Ronald Reagan’s influence on Christian politics in this country will be felt for years to come. The 40th president, who died June 5 at 93 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, used his acting experience in communicating optimism to the public and also introduced many conservative Christians to real political power.
Last year the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) suffered its biggest single-year loss in communicant members since the reunion of the “northern” and “southern” denominations in 1983. The net decline during 2003 was 46,658 members, leaving the year-end membership at barely above 2.4 million.
Los Angeles County supervisors, faced with a lawsuit to remove a tiny gold cross from the county seal, have voted to remove it, but the Roman goddess Pomona will stay. County supervisors voted June 1 to remove the cross, which was incorporated into the seal’s original 1957 design to represent the Catholic missions founded by Jesuit missionaries.
The U.S. Supreme Court has sidestepped a dispute over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling that a California atheist had no standing to challenge the phrase on behalf of his daughter. The 8-0 decision was announced on Flag Day, June 14, which was also the 50th anniversary of the time the phrase was inserted into the pledge.
A new survey of 10,000 book consumers via the Internet found that 18 percent bought religious or spiritual books last year. More than two-thirds said they purchased fiction, according to preliminary results from Publishers Weekly’s survey. Among nonfiction works, “practical life” was the largest category—bought by 35 percent.