News Headlines

Catch up on our curated list of headlines for today, hand-picked from across the Web by Bruce Gourley.

February 27, 2015

  1. In God We Trust: Scholars Say Motto Cheapens Religion, Violates Jesus’s Teaching (Oregon Live)
  2. Supreme Court to Hear Religious Freedom Case (CNN)
  3. Pew Study of Religion Finds Increased Harassment of Jews (National Public Radio)
  4. Testing the Waters: Hobby Lobby Pitches Museum of the Bible (Odessa American)
  5. Bible Camper Evicted from Schools During School Hours (Grand Haven Tribune, MI)
  6. Activist: ISIS Now Holds 262 Christians Hostage in Syria (CNN)
  7. Baptists in Kentucky Support Cap on Payday Loans (Baptist News Global)
  8. Petition to Repeal Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in Texas Suburb Ruled Invalid (Baptist News Global)

New online atlas ‘heat-maps’ views on abortion, gay marriage, immigration


p class=”western” align=”left”>2ndBC_fullset (13 of 460)-XLBy CATHY LYNN GROSSMAN

© 2015 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — Anyone from politicians to scholars to the simply curious can now see just how deeply the nation is divided on abortion or same-sex marriage — and discover there’s significant consensus on immigration — with a new online mapping tool.

The latest edition of the American Values Atlas, released Wednesday (Feb. 25), allows users to “heat-map” views on those issues across all 50 states and 30 metropolitan areas to see where attitudes blow hot or cold.

The Public Religion Research Institute launched the atlas last year featuring political and religious affiliation and demographic data such as age, race and ethnicity. With the new data on abortion, gay marriage and immigration, users can see that “Americans are all over the map” on the hot social questions of the day, said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. 

To give a sense of the partisanship on issues, Jones looked at the degrees of difference.

Across the U.S., there’s a 43-point spread between the state where the most residents “favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to be able to marry legally” (New Hampshire, at 75 percent) and states where the fewest percentage of people agree (Alabama and Mississippi, each at 32 percent). In Massachusetts — the first state to legalize gay marriage — support is at 73 percent.

On whether abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the gap stretches 36 percentage points; it’s highest in New Hampshire  (73 percent) and lowest in Wyoming (37 percent).

The atlas also maps a second question on abortion: whether “at least some health care professionals in your community should provide legal abortions.”

According to the atlas, in all three cities that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit in September — Philadelphia, New York and Washington — more than 60 percent say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases and that at least some health care professionals in their cities should offer it. More than 60 percent also favor legalizing same-sex marriage.

However, Jones said, there is also “surprising consensus” on immigration. The issue is timely, given President Obama’s current push for reform amid an acrimonious legal and financing debate in Congress and Pope Francis’ frequent calls for people to welcome the stranger.

The atlas shows that more than 62 percent of people in the cities on the pontiff’s itinerary favor offering immigrants who are in this country illegally a path to citizenship (with requirements). More than 17 percent would offer permanent residency but not citizenship. Nineteen percent want to see immigrants identified and deported.

All the states are in majority territory” on offering a path to citizenship, Jones said. The nationwide gap on immigration is also smaller — just a 14-point spread between Delaware (66 percent) and Wyoming (52 percent).

PRRI also asked a second question, measuring people’s view of immigrants. Again, attitudes were chiefly positive. And politicians headed for the Iowa caucuses and the 2016 presidential race might want to take heed: In Iowa, 57 percent agree that “immigrants strengthen our nation.”

Atlas users can find out everything Iowans think by using the atlas state profile feature, which offers demographic, religious and political and social viewpoints state by state, but the profile feature is not yet available by cities.

However, on the views toward immigrants, one city on the pope’s tour revealed some negative views. One in three Philadelphians surveyed (35 percent) said illegal immigrants are “a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care.”

Because the data were drawn from a large sample — 50,000 interviews, conducted in 2014 by landlines and cellphones — users can search demographic data both by large religious traditions (and those with no religious brand) and by subgroups.

That means it’s possible to see locations and demographic distinctions among Hispanic Catholics, white non-Hispanic Catholic and other Catholics, including other ethnic groups.

It also means religious minorities such as Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus and Buddhists are represented. Even Unitarian Universalists — fewer than 1 percent of all Americans — can be searched if you want to know, for example, that New Hampshire is the only state where they reach 2 percent of the population.

Jones said it may be the 2016 edition of the atlas before users can map views by religious traditions.

