Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Gallup Reports New Low in Religious Confidence
- Gaza Christians Protest Forced Conversions to Islam
- Oregon to Vote on Marijuana Legalization
- 2012 Christy Awards Given Out in Orlando
Gallup Reports New Low in Religious Confidence
Americans' confidence in organized religion, slowly but steadily declining since the 1970s, slipped to a new low in the latest survey by the Gallup Organization, the Religion News Service reports. Today, only 44 percent of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in "the church or organized religion," Gallup said, compared to 68 percent in the mid-1970s. Pollsters did not name any church or religion in particular, letting respondents define that as they wished, the organization said. Most Protestants, 56 percent, expressed confidence in the church, but only 46 percent of Catholics did. In 1975, "the church or organized religion" was the highest-rated of 16 institutions Gallup asked about. Today, it ranks fourth, behind the military, small business and the police. The least-trusted institution is Congress, in which only 13 percent of Americans voice "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence.
Gaza Christians Protest Forced Conversions to Islam
Christians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are taking a stand against forced conversions to Islam, CBN News reports. In an unusual public demonstration, men and women gathered in front of the Church of Saint Porphyrius Monday to protest the abduction and forced conversion of members of their congregation -- a 25-year-old man and a 31-year-old mother of three -- who are now staying with a Muslim official for "protection" from their Christian families. Forced conversion to Islam is not a new phenomenon in Gaza, but public protests by Christians are, according to Labib Nabanat, coordinator of the Israeli and Palestinian Bible Societies. "In the past, there were cases involving women, whole families and younger men," Nabanat said. "But there has never before been such a public protest by Christians, which means they've reached the point of terrible desperation. ... There's no doubt that the general atmosphere on the street under the rule of an Islamist government has Christians feeling more and more under pressure."
Oregon to Vote on Marijuana Legalization
An Oregon initiative that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana has qualified for the November ballot, placing the state alongside Colorado and Washington in voting on the issue this year, Baptist Press reports. Although 17 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, no states currently allow its recreational use. The initiatives in Oregon, Colorado and Washington state would legalize and regulate marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol. In 2010, California voters rejected a similar proposal, 54 to 46 percent. Opponents said legalizing marijuana would lead to an increase in drugged drivers and road deaths, an uptick in marijuana's use among teens and young adults, and an increase in crime statewide. They also said the black market for marijuana would not disappear, as some supporters contended. The Oregon initiative, which will be known as Initiative 9, is likely to face opposition from law enforcement, according to The Oregonian newspaper.
2012 Christy Awards Given Out in Orlando
The 13th annual Christy Awards, which honor each year excellent Christian fiction, were given out the evening of July 16 at the Rosen Center Hotel in Orlando, Fla., Examiner.com reports. Each year, publishers submit books for a variety of categories, and the winners are chosen by a board of seven people familiar with the publishing world. For the category of Contemporary Romance, the winner is Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig; for Contemporary Series, The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould; for Contemporary Standalone, Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock; for First Novel, Words by Ginny Yttrup; for Historical, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen; for Suspense, The Queen by Steven James; for Visionary, Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl; and for Young Adult, Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren.
Publication date: July 18, 2012