On Thursday morning, Brigham Young University announced the university will offer caffeinated soft drinks – including Coca-Cola – on campus and fans couldn’t contain their excitement.
The BYU Twitter account posted the news along with a Q&A with BYU director of dining services Dean Wright on the decision to bring caffeinated soft drinks on the Provo, Utah, campus for the first time since the mid-1950s.
BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and requires students to adhere to a strict honor code in line with the church’s beliefs. The honor code enforces a mandated dress code, personal grooming standards as well as abstinence from premarital sex, drugs and alcohol.
BYU is the largest religious university and third-largest private university in the United States.
The percentage of white Christians in America is decreasing, according to a new report.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published the report Wednesday, with findings that U.S. residents who identify as white and Christian are less than half of the country’s population.
The shift comes with increased immigration into the country and as more people reject organized religion altogether, The Associated Press reported.
Forty years ago, about eight in 10 Americans were white Christians. Now, only 43 percent of the population identifies as such. Still, 70 percent of the overall population identifies as Christian, according to the PRRI.
The survey, conducted from January 2016 to January 2017, collected information from more than 100,000 participants. It found that 25 percent of the population doesn’t identify with a faith group.
Predominantly white Protestant denominations, such as Presbyterians and Lutherans, have seen drops in membership, and the number of white evangelicals has decreased, the survey found.
As the presence of Latino Catholics in the U.S. has increased, the percentage of white American Catholics has decreased; approximately 55 percent of American Catholics identify as white, compared with 87 percent 25 years ago. And some white Catholics are leaving the church.
The percentage of Americans who identify as white evangelicals has decreased too.
According to the survey, about 17 percent of Americans identify as white evangelical, compared with 23 percent 10 years ago.
In regard to political affiliation, the PRRI found that more than 33 percent of Republicans identify as white evangelicals and nearly 75 percent identify as white Christians.
Only 29 percent of those who identify as Democrats are white Christians. Forty percent of Democrats surveyed said they have no religious affiliation, according to the report.
Read more at The Associated Press.
A family says a statue of the Virgin Mary is all that remained after a fire destroyed their home during Hurricane Harvey, and that symbol is giving them hope.
The Rojas family of Robstown, Texas, evacuated their homes on their family property before the Category 4 hurricane made landfall, and after seeing what happened to three of the family’s houses, they say they’re glad they left. They returned to charred remains where the houses once stood.
“The first thing I thought is we would have died in here if we would have stayed. We left, so we’re alive and I just wish this wouldn’t have happened,” homeowner Natali Rojas told KRIS.
Rojas said one of the only items that remained after the fires was a statue of the Virgin Mary. She said it’s a reminder to stay strong.
“Appreciate what you have, listen to the warnings, hug your children and thank God for today and yesterday, and pray for a better tomorrow,” Rojas said.
The Rojas family set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to rebuild. If you would like to donate, click here.
An expecting couple found comfort after they say they spotted a Jesus figure in their baby’s sonogram.
Alicia Zeek and Zac Smith, of Pennsylvania, say they see Jesus wearing a crown and robe looking at their daughter Briella, according to WPMT.
“When I seen it, it almost brought tears to my eyes ... I was speechless. I just couldn't believe it,” Smith told WPMT.
The couple said they aren’t religious but found the “spiritual sonogram” reassuring since Zeek’s first two children were born with defects. Her first daughter had two thumbs on one hand, and her son was born with a cleft lip and palate, WPMT reported.
Briella is healthy, according to doctors, and for that Smith told WPMT he looks at “the angel or God or Jesus, however you want to propose it,” as his blessing.
Social media users joked that the spot on the sonogram image looked like something or someone else.
Read more at WPMT.
Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.
A Catholic priest is temporarily stepping away from his public duties after writing in an op-ed about his membership in the Ku Klux Klan four decades ago.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, said Rev. William Aitcheson penned the article to show the transformation possible in life. Aitcheson volunteered to take a leave on the day the article was published, officials said. It was not immediately clear how long he would be on leave.
