10 interesting facts about Evangelicals from Pew’s religion report

May 23, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

EvangelicalsAmerica, May 17, 2015: The big story this week from Pew Research Center’s report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” was the sharp decline in the number of Christians and large growth in those who are unaffiliated with any religion. Digging deeper, the report contains interesting news about Evangelicals.

Here are 10 interesting facts about Evangelicals from the report:

1. The number of Evangelicals likely increased.

Evangelicals were the only segment of Christianity that likely saw growth. Evangelicals added about two million to their fold from 2007 to 2014. Taking the margin of error into account, the actual increase could be anywhere between zero and five million.

2. Evangelicals were the only Christian group that had more people joining than leaving.

8.4 percent said they left evangelical Christianity while 9.8 percent said they joined evangelical Christianity, a net change of plus 1.5 percentage points. By comparison, Mainline Protestants had a minus 4.3 percentage point net change and Catholics had a minus 10.9 percentage point net change.

3. The percentage of Evangelical Millennials did not change.

There was a large increase in unaffiliated Millennials, from 2007 to 2014. They increased 10 percentage points, from 25 to 35 percent of all Millennials.

This increase, however, did not come from Evangelicals. The proportion of Evangelical Millennials stayed the same, at 21 percent.

The largest drop, six percentage points, came from Catholic Millennials, down from 22 to 16 percent.

4. Evangelicals are now a clear majority among Protestants in the United States.

Pew’s 2007 data showed Evangelicals were 51 percent of all Protestants. Taking the margin of error into account, that may or may not have been a majority.

In 2014 Evangelicals were 55 percent of all U.S. Protestants. Even with the margin of error, one can now say Evangelicals are clearly a majority of all Protestants.

5. Nondenominational Evangelicals are growing; Baptist Evangelicals are shrinking.

The share of Evangelicals who said they belonged to a Baptist denomination shrank from 41 to 36 percent while the share of nondenominational Evangelicals grew from 13 to 19 percent.

6. Some who attend Evangelical churches don’t identify as Evangelical, and some who don’t attend Evangelical churches do identify as Evangelical.

Among those to attend an Evangelical church, 15 percent answered “no” when asked if they would describe themselves as “a born-again or evangelical Christian.”

Twenty-seven percent of Mainline Protestants and 22 percent of Catholics describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical.

7. Those who joined Evangelical churches as adults were mostly raised in homes that were Mainline Protestant or unaffiliated.

Among those who currently identify with an Evangelical church, 19 percent were raised in a Mainline Protestant home and another 19 percent were raised in homes that were unaffiliated with any religion, the highest of any other group.

For comparison, among those raised in Evangelical homes, 12 percent are now Mainline Protestants and 15 percent are now unaffiliated.

8. Among Millennials, the retention rate for the unaffiliated is higher than that for Evangelicals.

The retention rate (the percentage of those still in the religion in which the were raised) is 67 percent for unaffiliated Millennials. In other words, two-thirds of Millennials raised in unaffiliated homes are still unaffiliated. This is higher than the 61 percent retention rate for Evangelicals.

9. Evangelicals are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.

The share of Evangelicals who are not white increased from 19 to 24 percent.

Catholics and Mainline Protestants saw a similar growth in non-whites. Among those three, Catholics have the smallest proportion of whites, at 59 percent, and Mainline Protestants have the largest proportion of whites, at 86 percent.

10. Evangelical growth came from Latinos.

Among Hispanics, the portion of Evangelicals increased from 16 to 19 percent. It was the only race/ethnic group to see an increase in its proportion of Evangelicals.

Also among Hispanics, the largest drop was among Hispanic Catholics, from 58 to 48 percent. The largest increase was among Hispanic unaffiliated, from 14 to 20 percent.

– christian post

Count your blessings

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

John 21:8-11
The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish,
for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.
It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. (NIV)

Count Your Blessings

The Bible teaches us not to put our trust in the numbers or strength of what we have,
but we are taught to give thanks.

A friend of mine took a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee some time ago.

He said, “During the trip, the boat stopped, the captain stripped to his shorts and dived overboard!
He surfaced holding a large fish which he manhandled on board.

We had no idea they could grow that big.
I had previously wondered why 153 large fish could cause the fishermen such a problem.

