Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Gallup:Less Than Half US Pop. Church Members; First Time in 80 Yrs.Under Half Belong to Church

 A new Gallup poll shows that while America remains a highly religious nation with seven in 10 claiming affiliation with some kind of organized religion, for the first time in nearly 80 years, fewer than half of them now say they have formal membership in a specific house of worship, the Christian Post website reports today (March 31, 2021).

In 1937, says Gallup, some 70% of Americans had formal church membership and that measure remained steady for the next 60 years until it began a steady decline in 1998. In 2020, formal membership in houses of worship stood at 49%.

One of the biggest factors Gallup found strongly correlates with church membership is age. Some ^^% of traditionalists -- U.S. adults born before 1946 -- have formal membership in a church, compared with 58% of Baby Boomers, 50%  of those in Generation X, and 36% of millenials. 

Finland Rated World's Happiest Country of 2021; Followed by Iceland, Denmark, and Switzerland

 For the sixth year in a row, Finland has been named the world's happiest country by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Refinery 29 website reports today (March 31, 2021). 

Iceland places second on this year's list, followed by Denmark in third place. Switzerland and the Netherlands also make the top five. 

Sponsored by the UN, the  World Happiness Report asks people from 140 countries to rate their own happiness. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Suicide Bombers Wound 20 at Indonesian Church; Two IS Backers Blast Church at Palm Sunday Mass

Two attackers, believed to be strong supporters of the Islamic State (IS) group, blew themselves up outside a packed Roman Catholic cathedral during a Palm Sunday Mass on Indonesia's Sulawesi island, wounding at least 20 people, the Religion News website reports today (March 30, 2021). 

Rev. Wilhelmus Tulak, a priest at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, said he had just finished celebrating Palm Sunday Mass when a loud bang shocked his congregation.

He added that security guards at the church were suspicious of two men on a motorcycle who wanted to enter the building and when they went to confront them, one of the men detonated his explosives

Police said both attackers were killed instantly and evidence collected at the scene indicated one of t he two was a woman.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Over 24 States See Increase in New COVID Cases; People Moving Too Fast Results in COVID Growth

 More than two dozen states are now reporting at least a 10 percent increase of new coronavirus cases compared to a week earlier, due to people moving too fast from safety standards, The Daily Beast website reports today (March 29, 2021).

Nationwide, the average number if new COVID-19 cases saw a 7 percent increase from the previous week.

The average number of new virus-related hospitalizations also saw a slight uptick.


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Pope Leads Almost Empty Palm Sunday Services; Says Devil Taking Advantage of COVID Pandemic

 Pope Francis led Palm Sunday services in an almost empty St. Peter's Basilica because of coronavirus restrictions for the second consecutive year and said the devil is taking advantage of the pandemic, the Reuters website reports today (March 28, 2021).

In pre-coronavirus times, Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Ho;y Week and leads to Easter, tens of thousands of people would pack St. Peter's Square holding olive branches and intricately woven palm fronds in an outdoor ceremony.

Instead, only about 120 members of the faithful participated in Sunday's Mass.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Romney Awarded Profile in Courage for His Vote; Only GOP Sen. to Vote against Trump in 1st Trial

 U,S. Sen Mitt Romney was named the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage , the AP News website reports today (March 27, 2021).

He received the award yesterday for splitting with his party and becoming the only Republican senator to vote to convict former President Donald Trump during the first impeachment trial.

The award was created by the family of the late president to honor public figures who risk their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good, and is named after Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Profiles in Courage."

Friday, March 26, 2021

Rutgers Is 1st US College to Require Fall Vaccine; Students Need Anti-COVID Shots to Attend Class

Rutgers University in New Jersey has become the first major college in the U.S. to require all of its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend classes on campus this fall, the UPI website reports today (March 26, 2021).

Administrators said President Joe Biden's mandate for everyone to be eligible for a vaccine shot by May will give students enough time to get the shot. 

"We are committed to health and safety for all members of our community, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students," Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said in a statement. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Netanyahu Fails to Achieve a Majority Coalition; Voting Results Keep Israel in Perpetual Gridlock

 Israel's Central Elections Committee has confirmed the final results of this week's vote, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again failing to achieve a majority coalition, The Daily Beast website reports today (March 25, 2021).

Netanyahu's Likud party and its allies only managed to secure 52 out of the 61 parliamentary seats needed for a governing majority. 

The election results leave Israel in a perpetual gridlock after four consecutive elections in two years. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Pope Orders Salary Cuts for Cardinals, Clerics; Done to Save Jobs,Due to Less COVID Income

 Pope Francis has ordered cardinals to take a 10 percent pay cut and reduced the salaries of most other clerics working in the Vatican in order to save jobs of employees as the coronavirus pandemic has hurt the Holy See's income, the Reuters website reports today (March 24, 2021).

