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Items of interest from various sources of religious news and opinion, in print and on the web.

State of Wisconsin Tries to Strip Catholic Charity of Its Religious Exemption. For over a century, the Catholic Charities Bureau of Superior, Wisconsin, has aided people of all faiths: serving the developmentally disabled, seniors, and children; many of them low income. Earlier this year, however, the state of Wisconsin’s labor division ruled that the charity is not eligible for a religious exemption from contributing to the state’s unemployment insurance system, because it offers its services free of proselytizing, regardless of clients’ religious background. As a result, Wisconsin’s Labor and Industry Review Commission determined it was essentially a secular organization, not operated for “primarily religious purposes.”  The charity appealed, contending that the state is determining for itself which activities are and are not within the scope of religious obligation. The appeal looms as a possible watershed for religious liberty. “Saying Catholic Charities Bureau is not religious is like saying the Milwaukee Bucks is not a basketball team,” said Daniel Vitagliano of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “It’s as absurd as it sounds. The Wisconsin Supreme Court should intervene and correct the lower court’s error.” Phillips, Maggie. “Is the Pope Catholic? Yes, but Wisconsin Rules This Catholic Charity Is Not ‘Primarily’ Religious.” Articles., 11 May 2023. Web. 10 Jun. 2023.

“Angry Atheist” More Than a Stereotype. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey on religion in America, Mormons genuinely have the friendliest attitudes toward other groups, including atheists, supporting the stereotype of the “friendly Mormon.” Likewise, the typecast “angry atheist” also turns out to be largely based in fact. When gauged on their warmth toward other religious groups, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the most positive ratings. Atheists gave by far the most negative ratings. Atheists had strongly negative views of every other group except Jews, toward whom atheists were moderately positive. What’s more, atheists harbor far more negative opinions of Christians than Christians harbor toward atheists. The single greatest net negative was the atheists’ minus-76-point rating of evangelicals. The study also uncovered an interesting correlation with family formation: the religious group in the U.S. with the highest birth rate is the Mormons, and the group with the fewest babies is the atheists. Carney, Timothy. “Mormons probably like you. Atheists probably don’t.” Opinion., 30 Mar. 2023. Web. 10 Jun. 2023.

Most American Churches Rely On Armed Members for Security. Active shooter attacks against churches have been in the news in recent years. In a June survey by Lifeway Research , four out of five Protestant pastors in the U.S. said that their church has some kind of security plan in place. Over half of them—54%—rely on armed congregation members to counter the threat. 20% hire armed private security, 5% utilize off-duty uniformed police officers, and 1% have metal detectors at their entrances. In the South, where most attacks have occurred, an even greater percentage (65%) of churches rely on members carrying firearms to provide security. Overall, 26% of churches also utilize radio communications as part of their security plan. Earls, Aaron. “Most US Pastors Use Armed Congregants as Church Security.” News & Reporting., 7 Jun. 2023. Web. 10 Jun. 2023.

Lutheran Spokesman