Religion Today Summaries - August 23, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 23, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Kansas Seeks Federal Money to Promote Marriage
  • China Doubted Over Announced End of Sex-Selection Abortion
  • Americans' Religious Faith Waning
  • Religious Freedom Under Assault


Kansas Seeks Federal Money to Promote Marriage

Less than a week after turning down $31 million from the federal government to implement a health care exchange, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is requesting $6.6 million to promote marriage, WORLD News Service reports. If approved, the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services would offer faith-based and secular counseling services for unwed parents. If, at the end of six sessions, a couple marries, the state would pay for the marriage license. While some state legislators called the move hypocritical, the administration says it’s simply strategic: Promoting marriage among the 19,000 unwed couples who give birth in Kansas each year will go a long way toward reducing child poverty — one of Brownback’s major initiatives. Glenn T. Stanton, director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family, agreed: "Marriage promotion is certainly not a call for big government, but (an effort to) strengthen fragile families so these mothers and their children don’t become dependent on the state for decades."

China Doubted Over Announced End of Sex-Selection Abortion

The Chinese government announced plans to restrict sex-selection abortions, but a leading American foe of Beijing's coercive population control policy expressed skepticism, according to Baptist Press. A 10-year plan regarding children in China calls for an effort to "eliminate discrimination against girls" and to ban the use of "ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination." Government-mandated population control, commonly referred to as one-child policy, has been in effect in China for more than 30 years. The policy has produced a gender imbalance. In a culture that favors males, parents often choose abortion when they learn their unborn child is a female. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported. Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, wrote August 9 on her blog about the plan: "Don't hold your breath." China made a similar vow in 2004, only to see a gender imbalance of 117 boys born to 100 girls born expand.

Americans' Religious Faith Waning

An Associated Press report states: "A Duke University professor's new analysis of decades' worth of data suggests that American religious belief is getting gradually weaker and less widespread than it once was... Mark Chaves argues that Americans have less trust in and growing dissatisfaction with religious leaders. He says that makes people less likely to attend regular worship services than they were a generation ago. Chaves, who directs the National Congregations Study, says religion is still a powerful force in American life... But the number of people who belong to no religious group has grown substantially, especially in the last two decades... [A]s many as 20 percent of all Americans say they don't belong to any religious group, compared with around three percent in the 1950s."

Religious Freedom Under Assault

An article at USA Today describes how "we are seeing a marked erosion of what America's Founding Fathers considered the 'first freedom': the liberty of religious conscience." Recent studies show that nearly a third of the globe lives with severe religious restriction, but even in America there are signs that our historic commitment to this freedom is wavering. And Middle Eastern uprisings against repressive governments have precipitated a treacherous new era for Christian minorities. Muslim-dominated countries tend to have high government restrictions and social pressures against religious freedom, while in the U.S. religious freedom takes a hit with an FBI-estimated 1,500 religious hate crimes annually, the majority of which are against Jews. Anti-Muslim sentiment is prevalent, while Christians also encounter both frivolous and real judicial infringements upon their rights to worship.