Paul F. Crouch, controversial founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, died on Nov. 30 after a fight against degenerative heart disease. Crouch, his wife Jan, and other senior TBN executives had come under fire for their lavish lifestyles that included private jets and mansions and their promotion of the prosperity gospel (see “Sex, lies & television,” Sept. 8, 2012). TBN often features prominent prosperity gospel preachers including Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and Kenneth Copeland.
Actor Paul Walker, 40 and the father of a 15-year-old girl, died in a car crash in California on Nov. 30. Walker, well-known for his role in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, grew up Mormon but had recently been outspoken about his newfound Christian faith. Walker and a friend were returning home from a charity event at the time of the crash. His body was so badly burned that authorities had to use dental records to identify him.
Ryan Sinni, 17, became the first male winner in the senior division of the National Bible Bee since 2009. Sinni, a homeschooler, won the contest’s $100,000 grand prize and said he plans to go to law school or seminary after he attends college. The bee included 120 top contestants from around the country competing in Scripture recitation and answering Bible knowledge questions.
Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline on Dec. 3 filed a 92-page motion challenging the suspension of his license to practice law in Kansas by the Kansas Supreme Court. The motion seeks a rehearing of the ethics case against him. Kline is strongly pro-life, and in office he aggressively gave scrutiny to Planned Parenthood, a record that pro-life observers believe motivated the court’s decision.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim, told lawmakers in an open letter that he would excommunicate them if they vote for legalizing same-sex marriage. Seraphim directly addressed Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, saying: “I beseech you from the heart not to proceed.” He said Venizelos would deny himself “the blessing of the most just Lord whose help and protection we daily need as much personally as nationally … during these critical times for our country.”
Korean War veteran Merrill Newman spoke publicly on Dec. 9 for the first time since his release after more than a month being held by North Korea. Military officials had taken Newman into custody on Oct. 28 when he came to visit the area in which he fought with guerrillas during the war. North Korean officials forced him to videotape a confession: “To demonstrate that I was reading the document under some duress, I did my best to read the ‘confession’ in a way that emphasized the bad grammar and strange language that the North Koreans had crafted for me to say.”