AMERICAN SURVEY FINDS MORE MEN CHOOSING GUNS OVER GOD AND CHURCH
More and more Americans are moving away from organized religion and toward all manner of alternative spiritual paths. And newly published research suggests that guns may be replacing God, scripture and community for many in the U.S. That largely means white adult men mostly in rural areas who have experienced, or fear they will experience, economic hardship, according to a study titled “Gun Culture in Action” by Baylor University scholars Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken. Researchers found that Americans in that population group reported the highest levels of emotional, moral and even spiritual attachments to their firearms.
Froese and Mencken created a scale measuring how safe, responsible, confident and patriotic gun ownership make survey respondents feel. Feelings of control over fate, value to family and community, and respect also were examined. “Add it up and it gives you a score which gives your level of ‘gun empowerment,'” Froese said. The higher the score, the more likely respondents were to feel empowered by firearms. Greater attachment to guns also indicated lower levels of participation in church or other religious communities, he said. Paul Froese said “They may say they are religious and Christian, but if you dig down, they are less likely to go to church, to read the Bible or be attached to a religious community.”
That’s not to say that higher levels of faith involvement dictate lower levels of gun ownership. “Someone active in a church community may own a gun and feel safer, but that’s not to say the gun gives them meaning and purpose,” Froese said. “What we are finding is that someone very involved in a religious community is less likely to feel strong gun empowerment.” For their study, Froese and Mencken scoured data gathered in the Baylor Religion Survey, a series of extensive studies conducted in four waves from 2008 to 2017. The research drills into American attitudes, behaviours and beliefs around religion.
They used information from the 2014 survey conducted by Gallup, for their gun study which has been published by the journal Social Problems. “Guns and their inherent power restore in some people a sense of control stripped away by the economic consequences of globalism” Mencken said at the announcement of the study. “The ability to protect their property, families and communities is restorative,” he said. The data he and Froese studied came from questions on gun empowerment asked of 577 gun owners. They were asked what types of firearms they own and why they own them. They were also asked to describe their attitudes on firearm polices or proposed policies, such as background checks, mental health screening and violence in the media.
The study found that firearm owners most empowered by their guns are more likely to be white, married men in rural areas. They are politically more conservative and alienated from society. Those men also are more likely to express extreme patriotism and, at the same time, extremely anti-government sentiments. Respondents in this category make a distinction between the military and police, whom they support, and the larger government, which they distrust. “It is white men who own guns who say they are patriotic who are also most likely to say it’s OK to use violence against the government,” Froese said.
DONUT SHOP FACES WRATH OF ACTIVISTS FOR HELPING THE SALVATION ARMY
A popular donut shop in Portland, Maine was forced to apologize to the community after they offended customers by working with the Salvation Army to provide Christmas to a needy family. The Holy Donut had asked customers to help them with a gift drive for a local family with five children. Those customers who participated received free donuts. The donut shop reached out to the Salvation Army to find the family in need, the Press-Herald reports. Instead of saluting the donut shop for doing a good deed, an online mob stormed their Facebook page. Many accused the Salvation Army of being anti-gay and discriminating against the LGBT community.
It was all untrue, of course, but the truth doesn’t really matter these days. “They proselytize to the people in their programs, they reject LGBT people from their shelters,” one outraged customer wrote. “They have tried to scrub their image, but still discriminate.” For the record, the Salvation Army is a well-respected Christian ministry that provides shelter for the homeless and runs addiction programs. The Press Herald reports that the online mob was unrelenting, going so far as to threaten boycotts unless the donut shop renounced its association with the Salvation Army. “In case you forgot, a solid 70% of your clientele is part of the LGBTQ community,” one rabble-rouser wrote.
“You’re making a silent statement that you’re completely fine with their choices.” Ah yes, nothing quite like an old-fashioned yuletide public shaming. “We do not support the Salvation Army or consider them our ‘partner’ for this project, they simply linked us to a needy family,” the store owners wrote on Facebook. “We have nothing to gain here, we just wanted to help a family in need.” As unthinkable as it might be, a good number of the protesters were upset that the donut shop dared to help a family in need during the Christmas season. To quell the growing controversy, The Holy Donut threw themselves at the mercy of the surging mob.
“We take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to anyone that we have offended,” the store owners wrote on Facebook. “We are an organization which prides itself on our track record of kindness and acceptance of everyone.” One Facebook contributor wrote The Holy Donut should be commended for helping a family in need and spreading a bit of Christmas cheer. They should also be commended for making delicious donuts. (I’ve been privileged to sample their Maple Bacon Maine Potato Donut). And shame on all of you folks out there for harassing these good people and spreading out-right lies about the Salvation Army. Shame! What in the sweet name of Santa Claus is wrong with you people?
