NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- In a year filled with headlines about healthcare, national debt, same-sex marriage and a slew of international challenges, a story about a hip-hop artist was the most-read article of 2013 on Baptist Press' website.
Google Analytics, which tracks web traffic, also showed a story posted in March about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and his Christian faith, and another article on the controversy that followed Exodus International's decision to close its doors after decades of helping people overcome homosexual behavior, made the Top 10.
The following Top 10 list for 2013 includes a brief description with each headline.BP most read stories
1. "Lecrae speaks of hip-hop's relevance."
In July, Baptist Press posted a story about an interview involving Lecrae Moore, hip-hop artist, ministry leader, producer and actor, that was led by Eric Geiger, LifeWay's vice president of church resources. During the discussion, presented on The Exchange webcast of LifeWay, LeCrae described hip hop as "the new pop music," and the artists as "modern-day philosophers." LeCrae lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three children. He has released three studio albums and two remix albums as the leader of the rap group 116 Clique. He has received a Grammy Award and two Dove Awards. He also won 2010 Best Hip-hop Music Video from the GMC Music Video Awards. He also has appeared as an artist at Passion conferences led by Louie Giglio. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=40684
2. "THE GIGLIO IMBROGLIO -- The public inauguration of a new Moral McCarthyism."
Baptist Press reposted a column in January that was written by R. Albert Mohler Jr., and originally posted on his website, about Louie Giglio withdrawing from giving the benediction during President Obama's second inaugural ceremony. Giglio withdrew after statements that he made regarding homosexuality being a sin nearly 20 years ago surfaced in the mainstream media. Among his comments, Giglio said the "only way out of a homosexual lifestyle ... is through the healing power of Jesus." In his article, Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called the situation "revealing." He noted during the Joseph McCarthy hearings in 1954 witnesses were asked, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" Mohler wrote, "We now see the new Moral McCarthyism in its undisguised and unvarnished reality.... There is nowhere to hide." http://www.bpnews.net/BPne
3. "Max Lucado transcends Church of Christ beliefs."
Baptist Press ran a story in May that featured an interview with Max Lucado, author of more than 50 books and pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. During the interview, Lucado addressed his church's heritage and decision to change its name from Oak Hills Church of Christ to simply Oak Hills Church. He explained his views on baptism and what he learned about salvation as a missionary in Brazil. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=20752
4. "Duck Dynasty's' commander talks faith."
Months before Phil Robertson's biblical views on homosexuality stirred up a media circus, Baptist Press posted a story about the family patriarch's faith in March. Robertson discussed his book "Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander." He also shared how he went from a "sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle" in his late 20s to become a follower of Christ and eventually a television star. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=39882
5. "Syria Christians face 'ethno-religious cleansing.'"
In June, Baptist Press ran a story on Syrian Christians being caught in the conflict between President Bashar-Assad's forces and rebel fighters. The United Nations reported more than 93,000 people had died and 1.6 million Syrians had fled the country. More Christians have fled Syria than any other religious or ethnic group, according to a report by Open Doors International, an organization that supports the persecuted church. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=40647
6. "Andy Stanley's stance on homosexuality questioned."
In May, Baptist Press posted a story on megachurch pastor Andy Stanley and the controversy around an April 15 sermon illustration he gave that involved a husband who left his wife to pursue a homosexual relationship. Stanley labeled the man's new relationship as adultery, but he stopped short of calling homosexuality sin. The story became a hot topic in the blogosphere weeks later after Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. wrote about Stanley's sermon being problematic because it seemed to suggest adultery is sin but that homosexuality is biblically acceptable. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37742
7. "Calvinism committee issues report, urges SBC to 'stand together' for Great Commission."
A 19-member advisory committee on Calvinism issued its report in May to Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page. The report acknowledged tension and disagreement within the denomination on the issue of Calvinism while urging Southern Baptists to "grant one another liberty" and "stand together" for the Great Commission. The advisory team -- not an official committee of the convention -- was assembled by Page in August 2012 to advise him on developing "a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism." http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=40419
8. "Henry Blackaby to undergo heart surgery."
Southern Baptist Bible teacher Henry Blackaby underwent successful heart bypass surgery in September after suffering a heart attack while driving in Atlanta and became confused. He traveled for 29 hours before police found him Sept. 20 in Tifton, Ga., about 150 miles southeast of his home. Blackaby was on his way to pick up his wife Marilynn from an appointment when he suffered the heart attack, according to the statement posted on the Blackaby Ministries International website. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=41139
9. "Attorney: Church bylaws should define marriage."
In February, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage that summer, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom encouraged churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples to examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation. In June, the Supreme Court went on to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, and allowed to stand a federal judge's invalidation of a California amendment that limited marriage to heterosexual couples. While the rulings stopped short of legalizing gay marriage nationwide, same-sex marriage is now legal in a third of the country. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=39695
10. "Exodus Int'l closes after Chambers' apology."
In June, Exodus International, a decades-old ministry that has helped people overcome homosexual behavior, announced it was closing down. This announcement came the same day its president, Alan Chambers, issued a public apology to people who have been hurt by the organization. Chambers alluded to the development of a new ministry to "reduce fear." Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the folding of Exodus International "doesn't mean the folding of an evangelical sexual ethic, though it does mean a move away from a therapeutic model of sexual sanctification." Moore added, "Evangelical Christianity increasingly addresses sexual issues more in line with the older Christian tradition of sin and temptation and triumph than with the language of therapy. We can't have a utopian view of overcoming temptation of any sort." http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=40574
Other widely reported events in 2013 revolved around the issue of mental health. In April, well-known SBC pastor and author Rick Warren lost his son Matthew to suicide. Then in June, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page released a book titled "Melissa: A Father's Lessons from a Daughter's Suicide" about his own daughter's death in 2009. The two events sparked a national conversation among Christians regarding the best ways to minister to those struggling with mental illness and their loved ones. In June, SBC messengers adopted a resolution calling on Southern Baptists to fight the "stigmatization and prejudice" of those with mental health concerns and to "love and minister to" them.
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