CULTURE DIGEST: Americans favor Christian symbols, Barna says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--An overwhelming majority of Americans favor allowing traditional Christian values and symbols in the nation's culture, according to a study by the Barna Group. Barna even concludes that tens of millions of Americans would support a constitutional amendment to declare Christianity the official faith of the United States.

The study, released July 26, found that 79 percent of adults rejected any policy toward "removing signs that list the Ten Commandments from government buildings," including 60 percent who were "strongly opposed." Less than one out of every five adults supports such a policy.

Other findings include:

-- Only 13 percent of those questioned favored eliminating the phrase "In God We Trust" from the nation's currency, while 84 percent oppose the idea. Nearly three-quarters of the population was "strongly opposed" to the change.

-- Just 15 percent of adults were in favor of removing the phrase "one nation, under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance while 84 percent were opposed.

-- About 60 percent of Americans favor teaching creationism in public schools while less than 40 percent do not.

-- Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said allowing the use of a word for male-female relations on broadcast television is inappropriate. Just 15 percent thought it was acceptable, Barna found.

-- By a two-to-one margin, Americans are opposed to a constitutional amendment to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States, but Barna said the number of people who favor the change -- 32 percent -- is surprising.

"Almost 70 million adults favor such an amendment," Barna said, based on his calculations. "That is a huge vote of confidence in the Christian faith and a tacit statement about people's concerns regarding the direction and lukewarm spirituality of the nation. If nothing else, this certainly indicates that given effective leadership, American Christianity could play a larger role in shaping the norms of our culture in the future."

Barna's nationwide survey among 1,618 randomly selected adults was conducted during the last week of May.

FALWELL DEFENDS DOMAIN -- A U.S. district judge has ruled that a homosexual activist must stop using his website called fallwell.com because it is nearly identical to Jerry Falwell's registered trademark name and was likely to confuse Internet users who attempted to get information from Falwell's own websites, including falwell.com.

Christopher Lamparello had been using fallwell.com as a site to "cast aspersions" on Falwell's biblical stances on the topic of homosexuality, Falwell said in his e-letter, "Falwell Confidential," Aug. 12.

"I fully understand that many people oppose my sermons and public statements on homosexuality, as is their absolute right," Falwell wrote. "But when this man chose to utilize an adaptation of my own name to counter my messages, he stepped over legal lines."

Falwell said Lamparello was attempting to make a profit off Falwell's name by selling a book on his website through a link to amazon.com. The well-known pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and founder of Liberty University said Lamparello is "extremely hostile to the message of the Gospel I preach and was therefore trying to do damage to the message I deliver."

Links on Lamparello's website connect visitors to sites that challenge the Bible's teaching on homosexuality, Falwell noted, and he also offers his own "rantings against Christians."

"While his site notes that it is not affiliated with my ministry, there is still deceit in the use of my name to promote an agenda that starkly counters my own," Falwell wrote. "There is terrific animosity from the radical gay lobbying groups to silence anyone who doesn't agree with their philosophy or their behavior. But they simply cannot steal my name -- or anyone else's name -- to promote their own agenda."

GOP CALLS FOR McGREEVEY'S IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION -- Republican leaders are calling for New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey to step down immediately from his post after he announced Aug. 12 that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with a man. McGreevey said he would resign his office effective Nov. 15, but Republicans say that is a political move designed to thwart a special election for his successor.

Businessman Doug Forrester, the Republican party's unsuccessful choice in the 2002 race for U.S. Senate, has announced plans to air radio and television commercials telling New Jersey voters the state needs a change in leadership, according to the Associated Press Aug. 17.

If McGreevey stays in office beyond Sept. 3, a special election will not be held and Democratic state Sen. Richard Codey, president of the Senate, will fill the remainder of McGreevey's term.

McGreevey has defended his departure date, insisting it's in the best interest of the state to have a smooth transition rather than resigning while the state is on high alert for terrorism. But even some Democrats hope he'll quit soon to avoid the prolonged discussion of McGreevey's sex life in the national news.

A poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey indicated the populace was fairly evenly split over the matter, although more people favored his immediate resignation. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said Nov. 15 is an appropriate date, while 48 percent said the governor should have resigned immediately.

The governor’s fall extends beyond homosexuality, with The New York Times noting in an editorial that McGreevey’s tenure “was always marred by ethical questions swirling around his office. The case of characters is long, and the details unsavory,” including alleged extortion of the governor by a homosexual partner appointed by McGreevey as the state’s homeland security adviser, “a job for which he had no discernable qualifications,” according to The Times.

NANCY REAGAN REJECTS PETA AD -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is trying to ride the wave of popularity associated with Ronald Reagan by organizing an ad campaign using his image, but the late president's wife has spoken out against it.

An ad promoting vegetarianism as a way to prevent Alzheimer's disease reads, "Win one for the Gipper," and shows a smiling photo of Reagan. The ad also says, "Animal fats double your risk of Alzheimer's," according to a report by MSNBC.com Aug. 16.

PETA's president wrote a letter to Nancy Reagan outlining the research she contends supports the ad.

"[We] hope that you will be happy that we chose your husband's powerful image (we have purchased the photograph) and used it most respectfully to capture people's attention," Ingrid Newkirk wrote, according to MSNBC. "We realize that you are exceedingly busy, but if you could spare a few moments, this campaign would be helped significantly by a brief note of support from you."

A representative of Nancy Reagan answered with a letter asking for the immediate end of the ad campaign.

"Discontinue any use of President Reagan's name, signature, quote, image or likeness," Kirby Elizabeth Hanson, director of business development for the Ronald Reagan Foundation, wrote, according to MSNBC. "You have no authority, license or consent from President and Mrs. Reagan (or their legal representatives or licensee) for such use."

PETA said they don't need Nancy Reagan's permission to continue their ad campaign, and they have left it up to the public to decide its fate. A large picture of President Reagan appears on the group's website along with the words, "Americans are losing their minds over meat."

SEMINARY’S SEXUAL MISCONDUCT -- A Catholic seminary in Austria has been ordered closed by a Vatican official due to “a scandal involving child pornography and homosexuality,” according to Catholic World News.

“The scandal in St. Polten erupted when a police discovered thousands of pornographic images of children on a computer at the seminary,” CWNews reported. “At the same time, an Austrian magazine published photos of seminary staff members embracing and fondling students.” The New York Times reported that the alleged abuses include distribution of child pornography from an estimated 40,000 photographs and numerous videos stored on computers, as well as seminary officials kissing seminarians.

The seminary was founded in 1455.


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