News Update - 7/26/2010

U.S. Teens Hesitant to Evangelize, Study Finds
Mission News Network reports that Christian teens in the U.S. are less enthusiastic about sharing their faith than they were in 1998.

According to a new study from the Barna Group, less than half of teenagers (45 percent) say they've explained their beliefs to someone with different faith views in the last year. In 1997, that number was almost two-third of teenagers (63 percent).

"I think many teens as well as young college students have really bought into the cultural view of tolerance," said Terry Erickson, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship National Director of Evangelism. "You don't want to offend anyone, so there's a reluctance to share your faith. So we see lots of students that have to get over that hurdle in college if they want to do evangelism."

Religion Today Summaries

Report: Christians Unfairly Targeted by U.K. Hate Laws
A new report has found that Christians in Britain are disproportionately targeted by laws intended to prevent religious hate crimes. The Civitas report, "A New Inquisition: Religious Persecution in Britain Today," criticizes the "oppressive oddity" of judicial attempts to regulate religious hatred, Christian Today reports.

The report's author, Jon Davies, says the vague nature of the laws has led judges to become "surrogate theologians," essentially establishing a "theocracy by the backdoor." he asks, "Is the Crown Prosecution Service so prudent in its understanding of religious hatred' that it should be free, with no penalty for error, to mobilize the power and resources of the state against ordinary citizens who make comments about religion?"

Religion Today Summaries

Adoption Increases 26 Percent for 2010, Bethany Says
Christian Newswire reports that attention to January's earthquake in Haiti seems to have triggered a rise in U.S. adoptions.

Bethany Christian Services, the nation's largest adoption agency, says overall international and domestic adoption placements have risen 26 percent over the same time period in 2009. The organization says inter-country adoption placements are up 66 percent and inter-country adoption inquiries ahead by more than 5,000 requests during the same six month time period of 2009, totaling an unprecedented 10,567 inquiries.

Bethany ascribes these increases in part to the Haiti crisis and the need to find safe homes for children who lost one or both parents during the earthquake. "The figures Bethany released show strong improvement as we confront the global orphan crisis, but the need still remains as there are still an incredible number of orphaned children who wait for their forever family'," said Bill Blacquiere, president and CEO at Bethany Christian Services.

Religion Today Summaries

Pastors: Oil Spill Opens Doors for Ministry
Baptist Press reports that pastors in all five states that border the Gulf of Mexico are feeling the heat.

 "I'm sensing a lot of anger," said Eddie Painter, a commercial fisherman and pastor of Barataria Baptist Church in the Lafitte, La., area, about 30 miles southeast of New Orleans. "I just talked early this morning with one of our local business owners, a charter boat captain who'd had a thriving business for 12 years," Painter said. "People like this boat captain are beginning to realize they may be out of business, even when this is over."

Painter said he saw an oil sheen in the bayou for the first time on Wednesday. Barataria Baptist Church is able to provide meals for those in the community without sustenance, because BP gives them meals unused by work crews, which the church distributes. "This is giving us an opportunity to minister with the resources BP has given us," the pastor said.

Religion Today Summaries

Small Groups, Inspiring Pastors Impact Church Vitality
A new study shows churches with connected congregations are more likely have "high vitality," according to the Christian Post. Churches that have a high number of small groups, effective lay leadership and both contemporary and traditional services are generally healthy and lively.

These churches are also likely to include topical, inspirational preaching. "We've taken a data-driven approach to identify what works for thriving congregations large and small, both rural and urban, all over the U.S.," said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, chair of the denomination's Call to Action committee. "While there's no silver bullet, we believe these findings can lead to vitality for many more congregations."

Overall, 60 percent of churches with over five small groups have high vitality compared to only 19 percent of churches with three or fewer groups.

Religion Today Summaries

American Christian Volunteer Killed in Uganda Bombing
Worthy News reports that an American aid worker with Invisible Children was killed in a bomb attack in Uganda on July 11. Police believe the Islamist group al-Shabaab is responsible for the attacks.

 Nate "Oteka" Henn was killed and several other American Christians were injured after a bomb detonated where they were watching the World Cup in Kampala. Henn worked with Invisible Children, a San Diego-based group that helps street children and child soldiers.

"Nate worked with us at Invisible Children for a year and a half and leaves behind a legacy of honor, integrity, and service," the group said in a statement. He worked with several former child soldiers-turned-students who gave him the Acholi name Oteka, which means "The Strong One."

Religion Today Summaries

Chavez, Venezuelan Church Clash over Freedoms
The Associated Press reports that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is increasingly encroaching on religious freedom in the country. The vast majority of Venezuelans are Roman Catholic.

In the last week, Chavez has accused church leaders of lying, while Cardinal Jorge Urosa says he was right to remain in Rome and warn the Vatican of Chavez's power grabs. "I don't like the insults that Chavez hurled against the cardinal, but I don't like seeing the Church getting involved in politics either," said Amanda Ortiz, 47, after attending Sunday Mass at a church in downtown Caracas. "Both sides are losing respect for each other."

Urosa has accused Chavez of moving the country towards a dictatorship, while Chavez has appealed to the Vatican to effectively fire Urosa. 

Religion Today Summaries


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