Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Study Shows Mormonism is Fastest-Growing Religion in Half of U.S. States
- Half of N.C. Marriage Amendment Yard Signs Stolen
- More Fathers Becoming Children's Primary Caregiver
- Dramatic Details Unfold in Blind Chinese Activist's Escape From Home Prison
Study Shows Mormonism is Fastest-Growing Religion in Half of U.S. States
A new study shows Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in more than half of U.S. states, the Religion News Service reports. The 2012 Religious Congregations and Membership Study shows that Protestants and Catholics, who dominated the 20th century, are literally losing ground to the rapid rise of Mormons and, increasingly, Muslims. Mormons reported 2 million new adherents and new congregations in 295 U.S. counties were they didn't exist a decade ago, and were also were the fastest-growing group in 26 states, expanding beyond their historic home in Utah to the heart of the Bible Belt and as far away as Maine. Muslims came in second, with growth of 1 million adherents in 197 new counties, to a total of about 2.6 million -- and mosques have multiplied at a growth rate of about 50 percent. Overall, non-Christian groups grew by 32 percent in the past 10 years, and the study also found that while upwards of 80 percent of Americans claim to be Christians, only about 49 percent are affiliated with a local congregation.
Half of N.C. Marriage Amendment Yard Signs Stolen
Roughly half of the yard signs around North Carolina supporting a proposed constitutional marriage amendment have been stolen or damaged, according to Vote FOR Marriage NC, the group promoting the amendment, Baptist Press reports. Meanwhile, the latest poll shows the amendment -- which would define marriage as being between one man and one woman -- maintaining a 14-point lead. Rachel Lee, communications director for Vote FOR Marriage NC, said her office was getting calls and visits multiple times a day from people requesting new signs because their old ones were gone or destroyed. "We have distributed tens of thousands of yard signs across the state, and about half of them are now gone," she said. In some instances, she said, people vandalize the signs and then post pictures on Facebook or Twitter. There have also been instances of billboards being defaced, including one paid for by a church. In Hickory, N.C., a church marquee promoting a "Marriage Sunday" was vandalized, although the sign did not mention the amendment itself; someone spray-painted "Hate Speech" on one side and "Love Not Hate" on the other. If the amendment passes, North Carolina would become the 30th state defining traditional marriage in a state constitution and preventing state courts from legalizing gay marriage.
More Fathers Becoming Children's Primary Caregiver
More fathers are becoming their children's primary caregiver, WORLD News Service reports. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 32 percent of fathers who have a wife in the workforce took care of their kids at least one day a week in 2010, up from 26 percent in 2002. Of those with kids under the age of five, 20 percent of dads in 2010 were the primary caretaker. Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer at the Census Bureau, said the reason was "a combination of mothers going to work and fathers being out of work as a result of the recession." Another reason is the closing of the wage gap between the genders: "In 2008, 26 percent of women living in dual-income households had annual earnings that were at least 10 percentage points higher than their spouse," CNN Money reported.
Dramatic Details Unfold in Blind Chinese Activist's Escape From Home Prison
More details have come out regarding the dramatic escape of blind Chinese Christian human rights activist Chen Guangcheng from imprisonment and torture in his own home, WORLD News Service reports. Chen, who was jailed and tortured for more than four years for fighting China's one-child policy and exposing more than 100,000 forced abortions, was then held under house arrest for 20 more months before escaping April 22 and traveling 370 miles to Beijing, where he sought asylum at the U.S. Embassy. But how did he make it there? According to Reggie Littlejohn of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, who has been fighting for Chen's release, "Chen spent months on his back, pretending to be near death, so his guards would relax their vigilance. Then, on April 22, with exquisite timing, he scaled a wall and ran for his life." Chen had been raised in the village where he was held, so he could navigate from memory; however, he took several wrong turns and fell in a river because of his blindness. But a Chinese woman named He Peirong "drove 20 hours to meet Chen and fooled the village guards into letting her in. She disguised herself as a courier. Then she drove Chen another eight hours -- still wet from his fall in the river -- to safety in Beijing. Their plan was so masterfully executed that the authorities did not realize Chen was gone for four days." Despite the success of the escape plan, the story is far from over, Littlejohn said. China's Communist Party violently detained Chen's older brother and nephew, and his wife, children and mother are also at risk. He Peirong was also detained and she hasn't been heard from in a week; her friends fear for her safety.
Publication date: May 3, 2012