New Zealand revival. In February 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christ Church, New Zealand, the country’s second largest city. The quake killed 185 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings, including at least 26 church buildings. But a new study by New Zealand’s Victoria University found that “as the steeples fell in Christchurch, the number of people turning to religion rose.” The school’s religious studies lecturer Joseph Bulbulia told New Zealand’s 3News, “We found that secular people were drawn to faith and that’s a unique, interesting finding.” The study found a 3.4 percent increase in people claiming a religious faith following the quake. That’s not a huge increase, but religious involvement in New Zealand has fallen by 1 percent per year for the past half-century. New Zealand had become one of the most secularized countries on the planet. New Zealand pastor Alan Jameson told 3News, “The quake’s one of those things that just nudge people to think, ‘Hey, what’s life about?’” A member of Jameson’s church, Ruth Sharr, said, “For me God is a really loving presence. So when you’re scared you return to that safe place.”
Mark of the beast? A federal court today takes up the case of a Texas girl who says an ID badge is the “mark of the beast” mentioned in the Revelation. According to a National Public Radio report, 15-year-old sophomore Andrea Hernandez learned over the summer that John Jay High School in San Antonio would require new IDs with computer chips that would let the school know electronically if the student is on campus. Hernandez’s family goes to John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church, which preaches pre-millennial dispensationalism. The school district says it is implementing the program to get more accurate—and increased—head-counts of students in attendance each day. More students on campus mean more federal funds for the school district.
Too Mormon. Mitt Romney’s campaign advisors spiked a documentary film designed to “humanize” Mitt Romney. Why? The film focused too much on Gov. Romney’s Mormonism. That’s one of the revelations of a new eBook, The End of the Line, out today as the result of a partnership between Politico and Random House. Among the problems of the Romney campaign: “The ever-loyal Romney … never seriously doubted his pollster Neil Newhouse, who produced a steady stream of fatally over-optimistic poll data rooted in a skewed model of the electorate that vastly underestimated Obama’s support.”