Americans say they pray for forgiveness more than petitioning
The Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating survey of "How America Prays." Most Americans — 58 percent — strongly agree "that prayer can have a positive impact on national or world events." Another 38 percent somewhat agree, and only 11 percent disagree.
"By praying, Americans are doing what they can to make the world a better, safer place," says Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, the company that actually conducted the poll (pdf).
When they pray, it seems they do not pray as the Pharisees do. The most common form of prayer, the 914 Americans surveyed said, is seeking guidance, which 62 percent of respondents say is a reason they pray. The next two on the list — at 54 percent each — are showing gratitude and praising God. Then comes asking forgiveness (47%), seeking deeper understanding (46%), seeking healing (45%) and asking for something (43%).
When it comes to actually praying for national or world events, 71 percent said they have prayed for peace, 49 percent said they prayed about terrorism, and 45 percent said they prayed for national and world leaders. The poll has many other interesting findings as well.
Leighton Ford: Islam is not evil
"It is not helpful, I am convinced, and indeed harmful to our own faith, for us to make blanket condemnations of other religions," evangelist Leighton Ford writes in Monday's Charlotte Observer. "A religion which was totally 'evil' would appeal only to sociopaths. … The religious quest is part of our common response to the wonder and tragedy of life, and to the homing call of our Creator. And insofar as 'religion' is a human response, any religion can be distorted and used for selfish and even evil purposes."
Ford's column specifically focuses on Islam: "As a convinced Christian I have important things in common with Muslim friends and neighbors. In addition to our common humanity, we share a belief in one God, that God reveals himself, and that we are called to submit to him in trust and loyalty. There are also great differences between us, especially in how sinful human beings relate to God, and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But we can confront these crucial differences with passion, conviction and mutual respect."
Ford's article never mentions Franklin Graham's name, but it's almost certainly a response (at least in part) to the hullabaloo over Graham's comments about Islam. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be terribly significant: dozens upon dozens of opinion pieces have responded to Franklin Graham's remarks. But Leighton Ford isn't just any commentator. He's Franklin's uncle, and spent 30 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which Franklin now leads. Ford, 72, is still in Charlotte, where he heads Leighton Ford Ministries.
Portland, Maine, faces another fight over domestic partnership requirements
Earlier this year, the Salvation Army in Portland, Maine, decided it would rather lose a $60,000 grant than comply with a city ordinance requiring its employees' domestic partners to receive the same benefits as spouses. Now Catholic Charities, faced with losing $85,000, may take the city to court.
"I think clearly the ordinance is discriminatory in that it singles out religiously affiliated organizations," Catholic Charities Maine CEO John Kerry tells the Portland Press Herald. "We sincerely believe we should not have to violate our ethical and moral directives to serve the public good."
"There's no question they have a strong case to make," says Gary Wood, the city's attorney.
Missions and ministry:
- Community comfort: Nurturing the spirit of people who are ill | After Wednesday services, carloads of singers drive along the country roads, stopping at front porches of people who are ill (The Seattle Times)
- Jesus video goes to every household in South Carolina | 9/11-themed project also sends tapes to parts of North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, California and Washington (Morning Edition, NPR, audio)
- Gentle message from a heavenly empire | Bill Gaither, 66, is one of the country's most popular Christian singers, and he oversees a gospel empire (The New York Times)
- Anne Graham Lotz: Teacher, not preacher | She compares the ministries of her father and brother to the work of an obstetrician, and her own to the work of a pediatrician (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Study: Humans not fit for cloning | Researchers at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research found that cloning to create new animals will almost always create an abnormal creature (Wired News)
- Study sees faint hope on human cloning | MIT scientist says existing methods are 'irresponsible' (Reuters/Boston Globe)
- Women seek right to use frozen embryos | Former partners want to destroy them (The Times, London)
- Women take fight to save frozen embryos to high court (The Guardian, London)
- Women in fight to use their frozen embryos (The Daily Telegraph, London)
Sex and marriage:
- Ban on same-sex marriages ruled unconstitutional | Quebec court joins Ontario in challenging federal definition (The National Post)
- Battle over book-banning grows | Another sex-education book volume in library at center of storm (Houston Chronicle)
- Anglican Church in Sydney vows to fight planned legal changes to 'spouse' status | A New South Wales Government bill to be debated in the lower house next week will give defacto couples, including same-sex couples, the same rights as married couples for work entitlements, financial security and protection in court (ABC News, Australia)
- South Africa's gays target marriage | On Tuesday, South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that homosexual couples have the right to adopt children (BBC)
- Archbishop Milingo confesses all on Moon marriage | Says he may have been brainwashed. (Reuters)
- A critic takes the Catholic Church to task for its architecture | The architectural designs of newly constructed Catholic churches have caused some debate within various congregations (The New York Times)
- Sainthood sought for late archbishop who pioneered televised religion | Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, campaign to canonize Fulton J. Sheen (Associated Press)
Sex abuse scandal:
- Victims' groups irate over prosecutors' deal with Catholic Church | Guidelines determine such matters as how and when alleged victims would be contacted and what sort of information the church should disclose to law enforcement (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Pell accuser stands by his claim | Case will go forward (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Bishops Quinn, McCormack abuse panel | Both are defendants in lawsuits brought by sex abuse victims (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
Other stories of interest:
- Christian group rapped for portraying police as murderers | A police force has complained to a Christian theatre company over a play depicting an innocent man being beaten to death by police officers (Ananova)
- Larry Wall On Perl, Religion, and … | "If the Creator really did write himself into his own story, that's where we ought to expect to see creative solutions," says the creator of the computer language Perl. (Slashdot)
- Israel waits for Sea of Galilee's low tide to turn | Since 1998, the last normal year, the Sea of Galilee has dropped almost 20 feet. The reason is a combination of drought and overuse (The New York Times)
- Churches blow cold on baked beans | The church's long connection with food has taken a fresh twist in the diocese of Gloucester, when it yesterday appealed for this year's harvest festival to be free of baked beans (The Guardian, London)
- Gun-case vicar is sacked | Michael Daggett was jailed after hiding a loaded gun at his home (Manchester Online)
- Museum seeks cash to prepare for Scrolls | It's not cheap to display the ancient manuscripts (The Muskegon [Mich.] Chronicle)
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