Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Federal Judge: Prayer Banner Encouraging Kindness Must Be Removed
- Survey: Half of Churchgoers Say Their Lives Aren't Affected by Time in Pews
- Egyptian Christians Hold Worship Service in Tahrir Square to Kick Off New Year
- Washington Governor to Sponsor Same-Sex Marriage Bill
Federal Judge: Prayer Banner Encouraging Kindness Must Be Removed
A federal judge ruled that a Rhode Island high school must take down a decades-old prayer banner that encouraged students to be kind and helpful because it offended non-Christians and was a violation of the U.S. Constitution, FOX News reports. Atheist student Jessica Ahlquist sued the city of Cranston and the high school after they initially refused to remove the banner, and U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux ruled that it must be removed immediately because it promoted religion. The prayer, which was authored by a seventh-grade student years ago, begins with the words "Our Heavenly Father," ends with "Amen," and encourages students to be kind, honest, helpful, motivated and true friends. City officials defended the banner, calling it a historical artifact, and it is unclear when or if the school will remove it.
Survey: Half of Churchgoers Say Their Lives Aren't Affected by Time in Pews
A new survey shows that almost half of churchgoing Americans say their time spent at church has not caused any changes in their lives, the Religion News Service reports. Barna Group, an evangelical company based in California, found that 46 percent reported no change from attending church. About 25 percent said their lives were greatly affected by church attendance and another 25 percent said it was somewhat influential. Two-thirds of respondents said they had felt "a real and personal connection" with God while at church. Among weekly church attendees, 44 percent said they felt God's presence every week and 18 percent said they had that experience once a month. Additionally, three out of five church attendees said they did not walk away from their last church visit with any significant new understandings or insights.
Egyptian Christians Hold Worship Service in Tahrir Square to Kick Off New Year
Cairo's Tahrir Square has been the central point of many protests and atrocities in Egypt during the last year, but one local church turned it into something completely different on New Year's Eve, Mission Network News reports. A New Year's Eve praise and worship service was scheduled to be held at Kasr El Dobara Church near Tahrir Square, but the congregation decided to go to the Square to "share with those who need to understand our hope more fully." Between 5,000 and 10,000 people joined the worship service as it moved from the church to the Square, peacefully proceeding down the street holding candles and singing songs. SAT-7, a satellite TV service for Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, broadcast the service to thousands more across Egypt, and all went peacefully as Christians and non-Christians alike gathered to pray and call out to God.
Washington Governor to Sponsor Same-Sex Marriage Bill
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire announced her plans to make the state the seventh to legalize same-sex marriage, WORLD News Service reports. Gregoire, a Catholic, said she had "been on my own journey" and that "it has been a battle for me with my religion," but that her beliefs should have no bearing on how she did her job. Same-sex civil unions, which Washington legalized in 2009, are not the same as marriage, she said. Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said he was fairly optimistic the bill would ultimately not pass. The state's best interest is served by creating "the greatest probability that children will be raised by their mother and father," he said.
Publication date: January 16, 2012