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Second chance for state grant, Shrinking tithes, Principled fund raising
EDUCATION

Court Considers Theology-Training Case

The Supreme Court will consider when government money can be spent on religious education, following up last year's landmark ruling upholding school voucher programs.

The latest case involves students in training to become ministers or other church leaders. Justices will decide next year whether those bans are trumped by a person's freedom to practice religion, which is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Last year, the high court said states may use taxpayers' money to pay for children to go to church-related schools.

Now, religious-rights advocates and voucher proponents are urging the justices to go a step further and rule that if states are supporting nonreligious private schools through scholarships, tuition aid or other means, they must also cover costs for those at religious schools.

A Washington state student wanted to use a state grant program to help pay his tuition at Northwest College in Kirkland, which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

The state initially approved Joshua Davey for $1,125 in 1999, but then reversed the decision because he was majoring in pastoral ministries.

Last year, an appeals court panel ruled 2-1 that Washington state was wrong to withhold the money. Washington and 14 other states banned the use of state money to pay for theology training.
Source: the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times


GIVING

Tithing Tumbles Dramatically

The proportion of Christian adults who tithe has dropped by 62 percent in the last year--partly explaining the reason for church revenues being down in the last 12 months.

According to a study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), the number of tithers--those who give at least 10 percent of their incomes to a ministry--fell from 8 percent in 2001 to just 3 percent of adults during 2002.

Christian adults who tithed also declined in recent times. In 2000, 12 percent of them tithed. The percentage rose to 14 percent in 2001, but dropped to only 6 percent in 2002.

Released in May, the BRG survey of 1,010 adults discovered that several people groups are more likely to tithe than are others. Groups with the highest proportion of tithers were people 55 or older, college graduates, middle-income individuals, Republicans, conservatives, residents of the South, evangelicals and Protestants. Among Protestants, 5 percent of adults tithed last year, compared to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of adult Catholics.

BRG president George Barna attributes the decline in the number of people tithing to the soft economy, the threat of terrorism, the scandals involving Catholic priests and long-term demographic shifts.

"We are losing many of the people who have a habit of tithing," he said, "while the proportion of homes headed by younger adults, who have never tithed and don't plan to, is growing."
Source: Barna Research Group


FINANCES

Biblical Principles for Fund Raising Issued

The Christian Stewardship Association (CSA) and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) issued a "Ten Commandments" for ministry fund raising. Christian leaders are encouraged to "identify the sacred kingdom resources of God's economy" within the 10 Biblical Principles for Stewardship and Fundraising parameters.

"Because giving is a worshipful, obedient act of returning to God from what has been provided (1 Chr. 29:10-14), Christian fundraisers should hold a conviction that, in partnership with the church, they have an important role in the spiritual maturation of believers (James 3:1)," principle 6 says.

CSA and ECFA officials say when the principles, "which rely on God changing hearts more than on human methods," are implemented, the resulting joy-filled generosity of believers will fully fund God's work here on earth (Ex. 36:6-7).

The complete list of principles can be found at www.stewardship.org or www.ecfa.org.
Source: CSA and ECFA

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