Religion Today Summaries - August 5, 2011

Religion Today

Religion Today Summaries - August 5, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
 
In today's edition:

Study Sees Link Between Education and Views of Heaven
Poll: Pastors Divided on When to Perform Weddings
Christian Accused of ‘Blasphemy’ in Pakistan Granted Rare Bail
Thousands of American Churches Prepare for National Back To Church Sunday


Study Sees Link Between Education and Views of Heaven

The old wisdom: The more educated you are, the less likely you will be religious. But a new study says education doesn't drive people away from God -- it gives them a more liberal attitude about who's going to heaven. According to the Religious News Service report, each year of education ups the odds by 15 percent that people will say there's "truth in more than one religion," says University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Philip Schwadel in an article for the Review of Religious Research. Schwadel, an associate professor of sociology, looked at 1,800 U.S. adults' reported religious beliefs and practices and their education. People change their perspective because, as people move through high school and college, they acquire an ever-wider range of friendships, including people with different beliefs than their own, Schwadel says. "People don't want to say their friends are going to hell," he says.



Poll: Pastors Divided on When to Perform Weddings

American Protestant pastors have widely varying standards for when they will and will not perform wedding ceremonies, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. According to Baptist Press the survey of 1,000 randomly selected Protestant pastors found that a majority (58 percent) will perform weddings for couples they know are living together. Nearly a third (31 percent) will not, and 10 percent are not sure. The survey's results, published in the summer edition of LifeWay's Facts and Trends magazine, also found that only five percent of pastors will not perform a marriage ceremony if the bride or groom has been divorced. The majority (61 percent) will perform a ceremony for a divorced person "depending on the reason for the divorce" while 31 percent will perform a ceremony for a divorced person "regardless of the reason for the divorce." "Marriage is a much-debated topic today and we wanted to see how Protestant pastors handled marriage requests," said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. "Like the churches they serve, their standards for whom they will perform marriages vary greatly."


Christian Accused of ‘Blasphemy’ in Pakistan Granted Rare Bail

In a rare move in Pakistan, a lower court in Punjab Province on Tuesday (Aug. 2) released on bail a young Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam. The Magisterial Court of Chichawatni, Sahiwal district, granted bail to Babar Masih, who suffers from a psychiatric disorder that causes him to shout in fits of rage for as long as an hour without knowing what he is doing or saying. Compass Direct News reports that in the face of Islamic extremist threats, generally lower courts in Pakistan do not dare grant bail or acquit a Christian accused of blasphemy, leaving such decisions for higher court judges who enjoy greater security measures. The complainant in the case, Zeeshan Arshad, states in the First Information Report (FIR) that Masih was “addressing the stars and calling names of Muslim sages and holy personages” when he made the alleged remarks blaspheming Islam. The FIR itself states that Masih never intended to hurt Arshad’s religious feelings, and that no sane person would draw the ire of area residents by talking in this way. On the day he made the alleged remarks (May 2), however, a large Muslim mob gathered that refused to hear that Masih was suffering any mental disorder. They demanded he be turned over to them so that they could kill him publicly. Chichawatni City police intervened and took Masih into custody. Niaz Aamer, an attorney for the Center for Law and Justice-Pakistan, said the center plans to file an application to exempt Masih from court appearances on grounds that it would be too dangerous.


Thousands of American Churches Prepare for National Back To Church Sunday

ASSIST News reports that With six weeks left before the nationwide event, already more than 6,000 churches have extended a half million invitations to National Back to Church Sunday (NBTCS), set for Sept. 18. American Churches are utilizing tools, such as the “reDiscover Church” booklet and the assistance of more than a hundred communitywide coordinators, to draw their friends and neighbors to attend. “It is the privilege of every Christian to invite someone to church,” said Philip Nation, LifeWay Research’s director of ministry development. “By taking part in National Back To Church Sunday, believers can introduce the hope of the gospel to their communities by welcoming people into their local congregations.”
 

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