“My actions were despicable,” Aitcheson wrote in the article, published Monday in The Arlington Catholic Herald. “When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else.”
Aitcheson’s article was written in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester demonstrating against a rally organized by white supremacists was killed by a known Nazi sympathizer.
“The images from Charlottesville brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget,” Aitcheson wrote. “The reality is, we cannot forget, we should not forget. Our actions have consequences and while I firmly believe God forgave me — as he forgives anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness — forgetting what I did would be a mistake.”
Aitcheson, 62, was ordained in Nevada after attending seminary at the North American College in Rome. He spent some years with the Diocese of Reno before becoming a permanent priest in 1998 with the Diocese of Arlington.
He currently serves as the parochial vicar at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax City.
He wrote in his opinion piece that his own transformation, from white supremacist to priest, “is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy.”
“Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others,” Aitcheson wrote. “We must condemn, at every opportunity, the hatred and vile beliefs of the KKK and other white supremacist organizations. What they believe directly contradicts what we believe as Americans and what we, as Catholics, hold dear.”
Officials with the Diocese of Arlington said that they have not gotten any complaints of Aitcheson being racist or bigoted in his time with the diocese.
In a statement, Arlington Diocese Bishop Michael Burbidge called Aitcheson’s history with the KKK “sad and deeply troubling.”
“I pray that in our current political and social climate his message will reach those who support hate and division and inspire them to a conversion of heart,” Burbidge said.
In an effort to “Make the Church Relevant Again,” church leaders took a marketing tip from Atlanta-based hip-hop star 2 Chainz himself and decorated their sanctuary with a miniature Pink Trap House, a pink stove and a pink toy car.
The church shared its one-of-a-kind service led by Bishop William Murphy on Facebook Live and as of Monday morning, the post has garnered nearly 30,000 views.
Viewers and attendees alike lauded Bishop’s and the dReam Center Church’s unique way of attracting the youth for its Sunday service.
And 2 Chainz himself took to Instagram to praise the service, writing, “I think it’s dope to be used by God in different ways.”
2 Chainz’ Pink Trap House, a flipped home at 1530 Howell Mill painted pink to mimic his album’s cover art, was a hot Instagram spot last month.
The artist, currently performing in a pink wheelchair after breaking his leg on tour, initially used the venue to host a listening party to promote his project with actress and writer Issa Rae, “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.”
But the house was also used as a site for free HIV testing and for a “Trap Church” event hosted by Street Groomers, a neighborhood watch group and local faith leaders such as Michael Wortham, minister of young adults at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Ten years ago, only 27 percent of Muslims in the United States said homosexuality should be accepted by society, and 61 percent said same-sex relationships should be discouraged.
But according to a Pew Research Center report released last week, the majority of Muslim Americans today -- 52 percent -- are now accepting of homosexuality, following a trend found in other American faith groups.
Even the Muslims who said religion is “very important” in their lives have become 28 points more accepting since 2007.
Compared to other American faith groups, Muslim Americans are more accepting of homosexuality than white evangelicals (34 percent) and black Protestants (50 percent), but are not as accepting as white mainline Protestants (76 percent) and Catholics (66 percent).
Young Muslim Americans (Muslim millennials) also tend to be more accepting of homosexuality. Between 2007 and 2017, the percentage of Muslim millennials in America that said homosexuality should be accepted by society jumped from 33 percent to 60 percent.
The Pew report, which includes data from more than 1,000 adult U.S. Muslims, also found the majority of Muslim Americans continue to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (66 percent) and 39 percent describe themselves as politically moderate.
Forty-four percent of Muslims eligible to vote cast ballots in last year's presidential election, compared to 37 percent in 2007. Those numbers on Muslim voting are compared to 60 percent of eligible voters overall who cast ballots in 2016.
Muslims overwhelmingly backed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who drew 78 percent of their vote, compared to 8 percent for Trump.
Alarmed by the anti-Muslim rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, Muslim American leaders made an unprecedented push to register voters in mosques and at community events, leading to higher overall turnout.
