Really Cool Megachurch Infographic

I have been a member of this site http://myblogguest.com/ for a while, but it very rarely yields something on topic for my blog.  But today I have a doozy for you.  An infographic all about Megachurches and how much money they take from people.  The best part, though, is that it still appears to be associated with a Christian mission — to get people to go to Christian colleges online. There’s a nice little “MegaBenevolent” section with quotes from several pastors, including the illustrious Rick Warren.

Megachurches, big business, christianity

Although religion is still prevalent in today’s society, small American churches around the country are slowing and shutting down at a rate of 1%, whereas megachurches are continuing to grow at a rate of approximately 8% each year. Many megachurches use more corporate marketing and advertising techniques to help draw viewers and attendees to the actual church gatherings, meetings and even conferences that are hosted.

In just 1970 there were less than 10 mega-churches altogether. As of 2011, more than 1,611 mega-churches exist. The largest megachurch in the entire world to date is the Yoido Full Gospel Church, owned by David Yonggi Cho which is located in Seoul, South Korea. The church has an annual budget of $200 million and currently has more than 850,000 members actively enrolled.

U.S. MegaChurches

The biggest megachurch in the US today is the Lakewood Church, owned and operated by Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas. Each week, the church receives about 43,500 attendees and has a $70 million budget annually. The church itself is located within the Compaq Center, which was purchased in 2010 for $7.5 million.

LifeChurch.tv is another church that is located in Edmon, Oklahoma and it is considered the second largest megachurch in the US. LifeChurch.tv was founded by Craig Groschel and has approximately 42,782 weekly attendees. In 2012, the church had about $45,754,000 in expenses but took in about $71,338,000 from donations and charities. More than 100,000 unique viewers tune in to watch LifeChurch.tv each week from more than 120 countries altogether.

The third most popular megachurch in the US is North Point Community Church, owned and operated by Andy Stanley out of Alpharetta, Georgia. More than 27,000 members attend the church each week and the church has a total of $38.5 million for their annual budget.

In the US, the state of California has the most megachurches with 218. Texas has 207 megachurches with Florida following in third with 120 megachurches. Additionally, Georgia has 91 megachurches and Tennessee, 66.

Understanding how megachurches affect small-town American and religion today is a way to gain insight into the business while also finding a church that is right for you and your family. Megachurches continue to grow steadily, leaving the future of small churches unknown in America.

Source: www.onlinechristiancolleges.com

Tonight at 7PM EST – The Ashley F Miller Show Episode 3

Join me, Kate Donovan, and Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism as we talk:

Politics: Sterilization of Prisoners in California

Media: The Lone Ranger and the representation of Native Americans in film

Guest choice: The stigma of mental illness

You can RSVP to the “event” here and, when the hangout is on-air, it should send you a link of the YouTube page, or just come back here at 7 and the YouTube link will be up.

This is filmed in front of a live internet audience — if you’ve got input feel free to get in touch before or during the show by commenting here, on youtube, or on the event page.

It will also be edited and released as a podcast.

Podcast website: http://ashleyfmiller.libsyn.com/webpage

Podcast RSS: http://ashleyfmiller.libsyn.com/rss

Podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-ashley-f-miller-show/id666564480

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, Stephen Colbert’s Sister, Runs for Congress

Colbert-Busch, Stephen, and their mother

Colbert-Busch, Stephen, and their mother

When Tim Scott was chosen by our illustrious governor, Nikki Haley, to become our newest Senator, replacing Jim DeMint who retired to head the Heritage Foundation, he left the 1st District of South Carolina without a congressman.  The 1st District is on the coast of South Carolina, and includes Charleston, the hometown of Stephen Colbert and his sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch.  It’s also the District from which our bright and shining homestate hero, Mark Sanford, comes.

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch has announced that she is going to file Tuesday to run as a Democrat for the special election for Tim Scott’s old seat.

