THIS WEEK IN RELIGION
A third-grade teacher in Alabama has come under fire by an atheist group for promoting a “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” Patsy Smithe, a third-grade teacher at Vestavia Hill Elementary East in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, is being investigated after the Freedom From Religion Foundation notified the school on the behalf of a parent who complained about the promotion. Smith had told her students that if they wanted to voluntarily participate in the event, they could bring a Bible if they had received permission from their parents. The FFRF contends that the promotion violated the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church, however, Pacific Justice Institute (which defends religious freedom, parental rights and other civil liberties) president Brad Dacus has argued that such announcements are legal as long teachers make them appropriately and don’t give overt preference to a particular religion. Dacus said that “(teachers) need to make it clear that students who would like to bring something other than a Bible — that’s reflective of their faith or that’s inspirational to them personally — they should feel free to bring something to class as well.” Dacus also said he thought the investigation is unnecessary, but that “teachers in the future need to recognize that they need to go way our of their way in such situations to make it clear they are not showing explicit favoritism.”
— More Content Now

SURVEY SAYS
Churches stayed out of 2016 presidential campaign
Although the 2016 presidential campaign was one of the most divisive in history and dominated discussions around the U.S., there was little discussion about the election or candidates in places of worship, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. According to the survey, few voters who reported attending religious services at least once a month said information on political parties or candidates was made available to them in their places of worship (14 percent). Fewer said they were encouraged to vote in a particular way by their clergy (5 percent). The survey also found that, overall, few voters said they were contacted by religious organizations about the election (6 percent).
— More Content Now

GOOD BOOK?
“The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic” By Michael Medved
The history of the United States displays an uncanny pattern: At moments of crisis, when the odds against success seem overwhelming and disaster looks imminent, fate intervenes to provide deliverance and progress. Historians may categorize these incidents as happy accidents, callous crimes, or the product of brilliant leadership, but the most notable leaders of the past 400 years have identified this good fortune as something else — a reflection of divine providence. In “The American Miracle,” bestselling author and radio host Michael Medved recounts some of the most significant events in America’s rise to prosperity and power, from the writing of the Constitution to the Civil War. He reveals a record of improbabilities and amazements that demonstrate what the Founders always believed: that events unfolded according to a master plan, with destiny playing an unmistakable role in lifting the nation to greatness.
— Crown Forum

THE WORD
laicization: A formal proceeding at the Vatican in which a priest is “returned to the lay state.” This means he is free to marry and is no longer required — or permitted — to say Mass, although in an emergency he can give final sacraments to a dying person.
— ReligionStylebook.com

RELIGION AROUND THE WORLD
According to the CIA World Factbook, the religious makeup of Sri Lanka is:
— Buddhist: 70.2 percent
— Hindu: 12.6 percent
— Muslim: 9.7 percent
— Roman Catholic: 6.1 percent
— Other Christian: 1.3 percent
— Other: 0.05 percent
— More Content Now