PODCAST: The State of Religion & Young People in 2020 (UCNN 1.22.21)

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the Christian Post, Though the majority of Gen Z is not engaged in scriptural study and has a distrustful relationship with religious institutions, they are eager for trusted adults, including religious leaders, to invest in their lives. “The State of Religion & Young People 2020,” a new study by the Springtide Research Institute, collected data from over 10,000 surveys and over 150 interviews with young people ages 13–25. It found that Gen Z is largely not engaged in scriptural study, with just 12% saying they’re attending gatherings for this purpose. Additionally, nearly 40% describe themselves as religiously “unaffiliated,” whether agnostic, atheist, or nothing in particular. Interestingly, the study shows 60% of surveyed young people who are not involved with organized religion describe themselves as “spiritual,” and 19% indicate they attend religious gatherings at least once a month. Today’s young people are also the “loneliest of any generation,” the study found, with 60% saying they feel “very isolated.” Josh Packard, executive director of Springtide Research Institute, said, “The inner and outer lives of Gen Z are complex, and the world they live in, it’s complicated. The way that young people form bonds, make meaning, and live out their values is constantly changing. This is without a doubt the most diverse generation that has ever existed.”

According to CBN, Pastor Ed Young, the founder and senior pastor of the Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, announced on Tuesday that his firstborn daughter LeeBeth Young suddenly passed away on Sunday, Jan. 18. LeeBeth also served as a preacher at the Dallas church. In a statement shared via social media, Pastor Young said LeeBeth, 34, died Sunday night. “It is with great sadness that I write these words. Last night, our precious and cherished daughter LeeBeth passed away,” Young said. “She was our firstborn, and we celebrate her life. LeeBeth was a bright, intelligent, strong, creative, witty, and faithful young woman. We love our daughter, and she loved the Lord.” He continued, “Because of her relationship with Jesus, she is now healed and whole in His presence. We ask that you pray for our family, our church, and so many others who loved LeeBeth deeply.” Young didn’t include a cause for his daughter’s death in his statement.

According to Daily Mail, President Biden has used his first days in office to announce an anti-discrimination executive order that some believe will force schools to include transgender athletes in girls’ sports. The order, titled Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, was signed just hours after the new POTUS assumed office on Wednesday evening. It states that “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.” Biden’s order is already dividing activists on the internet. While it has been cheered by proponents of transgender rights, others say the order could unintentionally discriminate against females. Journalist Abigail Shrier wrote on Twitter: “On day 1, Biden unilaterally eviscerates women’s sports. Any educational institution that receives federal funding must admit biologically-male athletes to women’s teams, women’s scholarships, etc. A new glass ceiling was just placed over girls.” Erielle Davidson of The Jewish Institute for National Security of America, wrote: “Sad day for women’s sports. Women must compete against biological males at the risk of injury and loss of title, thanks to a new Biden executive order. Don’t ever tell me this is ‘pro-woman.’ It’s not. It’s destructive and malicious.” Soon after, the hashtag #BidenErasedWomen began trending on Twitter.

According to Daily Mail, Amanda Gorman made history as the youngest inaugural poet in US history with her reading of the moving poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony Wednesday. Gorman, a 22-year-old from Los Angeles who grew up with a speech impediment, was invited by Jill Biden late last month to recite a poem at the inauguration. In the powerful piece she called for unity and strength, especially in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, saying “But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with,” she recited, urging Americans to choose peace. The young poet revealed she wrote a few lines a day and finished her piece writing late into the night of January 6, hours after a mob of frenzied Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in a jarring attack that shocked the nation. She said that to prepare her poem she researched speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, but the January 6 violent Capitol siege is what moved her to finish the piece. Gorman said, “And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life. And I really put pedal to the metal. I wanted it to be a message of hope and unity. And I think that Wednesday for me really just underscored how much that was needed. But to not turn a blind eye to the cracks that really need to be filled.”

According to NPR, President Biden is preparing to reverse a Trump administration policy that prohibits U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups that provide or refer patients for abortions — the first of several moves reproductive rights advocates are hoping to see from the Biden administration. In prepared remarks released by the White House on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells the World Health Organization’s executive board that Biden will soon revoke the Mexico City Policy “as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.” The policy, first instituted by the Reagan administration, has pingponged on and off between Republican and Democratic presidents ever since. Trump reinstituted and expanded the policy, which critics describe as a “gag rule,” within days of taking office. An analysis published in 2019 in the medical journal The Lancet found that the Mexico City Policy increased the abortion rate in at least some affected countries, likely because it also reduced access to contraception.

According to CBN, Stephen Lungu, a well-known evangelist and retired CEO of African Enterprise, died Jan. 18 in Malawi in southeastern Africa from COVID-19 complications. He was 78. The announcement of Lungu’s death appeared on the AE website. The statement noted that the evangelist had diabetes for several years and was not able to fight off the virus. “We all prayed. However, it has pleased the Lord to rest him,” Stephen Mbogo, who succeeded Lungu as AE’s international CEO in 2014,” said in a tribute. Mbogo also cited Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Known as “the Billy Graham of Africa,” Lungu grew up in a dysfunctional family in Zimbabwe, living on the streets and becoming involved in street gangs. In his testimony given several years later, Lungu recalled as a teenager leading his gang to throw “petrol bombs” into an evangelistic tent meeting in the city of Harare. Instead of initiating the attack, he said he ended up going forward to give his life to Christ as the words of the preacher touched his heart. He was uneducated and illiterate, but Patrick Johnstone, a British missionary and author of the prayer guide, “Operation World,” became his mentor. According to AE, over the years Lungu became a powerful evangelist, first working with the Dorothea Mission and then with African Enterprise.

According to PEOPLE Magazine, Tim Tebow is championing kids’ differences. The pro athlete drew inspiration from his advocacy work with special needs children to write his first kid’s book, Bronco and Friends: A Party to Remember. In Bronco and Friends: A Party to Remember, illustrated by Jane Chapman, Bronco makes his way to a party and tries to find a puzzle piece he was asked to bring. Along the way, he meets Ethan, a bird with an injured wing, Alexis, a goat with allergy problems, and Chelsie, a bunny that keeps tripping on her extra-long ears. The picture book, which was published on Tuesday, features the names of children Tebow met through his foundation’s wish-granting program, W15H. The result is a charming tale about celebrating differences that will inspire young readers. Tebow explains that it was incredibly special to name characters in the book after W15H kids, who have since passed away and are “in heaven now.” Tebow said, “Even though they’re not with us, I was still able to honor them and their memory and how much they meant to me. They’ve been a big inspiration in a lot of [ways]. In their life and the way that they handled the adversity that was put in front of them, the grace that they had. So many of the W15H boys and girls that I’ve had the chance to get to know and really love over the years have had such an impact on my life. So, we got the chance to honor a few of them in here.” Tebow is also excited to feature his dog Bronco that he lost in November 2019 in the book.

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

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!

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