2010 profile in the Charleston Post and Courier:

Her father and two of her brothers were killed in a plane crash when she was 19. She was married to a man who ended up on “America’s Most Wanted.” And in 2001, while at a business conference in New York City, she was sitting in a building directly across the street from the World Trade Center when two jetliners slammed into its twin towers, forever changing the landscape of America.

But looking into her sparkling brown eyes, you’d never know this woman has seen enough tragedy for two lifetimes. Her infectious laugh fills the room as she talks about her children. Her face lights up every time she mentions Claus, her second husband and the man she calls the love of her life. And when she talks about her job, she speaks with a passion so great, you’d swear her boss was sitting next to her.

As director of business development for Clemson University’s Restoration Institute, Colbert-Busch is, for lack of a better term, the school’s corporate matchmaker. She finds companies that could benefit from the kind of advanced environmentally conscious research the university is doing — wind turbine testing, water studies, different kinds of renewable energy — and partners with them. More to the point, she asks them for money. In return, the corporations get the kind of cutting-edge information to help them stay one step ahead of the competition.

United_States_House_of_Representatives,_South_Carolina_District_1_mapWhen Tim Scott initially ran for the district, he was an impressive fundraiser — outspending his opponents 35:1.  The results?  In 2010 he won the district 65%-29% against a Democratic challenger — becoming the first African-American Republican elected to Congress from SC in 114 years.  This was a huge improvement (for Republicans) over the 2008 results, which was a fluke 52%-48% thanks to Barack Obama’s presence on the ballot.  Tim Scott won the race in 2012 62%-36%, outspending his opponent 20:1.

So, can a Colbert bump make the difference in the 1st District of South Carolina?

Here’s a biography: http://www.cwitsc.org/documents/Bio06_Colbert-Busch.pdf

 

BREAKING NEWS: Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Arrested

Jill Stein and her running mate have just been arrested outside the presidential debate for “blocking pedestrian traffic” AKA for showing up in protest of the two party monopoly over politics in this country.

Video of the arrest:

http://rt.com/usa/news/police-jill-stein-debate-589/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/10/16/green-party-candidate-arrested-outside-debate-site/

Is being Mormon a problem for Mitt Romney?

I am taking a class this semester on intersectionality and, unsurprisingly, despite the fact that the class is about Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, it has also become significantly about religion.  You’re welcome.  It has also focused on the election a great deal.

One thing that has come up is the idea that Romney’s religion has functioned to oppress him, perhaps not to the extent that Obama’s race or Clinton’s gender might have impacted their lives, but caused problems for him.  This despite poll after poll that shows the Christian Right is happy to vote for him.

I struggle with the idea that Romney’s religion creates a significant change on his overall social status. The Church of LDS is considered, inaccurately in my opinion, a sect of Christianity, which is very much in the majority in this country. They have a state that is basically entirely their own and they are overrepresented, slightly, in the US government compared to their population percentage; 2% of the population has 5 senators and 11 congressional members. Compare this to the religiously non-affiliated who are currently 20% of the population and have not a single representative or senator — there is one atheist in congress, and he is a Unitarian Universalist. Self-identified, “hard” atheists, incidentally, make up more of the population than Mormons at 2.5%.

Add to that that the religion is almost exclusively white, middle to upper class, male dominated, married households and it is difficult to interpret the Mormon faith as something that is oppressed. Add to this that being part of the club means that you get massive financial and man-power resources at your command because the church wants to expand its power. Consider that 70% of the money that successfully overturned gay marriage in California came from the Mormon church. No, they haven’t had a president, but I don’t think that is symptomatic of disenfranchisement. The Mormon church is undoubtedly less savory to many Americans than being a Protestant, but it is much more savory than other (non)religious traditions as well.

Sally Quinn wrote an article for the Washington Post last week about the presidential debate and pointed to the fact that Romney’s religion is actually a huge boon for him because he’s part of God’s Own Party and has claimed God as his ally in the debates in a way that Obama has not. And, according to her, that matters because “Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian.” In fact, one of the problems Obama has had has been not seeming Christian enough. 17% of the population still thinks he’s Muslim; being Muslim is much worse in the eyes of the American public than being Mormon.

