The Morning Read 1/4/2013

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A morning run down of the day's news stories addressing secular issues and church/state separation.

On the Hill/Washington
On religion, Capitol freshmen are more diverse than their incumbent colleagues
While 57.6% of incumbents, a majority of Congress, identify as Protestants, that number is lower among freshmen legislators, of whom 48.2% identify as Protestants, according to the study. Additionally, there are more unaffiliated, Unitarian, Hindu and Buddhists in the 113th Congress freshman class than in classes before.

General/National
Is spirituality bad for your mental health?

Researchers led by Professor Michael King at University College London have found that people who profess to hold "spiritual" rather than conventionally religious, atheist or agnostic beliefs are more likely to suffer from mental health problems.

Former Governor Huckabee Asks People to 'Stand with Hobby Lobby'
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is asking people to "stand with Hobby Lobby" as they "fight in court for the most basic American rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Hobby Lobby, mired in a legal battle against the new federal health care mandates on grounds of "religious freedom."

A Queer New Year
Look for all these stories-and some of the not-such-good-news we covered in 2012-to continue making waves in 2013.

International/Blashpemy

Old Greek Blasphemy Laws Stir Up Modern Drama
Philippos Loizos is a 27-year-old scientist. Loizos set up a Facebook page that criticized Elder Paisios as xenophobic and close-minded. He also mocked the monk's name - Paisios became Pastitsios, like the Greek pasta dish. He even Photoshopped a slice of pastitsio on the monk's face. Last September, they arrested him and charged him with blasphemy, which carries up to six months in prison.

SCA in the News
Post-Christian Era? The Future of Faith in America [VIDEO]

"Seventy-five percent up to 80 percent of Americans are Christians," he stated. "Americans are religious and may actually be becoming more religious in the years ahead." But Edwina Rogers, who leads the Secular Coalition for America, told CBN News, "I think the evidence shows just the opposite." Rogers pointed to research showing the number of non-theists and religiously unaffiliated has soared to 19 percent of Americans. And it's double that among the young, Americans under age 30."There are quite a number of 10, 12, 14, 15-year-olds who will just come out and say that they're atheists," she said. Gallup's Newport acknowledged this growth.  

States/Local
(Indiana) Lawmaker Wants Schools To Start Day With Prayer

An Indiana lawmaker wants to allow the state's schools to require saying the Lord's Prayer. State Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) said his bill would allow

(Indiana) Eight Hospital Employees Fired For Refusing Flu Vaccines
An Indiana hospital has fired eight employees, including at least three veteran nurses, after they refused mandatory flu shots, stirring up controversy over which should come first: employee rights or patient safety. One of the employees, Ethel Hoover's lawyer, Alan Phillips, says his client had the right to refuse her flu shot under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination of employees.

(Texas) Catholic dorms to debut at two secular universities

The Newman Student Housing Fund is working to establish faith-based dormitories on two college campuses, housing students starting the fall semester of 2013.Florida Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University - Kingsville, both secular universities, will offer student housing coupled with campus ministry for Catholics next academic year. Texas A&M, a public school, is the sixth-largest university in the United States and the largest university in Texas.He told CNA that he contacted Zerrusen with his vision for campus ministry, and that "we want to make it into an intentional Christian community."

(Illinois) Gay Marriage Law May Not Have Enough Support in Illinois State House

Legalized gay marriage in Illinois may not pass after all. The bill's sponsor Democratic Senator Heather Steans said last night despite its narrow passage through a Senate Committee the bill probably lacks enough support whenever the full Senate takes its vote.

(Rhode Island)  3 E.P. Reps Sponsor Gay Marriage Bill

Reps. Gregg Amore, Katherine Kazarian, and Joy Hearn are among the 42 House
members sponsoring legislation to allow same-gender couples to marry in RI.

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