Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Cross Removed from Chapel at Afghanistan Base
- Amid Economic Downfall, Greeks Attend Church
- Some Fear Megachurch Bubble May Soon Burst
- San Diego State's LGBT Major Raises Concerns
Cross Removed from Chapel at Afghanistan Base
A large cross outside a chapel at Camp Marmal, an isolated base in northern Afghanistan, was taken down, prompting outrage from some American troops stationed there, POLITICO reports. When asked what had happened to the cross, the base chaplain said simply, "I had to take it down." Pentagon spokesman Commander William Speaks said the removal was "in accordance with Army regulations" since the Army chaplain manual prohibits permanent display of religious symbols. However, service members said they found great comfort in the chapel and the cross outside. "Not having it there is really upsetting," one said. "Seeing the cross [was] a daily reminder of my faith." Two soldiers said the removal was an attack on Christianity, and noted that there had been no complaints from Muslims -- there are two mosques on the base -- or Jews, who conducted a service in the chapel without objection. "We would just like to know where the line is," an Army serviceman said. "The chaplains wear different religious symbols on their uniforms depending on which religion they are. Is that the next thing to be targeted?"
Amid Economic Downfall, Greeks Attend Church
In the midst of economic turmoil, leadership changes and a looming recession, more Greeks are turning to their faith, CBN News reports. "The church is the last resort for everyone," said churchgoer Stelios Papayoannou. "Even more so when people have problems." Church member Maria Liberi said: "I think the church can offer a lot to the person in the midst of the Greek crisis and generally for all people. With faith, people can overcome all difficulties. This is why we flock here, to church. Times are hard everywhere. Church can bring relief to our soul and make us feel that there is something outside this life." There are approximately 10 million Christians in Greece, about 91 percent of whom belong to the Orthodox church.
Some Fear Megachurch Bubble May Soon Burst
The past 30 years have seen a boom in the number of megachurches in the U.S., from just a handful in the 1970s to thousands today -- but some fear the "megachurch bubble" may soon burst, The Tennessean reports. Most megachurches, which earn the label around the 2,000-attendance mark, are led by pastors nearing retirement age. Churches often shrink when a longtime pastor leaves, and many megachurches have operating expenses too big to sustain if they lose members. Skye Jethani of Leadership magazine compared megachurches to the housing market crisis -- one example of which is the recent collapse of the Crystal Cathedral near Los Angeles, which is being sold to pay off more than $40 million in debt. However, some researchers who study megachurches are skeptical that a bubble exists. Sociologist Scott Thumma said all churches were vulnerable during pastoral or demographic changes, but that "good megachurches" would have no problem adapting. People have predicted the end of megachurches for years, he said, but he believes they are here to stay.
San Diego State's LGBT Major Raises Concerns
The approval of San Diego State University's new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender major last month set in motion a wave of similar decisions at other universities and raised economic and religious liberty concerns, WORLD News Service reports. A few weeks after SDSU became the second university in the U.S. to offer an LGBT studies major, which will begin in the spring semester 2012, the City College of San Francisco and Napa Valley Community College also announced they had their own LGBT programs in the works. "I question the decisions to expand programs and departments at a time when our education system is dealing with cutbacks," said assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad. "Our focus should be on retaining programs and classes that prepare students for the workplace." Christian students also expressed concern about violations of religious freedom; many are facing growing discrimination at public universities, especially in classes about sexuality where Christian views are the minority.
Publication date: November 29, 2011