Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Start Praying? Religion May Become ‘Extinct’ in 9 Countries

“That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion,” the band R.E.M once sang. For select countries across the globe, that could be true. And while the prediction doesn’t currently include the U.S., there are ominous signs that could change.

According to a new study by the American Physical Society (APS) using census data, religion in nine countries is slowly dying — and, as the BBC puts it, may even become “extinct.”

Those countries include Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

The study was published earlier this year and recently unveiled at an APS meeting in Dallas. It uses a mathematical model to “account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one,” the BBC reports. The result is scary: “religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.”

One of the study’s authors, Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the University of Arizona, explained to the BBC that “The idea is pretty simple.”

“It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility,” he said.

Translation: it seems it’s becoming popular not to be religious — and the more popular that becomes, the more people will join.

“In a large number of modern secular democracies,” he explained, “there’s been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%.”

Read more at theBlaze

New Oilspill CONFIRMED in Louisiana

Just hours after a new sizable oil slick was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, a Houston-based energy company came forward to claim responsibility for the latest round of crude tainting the area.

Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners issued a statement last night expressing "surprise" that what it claimed was a minor leak from a well that's been out of use for some time could have produced miles-long slicks that garnered national media attention. The company has been in the process of permanently plugging the well -- located in a shallow area about 30 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La. Anglo-Suisse owned a cluster of five platforms in that area that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

According to the Times-Picayune's David Hammer, Anglo-Suisse has filed three incident reports with the Coast Guard since last Friday. In those documents, Hammer reports, the company explained that as it used a remotely operated submarine to plug the well, some oil had been discharged into the Gulf.

However, the company claimed in those reports that it had spilled less than five gallons of crude -- an amount far too small to account for the scope of the spill shown in aerial photographs. Nor would five gallons of crude square with reports of oil washing up over a 30 mile stretch of Louisiana's shoreline.

Read more at YAHOO!

A new pro-life law ... a lurking lawsuit

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU plan to ask a judge to strike down as unconstitutional a new law in South Dakota that requires women to wait three days after meeting with an abortionist to have an abortion.

pregnant womanOn Tuesday, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed the controversial pro-life bill into law. The law, to take effect on July 1, is primarily designed to reduce bullying of women and girls into getting abortions. It requires the abortionist to have direct contact with the woman seeking an abortion, a 72-hour waiting period, and counseling at a pro-life pregnancy center -- in other words, a second opinion.

Valerie Johnson of South Dakota Right to Life tells OneNewsNow she is aware of Planned Parenthood's threat to file a lawsuit.

"Of course they're going to object and they can say they're pro-choice," she says, "but what it comes down to is [that abortion is] their business -- and so they want to protect their business, I am sure."

According to the pro-life activist, Planned Parenthood's primary objection to the new law is the required visit to a pregnancy care center. Johnson explains the purpose behind that aspect.

"It's just to make sure that the mother is not being coerced [into an abortion] and so that she can give more of an informed consent," she explains. "As it is, the pregnant mother goes in [to an abortion clinic] and signs a consent form and pays for the abortion the same day that she receives that abortion."

Read more at OneNewsNow

35,000 Bibles Released in Malaysia Under One Condition

35,000 Bibles Released in Malaysia Under One Condition

This is a related story to the one I posted previously. This is from our friends at Mission Network News today.

Screen shot 2011-03-22 at 12.14.54 PM Malaysia (MNN) ― Christians held a protest yesterday against the release of 35,000 "Christian-only" Bibles in Malaysia.

In 2009, 5,000 Bibles were confiscated by the Malaysian government. Since then, attempts to import the Bible in Malaysia's national language, Bahasa Malaysia, have been thwarted, according to Christian Today. 30,000 more copies are currently being withheld.

The reasoning lies in one disputed word within the text: "Allah."

"There has been a lot of upheaval in Malaysia regarding the use of the word ‘Allah' to describe God. In the Christian Bible, that word is used to describe God," explains Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs. "Muslims in Malaysia have protested against that, saying, ‘Wait a minute. That's going to confuse Muslims because Allah is really the God of Islam. If the Christians are using that word, too, that's going to create some problems.'"

Interestingly enough, in a 2009 case against a Catholic newspaper, the High Court in Malaysia ruled that they were allowed to use the word "Allah" for God.

In what Nettleton says appears to be an effort to get Christian votes in the upcoming elections--and yet appease Muslim Malay who are afraid of others getting confused by the Bible's teachings, the government is releasing the Bibles under a few conditions.

"Now the government is saying, ‘Okay, we'll go ahead and release these Bibles, but we want you to stamp on the front of them that these are for the use of Christians only, not for the use of other religions,'" says Nettleton. "They also want each of the Bibles to be stamped with a serial number, which obviously then presents the opportunity for them to be traced. If the Bible turns up later in the hands of a Muslim or in the hands of someone they say shouldn't have it, they could trace it back and say, ‘Okay, where did this Bible come from? Who was it?' and try to get back to the people who are distributing Bibles there."

The 5,000 detained Bibles from 2009 have already been stamped without permission.

Christians have mainly responded in outrage to the government offer to release all 35,000 Bibles if stamped. Believers say they won't accept delivery of the Bibles under these threatening conditions. Protests took place yesterday morning to reject the so-called "desecrated" Bibles, and more protests are rumored to happen again this weekend.

The action seems to threaten evangelism if only Christians are allowed to have the Bibles. Nettleton says it also appears to support the idea that the government desires Malaysia to remain a mostly-Muslim country.

"I think what it means is that the government is going to do everything they can to make it difficult, particularly for Christians who are evangelizing, and especially evangelizing among the Malay people," Nettleton notes.

Prayers are needed for our brothers and sisters in Malaysia. Pray for wisdom in how to approach the situation, and for God's Word to come freely into Malaysia soon.

Posted by: Stacy L. Harp via Persecution Blog

Uncertainty in Japan opens faith door

Japan (MNN) ― Japanese officials are presenting conflicting messages about the nuclear emergency at Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Some suggest stored fuel rods are exposed, risking complete meltdown which would create even more problems for the nation.

That, coupled with the earthquake and tsunami damage, has Japanese people in a place they haven't been since the Japanese Emperor denounced his divinity after World War Two, creating a spiritual vacuum there.

Neal Hicks has spent 30 years working in Japan with The Mission Society. His co-workers are okay, but two of them, Koz and Emiko Kinoshita, have lost loved ones. Emiko just returned from a visit to her family in Onagawa. "That town no longer exists. It's totally gone. Emiko and Koz are just in shock and disbelief. Her immediate family and all her relatives -- all gone."

This story is being repeated all over the region. And the uncertainty of the nuclear issues has the entire nation on edge. Hick says many Japanese who have become so materialistic and almost agnostic are changing. "Their gods of money, self reliance and even technology have failed them miserably, and they are absolutely shaken to the core and don't know which way to turn."

Less than 1% of the Japanese population is evangelical Christian.

READ MORE at Mission Network News

Acting legend Elizabeth Taylor dies of congestive heart failure in hospital

Actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor has died at the age of 79, her publicist confirmed in a statement today.

The star passed away from congestive heart failure in hospital last night having suffered from the condition since November 2004.

She was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles 'for monitoring' last month.

Her publicist confirmed: 'Legendary actress, and fearless activist Elizabeth Taylor died peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.'

The English-American star, considered one of the great actresses - and great beauties - of Hollywood's golden age, was surrounded by her children: Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd, and Maria Burton.

Dame Elizabeth's son, Michael Wilding, said in a statement: 'We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.

'My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humour, and love.

He added: 'Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.

'Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mum having lived in it.

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