But then, I am undoubtedly bringing my own perspective very heavily into this discussion because I live in a state with this enshrined in its constitution: “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.” My identity comes very strongly from that background, and I am sure Governor Romney’s comes very strongly from his Mormon background — but I suspect his rich white maleness is the more important identifier.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/mormonism-voter-enthusiasm-concern-evangelicals-17435665#.UHTen_l25v0
http://www.pewforum.org/government/faith-on-the-hill–the-religious-composition-of-the-112th-congress.aspx
http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/romney-captures-the-god-vote-at-first-debate/2012/10/04/e897f44c-0de3-11e2-bb5e-492c0d30bff6_story.html
http://www.scstatehouse.gov/scconstitution/a17.php

Texas Politician Blames Non-Christians for Shooting

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has taken the bold step of being the most prominent asshole to try to use the tragedy in Colorado to further a political agenda.  That political agenda is talk about how atheists are destroying the country.  From HuffPo:

“People say … where was God in all of this?” Gohmert said. “We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.”

That’s right.  Someone like Max Nielson challenging his high school graduation prayer are the reason some cruel, heartless man shot dozens of people at a movie.  And Gohmert apparently lives in a strange alternate universe where people trying to get others not to force them to pray is exactly like sending someone to prison for saying the word “God”.

The tragedy is horrific enough, using it to score political points is despicable.

@replouiegohmert

Washington Office

Room: 511 Cannon HOB
Address: 2440 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-3035

Texas Office

Address: 1121 ESE Loop 323, Ste 206
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone: 903-561-6349

 

 This is who is running against Rep Gohmert, if you’re curious: http://www.votemckellar.com/

 

Nikki Haley also vetoed funding to help rape victims

Nikki Haley looks like Human Ursula, enough said

I know, you’re all probably sick of hearing about how horrible my governor is.  In defense of my homestate, we didn’t *all* vote for her and her approval rating is not great, though depressingly high all things considered.

I wrote about the Arts Commission and many of you wrote on my behalf, for which I am immensely grateful.  This other issue, the one of defunding rape crisis centers is less personal to me, but even crueler to people of South Carolina.  Of course, Nikki Haley is the same woman who said, “Women don’t care about contraception”, so perhaps it is unreasonable to be surprised that she is saying that helping victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse is a distraction from *real* health issues.

The good news is that we’re only seventh in the country for women being killed by men!  There are states worse than us!

The SCCADVASA has a statement that’s worth reading, which includes the following info:

The $453,956 that the Governor vetoed will result in a 37% decrease in funding for rape crisis centers.  In FY 11-12, the total amount distributed to rape crisis centers was $648,114, which included both recurring and non-recurring funds.  If the veto stands, the total amount available for programs serving the entire state will be only he recurring $403,956.

They also have a letter from a survivor, one that I cannot read without crying:

The man has yet to be caught, but when he is caught, I KNOW I can call the rape crisis center and they will be with me as I identify him. They will be with me as they prosecute him. That gives me COMFORT. Comfort KNOWING that these individuals witness the pain of women EVERYDAY who are raped. The comfort that they are out there HELPING individuals gain back SOME of their normal life. They help women become survivor, not victims as best they can.

I did NOT choose to be raped that night. I was ASLEEP in MY HOME, yet you are cutting a budget for people that did NOTHING WRONG!!!!! They did NOT choose this pain, they were forced upon with this pain. HOW CAN YOU TAKE WHAT HELP, COMFORT, SUPPORT they have????? How can you take that away from them, from me, for a mother and father’s daughter?????

Here are the contact links again if you want to tell the legislature to override:

All the Senators: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=SMEMBERS

All the House Members: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=HMEMBERS

The good news is that Nikki Haley is making lots of people hate her.  Ms. covered the story and we’ve gotten delightful articles, including one that names her TART of the year — TART being the “Taxes Are Rape Too” group.  Many of the people who have contacted the legislature have gotten positive responses, so there is hope.

