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.
End of discussion: A church youth group was discussing how 9/11 affected their prayer life. One young man said he’s not been able to pray since that event, since he assumes that many of the people in those planes and buildings were praying that God would spare them, and their prayers weren’t answered.
Fifty-eight senators have asked President Bush to ease restrictions on stem cell research, with some noting that the late President Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease could have been aided by expanded research.
One day after deferring a decision on whether to bless gay relationships, Canadian Anglicans approved a statement that “affirms the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships”—stirring accusations from traditionalists that attaching “sanctity” to such partnerships is contradictory.
As presidential campaigns swung into their final five months, President Bush worked at cementing his strong support from evangelicals and shoring up ties to Catholics by visiting and honoring Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
Leaders from three mainline Protestant churches deeply divided over homosexuality have opposed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, telling Congress that it would force all churches to accept only one definition of marriage.
The number of religious radio stations in the U.S. grew by 6 percent from 2002 to 2003, a recent Arbitron report shows. The net gain of 122 stations increased the total to 1,965, or 14 percent of the 13,898 radio stations in the country.
Vietnam veteran John Smathers and his wife, Judy, knelt at the altar rail at the Falls Church, a 272-year-old faith community at which George Washington once prayed, just outside the nation’s capital in Virginia. Holding a microphone, they bowed their heads before worshipers struggling to come to terms with disturbing photographs of American soldiers sadistically abusing Iraqi prisoners.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth will not be allowed to exhibit at the Baptist General Convention of Texas meeting this fall—further fallout from the deteriorating relationship between the Texas convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.