01: Charlotte ONE is an attempt to model a ministry to young adults, the least-churched age group, based on cooperation rather than competition or “sheep-stealing.” The ministry, involving evangelical and mainline churches in the Charlotte, NC area, is based on the premise that pooling efforts to appeal to young adults will prevent the tendency of resource-rich “attractional” churches to weaken other churches that can’t compete.
Because it often takes charismatic speakers and quality contemporary music to attract the religiously unstable young adult crowd, Charlotte ONE provides these “bells and whistles” for all congregations without replacing church functions: baptisms, weddings, communion and Sunday worship in general are not performed by the ministry. While there is a broad evangelical approach, controversial religious and political topics are avoided by Charlotte ONE. Critics charge that it is competition that leads to religious vitality, and question the reach and effectiveness of the cooperative approach.
But an overwhelming majority (98 percent) of participants said in a survey that the ministry had enriched their faith, with 42 percent saying it had connected them to a local church. Other religious communities are seeking to reproduce the experience, with Phoenix ONE being launched this spring. (Source: Wall Street Journal, May 4)
02: Japan’s Happiness Realization Party, the political arm of the new religious movement Happiness Science, is attempting to export the tea party movement and American-style conservatism to Japan. Happiness Science has been a fast-growing movement whose founder claims to be a reincarnation of the Buddha.
Both the party and Happiness Science envision a Japan that is more muscular on the world stage (thus eliminating the constitutional ban on waging war) “and more religious at home.” The party’s American political consultant, Bob Sparks, said that “The best analogy would be the Christian Coalition, Buddhist style.” The party failed to win a seat in parliamentary elections that were held shortly after its founding in 2009, but it managed to field 337 candidates and win more than one million votes.
The founding of the Tokyo Tea Party by party leaders comes at a time of economic decline and political upheaval, leading to greater populist sentiment in the country. The tea party movement expected over 10,000 participants at a recent rally.
(Source: The Atlantic, May)