Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Tim Tebow Cancels Appearance at Jeffress' First Baptist Church
- Barna: Evangelical Movie-Going Habits Surprisingly High
- GOP Lawmakers Join Hobby Lobby's Contraception Fight
- Benedict XVI's Poll Numbers Can't Match John Paul II's
Tim Tebow Cancels Appearance at Jeffress' First Baptist Church
New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow announced on Thursday that he had canceled his scheduled appearance to speak at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, led by Pastor Robert Jeffress, whom some in the media are decrying as "anti-gay," the Christian Post reports. Though not being specific about his reasoning, Tebow posted on Facebook: "While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!" Prior to his cancellation, gay activist bloggers and some mainstream media broadcasters and reporters were questioning Tebow's decision to appear with Jeffress, whom some consider controversial. "Tebow's peace-and-love message could be tested by the megachurch's evangelical Christian pastor, the Rev. Robert Jeffress," a New York Daily News writer said. Recently, Jeffress responded to criticism that he leads a "hate-spewing" ministry after the news broke that Tebow would be a guest at his church. "We have been mischaracterized and misquoted as being a hate-spewing church," Jeffress said. "For us to simply say that Jesus Christ offers salvation to anyone who believes in him, and that sex should be between a man and woman and marriage, that that should be considered hate speech, I don't understand that. It really shows you not that the Word of God has changed, but society has changed."
Barna: Evangelical Movie-Going Habits Surprisingly High
According to a new survey of American adults by the Barna Group, faith determines a person's movie-going habits more than almost any other demographic factor except age -- especially if you're an evangelical Christian, Christianity Today reports. Evangelicals reported seeing an average of 2.7 movies in theaters last year, an average bigger than any of the age groups except those aged 18 to 28, who saw an average of 3.4 movies. The evangelical average is a full movie more than the national adult average, and just shy of the average of 3 films seen by those professing no religion. Large numbers of evangelicals turned out to see summer blockbusters like "The Avengers" (42 percent of evangelicals reported seeing it) and "The Hunger Games" (36 percent). Fewer evangelicals reported seeing "Skyfall" (12 percent), "Argo" (3 percent) and "Lincoln" (3 percent).
GOP Lawmakers Join Hobby Lobby's Contraception Fight
Nearly a dozen Republican lawmakers have joined the legal fight against the Obamacare contraception mandate, CBN News reports. Nine senators and two House members challenged the mandate by formally backing arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, whose owners filed a lawsuit against the government, saying the mandate required them to choose between their Christian beliefs and providing insurance for abortion-inducing drugs. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, led the group of lawmakers in filing a "friend of the court" brief on Hobby Lobby's behalf. "Religious freedom is an issue our country was founded on, and it's not a Democrat or Republican issue," Hatch said. "Unfortunately, the Obama administration has time and time again ignored calls to stop the implementation of a policy some organizations or businesses are morally opposed to." Hobby Lobby is among the few corporations not granted temporary relief from the mandate by the courts.
Benedict XVI's Poll Numbers Can't Match John Paul II's
Pope Benedict XVI never inspired the deep love and admiration enjoyed by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, but Americans -- and American Catholics even more so -- still look favorably upon the soon-to-be-former head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Religion News Service reports. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll also shows that nearly two in three Americans (64 percent) strongly approve of the pope's unexpected decision earlier this month to retire because of his failing health. More than half (54 percent) of Americans and three-quarters of Catholic Americans look favorably upon Benedict, who will retire on Feb. 28. Before he died in 2005, John Paul's positive ratings were higher: 67 percent among all Americans, and 87 percent of American Catholics. John Paul was also more popular than his church, but the current pope is not: 62 percent of Americans look favorably upon the church today, according to the poll. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, in its new poll of American Catholics, also found that John Paul's favorability ratings eclipsed Benedict's. Among other findings, a solid majority of U.S. Catholics (58 percent) told Pew researchers that they hope the next pope will permit priests to marry, and 46 percent hoped the new pope would take the church in "new directions." A slim majority (51 percent) want him to "maintain traditional positions."
Publication date: February 25, 2013