Want to know what college juniors are thinking? UCLA researchers surveyed 3,680 of them on 46 campuses. The study found that about one-fifth were "highly religious" (the majority of them women) while another fifth ranked very low on religious interest and activities.
Findings include: On politics, 50 percent of those who called themselves politically conservative showed high levels of religious commitment, compared with only 18 percent of political liberals. On the death penalty, 38 percent of the highly religious opposed it, but only 23 percent of the least religious.
On sex, just 7 percent of the highly religious thought it was all right if people who've known each other "a very short time" had sex, but 80 percent of the least religious said it was OK. On abortion, 24 percent of the highly religious wanted it kept legal, as opposed to 79 percent of the least religious. On homosexuality, 38 percent of the highly religious said they would support "laws prohibiting homosexual relationships," compared with 17 percent of the least religious.
The "usually conservative" 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late last month ruled that invoking Christ in prayers at the beginning or end of public meetings is unconstitutional. The ruling banned specifically Christian prayers given at meetings of the town council of Great Falls, S.C.
"Public officials' brief invocations of the Almighty before engaging in public business have always . . . been part of our nation's history," wrote Judge Diana Gribbon. "This opportunity does not, however, provide the Town Council, or any other legislative body, license to advance its own religious views in preference to all others, as the Town Council did here."
Reacting to the ruling, Hashmel Turner, a city council member and pastor in Fredericksburg, Va., last week stopped saying prayers at official meetings after other council members asked him to allow another member to pray. Mr. Turner, who said he would not omit references to Christ in his prayers, acceded to their request. He said that he didn't want to burden taxpayers with a prolonged and expensive lawsuit.
- A court of appeal in the German state of Hesse in Frankfurt on July 29 upheld an earlier ruling that parents must send their children to state-sanctioned schools. The case involved Sigrid and Michael Bauer, homeschool parents who contend that some school subjects are incompatible with their evangelical faith and that public schools undermine biblical standards of decency and obedience to parents. They served notice that they may appeal to the German Supreme Court. At least 500 German children from 200 families are homeschooled, according to homeschool advocates and press estimates.
- Nearly 2,000 young Christians from across the world are descending on Athens and the Olympic Games this month to take part in FLAME 2004, a witness effort by a variety of Christian organizations. Targeting athletes, support staffs, and spectators, their activities range from extending a smile, a cup of water, and a helping hand where one is needed to street evangelism. One of the many public "festival" programs includes a "True Love Waits" rally, emphasizing sexual purity and monogamy. It is scheduled for Aug. 22 at a theater near the Acropolis.
- The Anti-Defamation League condemned a vote by delegates to the national meeting of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that supported divesting from companies that do business with Israel. Delegates likened the action to the divestment campaign against South African apartheid two decades ago. ADL officials said in a letter to PCUSA leaders that they were "offended and distressed" by the vote.