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FAITH AND FERTILITY

Author: Regular worshippers have more children

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans, except those who worship regularly, aren't producing enough children to support elderly retirees.

The plunging birth rate and its consequences are documented in Jonathan Last's new book, "What to Expect When No One's Expecting."

It tracks how the retiring baby boom generation, which embraced contraception and legal abortion, has borne fewer taxpayers to fund Social Security and Medicare. Last told an audience at the Family Research Council that means either the diminished younger generation will have to be taxed more or retirees' benefits will have to be cut.

He noted that young Americans also are putting off marriage, reducing their own child-bearing years.

Last said government incentives to have children haven't been effective in other nations, but religion has been shown to boost fertility among those who worship every week.

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272-w-30-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting")--Americans, except those who worship regularly, aren?t producing enough children to support elderly retirees. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman says the plunging birth rate and its consequences are documented in a new book. (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *272 (04/03/13)>> 00:30

267-a-19-(Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting", addressing the Family Research Council)-"once a week"-Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting," says data show a link between faith and fertility. ((note length of cut)) (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *267 (04/03/13)>> 00:19 "once a week"

265-a-13-(Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting", addressing the Family Research Council)-"next 15 years"-Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting," says there's a smaller workforce paying taxes to fund Social Security and Medicare. (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *265 (04/03/13)>> 00:13 "next 15 years"

264-a-11-(Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting", addressing the Family Research Council)-"which are babies"-Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting," says America's plunging birth rate has fiscal consequences. (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *264 (04/03/13)>> 00:11 "which are babies"

266-a-10-(Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting", addressing the Family Research Council)-"paying for them"-Jonathan Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting," says 15 years from now there will be only two workers supporting each retiree's Social Security and Medicare. (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *266 (04/03/13)>> 00:10 "paying for them"

SHOEBOX EVANGELISM

Operation Christmas Child celebrates 100 million gifts

BOONE, N.C. (AP) — This weekend, Operation Christmas Child volunteers will join Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham in Orlando, Fla., to celebrate the ministry's 100-millionth shoebox gift.

The Rev. Graham told KTIS radio that the program he started 20 years ago in Bosnia now reaches children in 110 countries.

But what he's most excited about are the two million shoebox recipients who are studying the Bible this year, some of them in Muslim countries where Graham hopes they'll become future evangelists.

He says the shoeboxes that Christians pack each November are delivered to children through churches where they hear the gospel and are invited to learn more through a Bible study called "The Greatest Journey."

Sound:

329-a-09-(The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, in interview)-"this discipleship program"-The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, says two million gift recipients are enrolled this year in a Bible study. COURTESY: KTIS ((Mandatory on-air credit)) (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *329 (04/03/13)>> 00:09 "this discipleship program"

326-a-07-(The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, in interview)-"God has done"-The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, says Operation Christmas Child delivered its first shoebox gifts in 1993. COURTESY: KTIS ((Mandatory on-air credit)) (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *326 (04/03/13)>> 00:07 "God has done"

328-a-17-(The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, in interview)-"stand for Christ"-The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, says Operation Christmas Child now operates in 110 countries. COURTESY: KTIS ((Mandatory on-air credit)) (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *328 (04/03/13)>> 00:17 "stand for Christ"

327-a-11-(The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, in interview)-"army of evangelists"-The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, says children who receive the shoebox gifts are invited to learn about Jesus. COURTESY: KTIS ((Mandatory on-air credit)) (3 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *327 (04/03/13)>> 00:11 "army of evangelists"

SCHOOL-JESUS PORTRAIT

Ohio school says Jesus portrait down

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Jesus portrait that has hung in a southern Ohio school district's buildings since 1947 has been taken down because of concerns about the costs of a federal lawsuit.

The superintendent of Jackson City Schools says the decision was made after the district's insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses. He says a Christian student club that owns the portrait took it down Wednesday morning at his direction.

With the portrait gone three days after Easter Sunday, Howard said he expected local residents to be disappointed.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom from Religion Foundation had sued on behalf of a student and two parents, calling the portrait an unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school.

An ACLU spokesman says the lawsuit remains in effect, but will be dropped if the portrait stays down.

TEMPLETON PRIZE

Desmond Tutu wins $1.7M Templeton Prize

LONDON (AP) — The John Templeton Foundation says it has awarded South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu one of the world's leading religion prizes.

