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Religion Today Daily Headlines - August 22, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - August 22, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Study: Most Religious States Give More to Charity
  • Study Reveals U.S. Hostility to Religious Liberty
  • United Church of Canada Votes to Boycott Some Israeli Products
  • Chinese Believers Threatened with Labor Camp for Refusal to Join Government Church


Study: Most Religious States Give More to Charity

According to a new report released by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, charitable contributions are higher in states that have larger populations of religious people, CBN News reports. The report shows that people living in states where religious participation is more widespread give the largest percentage of their discretionary income to charity; states with the lowest religious participation give the least. The most generous state was Utah -- a state with a high density of Mormons -- followed by the Bible Belt states of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina. The northeastern states of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island gave the least. The study also found that the least religious and least generous states voted Democratic in the 2008 presidential election, while states that gave the most voted Republican.

Study Reveals U.S. Hostility to Religious Liberty

A new survey conducted by Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council reveals nearly 600 incidents of hostility toward Christianity that have occurred in the U.S. in the last 10 years, OneNewsNow.com reports. For example, a Christian couple was fired as apartment complex managers and forced to move because a painting with a Christian reference was displayed in their office, and a student was told he could not wear a T-shirt to school because of its Christian message. Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield said his group hoped to raise awareness of the issue with the study's findings. "A lot of people think that hostility because of people's religious beliefs and attacks on religious liberties are things that happen elsewhere in the world, not the United States," he said. "We just want to show that it actually happens with increasing and alarming regularity here in the United States."

United Church of Canada Votes to Boycott Some Israeli Products

The United Church of Canada, Canada's largest Protestant denomination, has approved a recommendation to boycott products produced in Israeli settlements located within occupied Palestinian territory, with the intent of putting pressure on the Israeli government to stop expansion of the settlements, the Religion News Service reports. The church's General Council approved the recommendation August 15 and approved a policy paper August 17 at its meeting in Ottawa. More than 250 elected delegates met for the eight-day event that concluded Saturday. The boycott proposal is part of a package of measures presented by a task group charged to advise the denomination on how to contribute to peace initiatives between Israel and the Palestinians. The report prepared by the Working Group on Israel-Palestine Policy says the occupation is "the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region" and calls Israeli settlements "a serious obstacle" to peace. Similar moves to divest, or pull church investments, from companies involved in the Israeli occupation have failed in the U.S. in the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Chinese Believers Threatened with Labor Camp for Refusal to Join Government Church

Three staff members of Houcun house church in Lichuan County in China's Jiangxi Province were summoned to the county government August 7 by police and the Religious Affairs Bureau and were coerced to join the government-controlled "Three-Self" Patriotic Movement church. According to ChinaAid, the purpose of the summons was to force church staff to annually submit to the government all names of believers being baptized  -- allegedly a legal requirement -- or be banned from meeting. The government also threatened to incarcerate Christians in detention and labor camps if the church continued to meet after being banned. On June 6, a summer camp held by Houcun house church was raided and banned by government agencies. A computer and overhead projector were confiscated and three teachers were taken into custody for interrogation. Though the teachers were released later that day and the confiscated property was eventually returned, the regular worship activities of the church were severely disrupted.

Publication date: August 22, 2012