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

Canadian Professor Thinks People Will Soon Worship AI. Writing recently for The Conversation, University of Manitoba philosophy professor Neil McArthur noted the correlation between the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the drop in organized religion. He thinks that AI engines like ChatGPT may be taking the place of God for many people. His reasons: “1) Generative AI…displays a level of intelligence that goes beyond that of most humans. Indeed, its knowledge appears limitless. 2) It is capable of great feats of creativity. It can write poetry, compose music and generate art, in almost any style, close to instantaneously. 3) It is removed from normal human concerns and needs. It does not suffer physical pain, hunger, or sexual desire. 4) It can offer guidance to people in their daily lives. 5) It is immortal.” McArthur, Neil. “Gods in the machine? The rise of artificial intelligence may result in new religions.” Tech., 15 Mar. 2023. Web. 25 Nov. 2023.

Anti-Christian Attacks Up 44% in Europe. The watchdog group Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe) reported 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 different countries in 2022. These ranged from arson attacks, graffiti, desecrations, and thefts to physical attacks, insults, and threats. University of Vienna Professor Regina Polak expressed concern about the rising number of cases: “The increasing number of anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe reported by OIDAC is deeply worrying. It is highly necessary to raise both governmental and societal awareness for this problem and undertake political measures to tackle and combat it decidedly.” The report also analyses different forms of discrimination against Christians. In several high-profile cases across Europe in 2022, Christians lost their jobs, faced suspension, or criminal court cases for expressing non-violent religious views in public. Christians who adhered to the traditional teachings of their churches were targeted or even prosecuted for allegedly committing “hate speech”. “The criminalization of expressions of mainstream religious teachings – which do not incite violence or hatred – as ‘hate speech’ is dangerous on various levels,” said OIDAC Europe’s Executive Director, Anja Hoffmann. “It stigmatizes legitimate conscience-related convictions and at the same time weakens the severity of actual incitement to hatred. Furthermore, silencing Christian voices in public undermines the plurality of democratic western societies and essentially renders a free discourse impossible.” N/A. “OIDAC Europe’s Annual Report 2022/23 Released.” Archive., 16 Nov. 2023. Web. 25 Nov. 2023.

Physical Collection Plate Still the Most Popular Way to Give. Most Protestants who give regularly to church still prefer a physical collection plate to a digital one. A Lifeway Research survey of 1,002 American Protestants found that since the pandemic, more people are giving online—but still not most. Today, only 7 percent of those who give use a church smartphone app. A further 8 percent have set up automated bank payments. Silliman, Daniel. “Every Dollar Counts.” Christianity Today, vol. 67, no. 8, November 2023, p. 14.

Lutheran Spokesman