01: Strong new evangelical churches started by Latin Americans and tailored to immigrants are appearing and growing in the United States, according to recent research.
The congregations are led by immigrants from Latin America who view the U.S. as being infected by “materialist secularism,” says Uruguayan researcher Jose Gonzales. He finds that more than 1,000 evangelical churches of Latin American origin have opened recently in the United States, according to a Religion Today (Oct. 27) report.
One example is Eklessia USA, whose congregation is the fasting-growing Protestant church in Fairfax, Va. The church is made up of people from 13 Latin American nationalities and African and Asian countries who receive the Christian message through a translator. Leaders from the Latin churches are usually professionals who may have started out poor but have improved their lot.
02: Atheists and agnostics have beliefs and practices that may parallel those of believers in God, according to a study by the Barna Research Group.
The study, presented in an October 15 news release, finds that of the seven percent of the adult population who describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, two percent attend Christian services; on last Easter Sunday 12 percent of that segment — approximately a million and a half adults — attended church. The study maintains that most atheists and agnostics belief that Heaven exists; some believe that the Bible is “totally accurate” in all that it teaches (13 percent), and that Satan is a living force that influences peoples’ lives (15 percent).
About one out of five atheists and agnostics (19 percent) pray to God during a typical week. Barna finds that many atheists and agnostics describe themselves incorrectly. Many so-called atheists may believe in some kind of deity but are indifferent about the existence of a divine being (a significant number of such people hold that humans can possess god-like qualities or power), while self-proclaimed agnostics are individuals who don’t believe in a deity of any kind.
(Barna Research Group, 5528 Everglades St., Ventura, CA 93003)
03: Heart patients who were prayed for had fewer complications in recovery, a study finds.
The Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City studied 990 coronary patients in one year, the Associated Press reports. The first names of half the patients were given to religious believers who prayed for four weeks that they would have a speedy recovery with no complications.
The prayed-for patients had 10 percent fewer complications, according to the study published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers said the study suggests that prayer facilitates healing.
04: The Christian population is decreasing worldwide, according to a report in Religion Today (Oct. 19).
The UK Christian Handbook states that 28.3 percent of the world’s population identified itself as Christian in 1990. The percentage of Christians will decline to 27.8 in 2000 and to 27.1 in 2010, it said. A lower birth rate among Christian families is the primary reason for the drop.
About 85 percent of the people in the world who are not Christians live in Asia. Most of the 3.5 billion residents of the continent are Hindu, Islam, and Buddhist.