Thankful

Then I knew! A net with that many of such large fish would truly be a miracle.
No wonder Peter counted them and remembered the exact number!”
The disciples had not gone to fish with Jesus’ approval, but HE did not abandon them.
They did not ask for help, but He told them where to find the fish.

They had small expectations, but Jesus did far more than ever they expected.

Ephesians 3:20 confirms this:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us…”

When that happens we need to record what God has done and give Him thanks.

God is Good

Psalm 136 is an example of that – listing many things the Lord had done for His people –
and every verse ends: “His love endures for ever!”
” It is good to count our blessings;
not in order to boast of what we have got,
but so that we can properly give God the Glory “.

The soul who presumes on the blessing of God, values neither the gifts nor the Giver.

” But the humble soul knows
that when goodness comes to his door,
it is all of God’s grace “.

Grace

That person will treasure His gifts, rejoice and give thanks.
Then it is so easy to forget!

” So why not find a way of recording
what the Lord has done for you –
it will be a great encouragement to you
and to others in the future “.

– fwd: v c mathews

MP Christians appeal for federal protection

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Rashtriya Isai MahasanghBhopal, May 19, 2015: Christians in Madhya Pradesh have appealed to the federal government to provide them protection following a spate of attacks on the Christian community by suspected Hindu hardliners.

A three-member delegation met federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday requesting his help in ending what they called “continuous anti-Christian attacks” in the state ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Christian leaders, including Anita Benjamin, spokesperson of the Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh (national Christian forum) met Singh after a church and a home for disabled children run by Augustinian nuns were attacked last week.

The state has witnessed attacks on Christians ever since the BJP came to power in the state more than a decade ago, Benjamin said.

The BJP winning federal elections a year ago has further emboldened extremists, she told ucanews.com.

More than 20 attacks and incidents of police filing fake conversion cases against Christians have been recorded in the state this year, according to Christian leaders.

During Sunday’s meeting, the delegation told Singh about an attack on Christians praying in a Church while police looked on.

The alleged attack took place on May 12 at a Presbyterian Church in Indore.

Benjamin said Singh listened to what they had to say and immediately telephoned Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and told him to take action against those involved in the attack, she added.

Eyewitnesses said police stood at the gate while fanatics stormed into the church and beat up Christians, accusing them of conversion activities.

“They kept hitting us, alleging that we were involved in religious conversion and fake healings”, said V Joseph, a Protestant pastor.

Religious conversion is a punishable offence in the state, if done without permission of government officials.

He and two others were later charged with conversion offences, Joseph said.

“Police, even after knowing our innocence registered a case against us,” he said.

Elsewhere, bricks were thrown last week at a home for physically handicapped children run by Augustinian sisters, in Khandwa district.

Fortunately, there were no children there at the time of the attack, said Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore.

“Fundamentalists seem to have a feeling that they can do anything and get away with it,” he said.

“It is not the [national] government but local leaders and the foot soldiers of fundamentalist organizations that are creating trouble for us,” he added.

– ucan

Chhattisgarh: Official forbids missionaries being called “father”

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

No FatherMumbai, May 16, 2015: An “unconstitutional abuse of power that, and once again evidence of how a small harmless community that is contributing so much to nation building is being harassed and taunted”, says Mgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi, commenting on a provision taken in recent days by an official of the district of Mahasamund in Chhattisgarh. The authorities have issued a circular banning Christian missionaries in the area from being addressed as “father” by their students. Instead they must now be addressed as “pracharya” which means “Sir”.

For months now Christian missionaries are being targeted by Hindu radicals in the Indian state, especially by militants of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). In Bastar district they began by banning Christian activities in some villages and setting out to “convince” Catholic missionaries to be called “pracharya” in their own schools.

However, the circular issued on May 11 by the official school district Mahasamund is even more serious, because it has legal value. The previous move by the VHP against the Catholic priests of Bastar wasan informal agreement, which the priests gave their assent to in order to avoid worsening an already tense situation.

The measure has drawn criticism not only from the Christian community, but also members of the opposition. Bhupesh Bhagel, head of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, has described the gesture as “a clear attempt to radicalize Chhattisgarh”. SN Trivedi, party spokesman, said: “It is really regrettable that once again the government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given in to the unconstitutional demands of the VHP “.

The ultra-nationalist Hindu party is at the helm of the central government of India and of many states of the country, including Chhattisgarh. According to many analysts, since the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister attacks on ethnic-religious minorities increased.

