Vol. 1, No. 2
to other articles
in this issue:
A New Establishment?
Race and Disgrace
Submission in Salt Lake
Church, Lies, and Polling Data
Catholic Controversy I: Jesus Off Broadway
Catholic Controversy II: Handling
Catholic Controversy III: Philadelphia
On the Beat: "Irreligion" in Denmark
by Joshua Bernard CoffinIn November 1997, religion editor Pat Gilliland replaced the Daily Oklahomans
weekly Bible lesson with a more secular "spiritual message" as part of an
overall redesign of the papers traditionally conservative religion section. Readers
revolted. "I got more reaction to that little change than Ive gotten to
anything that Ive ever done in the religion pages," said Gilliland.
On January 17, the Bible lesson reappeared, written as before by Rev. L.
G. Parkhurst, Jr., a former Congregational minister and author of The Believers
Secret of Spiritual Power and Prayer Steps to Serenity. One month later, the
Oklahoman began offering its readers the opportunity to ask him questions about
the lesson via what appears to be the first and only interactive on-line Bible forum run
by a secular daily newspaper. Parkhurst, who took charge of the Bible lesson in August
1989, proposed offering the forum as a vehicle of evangelical outreach. "Im
hoping that someone out there is going to hit the Bible lesson or the online forum and
experience a change," he said. "My intention is to hit the non-believers."
The open, uncensored forum-http://www.oklahoman.com/forums/bible-does
not require user registration. For their part, users are free either to begin new
discussions or to continue old ones. Because all postings are continually active, the
forum can accommodate multiple discussions simultaneously, and these can and do range
In Parkhursts view, the forum has given religiously and
geographically diverse people the chance to communicate in ways not otherwise possible.
"Many of them are seeking some sort of spiritual support," he said. "Others
are looking to Scripture for answers." In one case, an atheist from Canada whose
fianc_e had died of cancer posted a message thanking forum members for their spiritual
support. "Through this time of grieving the loss of the woman I wanted to marry, I
have always maintained my hope," he wrote. "I am better able to manage my grief
than when I last told the forum about my loss."
The forum currently shows between three and fifteen new postings each
day. The large
pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the
sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end."
Lesson and Forum
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.'s Bible Lesson
for November 7, 1998
The psalmist deeply thought about his faith; and as he looked around, he
almost began to doubt the character of God. How could a just God allow arrogant and wicked
people to prosper and die in comfort? When they violently oppressed and stole from the
righteous, when they cursed the God of heaven, why did God let them continue to live in
comfort and peace? The psalmist began to envy their success, and he was tempted to think
that wicked living was wiser than following God's laws.
He finally found the answer to his doubts and overcame his temptations
after he went to worship God. In the sanctuary, he heard the Scriptures read and
explained. He learned that a just God would enforce His laws in the next life, if not in
this one. He discovered once more that the benefits of believing in God included receiving
God's guidance in this life and God's welcome into heavenly glory after death. When life
seems the most unfair, where do you find the answers to your doubts or questions?
A Mormon-Baptist Dialogue on Eschatology and the
Restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem
Anybody have any thoughts about the statement from the group "Temple Mount
Faithful" about setting the cornerstone to the Temple on October 20? The cornerstone
will not excite me much, but if the walls start going up, then I will get very excited.
I have read that Israel actually has components of the temple, (walls, etc.)
prefabricated according to biblical dimensions and hidden out in the desert so that when
they begin to start rebuilding the temple, it will progress very quickly. Are we
living in the last days, or what?
I honestly am not trying to pick on you, I just couldn't resist your posting on
"temple" and the "last days." As you know the LDS Church has
rapidly increased the building of temples. When I was a child, Mesa Arizona Temple,
about 16 hours away, was our closest temple. During the time I was a teenager the
Dallas Texas Temple (which we currently use) is about 3 hours away, was built. With
the rapid pace of temple building (over 100 in use by next Summer), hopefully we can have
a Temple of the Lord right here in Oklahoma! This surely is in preparation for the
Lord's Second Coming.
