TV and Technology Trends
The Communications Industry Report recently released projections on media usage for the year 2001. The report projects that total media usage per week per person will increase from the 1990 figure of 35.4 hours to 40.1 hours. In 1990, however, 60.7 percent of those hours were spent viewing broadcast TV while only 18.9 percent were spent viewing cable TV. This will change in 2001, according to the report, with only 39.8 percent of those hours spent watching broadcast TV and 34.6 percent watching cable TV. Internet use will be up 1.2 percent from 1990, comprising a total of only 1.9 percent of all media usage. The only category of media usage other than broadcast TV predicted to decline is book reading.
Reason, April 1999
The Four Commandments?
Only four of the Ten Commandments are viewed as significant by almost all Germans, reports Der Spiegel magazine. The commandment, "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me," was found to be the least important one, with only 33 percent of those surveyed considering it important. Ninety-seven percent said they accepted the commandment, "Thou shall not kill." Other commandments that were most accepted were those that addressed honoring parents and not stealing. There was less agreement on sexual morality: 75 percent said it was important to condemn adultery. Few people accepted the commandment, "You shall remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Only 18 percent of Catholics and 5 percent of Protestants regularly attend worship.
Illinois Baptist, March 10, 1999
Boycotts and CEOs
Fortune magazine reports that when former Kmart CEO Joe Antonini left the company, even though no successor had been named, it was a pretty clear indication that the investors had decided it was time for him to go. Fortune cites "people problems," "decision gridlock," "lifer syndrome," and "bad earnings news" as the reasons for Antonini's departure. Allen Wildmon, Public Relations Director of the American Family Association (AFA), points to this as evidence that the AFA-organized boycott of the Kmart was a success. The boycott, which lasted from 1990 to 1995, was initiated by the AFA, and supported by millions of Christians, because Walden Books, a Kmart-owned company, was selling soft-core pornography and novels with explicit sexual scenes involving minors.
Fortune, June 21, 1999
A Nation's Moral Compass Gone Awry
In a recent poll, Americans say something is awry with our nation's moral compass. Subjects were asked: "Regarding morals and values, are things in this country generally going in the right direction, or have they gotten seriously off on the wrong track?" Seventy-six percent of respondents said morals are on the wrong track while only 21 percent thought morals are on the right track. Respondents were then asked a second question: "Which of the following worries you the most: that the country will become too tolerant of behaviors that are bad for society or that the country will become too intolerant of behaviors not harmful to society." In response, sixty-six percent chose the former while only 28 percent selected the latter.
Washington Post Weekly, September 21, 1998
The Divorce Factor
A study by sociologist Nicholas H. Wolfinger of the University of Utah reveals new evidence of a link between parental divorce and tobacco and alcohol use. Wolfinger says for both men and women "parental divorce produces about a one-third increase in the likelihood of [an adult child] becoming a smoker." He also says that parental divorce "greatly increases" the likelihood that sons – but not daughters – will become "problem drinkers." Wolfinger concedes that even parental remarriage has little effect on the smoking and drinking.
The Family in America, June 1999
The Price of Gambling
• Eighteen percent of homeless in America's rescue missions cite gambling as a factor in their homelessness, according to a national survey of 1,100 participants affiliated with the International Union of Gospel Missions. Thirty-seven percent of the homeless surveyed admitted continuing to gamble even after they became homeless.
• A survey of the homeless in Las Vegas found that they were three times as likely as the non-homeless people surveyed to have a gambling problem.
• Another survey of more than 7,000 homeless in Las Vegas found that 20 percent reported a gambling problem.
• Various studies show that the poor in general gamble a far greater percentage of their incomes than do the middle and upper classes.
Focus on the Family Gambling News
A Search for Significance
In a new survey on prayer, USA Today reports adults' responses when asked what they would ask a god or supreme being if they could get a direct and immediate answer.
• Six percent would ask, "How long will I live?"
• Seven percent would ask, "Is there intelligent life elsewhere?"
• Sixteen percent, "Why do bad things happen?"
• Nineteen percent, "Will I have life after death?"
• Thirty-four percent, "What's my purpose here?"
USA Today, May 28-31, 1999
The Era of Big Brother?
Police in Cranston, RI have apologized for visiting the home of Jeannine Costantino, a member of a new Bible study group called Garden City Baptist Church and for any subsequent misunderstanding involving the group's civil rights. Police investigated alleged zoning and parking violations when neighbors complained that Costantino was holding some kind of church sessions in her home. Police also investigated a four-day backyard Bible club on the grounds that it was an illegal daycare center. In addition, officials prevented church members from visiting door-to-door to invite neighbors to the Bible study, under threat of violating a solicitation statute. Police later apologized and affirmed the group's constitutional rights.
Baptist Message, February 25, 1999
Law and Disorder
Atheist and AA
An atheist cannot be forced to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, a federal appellate court has ruled. When Robert Warner was convicted of driving while impaired, he was ordered to attend AA meetings. However, he said the meetings violated his First Amendment rights because they involved religious exercises. The court agreed that Warner's rights were violated and awarded him $1 million in damages.
Church & State, June 1999
In San Francisco, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkin rejected a claim filed against the city's domestic partners law. The suit was filed by a firm that was denied a city contract because it refused to go along with the law, which says unmarried heterosexual or homosexual partners are entitled to the same work benefits as married heterosexual couples. The firm plans to appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Similar laws have been challenged in Boston, New York, and Santa Barbara, California.
Religion News Service, May 28, 1999
Donald Drusky, 63, of Pennsylvania named God as a defendant in a lawsuit. Drusky blames God for failing to bring him justice in a thirty-year battle with his former employer. "Defendant God is the sovereign ruler of the universe and took no corrective action against the leaders of his church and his nation for their extremely serious wrongs, which ruined the life of Donald S. Drusky," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit requested that God return Drusky's youth, grant him stellar guitar-playing skills, and resurrect his mother and pet pigeon. If God failed to appear in court, federal rules of civil procedure say he must lose by default, Drusky argued. The suit also named former presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, the television networks, all fifty states, every single American, all federal judges, and the 100th through 105th congresses as defendants. Judge Norman Mordue found the lawsuit to be frivolous.
Associated Press, March 15, 1999
Abortion in America
Abortion and Coercion
• The Elliot Institute reports that about 40 percent of abortion cases involve coercion.
• A survey of members of the organization Women Exploited by Abortion showed 33 percent were urged to have abortions by their boyfriends – higher than even the percentage (27 percent) pushed in that direction by abortion counselors.
• Fifty-four percent of the respondents also said they felt "forced by outside circumstances" to have an abortion.
• Husbands pushed for abortion the least, at only 9 percent.
Insight, May 3, 1999
Fifty-nine percent of Americans who voted in the last election favor a federal ban on partial-birth abortion, according to a recent survey. The poll, sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, also revealed that 57 percent of Republican voters say abortion should be either completely prohibited or allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats held similar views.
Citizen Issues Alert, January 20, 1999