August 10, 2007

1522 World News

The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors

Report Says Pentagon Erred 
in Allowing Christian Video

BY JENNIFER KOONS                                                                                                        ©2007 Religion News Service
capHigh-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for a private evangelical organization, according to a report by the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General.
A Pentagon spokesman said August 6 it would be up to the Army and Air Force whether to discipline the military brass involved, but said no action is expected against top civilian employees.
The 47-page report, which was released on July 27, found that Air Force Major General Jack Catton, Major General Peter Sutton and a colonel whose name was not disclosed, and three Army officers -- Brigadier General Bob Caslen, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks and a lieutenant colonel, also not identified--were wrong to take part in a fund-raising video for the Arlington, Virginia-based Christian Embassy.
The Christian Embassy is part of the conservative Campus Crusade for Christ International, and sponsors prayer breakfasts and other religious activities for high-ranking federal employees and elected officials. The dispute over the video surfaced last December against a backdrop of complaints that military officials frequently turn a blind eye to improper proselytizing and show preferential treatment toward evangelicals.
"The officers were filmed during the duty day, in uniform with rank clearly displayed, in official and often identifiable Pentagon locations," the report said. "Their remarks conferred approval of and support to Christian Embassy, and the remarks of some officers implied they spoke for a group of senior military leaders rather than just for themselves."
At one point during the 10-minute video, which was filmed inside the Pentagon in 2005, Caslen refers to the Christian Embassy's special efforts for high-ranking officers through Flag Fellowship groups. He notes that whenever he runs into another fellowship member, "I immediately feel like I am being held accountable because we are the aroma of Jesus Christ."
Catton, from the Air Force, explains in the video that the Christian Embassy helped him become a "director on the joint staff."
"As I meet the people that come into my directorate I tell them right up front who Jack Catton is, and I start with the fact that I'm an old-fashioned American, and my first priority is my faith in God, then my family and then country," Catton says on the video. "I share my faith because it describes who I am."
Catton later told the inspector general's office that he believed the Christian Embassy, which hosts a weekly prayer breakfast at the Pentagon, had become a "quasi-federal entity."
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based watchdog group founded by retired Air Force attorney Mikey Weinstein, asked the Department of Defense to investigate the video last December. Weinstein expressed disappointment with the report's findings, which he said didn't go far enough to reprimand those involved. "They suggested corrective action and we wanted to see courts martial," he said, adding that his organization planned to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense.
Study Looks at College Age Church Dropouts
BY STAFF                                                                                                                                        ©2007 Baptist Press
A new study from LifeWay Research reveals that more than two-thirds of young adults who attend a Protestant church for at least a year in high school will stop attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22.
LifeWay Research conducted the survey of more than 1,000 adults ages 18-30 in April and May. Each indicated they had attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year in high school.
According to the study, 70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22. In most cases, the decision to leave was not planned far in advance. Only 20 percent of these "church dropouts" agree that while they were attending church regularly in high school they "planned on taking a break from church once [they] finished high school."
Among those who predetermined to leave church, few told anyone about their desire. One reflected, "I just told my parents I didn't like it," rather than sharing an intention to actually leave. Another said, "I kept my feelings secret for fear of losing my friends."
"Lots of alarming numbers have been tossed around regarding church dropouts," said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. "We wanted to get at the real situation with clear research -– and there is some bad news here, no question. But, there are also some important solutions to be found in the research. When we know why people drop out, we can address how to help better connect them."
Ninety-seven percent of church dropouts list a so-called life change or life situation as the reason for leaving. Among those reasons listed by dropouts:

          --"I simply wanted a break from church" (27 percent).
          --"I moved to college and stopped attending church" (25 percent). 
          --"Work responsibilities prevented me from attending" (23 percent).
          --"I moved too far away from the church to continue attending"  (22 percent).                 

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Abstinence Funding Weakened in Legislation

BY STAFF                                                                                                            ©2007 Baptist Press 

Part of the children's health legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives August 1 extends Title V abstinence education funding for another two years but expands the funding to include "comprehensive sex-education" programs, which already are heavily funded and too often promote premarital sex.

The bill, passed by the House 225-204, greatly increases federal funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, although issues of concern to conservatives--such as promoting sexual abstinence among youth and defending unborn children--are not protected in the legislation.

The Title V language of the bill includes "medical accuracy" requirements that the pro-family National Abstinence Education Association says are hostile to present abstinence education programs. The new language also will grant funding only to those programs that have measurable success in reducing teen pregnancy and STD rates.

"They're simply giving states more money to fund Planned Parenthood and the programs that teach our children to have sex," Linda Klepacki, a sexual health analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said in a statement. "Comprehensive sex education will once again have a monopoly on your school systems."

The Senate passed a more modest expansion of SCHIP by a 68-31 vote August 2, securing for now a majority vote large enough to override a threatened veto by President Bush.

"Comprehensive sex education gets funded over abstinence by a 10-to-1 margin," Ashley Horne, a federal policy analyst for Focus Action, told CitizenLink. "Allowing abstinence money to be used for comprehensive sex ed is like having a banquet in front of you but then stealing food from your poor neighbor."    

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Beliefs in the Afterlife Grow With Age, Survey Shows
BY MICHELLE C. RINDELS                                                                                         ©2007 Religion News Service
As Americans get older, their confidence in an afterlife increases, according to a recent survey of people over 50 conducted by the AARP, the advocacy group for seniors.
Seventy-three percent of older people believe in life after death, and two-thirds of those believers say that confidence has grown with age, according to the survey.
But while 86 percent of respondents say there is a heaven (70 percent believe in hell), they were split on what it looks like and if humans go there. Forty percent of those who believe say heaven is a place, while 47 percent think heaven is a "state of being."
"Americans see life after death as a very dynamic thing," said Alan F. Segal, a professor of religion at Barnard College, in the AARP article. "You don't really hear about angels and wings, sitting on clouds playing melodies. ... They talk about humor in the afterlife, continuing education, unifying families--like a retirement without financial needs."
While most people believe that heaven exists, and about nine in 10 of them say they'll end up there, they are less sure about others. People who believe in heaven say an average of 64 percent of others will get there, too. Other findings in the survey:
           -- Women are more likely to believe in an afterlife (80 percent) than men (64 percent).
           --Income matters: Of those who believe in an afterlife, 90 percent of those earning $25,000 or less believe in heaven, compared to just 78 percent of people with an income of $75,000 and above.
           -- 29 percent of those who believe in a heaven think one must "believe in Jesus Christ" to enter. Twenty-five percent  believe "good people" go to heaven, and 10 percent think everyone is admitted.
The survey was conducted by telephone between June 29 and July 10. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.