– asianews

Bihar: Muslims donate land for world’s largest temple

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Bihar MuslimsBihar, May 19, 2015: Muslims in Bihar, in a stellar demonstration of communal harmony, have donated land to help build the world’s largest Hindu temple which will have the capacity to seat a staggering 20,000 people.

“Muslims have not only donated land, they have also provided land at a nominal rate for construction of the world’s largest Hindu temple. Without help of Muslims, it would have been difficult realise this dream project,” Acharya Kishore Kunal, secretary of the Patna-based cash-rich Mahavir Mandir Trust that is undertaking the ambitious project, told IANS.

Kunal, a former Indian Police Service officer, said that Muslims have come forward to ensure that the temple comes up soon. The construction of the temple will commence in June at Janki Nagar near Kesaria in East Champaran district, about 150 km from here. It will cost over Rs.500 crore.

“It is usual for Hindus to donate land for temple, but it is unusual for Muslims to donate land for the construction of temple,” he said and added that Muslims should be lauded for joining hands with Hindus to donate land for a pious cause.

Kunal said that more than three dozen Muslim families have their land in the middle of the proposed location of the temple and some Muslims families have land along the main road that connects to the project site.

“Some Muslims donated lands and others helped and supported us to purchase their land for the temple. If Muslims had not come forward, the temple project was sure to have got delayed…”

He said that Mahavir Mandir Trust has obtained 200 acres of land. “Hindus and Muslims have donated about 50 acres of land and the remaining has been purchased.”

Earlier, some Muslims had helped build a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Durga in Gaya district, another temple was dedicated to God Shiva in Begusarai district and in Sitamarhi district.

Mumbai-based Valecha Construction Company will construct the temple, which will be 2,500 feet long, 1,296 feet wide and 379 feet high.

“The temple will be earthquake proof (since it) is near the Nepal border,” Kunal said.

Gurgaon based Radheyshyam Sharma, director of Indgenious Studio Pvt Ltd, will look after the architectural aspects.

He said the Virat Ramayan Mandir will be taller than the world famous 12th century Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, which is 215 feet high. The complex will comprise 18 temples with high spires and its Shiv temple would have the largest Shivling in the world, another distinction.

He said the temple would have a seating capacity of 20,000 people in the hall facing the main temple having the idols of Ram, Sita, Luv and Kush. According to him, no temple in the world has such a huge seating capacity.

He said the temple was to be named “Virat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir”, but later its name was changed following objections by people in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat was built during king Suryavarman’s rule and is today a Unesco World Heritage site.

– ians

Pak Church & rights groups call for minorities’ protection

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pak MinioritiesKarachi, May 18, 2015: The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), the Catholic Church’s human rights body in Pakistan, has called for better protection of minority groups amid renewed threats against them by Islamist militants.

The demand comes days after 45 members of the minority Shia Ismaili community were massacred in a gun attack on a bus in Karachi, claimed by several Sunni groups, including Islamic State.

Ismailis are Shia Muslims who also revere Imam Ismail who died in 765 AD. They number about 15 million worldwide with about 500,000 living in Pakistan.

The militants responsible for last week’s bloodshed also threatened to launch more attacks on minorities, including Christians.

In a joint statement condemning the attack, Archbishop of Karachi Joseph Coutts and NCJP National Director Fr Saleh Diego said the May 13 “killing of innocent people on the basis of their faith is unacceptable”.

“We demand from both the federal government and provincial governments to take serious and effective measures to prevent such atrocities and also plead to increase security for all minority groups.”

The NCJP also held a special service at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi on Friday to express solidarity with the Ismaili community and pray for the victims.

Leaders of various religious groups, politicians and human rights campaigners attended the service.

Addressing the gathering, Archbishop Coutts said attempts were being made to create a rift among religious groups in Pakistan.

“Our aim should be to foil such attempts and bridge the distance between religious groups,” he said.

Fr Saleh Diego said murder of one human is equal to murdering the whole community. “We should demonstrate unity to raise our voice against atrocities being committed by militants in Pakistan,” he said.

“We want to give a message to terrorists that we all are Pakistanis and no force, no religious leader and no government can divide us.”

Mehnaz ur Rehman, a women’s rights activist and the director of the Aurat Foundation, said the attack had shocked the nation.

“Irrespective to our faith and religion, we should jointly fight for a terror-free Pakistan,” she said.

