Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Obama Responds to 'In God We Trust' Vote, Secretary Misquotes Bible
- Cross Removed From City Water Tower, Sort Of
- Faith is No. 1 Reason for Teens' Abstinence
- Burma: Authorities Issue New Restrictions on Religious Activity
Obama Responds to 'In God We Trust' Vote, Secretary Misquotes Bible
In response to the House of Representatives' vote to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the nation's official motto, President Obama chided lawmakers for ignoring his jobs bill and focusing on legislative measures that didn't serve to create jobs, the Religion News Service reports. Obama called out Republican leaders individually and even invoked God's name: "I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work." As a follow-up to Obama's speech, press secretary Jay Carney was asked by a reporter, "Isn't it a bit much to bring God into the jobs debate?" Carney justified Obama's statement by noting that the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is from the Bible -- except it's not. Many Christians decried the incorrect reference, and the White House later noted later that the phrase did not, in fact, appear in the Bible.
Cross Removed From City Water Tower, Sort Of
When the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which campaigns for the removal of any religious signs or symbols from public property, threatened to sue the town of Whiteville, Tenn., for having a cross on top of its water tower, mayor James Bellar complied in his own way by having one side of the cross cut off -- and then hundreds of crosses of all sizes began springing up in residents' yards all over town, according to Memphis' News Channel 3. "They actually started a ripple effect," one resident, Jamia Robinson, said. "You complain about one and now you've got crosses in everybody's yard. ... It symbolizes that we as a community still have faith. Just because you don't believe doesn't mean we don't. They can take that cross down but they can't take the crosses out of our yards." The town has banded together in its efforts: One merchant is building crosses with donated wood from the lumberyard, and volunteers are helping residents set them up. Meanwhile, Freedom From Religion called off plans to sue Whiteville, but called the town's reaction "bizarre" and said it would be watching.
Faith is No. 1 Reason for Teens' Abstinence
A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the most frequent reason teenagers give for abstaining from sex is that the behavior goes against their religion or morals, Baptist Press reports. Among the 57 percent of girls and 58 percent of boys ages 15-19 who said they had never had sex, 41 percent of girls and 31 percent of boys chose "against religion or morals" as their main reason for not being sexually active. The least-chosen option was "don't want to get a sexually transmitted disease." Researchers also found that the rate of teenagers having sex has declined slightly from the last report, which was released in 2002; however, the percent of sexually active teen females has decreased dramatically since 1988 -- down from 51 percent to 43 percent. Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, said the study showed the abstinence movement and message were "not only resonating, but also making a difference in the lives of youth."
Burma: Authorities Issue New Restrictions on Religious Activity
Officials in Burma's Kachin state have issued new regulations requiring churches to submit requests to the local government at least 15 days in advance for permission to conduct Bible studies, Sunday school, Bible reading and fasting prayer, ASSIST News Service reports. Currently, Burmese churches are required to obtain permission for any events other than Sunday services, but the new regulations impose even more severe restrictions. "It appears that despite changes in rhetoric, there has been no change of attitude ... on the part of Burmese authorities to religious minorities," said Benedict Rogers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Burma is regarded as one of the world's worst violators of religious freedom, and "to impose a requirement on churches and individuals to seek permission to read the Bible, pray, fast and hold a Sunday school is ... an extraordinary further violation," Rogers said.
Publication date: November 4, 2011