In today’s News:
Americans say God is important
In a new survey, the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans said God plays an important role in their life, and 67 percent said prayer also plays an important role. Worldwide, the poll showed that 61 percent of people say God plays an important role in their life. Prayer was slightly less important globally, with 53 percent of people agreeing that prayer plays an important role in their life. The survey also showed that religion is “very” or “somewhat” important to 62 percent of people, while 34 percent said “not at all” or “not too much.” However, when asked whether belief in God is necessary to be moral and have good values, 54 percent of Americans said it was not, while 44 percent said that it is. The median percentage for the world was 44 percent.
Hands off Texas religious schools
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday told religious private schools in the state that local governments are not allowed to order them to close or to dictate covid-19 precautionary measures to them. Paxton said local public health ordinances must be consistent with the governor’s orders and the attorney general’s guidance, adding that local governments are “prohibited from closing religious institutions or dictating mitigation strategies to those institutions.” Gov, Greg Abbott had also exempted houses of worship from the statewide masking order, while at the same time encouraging the houses of worship themselves to require masks.
Finnish Lutheran theologian called home
The Rev. Dr. Anssi Simojoki, a major figure in Finnish Lutheranism and African missions, passed away on July 6 at his home. He was 75 years old. He left a deep spiritual impact on Finland and more broadly on missions. He was known as a powerful preacher of the Gospel, a versatile theologian, a courageous ecclesiastical debater, and a prolific writer and wordsmith. He was a founding member and longtime general secretary of the St. Paul’s Synod in 1975, a forum and think tank for the confessional Lutheran defense of the office of the ministry in public discussions — including in the theological debate on woman’s priesthood, a debate which led to deep divisions in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
China cracks down on Christians
Chinese communist authorities have ordered poor Christian villagers to remove Christian images from their homes and replace them with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing their welfare benefits. The Chinese Communist Party has continued its program of “Sinicization” of religion by channeling religious fervor in the country toward the party rather than god, the Christian Post reported this weekend. In April, for instance, party officials visited the homes of Christians in Linfen, in the northern province of Shanxi, ordering those who receive welfare payments from the government to remove crosses, Christian symbols and images in their homes and replace them with portraits of china’s communist leaders. The officials threatened the Christians that non-compliance with the order would result in suspension of their welfare subsidies.