Religion in the News Editor
China’s crackdown on Christianity intensifies
VERBATIM: Now Communist officials are pulling down crosses affixed to the boats of Christian fishermen. Several years ago the government began removing steeple crosses from churches in an effort to lower the profile of Christianity. Now they are doing the same to private fishing vessels, and threatening to yank the fishing permits of any skipper who puts up a cross again. It’s all part of a multi-decade effort to subjugate all things to the Communist Party. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Britain’s pipe organs are being abandoned
VERBATIM: As Christianity declines in the U.K. people stop going to church, and then the churches close, and what’s to be done with the organ. According to Hew Edwards of the BBC, most of those gigantic instruments are left to rot or be vandalized when a house of worship shuts its doors. Pipe organs costs hundreds-of-thousands of dollars and weigh thousands of pounds. Britain’s National Churches Trust is being urged to set up a program of salvage. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
A leading pro-life group is denouncing House passage of a bill that removes the Hyde Amendment. That amendment, named after former Congressman Henry Hyde, has been enacted with bipartisan support since 1976. But last week, House Democrats stripped the amendment from an appropriations bill. The National Right to Life accused Democratic leaders of putting the Hyde Amendment “on the chopping block.” President Carol Tobias says House Democrats “want to destroy a measure designed to save human lives.”Listen Download
A Christian web designer plans to appeal after a federal court ruled against her. Lorie Smith challenged Colorado’s anti-discrimination law after refusing to create wedding websites for same-sex couples, but lost her case in 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Alliance Defending Freedom represents Smith and argues the law forces her to violate her Christian beliefs. ADF senior counsel John Bursch says “the government should never force creative professionals to promote a message or cause with which they disagree.” Smith plans to continue legal challenge.Listen Download
Fewer Americans are giving to charities and churches. For the first time in nearly two decades, only half of U.S. households donated to a charity. A study from Indiana University finds charitable giving has reached record highs, but the giving is done by a smaller slice of the population. The percentage of Americans who give to religious causes, including churches, has decreased in tandem with attendance at worship services as the number of Americans not affiliated with any religion grows.Listen Download
More than 30 former elders of the now-defunct Mars Hill Church are calling on Mark Driscoll to resign from his new church. In a signed statement released to Christianity Today, the 39 elders say they are “saddened to learn that Driscoll has continued in a pattern of “unrepentant sin” as he pastors The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.” The statement mentions “domineering leadership, harsh speech, and angry outbursts.” Although they acknowledge they have no authority over him in his new role, the elders conclude that Driscoll is “unfit for serving the church in the office of pastor.”Listen Download
A U-S appeals court has ruled against a Christian web designer who didn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples. In a 2-1 ruling, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied Lorie Smith’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling throwing out her legal challenge. Alliance Defending Freedom represents Smith and argued that the law forced her to violate her Christian beliefs. The anti-discrimination law is the same one at issue in the case of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and won before the U-S Supreme Court in 2018.Listen Download
Americans are divided over how transgender athletes should compete in the Olympics. According to a new Axios/Momentive poll, 39 percent of people say transgender athletes should compete against those of the same biological sex. Twenty percent say they should compete against others of the gender with which they identify. And 14 percent believe trans athletes should not compete. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that trans athletes should compete against athletes of the same biological sex.Listen Download
Two Cuban pastors have been released after nearly two weeks in detention. Christian Solidarity Worldwide says the two protestant pastors were imprisoned in Cuba on July 11th amid nationwide protests against the communist government. The pastors had no contact with their families during their detention. Cuban State Security also forced the eviction of one of the pastor’s families from their home. An official with CSW is calling for all charges against the pastors to be dropped and the release of a third pastor who remains imprisoned.Listen Download
A Seattle-area church is challenging Washington state’s abortion coverage mandate. Cedar Park Assembly of God in Kirkland, Washington, is challenging the constitutionality of a state law that forces places of worship to cover elective abortions in their health insurance plans despite religious objections. In a recent ruling, a federal appeals court said that a lower court was wrong to dismiss the church’s free-exercise claim. Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the church, says “no church should be forced to cover abortions.”Listen Download
Chinese authorities have raided a funeral. International Christian Concern reports that a house church in Guizhou province was recently holding a memorial service for an elderly believer who had passed away, when Communist Party officials kicked in the door. They quickly confiscated all religious memorabilia, removing items imprinted with crosses and religious phrases. This is the first instance of a funeral being disrupted. China has been on a multi-year crackdown on Christianity.Listen Download
More than two dozen Baptist school students have been released by armed kidnappers in Nigeria. Twenty-eight students from Bethel Baptist High School were reunited with their parents on Sunday. They were among more than 120 students who were abducted at the beginning of July. Church officials with the Baptist Convention say more than than 80 other children are still being held by the gunmen, who have reportedly demanded about 12-hundred dollars for each student. The church did not pay any ransoms.Listen Download
