theological opinion and can say with one voice that, without a doubt, Todd is not qualified to serve in leadership or ministry today.

Faith Healer Todd Bentley Sanctioned.  After years of accusations surrounding Todd Bentley, the ministry leader has been “disqualified from ministry” by a panel of six charismatic Christian leaders.  The panel, led by apologist Dr. Michael Brown, said in a statement:  “Based on our careful review of numerous first-hand reports, some of them dating back to 2004, we state our theological opinion and can say with one voice that, without a doubt, Todd is not qualified to serve in leadership or ministry today. There are credible accusations of a steady pattern of ungodly and immoral behavior, confirmed by an independent investigator’s interviews dating from 2008 up through 2019, along with other testimonies dating back to 2004. And while we only took into account first-hand reports, there are many other second and third-hand reports repeating the same accusations.  Sadly, we see no signs of true, lasting repentance. Instead, we see a steady pattern of compromised behavior, including credible accusations of adultery, sexting (including the exchanging of nude pictures or videos), vulgar language, and substance abuse.”  To read Julie Roys in-depth account of recent events, click here.  To read my 2009 story on Todd Bentley’s so-called “faith healings,” click here.

Lois Evans Dies.  Lois Evans, wife of megachurch Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, died Monday following her second battle with cancer. She was 70. The Evans family announced Lois’ diagnosis of gallbladder cancer in April. Her husband and their four children were present when she died. She is survived by 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  Lois Evans focused on helping the wives of church leaders, founding the Pastors’ Wives Ministry and the First Lady Conference. In 1982, she and her husband co-founded The Urban Alternative, a ministry with a Christian radio broadcast that reached more than 100 countries.

Religious Freedom Commission Funded.  The independent religious freedom watchdog whose future was in question in recent months has been reauthorized as part of an omnibus bill President Trump signed Friday, Dec. 20.  The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom received funding of $3.5 million annually for the next three years after members of Congress included revised legislation about it in the 1,700-plus-page bill that they approved this week.  After Congress had adopted the bill including the authorization, USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said he was grateful for the bipartisan support.  “At a time when freedom of religion is under assault worldwide, it’s encouraging that we all value the fundamental human right of allowing everyone, everywhere, to follow his or her conscience,” Perkins said.  The agency, created in 1998, had faced a range of controversies in the months leading up to the reauthorization. It is now reauthorized until September 30, 2022.

Inspiration Network Added.  If you haven’t checked out MinistryWatch’s first ever list of “Highly Compensated Christian Ministry Executives,” you should.  It’d generating a lot of comment.  However, now that we’ve published the list, readers are pointing out ministries that we missed.  We’ll be adding them as we can.  One ministry we plan to add immediately is The Inspiration Networks.  Among the senior leaders who we’ll add to the list will include:  David Cerullo, President ($3,281,387) and Dale Ardizzone, General Counsel ($1,474,063).  To see the entire list, click here.

Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.