Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 14, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 14, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio Becomes Pope Francis I
  • Americans Say Homosexuality a Civil Rights Issue
  • 'The Bible' Sees Big Numbers for History Channel Again
  • Rural Teens Let Their Babies Live


Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio Becomes Pope Francis I

Cardinals elected Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I on Wednesday to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, CNN reports. He is the first non-European pope in the modern era, the first South American pope, and the third straight non-Italian pope. Pope Francis, 76, is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and is a follower of the Catholic Church's most conservative wing. The decision came after the fifth ballot cast by the 115 cardinals since the papal conclave began Tuesday. Pope Francis succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, who became the first pope to resign in hundreds of years when he stepped down February 28, citing advanced age. 

Americans Say Homosexuality a Civil Rights Issue

As public policy continues to change on the issue, a new LifeWay Research poll shows 58 percent of American adults believe homosexuality is a human rights issue and 64 percent say it is inevitable same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States, Baptist Press reports. Twenty-nine percent say it is not a civil rights issue and 24 percent say gay marriage legalization is not inevitable. The survey also found that 63 percent agree and 27 percent disagree that pastors should be allowed to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state; 58 percent agree and 33 percent disagree that photographers should be allowed to refuse to work same-sex weddings; 40 percent agree and 52 percent disagree that rental halls should be allowed to refuse to rent out their facilities for same-sex weddings; 27 percent agree and 67 percent disagree that landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent housing to same-sex couples; and 14 percent agree and 82 percent disagree that employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference. "While a majority of Americans categorize homosexuality as a civil rights issue like age, race and gender, and almost two-thirds think legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. is inevitable, the research does show lines and divisions on these issues clearly exist in our country," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. 

'The Bible' Sees Big Numbers for History Channel Again

The second week of History Channel's "The Bible" miniseries may not have delivered the ratings of the previous week's record-breaking premiere, but the two-hour telecast still saw big numbers, Entertainment Weekly reports. "The Bible" had 10.8 million total viewers Sunday night, down 18 percent from its premiere, but still No. 1 in all of television from 8 to 10 p.m. More than 50 million cumulative viewers have seen at least a portion of the series since it began on March 3. 

Rural Teens Let Their Babies Live

Mainstream news outlet headlines shouted the "shocking" news last month that more rural teens are getting pregnant than their urban counterparts, but a look at an earlier study reveals it's not that rural teens are more likely to have sex and get pregnant, but that they are less likely to have an abortion after they conceive. The news reports pointed to a study conducted by the liberal National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which noted that while the overall teen birthrate had dropped to historic lows, the birthrate in 2010 for girls ages 15-19 in rural counties (42 per 1,000) was nearly a third higher than for girls in metropolitan counties (33 per 1,000). But a study by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute had already discovered that in 1997. Looking at the 1990 census, it found "the teenage birthrate generally was higher in rural than in metropolitan areas." But Guttmacher added, "The major difference between rural and metropolitan areas is not in the probability of teenagers becoming pregnant, but in the likelihood of their obtaining abortions if they conceive." And looking at a map of abortion facilities in the United States, it is apparent that rural teens have less access to an abortion. Most of the nation's more than 700 abortion centers are concentrated along the East and West coasts and in large cities. The Daily Beast found a lack of facilities in the more rural areas in the center of the country, including northern Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota. These states also have stricter abortion laws, including a ban on telemedicine, where doctors prescribe medical abortions using video chat, a practice designed to make abortion more readily available to people living in rural areas.

Publication date: March 14, 2013