Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Poll: White Working-Class Voters Still Undecided on a Candidate, Still Religious
- Jewish Voters Still Favoring Obama
- Extremist Hindus Rout Christians from Rural Indian Village
- Report: Restrictions on Religious Freedom Increasing Worldwide
Poll: White Working-Class Voters Still Undecided on a Candidate, Still Religious
A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute shows the white working class -- which makes up 36 percent of the nation -- hasn't settled on either Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama, the Religion News Service reports. "These white working-class voters are not particularly enamored of either candidate," said Daniel Cox, PRRI's research director. "In terms of their favorability, they're both under 50 percent." Forty-four percent have a favorable view of Obama and 45 percent have a favorable view of Romney, but those surveyed prefer the GOP candidate 48 to 35 percent. According to Cox, however, that gap narrows to statistical insignificance among women voters in this group, and in the Midwest and West, home of several swing states. Regarding religion, the survey found that 60 percent of white working-class Americans say religion is important in their lives (compared to 59 percent of Americans in general), and 48 percent go to church at least once a month (compared to 50 percent of all Americans). Half (50 percent) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the same percentage that opposes same-sex marriage.
Jewish Voters Still Favoring Obama
According to the Gallup daily tracking poll between July 1 and Sept. 10, 70 percent of registered Jewish voters plan to vote for Obama versus 25 percent for Romney, the Religion News Service reports. In the spring, polls showed Obama up 64 to 25 percent against a generic GOP candidate. Obama's campaign has been sending Jewish politicians, including Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, into battleground states with large Jewish communities, and has also armed volunteers in Jewish communities with talking points to counter Romney's criticisms of Obama. Romney's central pitch to Jewish voters if that Obama has been less than a faithful friend to Israel; he has accused Obama of failing to understand the urgency of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, vowing to do the "exact opposite" in his relations with Israel if he is elected, and notes Obama's tense relationship with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though Obama's campaign is expressing confidence that they have been able to keep Jewish voters, Republican advisers note that Romney's standing with Jewish voters is a marked gain over McCain's in 2008: "If we go higher than 25 percent, that is good news for the Republicans," said Tevi Troy, a Romney foreign-policy adviser.
Extremist Hindus Rout Christians from Rural Indian Village
Hindus twice assaulted a Christian community in a rural India village early this month, beating believers, forcing them into Hindu worship rituals and damaging their homes, Open Doors News reports. The Sunday worship meeting was underway Sept. 2 in the home of a new Christian, Daminbai Sahu, in Bhanpuri, a village in the Balod district of India's state of Chhattisgarh. Witnesses said a group of villagers stormed into the house and beat several of the people attending the meeting, including a visiting pastor identified only as Dada. The attackers accused Dada of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity and dragged him out of the house. As hundreds gathered around the commotion, the extremists ordered Dada out of the village and threatened to kill him if he returned, then forced believers to renounce their faith in Christ late in the night. The following night at 11 p.m., about 600 Hindu extremists stormed the houses of five Christian families, calling them "pagans" and accusing them of trying to forcefully convert Hindus to Christianity. They broke doors, damaged the houses and household items, witnesses said. Believers fled to the village of Balod, where they found refuge with other Christians. They filed a complaint with police, but police refused to register a formal report of the incident.
Report: Restrictions on Religious Freedom Increasing Worldwide
Religious believers throughout the world face a rising tide of restrictions, according to a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Sept. 20, the Religion News Service reports. Pew tracked religious freedoms denied by governments and cultural authorities, and found that in the one-year period ending in mid-2010, 75 percent of the world's population lived in a nation with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs or practices. A previous Pew study on the subject found that 70 percent of the world lived under religious restrictions. The researchers found increasing intolerance in every region of the world; government and social restrictions on religious freedom particularly tightened in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and sub-Sarahan Africa. Globally, restrictions increased not only in countries that already afforded few protections for religious freedom, such as Nigeria and Indonesia, but also in countries where citizens have generally enjoyed a high degree of religious liberty, such as Switzerland and the U.S.
Publication date: September 26, 2012