February 26, 2015

  1. Republican Majority Would Support Christianity as ‘National Religion’ (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  2. If Alabamians Won’t Get Therapy, Are Southern Baptists to Blame? (
  3. Wheaton College Student Attacked for Questioning Treatment of Gays (TIME)
  4. House Churches Swap Steeples for Sofas, Say They’ve Never Been Closer (NPR)
  5. D.C. Bible Museum Will be Immersive Experience, Organizers Say (NPR)
  6. Todd Still Named Truett Seminary Dean (Baptist Standard)
  7. Confusing Race with Faith Sent Christians Down Painful Path (Baptist News Global)
  8. BJC Defends Muslim Woman’s Right to Wear Hijab to Work (Baptist News Global)
  9. Summit Draws 1,000 Midwest Southern Baptists From 13 States (Baptist Press)

February 25, 2015

  1. At Supreme Court, Fashion Collides With Religion in Headscarf Case (NPR)
  2. Republicans Propose Declaring Idaho a ‘Christian’ State (Reuters)
  3. ‘Bigotry Map’ of America Leaves Out Several Alabama Groups, Atheists Say (AL.Com)
  4. Mt. Pleasant Celebrates Black History Month (Jackson Sun)
  5. Southern Baptists Try to Diversify Churches—But Will it Work? (Religion News Service)
  6. Seattle Missionary Kidnapped by Masked Gunmen in Nigeria (New York Daily News)
  7. Baptist Pastor Inspired by Jews, Muslims During Holy Land Pilgrimage (Baptist News Global)
  8. Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal Join Evangelical Christian Tour of Israel (Jewish Daily Forward)
  9. BGCT Board Declares Gender Assignment ‘Immutable’ (Baptist Standard)
  10. Texas Baptist Theologian Says Bible Doesn’t Condone Homosexuality (Baptist News Global)
  11. Pastoral Residencies Picking Up as Churches Expand Ministry, Purpose (Baptist News Global)
  12. ISIS Abducts up to 100 Christians in Northeastern Syria, Groups Say (CNN)

February 21, 2015

  1. Group Wants Apology from North Dakota House Republicans for Canceling Prayer from Muslim (Fox News)
  2. Oklahoma Republicans, Denying Church State Separation, Seek to Ban AP History as Unpatriotic (RT)
  3. Baptist Church Uses Line Dancing to Keep Members in Shape (
  4. Millennial Evangelicals Push for Full Inclusion of LGBT Christians (Christian Science Monitor)
  5. Southern Baptist Seminary President Fears Liberal Drift in Churches (Baptist News Global)
  6. Coptic Christian Bishop: I Forgive ISIS (CNN)

February 20, 2015

  1. Obama Calls for Expansion of Human Rights to Combat Extremism (New York Times)
  2. Atlanta’s Former Fire Chief Sues the City, Says He Was Fired Because of Religious Beliefs (Washington Post)
  3. Rob Bell’s Gay Marriage Comments Ignite Christian Blogosphere (Michigan Live)
  4. Greyhound Rescuer Teams Up With Baptists, Humane Society to Fight Dog Racing in Alabama (
  5. At Convergence, Being Missional Cuts Two Ways (Baptist News Global)
  6. Brewton Parker College Reinstates Fired BP (Baptist News Global)

February 19, 2015

  1. Facing Death: How Religion Matters (Huffington Post)
  2. Frequent Church Attendance Highest in Utah, Lowest in Vermont (Gallup)
  3. President Obama Says ISIS ‘Not Religious Leaders, They are Terrorists’ (ABC News)
  4. Religious Bills Ignite Debate (Indiana Daily Student)
  5. Carjackers Rob Baptist Minister in Front of St. Louis Church (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  6. Churches Offer Drive-by Ashes (Crux)
  7. Unexpected Spirituality Emerges from Night of Sharing Music (Baptist News Global)

February 18, 2015

  1. Princeton Gets Gutenberg Bible in $300 Million Books Gift (Bloomberg)
  2. Church Tries Commercial Development to Leverage High-Value Real Estate (Boston Globe)
  3. Metro Detroit Coptic Christians Mounr Victims of ISIS (Detroit Free Press)
  4. ISIS Believes We Are Living in the End Times (CNN)
  5. With $75 Million on the Line, Creditors Question Rescue Plan for Family Christian Bookstores (Michigan Live)
  6. Court Upholds Religious Accommodation in Obamacare (Baptist News Global)
  7. Watchman on the Wall: Brent Walker’s 25 Years in D.C. (Baptist News Global)