CULTURE
Church’S Influence Waning

The church is still pervasive in American society, but its influence, according to a recently released report by the Barna Research Group, has diminished considerably.

Four of five American adults describe themselves as “Christian,” according to the study. And there are 40 times as many churches in the U.S. (350,000) as McDonald’s restaurant franchises. Yet, the report states, “People, for the most part, see the Church as an outdated institution” with “little to offer to a contemporary person.”

This assertion is based partly on findings that just 38 percent of Americans believe the church is relevant for today, and that only 40 percent of adults say they turn to God in tough times.

The study found that while 73 percent believe it is important to read the Bible, only 42 percent do so at least once a week. And whereas 84 percent believe it is important to be a member of a church, a mere 47 percent are church members.

HOMOSEXUALITY
Rabbis Open Doors To Gays

The rabbinic organization of Reform Judaism has voted to admit practicing homosexuals as members, accepting the recommendation of a committee that studied the issue for four years. The committee noted there is a “lack of unanimity in the scientific community” as to the origin of sexual identity. It acknowledged its task was made more complex given the Jewish tradition’s overwhelming condemnation of homosexual behavior. Despite admitting homosexuals as members, a majority of the committee concluded that “heterosexuality is the only appropriate choice for fulfilling one’s covenantal obligations.”

In debate at the annual meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi Philmore Berger cited Leviticus 18:22, which calls homosexuality an “abomination.” ...

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