South Carolina Democrats Fail Shamefully

My representative

Not one Democrat has entered the race for the US House of Representatives against Joe Wilson.  The party has entirely failed to recruit or field a candidate for a national office against a man who is an absolute disgrace to this state.  They also have not responded to my inquiries as to why they’ve failed to do so.  This shows not only a flagrant disregard for the state, but also a complete failure of priorities.

Normally when I am embarrassed at politics in my home state of South Carolina, it is because an individual Republican politician has done something that makes me cringe.  They disappear on the Appalachian Trail, say women don’t care about contraception, or scream “You lie!” during the State of the Union.  I am a generous person and I’m willing to allow that it’s really none of my business that Mark Sanford was having an affair, though there were some legitimate governmental interests involved in that story, and maybe Nikki Haley really meant to say women don’t only care about contraception, but other things as well.  But there is nothing about Joe Wilson’s outburst that is forgivable.

I care deeply about the truth, but there is a time and a place for pointing out perceived falsehoods and if a Democrat had screamed “You lie!” during one of George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses, I would have condemned them as well.  There is a rebuttal aired immediately after the address just for such claims!  You’ve got a platform that doesn’t require being rude!

Of course, caring deeply about the truth, I should also point out that Joe Wilson was monstrously incorrect when he claimed that President Obama was lying.  If you’re going to be completely unnecessarily rude, at least get your facts straight first!

There’s nothing about Joe Wilson’s political career that redeems him from this behavior.  He is a supporter of keeping the treasonous rebel flag on Statehouse grounds.  He’s repeatedly voted to limit the rights of his gay constituents and of the country, he’s voted to make the PATRIOT act permanent and to remove our fourth amendment constitutional right to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure, he does not support scientific research, he does not support women’s rights, he consistently votes against education in a state that desperately needs better education, and he is a religious fundamentalist who doesn’t believe in separation of church and state.

The filing deadline has passed and I wish someone with any basic decency had taken the opportunity to use the public platform to bring some truth and dignity to the race, rather than more of the cowardly lies that Joe Wilson has to offer.  I wish I’d had $3,500 dollars and any knowledge of how to run a campaign or join a race because he’s the representative of MY district and I am mad as hell.  Perhaps Dick Harpootlian, the SCDem chair, should spend more time trying to get Democrats elected and less time insulting women, accusing Republicans of being gay, and schmoozing with Stephen Colbert.

South Carolinians deserve choices when it comes to sending a representative to Washington DC, but it looks like the 40% my district and of the state that votes blue is going to continue to be disenfranchised by a failure of the party and a failure of the system.

Colbert on Immigration Reform

I watched the entire two hours on CSPAN so you don’t have to. I have to say it’s interesting how completely defensive the witnesses were, both on the Republican (anti-immigrant) and Democrat (pro-immigrant) sides. I get that people have a point of view and an argument they’re trying to make, but when someone has a valid question you only make yourself look wrong by dodging it. The dissembling was worse on the Republican side, but only because it seems like the Dems asked tougher questions and the Republicans tended to just espouse a POV rather than ask questions.

Colbert’s statement was funny, and a little bit silly, and stated, “I endorse all Republican policies without question.” He had a couple zingers, but most of his testimony had genuine heartfelt and legitimate concerns behind it. This was part of his statement:

But maybe we could offer more visas to the immigrants who, let’s face it, will probably be doing these jobs anyway. And this improved legal status might allow immigrants recourse if they are abused. And it just stands to reason, to me, that if your coworker can’t be exploited, then you’re less likely to be exploited yourself. And that, itself, might improve pay and working conditions on these farms, and eventually, Americans may consider taking these jobs again.

The best part of the night was in response to why he cared about this issue, I found it incredibly touching.

I like talking about people who don’t have any power. And it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come in and do our work, but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet, we still invite them to come here, and at the same time, ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me, and um…

You know, “whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers,” and these seem like the least of our brothers, right now. A lot of people are “least brothers” right now, because the economy’s so hard, and I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish it or anything like that. But migrant workers suffer, and have no rights.