* The National Conference of Catholic Bishops advised parents to put love and support for their gay children before church doctrine that condemns homosexual activity. In a pastoral letter, the bishops said homosexual orientation isn't freely chosen and "God does not love someone any less because he or she is a homosexual." The bishops still maintain that sexual activity between same-sex partners is immoral and urge parents to encourage their children to lead chaste lives.
* The World Council of Churches condemned the actions of the gunmen who attacked a relief convoy near Chechnya and kidnapped two workers from the International Orthodox Christian Charities. The two were assisting regional relief efforts as part of WCC and Action by Churches Together, a relief network that includes the Lutheran World Federation.
* A bipartisan group of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation to expand the tax deduction for charitable contributions to all taxpayers, not just those who itemize. The bill would allow a 50 percent deducation to non-itemizers who contribute more than $500 a year. A study by the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse found that charitable giving would increase by $2.7 billion a year if the bill passes.
* A George Barna poll shows that 26 percent of Mormons consider themselves born-again Christians—people who have a personal commitment to Jesus and believe they will go to heaven when they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior. While some Christians consider Mormon doctrine unorthodox, Barna says people of many faiths often hold contradictory beliefs because "Americans aren't theologically savvy." Of Lutherans polled, 50 percent consider themselves born-again Christians.
* The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod ran a national TV campaign promoting itself with 570 ads that ran on such cable channels as CNN, Headline News, the Lifetime Cable Network and Nick at Nite. The campaign's theme was "Hope. There's plenty to go around."
* The Anti-Defamation League received a $214,500 check from the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., representing the undistributed funds from a $244,500 ADL/National Urban League donation to the denomination to help rebuild burned African American churches. The money was held by Henry Lyons, the denomination's president, who has been responding to allegations about marital and financial irregularities since July, when his wife was charged with committing arson at a luxury home Lyons bought with a female church official.
* Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, told a private meeting of coalition activists that he wants "a winner" in the next presidential election. Robertson's remarks were taped in Atlanta by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which says the coalition is a partisan political organization that doesn't deserve tax-exempt status. Arne Owens, the coalition's communications director, confirmed the remarks but said Robertson was speaking as a private citizen. "The Christian Coalition will not endorse a candidate," Owens said. "We will not tell people how to vote."
* Milian Opocensky, the general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, suggested that the organization should grow into full communion with the Lutheran World Federation. His remarks came one month after LWF President Christian Krause suggested that the LWF could become part of a wider federation of Reformation churches.
* Americans who read the Bible are more content, more at peace and generally more satisfied in life than those who don't, says a survey by research firm Market Facts Inc. Of those who read the Bible more than once a week, 64 percent say they felt full joy all or most of the time, compared to 35 percent who read it less than once a month.
* Six observers sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation said the July elections in Liberia were "fair and free." But the team criticized the insufficient preparation of illiterate voters and absence of voter education.
* The El Nino weather pattern is creating the worst drought in 50 years in Papua New Guinea and 300,000 people face starvation there. The ELCA International Disaster Relief Fund provided financial assistance to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers