CULTURE DIGEST: South home to most 'Bible-minded' cities
Defining Bible-minded as a person who reads the Bible in a typical week and strongly asserts the accuracy of its teaching, researchers determined that Knoxville, Tenn., is the most Bible-minded city in the United States, with 52 percent of the city's population fitting that category.
Other cities in the top five are Shreveport, La., with 52 percent of its population deemed Bible-minded; Chattanooga, Tenn., 52 percent; Birmingham, Ala., 50 percent; and Jackson, Miss., 50 percent.
At the bottom of the scale are Providence R.I./Bedford, Mass., 9 percent; Albany/Schenectady/Troy, N.Y., 10 percent; Burlington, Vt./Plattsburgh, N.Y., 16 percent; Portland/Auburn, Maine, 16 percent; Hartford/New Haven, Conn., 16 percent; and Boston, Mass./Manchester, N.H., 16 percent.
Researchers advised Christian leaders to view the news optimistically.
"In this analysis, 83 out of 96 cities in the U.S. have at least 20 percent of their residents qualifying as Bible-minded," Barna Group President David Kinnaman said. "Christian leaders should recognize that most of the major cities in the nation continue to have basis for biblical engagement among a significant share of the population."
Study results indicate a diversity of Bible-minded scores among population markets across the United States, ranging from the high of 52 percent and the low of 9 percent, Barna reported.
"As ministry leaders in particular, it's important to keep both vantage points in tension," Kinnaman said. "Whether you live in a city ranked in the top half of Bible-minded cities or in the bottom half of Bible-minded cities, there are still tens of thousands of people to reach regarding both the message of the Scriptures and their importance.
"The key is to not merely preach to those insiders," Kinnaman said, "but instead to equip and empower those who do believe with a strong and relevant message to take out into their communities, vocations and spheres of influence."
Researchers drew results from telephone and online interviews with random samples of 42,855 adults nationwide. Interviews were conducted over seven years, ending last May, according to Barna. Full results are available at barna.org.
Barna markets itself as a private, nonpartisan organization that has been conducting and analyzing primary research since 1984 to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.
EASY-BAKE OVENS FOR BOYS COMING SOON -- Toy maker Hasbro, in response to a petition by a 13-year-old who was disturbed by the "injustice" of finding iconic Easy-Bake ovens only in purple and pink, will unveil this month a model for boys in black, silver and blue.
McKenna Pope of New Jersey said her 4-year-old brother loves to cook and asked for an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas. But all she found when she tried to buy him one were girl colors and girls on the boxes and in the advertisements.
She started a petition at Change.org which gained nearly 45,000 signatures and caused Hasbro to add a version of the oven which could appeal to boys. They even invited Pope and her family to their headquarters to sign off on the new oven.
"If there's an injustice in society then I should change it, you know, help to better society," Pope told MSNBC. She added, "I definitely see the toy industry, as a whole, dominated by gender inequalities."
Hasbro plans to unveil the new color scheme at the industry's Toy Fair in New York in February, according to the Associated Press, and the oven should be available for purchase by summer.
An editorial in The Boston Globe in January said that despite prominent male chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse, "toy companies have long sent a different message: Cooking is for girls."
Pope had said she was "amazed" to learn that Hasbro had heeded her petition.
"More amazing still," The Globe said, "will be the cakes and cookies pulled out of Easy-Bake ovens by boys, who may one day bring about more equality in the kitchen."
PRO-LIFE GROUP WINS CASE AGAINST EX-CONGRESSMAN -- A leading pro-life organization -- the Susan B. Anthony List -- has won an important court victory against a former congressman.
Judge Timothy Black dismissed former Ohio Rep. Steve Driehuas' defamation lawsuit against the SBA List Jan. 25 in a federal court in Cincinnati.
In 2010 election campaign ads in Driehaus' district, SBA List said the Democrat congressman voted for taxpayer-funded abortion in supporting the health care legislation enacted earlier that year. Driehaus denied that the measure, widely known as Obamacare, funded abortions and sued the organization for defamation.
Black initially agreed with Driehuas by ruling in 2011 the lawsuit could go forward. In issuing his latest decision, however, the federal judge said he had reconsidered his reasoning on the basis of recent Supreme Court opinions and a new argument from the SBA List.
