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Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page C12

Making Churches Man-Friendly

Why do 13 million more women than men attend church services every week?

David Murrow, an award-winning television documentarian, set out to answer that question using 100 sources, from the Bible to Gallup polls. He concluded that today's church culture favors, even expects, participation in intimate, nurturing behavior such as singing, hand-holding, sitting in circles and sharing feelings.

_____On Faith_____
With Groups' Help, the Disabled Carve Out a Place at the Altar (The Washington Post, Apr 3, 2005)
Do You Approve of Gender-Neutral Translations of the Bible? (The Washington Post, Apr 3, 2005)
More Voices: Gender and the Bible (washingtonpost.com, Apr 1, 2005)
Previous Issues

Many men feel uncomfortable in such an environment and choose not to go, Murrow says in "Why Men Hate Going to Church," released last month by Nelson. Of the 83 million Americans who attend church weekly, only 35 million are men, creating a gender gap not seen in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism or Islam, he says.

Murrow, a Presbyterian elder who has produced material for the Discovery Channel and Dr. Phil McGraw, believes churches can bring men back by offering activities that are "bold, adventurous and risk-taking." He has some advice for women who attend church alone, especially the 6 million who are married: "Allow the church to adopt language, customs and technology men understand."

A Noted Atheist's About-Face

Anthony Flew might not be a household name. But he's a hero to the world's atheists.

Let's make that past tense: The British atheist-philosopher was a hero until he made a turnabout declaring his belief in a Designer God who created the universe.

Flew's decision, which he suggested in articles over the past year, angered many atheists and perplexed others. Anti-Darwinist Christians, meanwhile, began citing Flew to support their creationist position.

But Flew, 81, says Christians shouldn't be too quick to claim him for their own. "I understand why Christians are excited, but if they think I am going to become a convert to Christ in the near future, they are very much mistaken," he says in the April issue of Christianity Today, describing himself as "a deist like Thomas Jefferson."

Mostly, he wonders what all the fuss is about. "I have been simply amazed by the attention given to my change of mind," he said.

Ringing Up 'Passion of the Christ'

The next time your cell phone rings, it could be Mel Gibson calling, or at least the soundtrack from his "The Passion of the Christ."

Los Angeles-based AG Interactive is making three snippets of the movie's soundtrack available to download as ring tones for cell phones, as well as 12 "premium images" from the film.

The images include several of Jim Caviezel playing Jesus and Maia Morgenstern playing Mary. One scene features Jesus carrying his cross, but none of them shows the brutal flogging or Crucifixion scenes.

"If somebody's going to be looking at something every time they're picking up their phone, what kinds of images are they going to want to see?" Bryan Biniak, senior vice president of AG Interactive, told Religion News Service. "Images of pain or suffering, or images that evoke the spirit of the movie? We weighed more heavily on the spiritual side."

The downloads are available for 13 cellular service providers, including Cingular Wireless/AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Each download costs $1.95.

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