The Vatican said today that Francis issued a decree introducing proportional cuts starting on April 1. 

A senior Vatican prelate said it was the first time in living memory that a pope had taken such action.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Teaching Wales Rules Atheism Be Taught; Is Part of New "Rel.,Values and Ethics" Training

A new curriculum for teaching religion in Wales mandates that atheism be given "equal footing" with Christianity and any other faith, the WND website reports today (March 23, 2021). 

The U.K.'s Christian Institute said the Welsh parliament has voted to replace its previous religious education standards for schools with new "Religion, Values and Ethics" training that is compulsory. 

"The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill allows for disproportionate time to be spent studying Humanism or atheism," the institute said.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Franklin Graham Blasts Biden's Love of Abortion; Biden Must Recognize Abortion Is Murder,Stop It

Evangelical Christian leader Franklin Graham, son of the late world famous evangelist Billy Graham, said he is praying that President Joe Biden's eyes will be opened to the truth about abortion, the Print Friendly website reports today (March 22, 2021).

Writing March 19 on Facebook, Graham said, "President Biden should consider that, in God's eyes, abortion is murder."

Graham added that Biden claims he is a devout Catholic, but his radical pro-abortion views have drawn criticism from Catholic and Protestant leaders. Among other things, Biden signed a COVID-19 relief bill that has no limits on taxpayer funding for abortions. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

US Sec. of Defense Visits Afghanistan to End War; Afghan War Is 20 Yrs. Old, Longest in US History

 U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin touched down in Afghanistan today (March 21, 2021), making an unannounced visit as the Biden administration wrestles with how to end its role in a war that is 20 years old -- the longest in American history -- without allowing security to disintegrate, according to the Washington Post website.

Austin, the retired Army general selected by President Biden to run the Pentagon, flew into Kabul's international airport before boarding a Black Hawk helicopter to meet with officials that included Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. diplomat Ross Wilson and Army Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Austin told reporters traveling with him in Kabul that senior U.S. officials want to see "a responsible end to this conflict" and  "a transition to something else."

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Erdogan Annuls Turkey's Treaty against Violence; Seen as Blow to Women's Rights, Cutting Violence

Turkey has withdrawn from a landmark European treaty protecting women from violence that it was the first to sign 10 years ago, provoking a wave of anger at a time when attacks have been on the rise, the Euro News website reports today (March 20, 2021).

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree today annulling Turkey's ratification of the Istanbul Convention, named after the country's largest city.

His move is a blow to women's rights advocates who say the agreement is crucial to combating domestic violence. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

CDC: 3 Feet between Students in Schools Is OK; Schools Can Have Full-Time In-Person Classes

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidelines for schools today (March 19, 2021), saying three feet of distance between students is sufficient for all elementary and many middle and high schools, a change that lays the groundwork for districts to reopen full-time for in-person classes, according to the Washington Post website.

The announcement came as the CDC published new research that found limited coronavirus transmission in schools that require masks but not always six feet of distance, which had been the standard. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement today: "CDC is committed to leading with science and updating our guidance as new evidence emerges. These updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction."

Thursday, March 18, 2021

House Removes Deadline for States to Pass ERA; Three-Fourths of States Must Ratify ERA to Pass

 The U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to remove a deadline for states to ratify the decades-old Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) -- making another attempt at getting the landmark proposal enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the UPI website reports today (March 18, 2021).

Lawmakers voted 222-204 along party lines with four Republicans joining Democrats to remove the deadline for three-fourths of states to ratify the ERA, which would add a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that bans denial of equal rights on the basis of sex. 

After the House voted to remove the deadline, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who introduced the resolution in January, said that women simply want to be included in the Constitution and have a guarantee of equal rights. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Vatican Ban on Same-Sex Couples Prompts Pain; Ruling Sparks Defiance, Refutal by Many Clergy

 The Vatican's recent directive banning the blessing of same-sex unions has sparked defiance among some priests in Europe and left bishops perplexed on how to minister to gay Catholics, the Reuters website reports today (March 17, 2021).

Conservatives praised the ruling issued on March 15 by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but it disappointed gay Catholics.

"I feel vicarious shame for my Church," Johan Bonny, the Roman Catholic bishop of Antwerp, Belgium wrote in a commentary today in the Flemish newspaper De Standard.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Mexico Has More Migrants Than Past 20 Yrs.; Biden to Allow Over 4K Sole Children into US

 The U.S. is set to encounter more migrants on its southwestern border with Mexico than it had over the past 20 years, warns Secretary of Homeland Security, defending Washington's handling of the ongoing influx of unaccompanied child migrants, the RT website reports today (March 15, 2021).

The prediction was made today by the chief of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas.

