Study finds increase in interfaith activity, but low level of participation overall
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ America's houses of worship have increased their interfaith outreach since 9/11, a new survey has found. Still, about three-quarters of U.S. congregations have no interreligious activities.
The study of more than 11,000 congregations was part of the Faith Communities Today surveys, which have tracked trends since 2000. The latest findings were released Wednesday by Hartford Seminary.
Researchers found that nearly 14 percent of congregations share worship with other faith traditions, up from just under 7 percent since 2000. About 20 percent of houses of worship participated in interfaith community service projects, compared to 7.7 percent a decade earlier.
However, 73 percent of the congregations were not involved in any of the four interfaith activities measured by the survey's authors: joint worship, celebrations, educational activities and community service.
While evangelical involvement in interfaith outreach remains low, researchers did find an increase in interfaith worship among Christian conservative congregations _ from 4 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2010 _ and a jump in evangelical congregations that conducted community service work with other faith traditions.
Still, old line Protestant congregations with more liberal theology were more likely by a nearly 2-to-1 margin than conservative Christian churches to engage in interfaith worship.
House Democrats, black clergy hold news conferences on opposing sides of NC gay marriage ban
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Several Democratic lawmakers and black clergy took opposing viewpoints Tuesday on a state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, a sign that the proposed ballot question still divides racial, partisan and religious groups days before the Legislature meets to consider it.
Key members of the House Democratic Caucus held a news conference to oppose the amendment, which if approved likely would be on the statewide ballot in 2012. Lawmakers brought along executives of North Carolina businesses who said such an amendment would discourage new, growing companies from calling the state home because of a perception its leaders don't like gays and lesbians.
Supporters of the amendment counter that states that already have prohibitions of same-sex marriage in their constitutions aren't seeing businesses leave for other states because of that issue.
Several African-American clergy who spoke at a later news conference said same-sex relationships violate Bible teaching and called on the Legislature to let the public vote on the issue.
The Rev. Johnny Hunter of Cliffdale Community Church in Fayetteville said gay rights activists have offended black people by equating the efforts to support gay marriage with the 1960s civil rights movement.
But the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the sponsors of the amendment bill, who are overwhelmingly Republican, are actually trying to take civil rights backward with the amendment.
"No matter our color or faith traditions, those who stand for love and justice are not about to fall for this amendment mess," Barber said in a statement released by the gay rights group Equality North Carolina.
Poll: Small percentage of NYC residents will attend worship on anniversary of 9/11 attacks
NEW YORK (AP) _ While most New York City residents still remember where they were when they heard about the Sept. 11 attacks, data from a poll released Tuesday shows that some plan to go about their regular days on the upcoming anniversary while others go to commemorative events. Continued...