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CULTURE DIGEST: Fox leads list of worst shows for families; church giving down; Rick Warren to appear on Starbucks cup

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Four Fox network programs top the list of the 10 worst shows for family viewing on prime-time broadcast television, according to an annual report by the Parents Television Council measuring series’ appropriateness for family audiences.

“The War at Home,” “The Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “The O.C.” lead the list of shows the council is warning against.

Such analysis is done as a guide for parents who lack the time to monitor all shows themselves, said Brent Bozell, president of PTC. Bozell said the council was alarmed to find that three of the worst shows are packaged as family shows when actually they are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

“Families should not be deceived. The top three worst shows all contain crude and raunchy dialogue with sex-themed jokes and foul language. Even worse is the fact that Hollywood is peddling its filth to families with cartoons like ‘The Family Guy’ and ‘American Dad,’” Bozell said, adding that those two shows have contained scenes in which characters are shown having sex and deviant sexual topics are routinely discussed.

The report also includes a list of the most family friendly broadcast television shows with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Three Wishes” and “American Idol” as the top three.

“There are several high quality shows on this list that families can watch together and not be caught by surprise over filthy dialogue or graphic sex and violence,” Bozell said. “However, it is clear that Hollywood does not care about families as evidenced by the fact that we could only cite nine shows on prime-time that were deemed safe for family viewing. That is outrageous. Network executives should be ashamed and millions of families should be offended at their actions.”

Also on the list of 10 worst shows for families were “C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation),” “Desperate Housewives,” “Two and a Half Men,” “That ‘70s Show,” “Arrested Development” and “Cold Case.”

The list of nine best family-friendly shows also included “The Ghost Whisperer,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Reba,” “Bernie Mac,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “7th Heaven.”

For more information, including reasons for the rankings, visit www.parentstv.org.

CHURCH GIVING DOWN AS PERCENT OF INCOME — A report released by empty tomb, inc. in mid-October examined the giving trends of church members in the United States and determined that financial contributions to churches were down as a percent of income when compared with previous years.

The Illinois-based Christian research organization surveyed 28 Protestant denominations representing 146,000 of the total estimated 350,000 congregations in the United States and found that for each dollar donated to a congregation, denominations spent 2 cents on overseas missions in 2003, down from 7 cents in the 1920s.

Half of the 28 denominations grew in membership from 1968 to 2003 and half decreased, the report said, and those that grew had a higher level of international missions support while those that declined had a lower average of overseas missions support.

Per member giving as a percent of income to total contributions declined from 2002 to 2003, empty tomb said, and giving as a percent of income was down overall from 1968 to 2003. Giving as a percent of income is the most useful method for tracking, they said, because it takes into account changes both in population (membership) and in the economy (income).

Total contributions decreased from 3.11 percent of income in 1968 to 2.59 percent in 2003, which is a decline of 17 percent in the portion of income donated to the church, the report said.

Congregational finances — the funding of internal operations of the congregation — experienced a 10 percent decline from the 1968 base, and benevolences — funding the larger mission of the church — declined 42 percent from 1968. In 2003, the portion of income to benevolences was at the lowest level during the 36-year period.

Americans gave $91 billion in cash donations to charity in 2003, but if church members had given 10 percent of their incomes, the total would include an additional $156 billion to be used through churches.

For more information, visit www.emptytomb.org.

RICK WARREN TO APPEAR ON STARBUCKS CUP — Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life” and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is utilizing another innovative method of ministry: putting Bible-based quotes on Starbucks coffee cups.

Warren will be part of Starbucks’ campaign called “The Way I See It,” which is a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures that now appear on the chain’s coffee cups. In the spring, some cups will begin featuring one of his quotes:

“You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your real purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny.”

The quote will mark the first mention of God in the Starbucks quote campaign, and some people are questioning whether it’s appropriate to mix marketing and religion.

Earlier this fall, Baylor University pulled one of the quote cups from its coffee shop because it promotes the homosexual agenda. Cup #43 of the series features a quote by Armistead Maupin, who said, “My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don’t make that mistake yourself. Life’s too [expletive] short.”

BAPTIST UNION LOSES 30,000 KIDS IN 2 YEARS -– Children’s attendance in the Baptist Union of Great Britain has fallen by more than 30,000 during a two-year period, according to a report by Christian Today in London Oct. 25.

The information is based on annual statistics provided by the union’s 2,000 churches and shows that the steady attendance of about 100,000 children under the age of 12 throughout the 1990s has dropped to around 65,000.

Meanwhile, the churches saw a 21 percent increase in adult attendance from 1998 to 2003, and the number of baptisms also increased by more than 25 percent.

“We’ve tended to focus on adults and young people in our mission,” Nick Lear, the Baptist union’s mission adviser, told Christian Today. “I believe that children need as much opportunity to meet Jesus as adults, not just because they are the church of the future but because without children, the body of the church is severely diminished.”

Statistics also show that children’s attendance dropped by 15 percent within the Baptist Church in Germany over the same two-year period.

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  • Erin Curry