Weekly Religion News, with items on prayer in American schools, how religion affects our political views and more.
A clear majority of Americans, even those who don't practice a particular faith, say public school students should have more latitude to express their religious faith in school, according to the latest State of the First Amendment poll conducted by the First Amendment Center.
The national survey, conducted between July 28 and Aug. 6, found:
75 percent of those polled said students should be able to speak about their faith at public school events.
80 percent think student speakers should be allowed to offer a prayer during public school events.
Although about 2/3 of survey respondents (66 percent) endorsed the general idea that the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state, the survey also found:
76 percent support the proclaiming of a National Day of Prayer by Congress or the president, with that endorsement strongest among Protestants and Catholics.
53 percent said the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation, a result similar to what was found in a 2008 survey by the First Amendment Center.
60 percent of Protestants said a candidate's affiliation was important in their voting choice, as compared with 44 percent of Catholics and just 17 percent of those not practicing a religion.
"Clearly most Americans want to keep government out of religion, but they don't see an expression of faith by a student at a public school event as a violation of the separation of church and state," said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center. "Public school students actually enjoy quite a bit of religious freedom on school grounds, but high-profile battles over commencement ceremonies and other school-wide events have left the opposite impression."
Week in Religion
On Sept. 21, 1897, the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial was published in the New York Sun.
On Sept. 23, 1860, Richard Armstrong, a Presbyterian minister and Hawaiian missionary, died in Maui.
On Sept. 24, 1943, Josef Mengele arrived as thenew doctor in Aushcwitz, Poland, and was nicknamed “the Angel of Death.”
When it comes to heavy political and social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, many Americans say they are influenced by their religion’s stance on the matter.
However, according to the 2010 Annual Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Survey, far fewer people cite religion as their main influence on other topics like immigration, the environment and poverty.
When and how religion influences American views:
Death penalty: 19 percent say that religion is the most important factor in their thinking. Among those people, 12 percent are supporters of the death penalty and 32 percent oppose it.
Same-sex marriage: 35 percent say that religion is the most important factor in their thinking and 60 percent of those people oppose it.
Abortion: 26 percent say religion mainly influences their views on this topic, and 45 percent of those who oppose abortion cite religion as their main influence.
Poverty: 10 percent say religion is the most important factor on whether or not government should provide assistance to the poor.
Environment: 6 percent say their views on environmental issues are shaped primarily by religion.
“Hitler, the War, and the Pope” by Ronald J. Rychlak
In a thoroughly researched and meticulously documented analysis of the historical record, Ronald Rychlak has gotten past the anger and emotion and uncovered the truth about Pius XII. Not only does he refute the accusations against the Pope, but for the first time documents how the slanders against him had their roots in a Soviet Communist campaign to discredit him and by extension, the Church.
This sympathetic portrait of Pope Pius XII serves as a direct rebuttal to John Cornwall's book “Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII,” a scathing indictment of the controversial pontiff's wartime record.
Get to Know …
George Fox (1624 – 1691) founded the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as the Quakers. Amid social upheaval and war, he offered a different and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith.
Although persecuted by British authorities for his beliefs, such men as William Penn and Oliver Cromwell respected Fox. His journal was published after his death and, today, it is popular even among non-Quakers.
Sharia: literally means "the path to a watering hole" in archaic Arabic. The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. describes Sharia as "... a religious code for living, in the same way that the Bible offers a moral system for Christians."It is used to refer both to the Islamic system of law and the totality of the Islamic way of life.
Religion Around the World: Religious makeup of Aruba
Roman Catholic: 80.8 percent
Evangelist: 4.1 percent
Jehovah’s Witnesses: 2.5 percent
Protestant: 2.5 percent
Methodist: 1.2 percent
Jewish: .2 percent
Other: 5.1 percent
- CIA Factbook
GateHouse News Service