The influx of unaccompanied children -- about 4,300 of them -- desiring t o stay in the U.S., comes after President Joe Biden's decision to let all minors in the U.S.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Vatican:Church Won't Bless Same-Sex Unions; Church Can Welcome Gay People, Not Unions

The Vatican declared today (March 15, 2021) that the Catholic Church won't bless same-sex unions since God "cannot bless sin," according to the Yahoo News website.

The Vatican's orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic clergy have the authority to bless gay unions.The answer, approved by Pope Francis, was "negative."

The note distinguished between the church's welcoming and blessing of gay people, which it upheld, but not their unions. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Israeli Study:Aspirin Can Prevent Getting COVID; Those Taking Aspirin Less Likely to Test Positive

 Aspirin -- one of the oldest and most widely used drugs -- is preventing COVID-19 infections, Israeli scientists have claimed in "exciting" findings, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 14, 2021). 

In the peer-reviewed research, they found that in a sample of Israeli PCR tests, patients who take small doses of aspirin were 29 percent less likely to test positive. They cross-referenced 10,477 results with medical records covering what preventive drugs patients take. 

"We were really excited to see a big reduction in the proportion of people testing positive, and this gives a promising indication that aspirin, such a well-known and inexpensive drug, may be helpful in fighting the pandemic," Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern of Bar-Ilan University told the Times of Israel.

She also mentioned another finding: Aspirin users who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are likely to have a shorter illness -- by about two days -- and be less likely to suffer from after-effects of the coronavirus.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Syria's Civil War Has Now Gone on for 10 Years; Bid for Democratic Reforms, Assad's Ouster Fail

 Ten years after the start of a revolution, Syria is in ruins and in danger of collapse, the UPI website reports today (March 13, 2021). 

Although President Bashar al-Assad has survived the civil war and remains in power, there is no solution in sight to restore peace and end the population's suffering. 

The major protests that broke out in Syria on March 15, 2011, marking the start of the revolution, soon expanded to towns and cities across the country. They have demanded democratic reforms and Assad's ouster to end four decades of oppressive rule. 

While Assad is trying to consolidate his hold on power and is preparing for presidential elections in the coming months, he is facing an even bigger threat: The economy is collapsing due to the impact of war, destruction, debts, corruption, militia rule, and mismanagement of diminishing resources. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Biden: All US Adults Eligible for Vaccine by May1; Sees Sense of Normalcy Occurring in US by July 4

 President Joe Biden told the U.S. last night he wants to make all adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by May 1, and urged Americans to stay vigilant or face more restrictions, the Reuters website reports today (March 12, 2021).

In a forceful but somber speech from the White House on the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, Biden said if Americans pulled together there could be a greater sense of normalcy by July 4th, Independence Day.

The date is a new goal for the president and a projection of hope amid a pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 people in the U.S., the most of any country.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

St. Pat's Day Canceled in Ireland Due to COVID; Ireland Has Reported 4,500 Coronavirus Deaths

 It will be a masked and restrained St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, with the government maintaining its highest "Level 5" restriction on businesses and the Irish public as it attempts to turn back a January spike in coronavirus cases, the America Media website reports today (March 11, 2011).

A year ago on March 11, Ireland suffered its first COVID-19 death. This year on March 6 its  prime minister, Micheal Martin, celebrated the "good news" that Ireland had distributed half a million coronavirus vaccinations about two months after the first inoculation.

With a population of 4.8 million, Ireland has reported 225,000 cases and 4,500 deaths from the coronavirus. It is one of the 10 European countries where the British variant of the virus is now dominant. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Beth Moore Quits Southern Baptist Denomination; Due to Sex Abuse,Christian Nationalism,Race Talk

 Author and Bible teacher Beth Moore is breaking ties with the Southern Baptist denomination, the Christian Headlines website reports today (March 10, 2021).

"I am still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists," Moore said.

Widespread sex abuse, the rise of Christian Nationalism, and the current debate over Critical Race Theory within the denomination have all played a part in Moore's departure. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Biden's Dog Bites a White House Security Staffer; Two White House Dogs Go to Biden Home in Del.

 Two German Shepherds belonging to President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were returned to the Biden family home in Delaware last week after aggressive behavior at the White House involving  Major Biden, the CNN website reports today (March 9, 2021). 

Major, who was adopted by Biden in November 2018 from a Delaware animal shelter, had a biting incident with a member of the White House security.The incident was serious enough to have the dogs moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where they remain.

 "[Major, 3,and Champ, 10,] are still getting acclimated and accustomed to their surroundings and new people..." said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, She added the injury was handled by the White House medical unit.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Pope States His Trip to Iraq Was Worth the Risk; Dialogue with Other Religions Leads to Harmony

 Wrapping up his historic trip to Iraq yesterday, Pope Francis said the Church's commitment to dialogue with other churches and with other religions flows from the Gospel, but some Catholics disagree, the Catholic News website reports today (March 8, 2021).

