The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Public funding of Planned
BY JENNIFER THURMAN ©2007 Baptist Press
lanned Parenthood may be a household name in this country but for none of the right reasons in the eyes of knowledgeable pro-lifers.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) describes itself as "the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider." Planned Parenthood promotes itself as the protector of women and their rights. It says it desires for every child to be a wanted child. Hollywood celebrities and leading politicians laud its services, which are underwritten by more than $300 million in government funds annually.
To pro-life advocates, however, Planned Parenthood is the United States' No. 1 abortion chain, producing more than a quarter of a million dead babies in a year. It is a leading policy advocate for abortion rights without restrictions. Its clinics sometimes, if not often, cover up the sexual abuse of underage girls who seek their help. If a child is unwanted, PPFA typically promotes abortion, not adoption.
Now, federal and state office holders, as well as enterprising pro-lifers outside government, are seeking not only to uncover Planned Parenthood's practices but to diminish its influence and public funding.
Congressman Mike Pence is one of those. The Indiana Republican tried this summer to eliminate a sizable portion of Planned Parenthood's government grants, sponsoring an amendment that would have ended funding of the organization under Title X, the federal government's family planning program.
The House of Representatives defeated Pence's amendment in a 231-189 vote in July, meaning Planned Parenthood remains the largest recipient of Title X funding.
The action, however, marked an apparent first. There had never been such an "up-or-down vote" on funding for Planned Parenthood, according to his congressional sources, said Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League (ALL).
In a statement on his website, Pence explained his reasoning behind offering such an amendment to a spending bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, noting that "millions of pro-life Americans should not be asked to fund the leading abortion provider in the United States."
"There are great things happening at federally funded clinics nationwide," Pence said. "Over five million individuals have been served, 90 percent of whom come from low-income families. Additionally, it is estimated that over 900,000 unintended pregnancies were averted as a result of Title X family planning services. It is also reassuring that counseling and education regarding abstinence, the only 100 percent effective birth control method, [are] required for all adolescent clients."
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Church Giving Rose Slightly in 2005
Financial contributions to churches were up as a portion of income in 2005 when church members gave 2.58 percent of their income, up from 2.56 percent the previous year, according to a report by empty tomb, inc. that examined the giving trends of church members in the United States.
An analysis of the 2005 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey revealed that giving to "church, other religious organizations" accounted for 72 percent of funds directed to charity.
That makes religious groups the largest recipient by U.S. region, age, and income brackets, empty tomb said, suggesting that religious values are the chief motivation for most charitable giving.
Also, the under-25 age group gave 87 percent of their donations to "church, religious organizations," which may indicate that religious teachings form philanthropic values in the United States, empty tomb said in an October 3 news release.
The Illinois-based Christian research organization found that giving to benevolent causes -- activities focused outside the congregation -- as a portion of income increased slightly in 2005 from 0.38 to 0.39 percent.
Empty tomb reported the rate of giving to congregational finances --the funding of internal operations of the congregation--rose in 2005 from 2.18 to 2.20 percent as a portion of income.
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