Study links religious liberty with prosperity. Religious freedom goes hand-in-hand with economic well-being and freedom of the press—but not necessarily with a secular or religiously oriented government. Those are the some findings of a global survey conducted by the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C. Researchers named radical Islam the biggest threat to religious freedom. Most of the nations listed as “least religiously free” were states with Muslim extremism, while those with the most religious freedom had Christian roots, according to the report. The countries that scored one on the seven-tier Religious Freedom Index, indicating the greatest religious liberty, were the United States, Ireland, Estonia and Hungary. Countries rated seven, indicating the most religious restriction, were Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. As a result of events over the past year, Iraq also sunk to the lowest rank of religious freedom.
Welsh church: ‘Power to the people.’ An aging Anglican church in Wales has come up with a modern way to give—or at least sell—power to the people by marketing its spare electricity to Britain’s National Grid. The power comes from 30 solar panels installed as part of a $1.5 million restoration at the crumbling, Victorian-era St. Joseph’s Church in Cwmaman, in the Cynon Valley. Pastor David Way initially had his doubts, but the church now has discovered that the $66,000 array of panels are producing far more electricity than had been expected or needed. The church now will sell off the surplus.
LA archdiocese pays for sex abuse. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has reached a landmark $660 million settlement with 508 alleged victims of sexual abuse, the largest such payment thus far in the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal. Collectively, the sex abuse scandal has cost the U.S. Catholic Church about $2 billion since 1950. Archbishop Roger Mahony said funding for the settlement will be shared by the archdiocese, insurance companies, several religious orders and other parties. The archdiocese is expected to pay $250 million, which Mahony said would require selling “nonessential properties,” not parish properties or schools.
Homosexuality ‘inconsistent’ with God’s will, Mormon booklet says. Mormon officials have issued a new booklet on homosexuality that states same-sex relationships are “inconsistent” with God’s plan, but it says some people may not be able to overcome such attractions. “While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life,” the new church document reads. If God’s plan is followed, “our bodies, feelings and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife and children,” the booklet states.