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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Miscellaneous updates

It’s been a while between posts, I know. Here are a few updates in the religion world:

1. Church giving decreased before the economy plummeted. A study of 2006 giving trends found that, using equal comparisons, giving in 2006 was lower than in the worst year of the Depression. A story on the study found that Americans spent almost twice as much on Grand Theft Auto IV in its first day on the market as Southern Baptist churches would need to make up for a shortfall in donations for evangelical work.

2. Adding the green letters: The new Green Bible hit stores earlier this month. Nature verses are written in green ink (as a nod to the red letter Bibles which put Jesus’ words in red). So how much of the Good Book would be in green? More than 1,000 verses apparently reference creation, nature and stewardship.

3. A new poll on young voters and faith has been released by Faith in Public Life. Some findings include:

         Monthly worship attenders swing to Obama in 2008. The greatest shift in candidate preference between 2004 and 2008 has occurred among all voters who attend religious services once or twice a month, moving from 49% support for Kerry in 2004 to 60% support for Obama in 2008.           Young first-time voters are heavily supporting Obama. Among young first-time voters, who make up close to one-third of this age group (ages 18-34), more than seven-in-ten (71%) support Obama, compared to slightly more than half (53%) of young voters who have voted in previous elections.        Younger Catholics more strongly support Obama, abortion rights, and more active government than older Catholics. While older Catholics (age 35 and older) are split between the candidates (46% for McCain and 44% for Obama), among younger Catholics Obama leads McCain by 15 points (55% to 40%). Six-in-ten younger Catholics say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to half of older Catholics. Younger Catholics are more pro-government than any other religious group, with two-thirds preferring bigger government with more services, compared to 41% support among older Catholics.        Younger white evangelicals strongly oppose abortion rights but are less conservative and more supportive of same-sex marriage than older evangelicals.  Young white evangelicals are strongly opposed to abortion rights, with two-thirds saying abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Yet, less than a majority (49%) of younger evangelicals identify as conservative, compared to nearly two-thirds (65%) of older evangelicals.  Among young evangelicals, a majority favor either same-sex marriage (24%) or civil unions    (28%), compared to a majority (61%) of older evangelicals who favor no legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships.          Younger white evangelicals are more pluralistic and more supportive of active government at home and of diplomacy abroad. While less than one-third (30%) of older evangelicals say a person can be moral without believing in God, 44% of younger evangelicals affirm this idea, a 14-point gap. A majority (56%) of younger evangelicals believe diplomacy rather than military strength is the best way to ensure peace, compared to only 44% of older white evangelicals. Younger white evangelicals are also more likely than older white evangelicals to favor a bigger government offering more services, by a margin of 21 points (44% and 23% respectively).          ·                 Americans rank abortion and same-sex marriage as the least important issues in 2008. Only 43% and 28% respectively say these issues are very important issues to their vote in 2008. White evangelicals do not rank abortion or same-sex marriage in their top five most important voting issues.     Young adults prefer larger government that provides increased services. Nearly six-in-ten (57%) young adults say they prefer a larger government providing more services rather than a smaller government providing fewer services. Among Americans as a whole, less than half (45%) want bigger government. The generation gap is evident among every religious tradition. Two-thirds (67%) of younger Catholics say they prefer bigger government, and younger white evangelicals are 21 points more likely than older evangelicals to support larger government (44% to 23% respectively).

4. October is clergy appreciation month. Anyone want to tell me why they appreciate their clergy? Send an email to or call me at 540/735-1973.

5. I just stumbled across this blog, Crummy Church Signs. It’s pretty much like it sounds, a showing of bad church signs. Some aren’t so bad, but the author seems to want more meaning and less cliche on the signs. If you scroll to the "older posts" on the second page, you’ll find some Stafford County church signs.