"[P]rinciples of free speech and truth collide most violently in the arena of political speech," Black wrote in his opinion, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
"[U]ltimately, in a free society, the truth of political back and forth must be adjudicated in the 'marketplace of ideas.'"
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a written statement, "While we're pleased with the outcome, this was a protracted legal battle that was taxing on our resources and should never have happened in a country that enshrines free speech. The blatant disregard for the First Amendment and the Constitutional right of people to speak out against the actions of those elected to represent them is unacceptable."
The ACLU of Ohio defended the SBA List in a friend-of-the-court brief.
In his 2011 opinion, Black said, "The express language of [the health care law] does not provide for taxpayer funded abortion. That is a fact, and it is clear on its face."
The SBA List and the country's other major pro-life organizations sharply disagreed, contending the new law authorized federal funding of abortion and/or federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion. The National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops undergirded their positions in detailed documents.
Driehaus, who described himself as pro-life, lost the 2010 election to Republican Steve Chabot, whom the Democrat had defeated in 2008.
FDA DECLINES TO ACT ON ABORTION DRUG IN VENDING MACHINE -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has refused to prevent a Pennsylvania university from selling through an on-campus vending machine a contraceptive drug that can cause an abortion.
Shippensburg University, a state school located in south central Pennsylvania, stocks a vending machine in its health center with Plan B One-step, known as the "morning-after" pill or "emergency contraception."
While the drug works to restrict ovulation or prevent fertilization, it also has a back-up mechanism that can operate after fertilization. It can block implantation of a tiny embryo in the uterine wall, thereby causing an abortion.
The FDA chose not to take regulatory action after reviewing public information about the drug's vending machine sales and speaking with school authorities, The Hill reported Jan. 29.
While other universities sell the "morning-after" pill, Shippensburg's vending machine was reportedly the only one in the country to stock the drug, according to an Associated Press report last February. The drug has been available via the vending machine for three years and costs $25. Between 350 and 400 doses are purchased each year, AP reported.
Under federal regulations, women 17 and older do not need a prescription to buy the "morning-after" pill, but they must request the drug from pharmacists, who stock it behind their counters. Girls 16 and under must have prescriptions to buy the drug.
University officials defended providing Plan B One-step in the vending machine by saying none of Shippensburg's students are under 17 and no public funds or student fees are used to pay for the drug. Other items stocked in the machine are condoms, pregnancy tests and cough drops, according to AP.
HUMAN BEINGS ARE 'A PLAGUE,' BRITISH FILMMAKER SAYS -- Human beings are "a plague on the Earth," a well-known British naturalist and filmmaker said recently.
David Attenborough, 86, said limiting human population growth is the only way to save Earth from famine and extinction of different species, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported Jan. 22.
"It's coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so," Attenborough told the Radio Times, according to The Telegraph. "It's not just climate change; it's sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now."
Attenborough's comments demonstrate how "progressively anti-human" environmentalism is becoming, said pro-life bioethics expert Wesley Smith.
"Radical depopulation" like that desired by Attenborough "isn't going to come about via sex education, birth control, or other 'non-coercive' methods," Smith wrote on his blog. "Heck, look at China's brutally tyrannical one-child policy, which has only slowed the rate of population growth, not actually reduced the numbers.
"To really get the job done would require genocidal means, which I am sure Attenborough would never consider or support. But I worry that less genteel others might not be so hesitant."
Since the 1970s, Attenborough has written and narrated several British Broadcasting Co. television series on the natural world, including "The Living Planet."
LET ELDERLY 'HURRY UP AND DIE,' JAPANESE OFFICIAL SAYS -- The elderly should be able to "hurry up and die" to help the government, a senior Japanese official said.
Taro Aso, Japan's new finance minister, said, "Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government. The problem won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
Aso, 72, said he would decline medical care as his life nears its end, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Jan. 22.
Nearly one-fourth of Japan's 128 million people are more than 60 years old, according to The Guardian. About 40 percent of Japanese households receiving government welfare include family members 65 or older, the newspaper reported.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Erin Roach and Diana Chandler of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).