The LGBT agenda suffers a setback in California
VERBATIM: The Third District Court of Appeals has voted unanimously to strike down a new state law that requires nursing home staff to use transgender pronouns. The justices determined that the measure, which would have jailed nursing home workers who refused to call men-women and vice versa, was a violation of the right to free speech. LGBT activists say they will appeal the ruling. Earlier this year a federal appeals court sided with a college professor who opposes transgender pronouns. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Another battle over prayer in Virginia
VERBATIM: An atheist group is challenging the Russell County School Board over its practice of starting meetings with a prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims its a violation of the so-called “separation of church and state” for the board members to pray in Jesus’ name. The Foundation is one of the largest atheist organizations in the country and spends most of its time trying to scoure any signs of Christianity from the public square. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
A battle over transgenderism in Montana
VERBATIM: At issue is a new law that requires that people who wish to change the gender on their birth certificate first have a sex-change operation. Two transgender people have filed suit in Yellowstone County, arguing that the bill signed into law this year by Republican Governor Greg Gianforte violates their right to privacy and equal protection under the law. Supporters of the measure say birth certificates contain vital statistics and should be based on the facts at the time of birth. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Another pro-life measure is under consideration on Capitol Hill
VERBATIM: It’s called the Protecting Life on College Campus Act and it would revoke taxpayer funding for any college or university that hands out the abortion pill on campus. 50 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors and pro-life groups are throwing their weight behind the measure. Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List tells Life News “We strongly support this bill and will never stop working to expose the brutality of abortion.” Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Two more churches are leaving the United Methodist Church
VERBATIM: The congregations of Asbury Memorial Church and Wesley Oak Church have voted to quit the denomination over issues of homosexuality. The churches, which are both located in Savannah, are just the latest to leave the UMC since its leader decided to approve same-sex marriage and homosexual ordination. The denomination is expected to execute a formal split at its general convention next year, letting liberals and conservatives go their separate ways. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Here comes the most non-religious generation in U.S. history
VERBATIM: According to some number crunching by political scientist Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University, 44% of Generation Z — ages 18-to-25 — are either atheists, agnostics, or followers of no particular religion. Only 41% of Gen Z describe themselves as Christians, meaning non-religious people outnumber Christians in this generation for the first time ever. And Burge points out that Gen Z is getting MORE non-religious over time. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
There’s trouble in Uzbekistan
VERBATIM: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says the country’s new Religion Law does not ensure religious freedom — especially for minority Christians. The USCIRF has issued a statement saying it will “urge the U.S. government to encourage Uzbekistan to conform its Religion Law with international standards.” Still, the Commission is giving the country’s some points for at least trying to formally address the issue of religious liberty. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
There will be no evangelism at the Summer Olympics
VERBATIM: Blame the corona virus surge in Japan, which has already eliminated spectators and is reducing the number of competitors too. Churches in the greater Tokyo area say they are canceling the evangelism outreach programs they had planned for the Games because of the virus. On top of that, Tokyo residents are being encouraged not to GO to church in coming weeks, for fear that they will spread COVID-19. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
America’s pastors are sticking together
VERBATIM: A new study from Life Way Research indicates that 82% of Protestant pastors say they feel supported by other pastors in their local area. But how many other clergymen do these men know? The Life Way poll finds about two-thirds of Protestant pastors say they personally know anywhere from six to 16 other local clergymen. As you might imagine, pastors in big cities with lots of churches have more relationships with their fellow clergy. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Twenty states support South Carolina’s new abortion law
VERBATIM: They have filed an amicus brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that a district judge overstepped her authority when she put the entire measure on hold, rather than just the portion being challenged by abortion providers. The statute bars abortion after an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected — often as early as six weeks. Many legal experts say a law like this could wind up before the Supreme Court one day. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Trouble in the Chicago Public Schools
VERBATIM: Parents, pastors and conservative groups are expressing outrage at a decision by school officials to provide birth control to students beginning in the 5th grade — when they are 10 years old. Meg Kilgannon of the Family Research Council tells the Christian Post “Children at 10 or 11 should not be sexually active and any policy that would reinforce such an idea is depraved and benefits those who would seek to sexually exploit children.” Michael Harrington, SRN News.
A new look at America’s Jewish population
VERBATIM: There are nearly six million Jewish people living in this country, the largest concentration of Jews on the planet outside of Israel’s 6.8 million. But the Public Religion Research Institute reports that the vast majority of American Jews are located in and around New York and New Jersey. There’s also a high concentration of Jewish people in Florida — many of whom are elderly people who previously lived in the New York/New Jersey area. Michael Harrington, SRN News.