"Often you must take a risk" to promote harmony, he told reporters yesterday as he flew back to Rome from Baghdad. 

There are some criticisms by Catholics: "The Pope isn't courageous, he's reckless. He's doing things against Catholic doctrine. He's a step away from heresy"

Still, he said he has become convinced that God wants the Church -- and all humanity for that matter -- to continue promoting a sense of belonging  to one human family.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Pope Calls on Iraqis to Forgive Islamic Extremists; Urges Christians Rebuild Churches Wrecked by IS

 Pope Francis urged Iraq's Christians today (March 7, 2021) to forgive the injustices against them by Muslim extremists and to rebuild, as he visited the wrecked shells of churches and met ecstatic crowds in the community's historic heartland, which was nearly erased by the Islamic State (IS) group's horrific reign, according to the Yahoo News website. 

At each step in northern Iraq, the remnants of its Christian population turned out jubilant and in colorful dress. 

The traditional Christian towns dotting the Nineveh Plains of the north emptied out in 2014 as Christians fled the Islamic State group's onslaught. 

Only a few have returned to their homes since the defeat of IS in Iraq was declared in 2017, and the rest remain scattered elsewhere in Iraq or abroad.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Greek Island Is 1st in Europe to Be COVID-Free; All 520 Residents Have Had 2 Doses of Vaccine

 The little-known Greek island of Kastellorizo is being hailed a success for its vaccine rollout, becoming the first in Europe to be totally COVID-free, the Euro News website reports today (March 6, 2021).

Tucked away in a remote part of the Aegean Sea, a few miles from the Turkish coast, ir inoculated all of its 520 residents against COVID-19 with first and second doses of Pfizer vaccine.

Since March 2020 only one COVID-19 case has been detected on Kastellorizo. The Greek government is trying to protect small islands that do not have large hospitals by vaccinating their whole populations.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Pope Francis Becomes First Pope to Visit Iraq; Pleads with Hosts to End Violence, Extremism

Pope Francis made a rousing call for peace on the first day of his historic visit to war-battered Iraq today (March 5, 2021), pleading with his hosts for an "end to acts of violence and extremism,factions and intolerance,"  according to the Daily Mail website.

The 84-year-old, who defied security fears and the COVID-19 pandemic to become the first pontiff to travel to Iraq, urged religious faiths to "look beyond our differences" in a country ravaged by ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] that is home to one of the world's most persecuted Christian communities.     

Delivering a message of hope to worshippers in Iraq, he paid tribute to the "age-old presence of Christians in the land, and their contributions to the life of the nation."

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Five Jehovah's Witnesses Are Nabbed in Russia; Banned in Russia Since 2017 as Extremist Group

 Five Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia's Komi Republic have been accused of organizing and taking part in the activities of an extremist group, which has been banned in the country since 2017, the RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) website reports today (March 4, 2021). 

Russia's Investigative Committee said today that a court in the city of Syktyvkar ordered one suspect in the case to be placed in pretrial detention. Two Jehovah's Witnesses were placed under house arrest and another two were ordered not to leave the city while an investigation in the case takes place.

Jehovah's Witnesses said a day earlier that police searched at least 14 homes of members of their congregation in Syktyvkar.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

TX Ends Mask Requirements at Critical Time; Ruling to End Mask Mandate Is Irresponsible

 Texas Governor Greg Abbott's order to lift the state's mask requirement and increase the permitted capacity of all businesses to 100% has prompted sharp criticism from health experts and government officials who deemed it irresponsible and premature, The Washington Post website reports today (March 3, 2021).

The announcement by Abbott came at a moment when public health officials are warning that new, more transmissible variants could be taking hold. 

A steady decline in new cases stalled this week across the U.S., and cases actually increased in Texas, the second-most-popular state. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Pope Benedict Slams Biden for Backing Abortions; Scorns Cath.Doctrine, May Be Denied Communion

Retired Pope Benedict XVI brought up the conflict between President Joe Biden's claims of faith and his support for radical pro-abortion policies in an interview today (March 1, 2021), according to the Lifenews website. 

Benedict, 93, retired as head of the Catholic Church in 2013. He recently spoke with the Italian news outlet Corriere della Sera about a number of issues, including Biden, the second Catholic U.S. president after John F. Kennedy. 

Biden describes himself as a devout Catholic, but he also supports radical pro-abortion and anti-religious freedom policies that contradict his Catholic faith. 

This has caused much controversy among Catholics -- especially Catholic leaders in America --  about whether Biden should be allowed to receive communion for his sacrilegious violation of Catholic doctrine.