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
Sexual Content on Television
Linked to Teen Pregnancy
COMPILED BY ERIN ROACH ©2008 Baptist Press
Teenagers who have a high level of exposure to sexual content on television are twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy compared to those teens who have limited exposure to such content, according to a study published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"We know that if a child is watching more than an hour of TV a day, we know there's a sexual scene in [the] content every 10 minutes, then they're getting a fair amount of sexual content," Anita Chandra, the study's lead author and a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, which conducted the study, said. Previous studies have linked sex on TV to earlier initiation of sex, but the RAND study is the first to demonstrate an association between sex on TV and teenage pregnancy. Researchers evaluated 23 sitcoms, dramas, animated shows and reality shows on broadcast and cable for sexual content and then asked teenagers how frequently they watched the shows, which included "Sex and the City," "That '70s Show" and "Friends." Chandra told CNN.com that even when accounting for other factors such as demographics and risk-taking behaviors, the connection between televised sexual content and teen pregnancy remained. "You cannot expect to have a sexually saturated society with all of your media outlets, but then, at the same time, be surprised when this influences people and their behaviors," Yolanda Wimberly, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the Morehouse School of Medicine, told CNN. "If you're going to do it, then you need to make sure you follow it up with education that people need to make responsible decisions." The study is based on a national survey of about 2,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 who were recruited in 2001 and asked about their television viewing habits and sexual behavior. The participants were surveyed again in 2002 and in 2004. The latest analysis is based upon results from about 700 participants who had engaged in sexual intercourse by the third survey and reported their pregnancy history, RAND said.
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Third Episcopal Diocese Votes to Secede
Episcopalians in south-central Illinois made their diocese the third one in the U.S. to secede from the Episcopal Church and align itself with a conservative Argentina-based Anglican province.
At the same time, the breakaway Diocese of Pittsburgh elected Bishop Robert Duncan, who was booted from the U.S. church this summer for leading his diocese out of the Episcopal Church, as its new leader.
The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy voted November 7 to sever all ties with the U.S. church and, like Pittsburgh and the Fresno, California-based Diocese of San Joaquin, align itself with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
The Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, which, like Quincy, does not ordain women clergy, is also expected to withdraw and seek oversight from the Southern Cone.
"The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy remains, albeit with fewer members, and we are working to assist in the reorganization of diocesan affairs," said Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
"We assure all, both Episcopalians and former Episcopalians, ... of our prayers for clarity and charity in their spiritual journeys. May all be reminded that the gospel work of healing this world will take the best efforts of every person of faith."
The Quincy diocese had long been one of the most conservative in the U.S. church, and the vote to secede was not unexpected. Like other traditionalists, the Quincy diocese opposed the 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, and accuses the national church of a leftward theological drift.
Lay and clergy delegates in Quincy overwhelmingly approved the secession resolutions, which accused the national church of failure to "uphold the teaching and authority of Holy Scripture" and refusing to "conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican faith."
Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone has appointed the Rev. Ed den Blaauwen to serve as vicar general in Quincy, according to Episcopal News Service. The former bishop of Quincy, Keith Ackerman, abruptly resigned on Nov. 1, citing ill health.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Duncan was re-elected to lead his former diocese, which had voted October 4 to realign with the Southern Cone. Duncan is also head of the Anglican Communion Network, a loose-knit umbrella group for conservative Episcopalians.
"It's good to be back," Duncan said, according to Episcopal News Service. "The most important thing now is to move beyond our conflict with the leadership of the Episcopal Church and turn all of our energies toward living as Christians and effectively sharing the good news of God's love and mercy for all people in the places God has put us."
Pastor Suspects Racism in Church Fire Hours After Obama Win
The pastor of a predominantly black church that was destroyed by a suspicious fire early Wednesday (November 5) the morning after President-elect Barack Obama's historic win said the blaze had "every appearance of being a deliberate act or hate crime."
Upwards of 30 federal, state and local investigators from the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Massachusetts State Police are probing the causes of the blaze. Damage was estimated at $2.5 million to the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The structure, which was about 90 percent complete, was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived shortly after 3:15 a.m., said fire department spokesman Dennis G. Leger.
"This is big. This is huge," said a neighbor, Michael R. Caron, who first reported the blaze. "This is like Springfield, Mississippi, here."
Pastor Bryant Robinson said parishioners are "in shock and disbelief that somebody would do that, particularly when the church is not doing any harm to anybody and trying to help people."
The suspicious fire started hours after Obama made history as the nation's first black president-elect. "There is symmetry," Robinson said of the joy following Obama's win and the loss that quickly followed.
Investigators stressed during a Wednesday press conference, however, that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.
"(Experts) are doing a methodical investigation that has to go where it needs to go before we can have anything to say about this," Leger said.
Robinson said the church will rebuild. "Our belief in God will sustain us. ... Our faith is of such quality and maturity that we will be building," Robinson said.
South Carolina Begins Making "I Believe" License Plates
South Carolina has announced it is ready to start making controversial "I Believe" license plates, a move that is already the subject of a lawsuit.
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) posted an announcement on its Web site that it has received enough pre-applications to begin manufacturing the plates.
"Once the plates have been produced, they will be available to the public in SCDMV offices," it says.
The Hindu American Foundation and Christian and Jewish leaders sued state officials in June over the plates, which feature the words "I Believe," a yellow Christian cross and a stained glass window. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington watchdog group, is representing them in a suit that claims the plates give preferential treatment to a particular faith.
The state's General Assembly unanimously passed legislation in May that authorized the plates. Gov. Mark Sanford allowed the bill to become law without his signature.