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
Pennsylvania Pastor Admits Stealing
Church Members' Identities
Pennsylvania pastor has pleaded guilty to stealing church members' identities to obtain credit cards and cash advances for personal purchases totaling nearly $30,000.
Raymond Lee Clayton, 43, admitted he used Grace Fellowship Church members' personal information to obtain credit cards during a six-month period that ended last April. "I trusted him completely," said Patricia Tomedi, 83, who was treasurer of the now defunct church.
Others in the small congregation just outside Mount Carmel became suspicious of Clayton, but "I thought it was his way of doing things," she said.
She later learned her Social Security information was among the data Clayton used to obtain credit cards. The Baptist minister, who is without a church, was indicted in October on charges of bank and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
His attorney negotiated a plea agreement that requires full restitution and recommends a jail sentence of a year and a day. Clayton faces similar charges in county court, but the district attorney said they likely would be dropped. Clayton did not dispute Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel's statement that Clayton changed the church mailing address to a post office box to cover up his scheme.
The Mississippi native was pastor of the independent Grace Fellowship Church for about 18 months. The church was about 25 years old when it folded, Tomedi said. It once had more than 75 members, but dropped to about 30 by the time Clayton arrived, and the church disbanded after he was charged, she said.
Judge James F. McClure Jr. let Clayton remain free on personal recognizance until sentencing in June.
Study: Spirituality a Big Part of Kids' Happiness
Spirituality is a major contributor to a child's overall happiness --even more so than for adults--according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.
The study tested 315 children aged 9 to 12, measuring spirituality and other factors such as temperament and social relations that can affect an individual's sense of happiness.
"Our goal was to see whether there's a relation between spirituality and happiness," said Mark Holder, associate professor of psychology and the study's co-author. "We knew going in that there was such a relation in adults, so we took multiple measures of spirituality and happiness in children."
Past studies have shown that in adults, spiritual feelings and higher levels of religious behavior typically account for about 5 percent of a person's overall happiness, said a UBC statement. The results of the UBC study came as a surprise: 6.5 to 16.5 percent of children's happiness can be accounted for by spirituality.
"From our perspective, it's a whopping big effect," said Holder. "I expected it to be much less -- I thought their spirituality would be too immature to account for their well-being."
Children in the study were asked to rate statements such as "I feel a higher power's presence," and answer questions including, "how often do you pray or meditate privately outside of church or other places of worship?"
Parents were also asked to describe each child's apparent happiness and spirituality, and teachers rated each child's happiness level.
The study's authors plan to conduct the same research in India to see whether children score similar results in a country not dominated by Christianity.
By 2020, More Worshippers in U.K. Mosques Than Catholic Churches
New research indicates that within the next 12 years, the number of Muslims worshipping at mosques in Britain will outstrip that of Roman Catholics attending traditional church services.
According to a report by London's Daily Telegraph newspaper on March 25, the study by Britain's Christian Research organization estimates that, based on present trends, the number of Catholics attending Sunday Mass will have dropped to 679,000 by 2020.
At the same time, the report's statisticians say, the number of Muslims in attendance at mosques will have climbed to 683,000.
The Telegraph says the Christian Research report, based on British government and academic information as well as the firm's own Religious Trends study, comes "amid growing tensions over the place of Muslims in British society."
Such tensions include claims by Christian clerics that "no-go" areas for non-Muslims are springing up in parts of the country. The newspaper quoted Peter Brierley, a former British government statistician who edited the latest Religious Trends, predicting that the continuing growth of the nation's Muslim population since the 2001 census would have "significant implications" for society.
The Telegraph said the projections show that if Catholic and Protestant churches "do not reverse their historical decline, there will be more active Muslims than there would be Christians in Sunday services across Britain before the end of the middle of the twenty-first century."
Christianity Today Names 2008 Book Award Winners
Christianity Today, the Illinois-based evangelical Christian magazine, on March 18 announced the winners of its annual book awards. Ten winners were chosen from among 359 nominated titles that were published in 2007. The awards, which recognize books that focus on people, ideas and events that shape evangelical life, mission and thought, were given in the following categories:
-- Apologetics/Evangelism: There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese (HarperOne)
-- Biblical Studies: The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd (Baker Academic)
-- Christianity and Culture: Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite by D. Michael Lindsay (Oxford University Press)
-- Christian Living: Caring for Mother: A Daughter's Long Goodbye by Virginia Stem Owens (Westminster John Knox)
-- The Church/Pastoral Leadership: The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry by Ajith Fernando (Crossway)
-- Fiction: "Quaker Summer" by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)
-- History/Biography: "A Secular Age" by Charles Taylor (Belknap)
-- Missions/Global Affairs: Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity by Lamin O. Sanneh (Oxford)
-- Spirituality: The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way by Eugene H. Peterson (Eerdmans)
-- Theology/Ethics: Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music by Jeremy S. Begbie (Baker Academic)