AFTER MORE THAN 20 YEARS EGYPTIAN CHURCHES ALLOWED TO REBUILD
After waiting more than two decades, churches in Egypt finally are allowed to rebuild their houses of worship, according to World Watch Monitor. In the southern rural part of the country, in an area known as the Minya governorate, the governor gave 21 churches the green light to rebuild and expand. Some analysts point to the fact that the permits came before several visits by international delegations of evangelicals to Cairo. In a recent article, the president of the Family Research Council (FRC), Tony Perkins, wrote, “President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is doing his best to reassure his people that Egypt won’t back down from its promise to come to the aid of faith communities.”
The decision is an about-face in some areas, where churches had been closed to help ‘ease tensions’ with Muslims. In other places, it’s an act of defiance in the face of growing threats from extremists,” the article continued. World Watch Monitor said a local source told the news outlet that the president of Egypt wants to “show the U.S. that Egypt is standing with the Christians and that there is no persecution in Minya governorate.” Coptic Christians have experienced their share of persecution in that area, with churches being shut down or burned down. In addition, it is extremely difficult for Christians in Egypt to get a license to build a church, according to World Watch Monitor.
However, last year, things began to change as Egypt’s parliament passed a law involving the building and restoring of churches. Then, in October, a cabinet committee began working on legalizing churches that did not have licenses. “No one who has met President el-Sisi would doubt his commitment to greater religious freedom in his land”, according to Perkins. And the Family Research Council is calling on the U.S. government to do everything it can to prop up religious freedom advances in Egypt and the Middle East. “The first step would be for the Senate to confirm President Trump’s nominee for Ambassador at Large for Religious Liberty, Governor Sam Brownback,” the FRC staff wrote. “Now is the time to move.”
CANADIAN SCHOOLS CANCEL OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD OVER HOMOSEXUALITY
Schools in two Canadian provinces would not allow students to participate in Operation Christmas Child due to the organization’s stance on LGBT issues. Operation Christmas Child was run by the Christian ministry Samaritan’s Purse. As a Christian organization, Samaritan’s Purse holds to biblical beliefs on homosexuality, which the school district trustees believe is incompatible with their school’s policies. According to CBC News, school district trustees voted to end the school districts’ participation in Operation Christmas Child. Students and teachers were no longer allowed to fill shoeboxes with Christmas gifts to send to children in need around the world.
Director of Education Tony Stack explained the reasoning behind the district’s decision: “This organization is on record with its statement of beliefs that it requires its co-ordinating volunteers to sign statements of faith that are in direct conflict with our inclusive philosophy, particularly as it pertains to the LGBT community,” he said. “For example, a child with two moms or two dads, unfortunately, has been put in the position of choosing between fitting in and partaking with other classmates in an activity, or supporting an organization opposed to the very existence of that very child’s family unit,” he continued.
MP’s CALL FOR FRANKLIN GRAHAM TO BE BANNED FROM U.K.
A number of MPs have added their voice to the growing concern over an upcoming visit to the UK by US evangelist Franklin Graham. Over 5,000 people have signed a petition stating he shouldn’t be allowed into the country. They claim he has homophobic and islamophobic views and is “likely to promote prejudice and hatred”. The preacher, who’s the son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham, is due to speak at Blackpool’s Festival of Hope at the city’s Winter Gardens in September. But after recent endorsements of Donald Trump and what has been seen as inflammatory statements about Islam, many are unhappy about the visit. Labour MP Gordon Marsden is calling on the home secretary to refuse him entry into the UK.
Marsden said some of his previous comments were “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible”. His visit is being supported by many local church leaders. Franklin Graham has led evangelism events across the world in his role as president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He’s also reached millions of people through his aid work with the charity Samaritans Purse. In a statement the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn said: “We are working in partnership with local churches to hold this event in Blackpool. “It will be a positive and encouraging event with music and a message from Franklin Graham about the hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone is invited to attend.”
SURVEY SHOWS MAJORITY OF BRITISH DO NOT BELIEVE IN HEAVEN AND HELL
In a representative study by Ipsos MORI of approximately 1000 people in Britain, only 32 per cent say they believe in heaven and only 21 per cent say they believe in hell. Graham Nichols, the director of Affinity, a network of Christian organisations, told Premier the results on belief in heaven and hell were interesting: “It’s difficult to reconcile some of them. Quite a large proportion identify as Christians and yet quite a small proportion believe in heaven and hell so you wonder what those who identify as Christian actually believe.”
He explained why he thought this was odd: “In terms of the Christian message, it’s important that people believe in both. They’re both things that Jesus talked about a lot. Part of what he spoke about was both heaven and hell, hell to be avoided and heaven to be entered into.” Regarding what the results tell us as Christians he replied: “I think it’s part of a general trend in a number of surveys about ignorance of the Christian faith and perhaps ignorance about the implications of, if you believe in the Christian God, what that means.” When asked how Christians should respond to the poll, Graham Nicholls said: “We have that ongoing job to explain the truth.”