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

Research Supports “The Success Sequence” For Young People. In a column for The Deseret News, University of Virginia sociology professor Brad Wilcox cites numerous studies that confirm what he calls “the success sequence.” “This three-pronged sequence encourages young adults to get at least a high school degree, work full time in their 20s, and marry before they have any children,” says Wilcox. Recent research has shown that people who follow the success sequence are 60% less likely to experience poverty and have twice the odds of eventual home ownership. Why is marriage important, as compared with single parenthood or cohabiting parents? Because kids born to married parents are twice as likely to still be living with both parents at age ten than children born to cohabiting parents. Further, children from intact, married families are statistically far more likely to succeed in school and in their careers. By contrast, “children from nonintact families are about half as likely to graduate from college and twice as likely to land in prison.” Professor Wilcox is careful not to denigrate the sacrifices and successes of single parents. “Many single parents across the nation put in long hours and tiring days, working selflessly for their children. I was raised by a single mother and turned out OK — and the same could be said for figures like Barack Obama and Jeff Bezos. But as a sociologist, I can also tell you the evidence could not be clearer that kids are far more likely to flourish when they have the privilege of being raised by their own married parents.” Wilcox, Brad. “Perspective: For kids, marriage still matters.” Opinion., 26 Nov. 2023. Web. 17 Dec. 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 analyzes 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