“How can we allow such groups to spread hatred and call other groups as apostates and infidel?” she said citing intelligence agency reports that said elements within the International Islamic University in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad were stoking extremism.

A report released by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom earlier this month listed Pakistan as one of the worst places in the world for religious freedom of countries not currently designated by the US as “countries of particular concern”.

“Pakistan continued to experience chronic sectarian violence targeting Shia Muslims, Christians, Ahmadi Muslims, and Hindus,” the report said.

“Despite positive rulings by the Supreme Court, the government has failed to provide adequate protection to targeted groups or to prosecute perpetrators and those calling for violence,” it said.

– ucan

Beware of ‘white-gloved’ terrorism, Pope tells Middle East nuns

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Nuns PrayVatican City, May 19, 2015: One day after canonizing the first two Palestinian saints since the early days of Christianity, Pope Francis met with a group of sisters from the Holy Land — urging them to pray for peace against “white-gloved terrorism” and persecution.

Speaking of the newly canonized women, Saints Mariam Baouardy and Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, the pontiff said: “I give you a mission: pray to the two new saints for peace in your land, in order that this never ending war may end, and that there may be peace among your people.”

He made these remarks during a May 18 audience with members of the Religious Carmelites of Bethlehem and the Middle East, and the Sisters of the Rosary of Jerusalem, who were in Rome for Sunday’s canonization.

Meeting with them in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope urged the religious present to also pray for persecuted Christians suffering at the hands of what he described as “white-gloved terrorism.”

These Christians, he said, are “driven from their homes, from their lands, and are victims of persecution ‘with white gloves.’ It is hidden, but it is done!”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has made reference to “white-gloved terrorism.” In June 2014, he spoke of this persecution with “white gloves,” referring to those Christians forced out in a so-called “elegant way”.

The sisters present at the audience with the Holy Father were among the tens of thousands in attendance for the canonization Mass of the Palestinian sisters on May 17.

Saint Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878), canonized Sunday, was a mystic and stigmatic also known as Mary Jesus Crucified. She was a Palestinian and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem. She and her family were members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. She spent time in France and India before helping to found the Carmelite congregation in Bethlehem in 1875.

The other new Palestinian saint, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), was a co-founder of the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters. Born in Palestine, she spent much of her life in Bethlehem and its area, where she helped the poor and established schools and orphanages.

Pope Francis expressed his happiness that the sisters had made the pilgrimage for the canonization. He then recounted a story told him by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, of how he left Jordan in a plane full of nuns.

“Poor pilot,” the Pope joked. “Many thanks!”

The pontiff urged those present once again to “pray much for peace”, and invited them to recite the Hail Mary with him, each in their own language.

The Palestinian women were canonized alongside two others: Saint Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve (1811-1854) and Saint Maria Cristina Brando (1856-1906), from France and Italy, respectively.

– cna

No more mega-parishes, Pope told

May 20, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

ChurchCalifornia, May 19, 2015: Catholic reform groups meeting in Ireland have called on Pope Francis to halt the Church’s policy of clustering parishes into megaparishes, NCR Online reports.

Leaders from 24 international reform groups who met in Limerick, Ireland, in April are urging Pope Francis to call for a halt to the Church’s policy of clustering parishes into megaparishes as a response to the decline in priest numbers.

In an open letter, the 32 signatories — from groups such as Catholics for Renewal in Australia, A Call to Action in England, and the Society for Open Christianity for the 21st Century in Slovakia — tell Francis that the future of parish life is “massively threatened.”

Bishops seeking to address the priest shortage are “merging active and vibrant parishes into anonymous and unmanageable superstructures,” the letter said.

While merging seems to be “the formula of the hour,” the reform leaders warn that in these new megaparishes, personal contact between people and ministers is being lost as the sacraments are removed ever further from the everyday life of church citizens.

This is leaving the faithful “alienated, unsettled and insecure” as priests are increasingly focussed on administration instead of caring for souls.

Signatories included Fr Helmut Schüller of the Austrian Pfarrer-Initiative in Austria; Martha Heizer, the excommunicated chair of We Are Church Austria; and Deborah Rose-Milavec of FutureChurch in the US.

They were among delegates from more than 10 countries who met in Ireland during April 13-17 to discuss the governance of the church and to develop strategies for church reform.

