PODCAST: Gen Z Americans Rely on Faith Throughout Pandemic (UCNN 11.19.20)

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According to the Christian Post, Generation Z Americans have relied on faith more than other generations during the pandemic, according to a report by the law firm Becket focused on religious freedom issues. Becket released on Tuesday its second annual Religious Freedom Index report, which analyzed the opinions of people in the United States on issues regarding religious liberty. The report also had a few questions pertaining to faith practices during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent gathering restrictions for houses of worship. Becket found that 74% of Gen Z respondents felt that faith was “at least somewhat important” during the pandemic, putting them above the 62% average of all generations. The Silent Generation, which is comprised of those born before the end of World War II, were the second most likely to consider faith “at least somewhat important” at 64%. Generation X were the lowest at 56%. Gen Z respondents were also the generation most likely to consider faith “extremely or very important,” with 51% saying so. Millennials polled the lowest for this at 31%.

According to the Daily Mail, MasterChef Junior’s Ben Watkins died on Monday at 14 from cancer at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, his family said. Watkins was diagnosed in July with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, as his relatives said that doctors told them that only five other people in the world had the rare ailment, which impacts soft tissue. “Our Ben home went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half long battle with cancer,” his maternal grandmother Donna Edwards and uncle Anthony Edwards said in a statement. “After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will be the strongest person we know. When Ben’s rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every quarter of the globe – especially in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.” The family continued: “We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done. Ben suffered more than his share of his 14 years on earth but we take solace in that suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many.” Gordon Ramsay took to Twitter Tuesday to pay tribute to the former MasterChef Junior contestant, saying, “We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today,’ he said. ‘Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss.”

According to the Christian Post, World Vision has begun working to provide food and emergency aid to those affected by Hurricane Eta, which made landfall on Nov. 3 in Nicaragua as a category 4 storm. The storm brought heavy rains and mudslides to nearby Honduras. Hurricane Iota made landfall as a category 4 storm in Nicaragua Monday evening. “There are a lot of people sleeping by the edge of the streets and most of them don’t even have a pad,” said Rafael Zaldivar, a World Vision staff member working out of the Central American country. “They are sleeping in nylon bags, which they use as a roof as well. The only clothes they have are the ones that they were wearing at the moment they had to leave.” Fifty Honduran families housed at shelters in the capital city of Tegucigalpa have already received emergency kits assembled by World Vision. The charity is offering food, basic supplies and logistical assistance and plans to distribute food to almost 11,000 people across five communities. According to Joao Diniz, Latin America and the Caribbean regional leader for World Vision, “the initial estimate suggests 2,235,000 people may be impacted by the severe flooding. The flooding and winds have damaged roads, bridges, and communications infrastructure, isolating many communities.” Jose Nelson Chavez, World Vision’s regional adviser on emergencies, added, “World Vision is supporting temporary shelters and vulnerable communities in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.”

According to the Christian Post, Astronaut Victor Glover wasn’t trying to get away from God as he blasted to the International Space Station in the SpaceX Crew Dragon’s capsule Resilience on Sunday. As the first African American astronaut to go on a long-term mission, Glover took on board communion cups and a Bible. He plans to utilize the strong internet connection aboard the craft to access faith-based programs, too. Glover arrived at the ISS with the three other crew members onboard the first commercially developed space vehicle certified by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration to ferry astronauts up to low-Earth orbit and back again. The crew will stay at the space station until the spring. Along with reading his Bible and praying, the 44-year-old said in a video interview with the Churches of Christ-associated newspaper Christian Chronicle last week that he also plans to participate in “virtual service” and “virtual giving.” Glover is making his first space journey after serving as a Navy F/A-18 carrier pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq. He also previously served as a legislative aide to the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, who was also a naval aviator.

According to the Christian Post, Retailer Target pulled a book critical of the medicalized gender-transitioning of teenaged girls from its shelves only to add it back following customer complaints. In response to tweets from two customers, the retail giant said it would no longer sell journalist Abigail Shrier’s recent book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. But in response to the removal, some customers took to social media to accuse Target of censorship. “We removed a book from Target.com based on feedback we received,” the retail giant told The Federalist in a statement Friday. “We want to offer a broad assortment for our guests and are adding this book back to Target.com. We apologize for any confusion.” A prominent transgender attorney within the American Civil Liberties Union, Chase Strangio — who has spearheaded the outfit’s transgender legal efforts — accused Shrier in a tweet of having the “goal of making people not trans.” He accused her book of being a “dangerous polemic.” In a now-deleted tweet, the attorney added: “Stopping the circulation of this book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on.” Shrier penned a Sunday Wall Street Journal editorial, noting that “when independent bookstores are nearly extinct, chain bookstores are endangered, and Americans’ movement outside their homes is constrained by a pandemic, a handful of online retailers have outsize influence over the ideas to which we have access. And those ideas are being winnowed in one direction.” The author said that although Target reversed course in response to customer complaints regarding her book, other books will be quietly suppressed.

According to the ESPN, Five months later than originally scheduled, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards with the first pick of the 2020 NBA draft on Wednesday night. The Golden State Warriors took center James Wiseman with the No. 2 pick, and guard LaMelo Ball followed as the third pick to the Charlotte Hornets. Edwards, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard from Atlanta who spent his lone collegiate season at Georgia, joins a young Timberwolves core led by star center Karl-Anthony Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell. Edwards led all Division I freshmen with 19.1 points per game and was the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year. Edwards joins Markelle Fultz as the only players in the lottery era to go No. 1 overall coming from a program with a record of .500 or worse in his final college season, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. The Bulldogs went 16-16, including 5-13 in the SEC. Edwards said on ESPN shortly after being selected, “It is an indescribable feeling. My family is emotional. I feel like when I get off of here, I am going to be emotional. I am just blessed beyond measure to be in this situation.”

According to the Christian Post, Netflix and music producer Pharrell Williams are gearing up to release a new series that follows the making of a new gospel choir meant to “take gospel music to a new dimension.” The unscripted project titled, “Voices of Fire,” premieres on Nov. 20 and follows Williams and gospel leaders as they embark on a quest to find undiscovered talent in Williams’ hometown of Hampton Roads, Virginia. The series includes a very animated choir director Patrick Riddick and Williams’ uncle, Bishop Ezekiel Williams. Ezekiel Williams is the general overseer, pastor and founder of Faith World Ministries. The streaming service ordered Williams’ docuseries focusing on efforts to build “one of the world’s most inspiring gospel choirs.” Riddick said in an interview, “Pharrell and I grew up together in the same church. We came up in the Pentecostal Holiness Church. His grandmother was our church mother. It lets you know the Bible is right. It says to ‘train up a child in the way they should go and when he is older, they will not depart,’” the choir director added, giving God praise for Williams’ return to God and his willingness to share it publicly with Netflix viewers.

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!