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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 18, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 18, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Appeals Court Extends Hold on California Gay Marriages
  • 1 in 8 Americans Drop Christian Upbringing
  • Turkey Allows Christians to Hold Historic Church Service
  • NY Man Finds Prayer Balloon Sent from Pittsburgh

Appeals Court Extends Hold on California Gay Marriages

Same-sex marriage ceremonies in California are on hold again after a federal appeals court's granted a motion submitted by Proposition 8 supporters, Christian Today reports. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the order of a lower court judge who paved the way for such unions to commence on today. The week before, US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled that people of the same sex have the right to marry and that the decision of the majority to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman - as Prop 8 had done - violates that right. The Alliance Defense Fund, which has been defending Prop 8, announced immediately after Walker's most recent ruling that it would appeal to the 9th Circuit to stay the trial court's decision until the case is concluded.

1 in 8 Americans Drop Christian Upbringing

A new study finds that American Christians are more likely than any other faith group to shift away from their childhood faith. One in every eight American adults say they have dropped a Christian, Protestant or Catholic upbringing in exchange for atheism, agnosticism, or some other faith. The Barna Group study found that almost a quarter of Americans had switched faiths (not including denominational shifts) since their childhood. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group and director of the research, said the study shows the importance of listening to those who have questions. "Clergy are typically older than those going through significant questions about their faith and are less likely to have personally experienced a period of major faith re-orientation themselves," he noted. "What's more, not every person goes through a crisis of faith, so individuals who are going through spiritual transitions often go unnoticed."

Turkey Allows Christians to Hold Historic Church Service

The Christian Post reports that Christians in Turkey gathered on Sunday for a rare service at a politically sensitive monastery for the first time in almost 90 years. The mass at the Sumela monastery near the Black Sea drew even Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Church. Over 1,500 pilgrims from Greece, Russia and other countries traveled to the Byzantine-era monastery for the emotional, three-hour service - the first of two that Turkey's government has permitted this summer. Some observers believe the move is part of the Turkish government's effort to improve its public relationship with ethnic and religious minorities amid its bid to join the European Union. Within Turkey's predominantly-Muslim population of 72 million people, the Greek Orthodox community stands at about 2,000.

NY Man Finds Prayer Balloon Sent from Pittsburgh

One family in New York has special prayer connection with a little boy they've never met named Zach -- all because a note mentioning Zach's medical problems reached them in a balloon. Chris Kormanyos is building a home in Messena, N.Y., near the Canadian border and about 400 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where Zach lives. He told the Denver Post that a green balloon drifted down onto his driveway Saturday. A note attached read, "We love Zach, we want your prayers to bring him a new heart. Please send a prayer to Zach in Pittsburgh. Pass it on." Nothing about the boy is known, other than his first name. Kormanyos said he and his family have prayed for the boy.