Calling for new models of ministry and new ways of managing parish life, the letter tells Francis that there is opposition to clustering among a cross-section of the faithful — young and old, divorced and remarried, gay and straight — and that new paths to vibrant parishes where everyone is “welcome without exception” are needed.

“Let us establish a new culture of co-responsibility and joint decision-making in all structures of our Church,” they write.

– cns

Franklin Graham says he has no faith in Democratic, Republican or Tea Parties, Urges Christians to run for office

May 18, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Christians in PoliticsU.S, May 15, 2015: The Rev. Franklin Graham said in a recent interview that when it comes to the American political system, he has no faith in the Democratic Party, Republican Party or the Tea Party. Instead, he called on Christians to go out and vote and run for office in the upcoming 2016 elections.

“I have no faith in the Democratic Party, I have no faith in the Republican Party, I have no faith in the Tea Party, whoever they are,” Graham told WIAT 42 News in an interview posted on Thurday.

He added that he’s not endorsing anyone in the 2016 elections, but urges Christians to run for office.

His remarks echo an earlier statement he made in April, when he said he doesn’t believe either Democrats or Republicans will be able to fix America’s problems.

“At 62 years of age, I’ve lived long enough to learn that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can turn this country around; no political party or politician is the answer. The only hope for this country is Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ,” Graham said in a Facebook post.

At that time he also revealed that he will be traveling in 2016 to all 50 U.S. states to rally Christians to get involved in political elections.

“I want to challenge Christians to boldly live out their faith and to pray for our nation and its leaders. I want to encourage Christians to get out and vote, and to cast their ballots for candidates who uphold biblical principles,” the evangelical preacher explained.

“I want to strongly urge Christians to run for public office at every level — local, state, and federal. We will not be endorsing any political candidates, but I will be proclaiming the truth of God’s Gospel in every state.”

Graham also discussed the topic of same-sex marriage in his WIAT 42 News interview, and suggested it was the will of judges rather than the opinions of the people that are pushing for the practice to be legalized.

“Every place this has been put up to the vote of the people, the people vote it down. It’s the judges that are overturning the will for the people. I don’t think this is as big of a problem as it sounds with the people,” he said.

On his Facebook page Graham has been urging Americans to pray each day for one of the nine Supreme Court justices. The highest court in the land is getting ready to rule on whether to allow gay marriages to continue to be decided on a state-level, or whether the Constitution requires they be legalized everywhere.

“Today pray for Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, that God would give him wisdom and guide his mind as the court weighs the important issue of same-sex marriage in our nation,” he posted on Thursday.

– christian post

The Churches of Asia join the vigil for persecuted Christians

May 18, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Vigil of prayer for persecuted ChristiansMumbai, May 13, 2015: The Churches of Asia will join the vigil of prayer for persecuted Christians, organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) for 23 May next, the eve of Pentecost. As president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai (India), spoke to AsiaNews about the meaning of the vigil and the role that the Catholic Church has on the continent.

Asia is a vast region with many  cultures  and religious traditions, of varied and complex socio- political-economic contexts.  There are some countries with different ideologies and some with different political systems.

Social issues are also of prime concern  of  the  Church and not too averse to look at public policy decisions in terms  of how they affect the poor, since the  deprivation  and  powerlessness  of  the  poor wounds  the  whole  community and contradicting ideologies – often identified with economic, social and political regimes – result in  a certain degree of  tension in some places where the church is working.

The Church is always mindful of the conditions of the people in the society. While there is tension in some places where the church is working, countries should realize that the church is always working for the good of the people, selflessly building up the community, society and nation.

However, since we have different perspectives, often it appears as if the Church is in confrontation.  The Catholic Church is witnessing to the values of God’s Kingdom through her presence, solidarity with the poor, the suffering poor, marginalized, deprived, and voiceless in the society.

We all belong to one human  family and God is the father of everyone. In the Christian kingdom, Jesus came to give us certain values which every society wants the same things. They only differ on the means and the ways and hence the need for a dialogue  There is a need for a triple dialogue: with the poor, with cultures and with religions.

God wishes that everyone be happy and that the church work for the good of the people, hence I see it as a challenge and not as a problem.

In Asia there is a big divide between the rich and the poor and when this becomes a system where the gap cannot be shortened, the church must intervene and work for the rural economies where it is not profit driven.

The Asian churches continue, even in the midst of persecutions, to give this witness.

– asianews

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