Bro. Billy Choate
P.S. I am not familiar with the group "Temple Mount Faithful"
but if you check with the BYU Jerusalem Center they probably have more information
I sincerely hope you know that I was referring to the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. This is
the temple that the Antichrist will sit in and proclaim himself to God. I know this
falls in line with the doctrine of eternal progression, but doesn't the book of Mormon
even have any references to this?
majority of entries come from a core group of approximately one dozen
regular participants. Their contributions address such topics as eternal damnation, the
authority of Scripture, and the existence of God. "This forum serves as an outlet to
discuss spiritual issues, with fellow Christians and occasionally non-Christians
alike," wrote forum user John Ward in response to an e-mail query. "Jesus says
where two are gathered, there am I in the midst. I have felt His presence even as I talk
with someone in cyberspace about His Word."
In a recent series of postings, two users-one a Southern Baptist and the
other a Mormon-argued heatedly over conflicting understandings of baptism, resurrection,
faith, repentance, priestly authority, and salvation. "Does my interpretation
contradict the teachings of Jesus or those of the LDS church?" asked the Southern
Baptist. "My words may contradict some teachings of the Book of Mormon, but then that
means the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible...If both of us are believers, how is it
that the Holy Spirit can lead us to such different conclusions?"
Oklahoman editors generally explain the presence of the
papers distinctive religion features-which include a daily prayer-as simply serving
the readers desires. "The prayer and Bible lesson are integral parts of our
readers lives," explained Managing Editor Edward Kelly. "They appreciate
having them there." As for the Bible forum, "what drives us is that people are
interested in it," said Kelly Dyer, managing editor of the papers online
Yet the Oklahoman, with a stated commitment to
"actively" making Oklahoma "a better place to live," also has an
agenda of its own that reflects the conservative outlook of its owners, the Gaylord
family. "Were trying to change the political culture," Editorial Page
Editor Patrick McGuigan told journalist James Risser in the June 1998 issue of the American
Journalism Review. "Were trying to make Oklahoma a conservative
bastion." Noted Risser: "[The Oklahoman] seems most dedicated to urging
a right-wing, anti-government conservatism on its not-always-receptive readers."
One unreceptive letter-writer responded to the papers treatment of
homosexuality by declaring, "Homosexuals are made in the image of God and are in
every way as valuable to and valued by God as are heterosexuals. You do a great disservice
to this community by assuming the role of our moral conscience and by denying us the
opportunity to make our own judgment and reach our own decisions." In the spirit of
promoting the "full participation of persons in all their activities without regard
to any particular religious belief, creed, or interpretation," the First Unitarian
Church of Oklahoma City makes a practice of monitoring the Oklahomans news
coverage. Any notable concern is brought to the congregations attention via bulletin
board postings and member announcements. "Its editorial policies are especially
irritating," said Rev. Cynthia Johnson, the Unitarian minister. "The Daily
Oklahoman is a paper that uses journalism to achieve its own political
Yet the papers approach is hardly out of step with readership in
one of the most conservative states in the nation. "The media is known to be biased
against all that is conservative, politically as well as religiously," wrote one
reader. "You have been a bulwark in areas where fundamental values are at
stake." Another reader, a local minister, expressed support for the papers
decision not to publish a months worth of Lynn Johnstons comic strip For
Better For Worse that dealt with issues of homosexuality. "We hope the Oklahoman
will continue to show discretion and support of morals and family values in the
future," he wrote. "You have our support and prayers."
For non-Christians, the Oklahomans commitment to
evangelical Protestantism is just a fact of life. "Most Jews recognize that the Oklahoman
is owned by the Gaylord family and that it will therefore be more conservative in its
content," explained Rabbi David Packman of Temple Bnai Israel in Oklahoma City.
"Sure, it would be nice to have a section devoted to Judaism, but they own the
newspaper and we dont. Thats the reality."
And the reality is that the newspapers daily prayer, weekly Bible
lesson, and online Bible forum are there to stay. "We dont care what other
papers think," said Managing Editor Kelly. "These sections are a long-standing
tradition of the Daily Oklahoman, and we plan to continue with them for quite