The organization says Tutu, 81, is the winner of the 2013 Templeton Prize for his "lifelong work in advancing spiritual principles." The honor comes with a 1.1 million-pound ($1.7 million) award.

The foundation said Thursday that Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will receive the prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on May 21.

Responding to the announcement, Tutu thanked supporters and said that he accepted the prize "in a representative capacity."

The Templeton Prize was established in 1972 by the investor and philanthropist John Templeton. Last year's winner was the Dalai Lama.

IMMIGRATION-FAMILIES

Push for family unity in immigration bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Religious and labor leaders are criticizing plans by senators writing an immigration bill to boost employment-based immigration and limit visas granted to people because of family ties.

On a conference call Wednesday, officials representing the Roman Catholic Church, the AFL-CIO and others said family integrity is a cornerstone of the nation's immigration policy and shouldn't change. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says immigration reform should work to unite families, not divide them.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others involved in writing a comprehensive immigration bill say U.S. citizens should only be able to sponsor immediate family members to join them in the U.S. — not siblings and others as is now allowed. Instead they want more visas for people with job prospects or educational achievements.

PARK CROSS DISPUTE

Ore. city faces challenge to cross in city park

COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) — Facing a challenge to a cross in a city park, officials in Coos Bay, Ore., are getting help from a Texas organization that fights for public religious displays.

The cross is part of a Vietnam War memorial that was put up in 1972.

In February, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation said it got local complaints and wrote the city saying the cross is an unconstitutional mixing of church and state.

The World newspaper reports that Coos Bay retained the Liberty Institute, which has represented veterans groups in such disputes, after the organization offered advice.

The City Council heard testimony Tuesday from community members on either side of the issue, moving the meeting to larger quarters for a crowd that topped 100. Some who couldn't get in waved flags in the windows.

STATE RELIGION

NC lawmakers file resolution on state religion

SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) — Two North Carolina lawmakers want their legislative colleagues to support a resolution backing Rowan County commissioners and their use of sectarian prayers at official meetings.

State Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford filed the joint resolution Monday. It says citizens should not lose First Amendment protection "by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement."

The resolution also says the North Carolina General Assembly doesn't recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and regulate the state from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina accuses the board of commissioners of violating separation of church and state by routinely praying to Jesus Christ to start its meetings.

PRESCHOOL-HAWAII

Religious Hawaii schools lobby for preschool funds

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposed preschool program is facing pushback from religious institutions.

Faith-based groups testified before the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, saying a recent amendment to the bill gives secular institutions an unfair advantage.

The Hawaii Catholic Conference says parents should have a choice as to where to educate their children.

The Hawaii Baptist Early Education Association says faith-based institutions provide 50 percent of preschool education in Hawaii.

Both groups say they support a version of the bill that would allow funding for faith-based preschool.

But the Hawaii Family Advocates says there's no way to amend the bill to make it amenable to religious schools.

CHURCHES-BOMB PLOT

Judge finds Okla. bomb suspect mentally unfit

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Illinois man accused of plotting to bomb dozens of Oklahoma churches has been found mentally unfit to stand trial for the time being.

Prosecutors allege that Gregory Weiler plotted to destroy 48 churches in northeastern Oklahoma. On Wednesday, a judge in Tulsa ordered that Weiler be sent to a Bureau of Prisons facility for mental health treatment.

Weiler's public defender says his client has been hospitalized numerous times in the past five years for mental health issues that include depression and bipolar disorder.

At the hearing, Weiler gave a brief, rambling speech before a court official pulled away his microphone.

A federal grand jury indictment charges Weiler with one count of possessing an unregistered, destructive device, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

MILWAUKEE ARCHDIOCESE-SEX ABUSE-SKLBA

Ex-Wis. bishop: Sex abuse files will show truth

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Retired Bishop Richard Sklba (SKIL'-buh) says he agreed to have the Archdiocese of Milwaukee release a deposition he gave in sexual abuse cases as a way of getting out the truth.

The archdiocese announced Wednesday that it would release about 3,000 pages of documents by July 1, including depositions given by Sklba, by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan — who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese — and by former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland.

The documents had been sought by attorneys representing about 500 people who say they were sexually abused by priests. Their advocates have accused church leaders of moving the priests around and covering up their crimes.

Sklba said in a statement that he did his best to help abuse survivors and that the documents may answer questions about his actions.

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