Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- Church Attendance Inches Up, Gallup Says
- Anglican Leader Seeks Prayer Ahead of Women Bishops Debate
- Italy Crucifix Appeal Begins in European Court
- BGEA Response Teams Prepare for Hurricane Alex
Church Attendance Inches Up, Gallup Says
Religion News Service reports that a new Gallup Poll found that Americans' self-reported church attendance has increased slightly since 2008. When asked "How often do you attend church, synagogue, or mosque?" 43.1 percent of Americans in 2010 said they attended church "at least once a week" or "almost every week." That's up from 42.8 percent in 2009 and 42.1 percent in 2008. Researchers previously believed that church attendance rises when economic times are bad. The Gallup data, however, indicates that the opposite may be happening. "There has been well-publicized speculation about the possibility that church attendance has risen over the past two years as Americans became more despondent and worried as a result of the economic recession," Frank Newport of Gallup writes. "However, trends ... reflect just the opposite pattern, with both church attendance and economic confidence increasing from 2008 to 2009, and now into 2010."
Anglican Leader Seeks Prayer Ahead of Women Bishops Debate
The Church of England will again consider the issue of female bishops next week, according to Christian Today. The Archbishop of Canterbury supports their ordination, but has asked other denominations for prayer in hopes the decision does not "violently disrupt" church life. On Tuesday, Dr. Rowan Williams told the Methodist Conference, "My hope and prayer is that we shall see women ordained as bishops in the Church of England. My hope and prayer is also that we shall do that in a way that does not violently disrupt some of the features of our common life, that we actually lose one another in a sense." Williams said any move to include female bishops will be "messy," but expressed a desire to see a "mess something other than rancorous and resentful".
Italy Crucifix Appeal Begins in European Court
The Christian Post reports that the future of crucifixes throughout Europe may soon be decided, as the European Court of Human Rights hears an important appeal case. The court ruled in November that Italian classrooms may not display crucifixes, as they violate religious and education freedoms. Italy's appeals hearing began Wednesday, as the country argued the crucifix is also a historic and traditional symbol. Ten other European countries - including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania, Monaco, Romania and Russia - have filed briefs in support of Italy, as the outcome may all European countries. "Where is the indoctrination, we're not distancing children from their parents' convictions," said Nicola Lettieri, the attorney of the Italian government, according to Agence France-Presse. "[T]he crucifix may be the expression of a Christian tradition, [but] Italy does not proselytize."
BGEA Response Teams Prepare for Hurricane Alex
Christian Newswire reports that Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams have deployed to Texas as the first named storm of the 2010 hurricane season, Hurricane Alex, approaches the coast. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is a part of a proactive official response being coordinated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The network, which is called "Task Force Austin," includes several hundred responders from many different organizations. "We have been watching Alex take form in the Gulf of Mexico for several days now, and -- while it's unclear at this point where and how hard the storm will hit -- it is clear that some people's lives will be turned upside down in the face of the hurricane," said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "It's a privilege for us to stand alongside the state of Texas and this well-organized network as we provide emotional and spiritual care in the wake of the storm."