Pew researchers estimate the number of U.S. Muslims has been growing by 100,000 each year, reaching 3.35 million, or 1 percent of the American population.
By 2050, they estimate Islam will supplant Judaism as the second-most popular religion in the U.S., with Muslims making up 2.1 percent of the future population.
Just over half of U.S. Muslims identify as Sunni, while 16 percent identify as Shiite. Nearly six in 10 adult American Muslims were born outside the U.S.
The largest share of immigrants come from South Asian countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, while others have come from Iraq, Iran, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.
American-born blacks make up about 13 percent of all Muslims in America, but their share is shrinking. Overall, eight in 10 are U.S. citizens, according to the survey.
Eight in 10 American Muslims also said they were concerned about Islamic extremism, and more than 70 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about Islamic extremism in the U.S.
However, three of 10 said that most of those arrested recently on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack had been tricked by law enforcement authorities and did not represent a real threat.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Thousands of students graduated this past weekend from the University of Texas at Austin, flooding social media with photos of proud new alumni and their families.
For most parents, documenting the occasion with a photo means throwing up the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign, too, usually without much fuss. But when your parents are the first couple of televangelism, a spirited hand gesture can take on a whole other meaning.
Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria, draw thousands every week to their massive Lakewood Church in Houston, and millions tune in from across the globe to watch. The pair also head a massive multi-million dollar empire stemming from book deals and tours. Their son, Jonathan, recently graduated from UT, and he posed with each of his parents for a pretty common photo taken during commencement weekend: the graduate and his mom and dad both making the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign.
Every March, McDonald’s sees a surge in sales of its Filet-O-Fish sandwiches.
According to a company spokesman, it’s primarily because of Lent.
Nearly 25 percent of the sandwiches sold during the year are sold during Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and runs for 40 days, ending just before Easter Sunday.
>> Read more trending stories
The dish’s existence dates back to the 1960s, when Cincinnati franchise owner Lou Groen noticed a drop in sales on Fridays when his Roman Catholic customers were observing Lent.
Groen convinced the food chain to launch a whitefish sandwich as an alternative menu item to its popular burgers.
Since its inception, the wild-caught Alaska pollock fish sandwiches have become a McDonald’s staple.
Social media users are jokingly taking to Twitter to express their excitement for “Filet-O-Fish Season,” some celebrating the discounts that many McDonald's restaurants offer on the sandwich on Fridays during Lent.
Take a look:
Commence Filet-O-Fish season. #Lent— Caitlin N. (@catealli_15) March 1, 2017
It's Ash Wednesday. Which means it's gonna be lent fridays and Filet O Fish are gonna be sold for $1.59 again pic.twitter.com/XXghnR6AQT— HvyMtlLvr (@Artenomics) March 1, 2017
The filet-o-fish is truly a staple in the Catholic community during Lent.— Ally (@allyportz11) February 27, 2017
A heartfelt letter left on the door of a Muslim man's Ohio home after President Donald Trump's inauguration is going viral.
>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news
According to WCPO, Abubaker Amri, who immigrated to the United States from Libya nearly 40 years ago, was concerned about some of Trump's comments on the campaign trail. But on Friday, a surprising letter note from his neighbors in Cincinnati lifted his spirits.
>> Read more trending stories
"Dear Neighbors," the note read. "Today begins a new stage for our country. No matter what happens, please know there are still a lot of people who will fight for your right to practice your religion, to continue your lives without discrimination. You are welcome in our neighborhood and if you need anything – please knock on our door."
Amri's niece, Hend Amry, shared a photo of the letter on Twitter, where it quickly went viral. Her post was retweeted more than 140,000 times and "liked" more than 415,000 times by Sunday morning.
After the Trump inauguration, some neighbors left this letter on my uncle's door in Cincinnati, Ohio. pic.twitter.com/jnlXewv7ej— Hend Amry (@LibyaLiberty) January 21, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
"There's no way I could express my feelings when I got that note," Amri told WCPO, calling it "the best, best, best experience."
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