Religion in the News Editor
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.
A victory for religious freedom in Illinois
VERBATIM: St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Calumet City fired music director Sandor Demkovich when he entered into a homosexual marriage. He sued and now the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the church under what’s known as the ministerial exception. Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund calls the decision a common sense one, as the Constitution bars courts from interfering in a church’s decision about who may minister to the congregation. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
International Christian Concern issues a report on religious freedom in Algeria
VERBATIM: ICC says things are getting worse, with churches being closed and individual believers harassed by government officials. According to ICC “The nation has only succeeded in doubling down on repressing its vulnerable Christian minority.” A number of religious freedom watchdogs say the international community needs to pressure Algeria. In fact, persecution of Christians by Muslim governments and groups has been on the rise for about a decade in many parts of Africa. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
Most Americans want traditional values taught in school
VERBATIM: A new Rasmussen poll indicates that 78% of U.S. voters think it’s important for kids to hear about the foundations of Western civilization when they are in the classrooms — things like Christianity. Republicans are more likely to feel that way than Democrats, but a strong 73% of the latter part also think Western Civ is important. The poll also finds that less than one-third of Americans think schools are doing a decent job of teaching Western values. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
The world begins to turn against China
VERBATIM: The giant nation is one of the worst violators of religious freedom and other individual rights, and people around the globe know it. A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that high percentages of people in other countries believe that China does not respect individuals right to religious liberty and free speech. 89% in Italy, 84% in the United Kingdom, 91% of Australian and 75% of Greeks. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
A new look at the country’s spiritual profile
VERBATIM: The Public Religion Research Institute is out with its wide-ranging 2020 American Religious Landscape poll and it reveals that most people still call themselves Christian. 70% identify as believers including 14% who call themselves Evangelicals. White mainline Protestants account for 16% and white Catholics are 12%. Nearly one in four Americans 23% are religiously unaffiliated — just 5% identify with non-Christian religions. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
A victory for a Christian organization
VERBATIM: The Internal Revenue Service has reversed course, and decided to grant tax-exempt status to Christians Engaged — a non-profit that seeks to educate believers and get them to vote. The IRS had refused the tax-exempt application, prompting Christians Engaged to get help from First Liberty Institute. The Christian legal group says the IRS made its initial decision because it wrongly concluded that anyone promoting Christian values is automatically a supporter of the Republican Party. Michael Harrington, SRN News.
A pornography website is going out of business
VERBATIM: XTube has been under pressure from victim groups for some time over allegations that it allows illegal content to be uploaded. Now the website, whose parent company Mindgeek owns several such platforms, says it will be shutting down in September. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has released a statement saying “XTube’s closure is a clear victory for the movement to hold the pornography industry accountable for their facilitation of sexual abuse.” Michael Harrington, SRN News.
England goes back to church
VERBATIM: Prime Minister Boris Johnson says all remaining virus restrictions on worship in the United Kingdom will be lifted July 19th. Johnson says “There will be no limits on the number of people who can attend life events like weddings and funerals, and there will be no restrictions on communal worship or singing.” Church leaders are cautioning believers to continue to be vigilant and the Delta variant of the corona virus continues to be a problem in the UK. Michael Harrington, SRN News.