CULTURE DIGEST: 2012 summer Olympians' faith is on display
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The U.S. trials for the London 2012 Summer Olympics are showcasing not only premier athletic talent but faith. Many team hopefuls have been pointing to the heavens and citing their reliance on God.
Among them is Brittany Viola, who credits God for her success in making the Olympic diving team and says she hopes God will use her to share His love and truth with the world.
"Through faith and taking God's Word as truth, I have performed and accomplished more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined," Viola said, according to Beliefnet.com. "I expect God to use His children ... to touch the hearts and lives of thousands of athletes, spectators and individuals all over the world with His unimaginable love, acceptance, forgiveness and hope."
Chante Lowe, who set a meet record of 6-7 in making the high jump team, said when you see her dancing on the track, she's not just working her muscles.
"I'm praising the Lord, and that's really where I get a lot of my praise and worship in is right there on the high-jump apron," she told USA Today. Lowe broke the meet record of 6-6½ that Louise Ritter set in 1988.
Jennifer Nichols, on the way to her third Olympics as an archer, recites to herself Scripture she has memorized and keeps a tiny book of Bible verses in her quiver.
"I take comfort in knowing that I'm here because the Lord brought me here and having a purpose in what purpose He has for me, not necessarily knowing where He's going to take me," she told USA Today, "but the excitement of knowing that there is a plan. I'm excited to be able to offer whatever I can to be able to glorify the Lord in what I do."
Nichols said she gets a better shot by reciting Scripture.
"I memorize a lot of Scripture to recite while I'm shooting," she said. "I carry a little book in my quiver that has Bible verses that I memorize as I'm walking back and forth to the target. And sometimes I'll recite them while I'm on the line shooting. It plays a large part."
AMERICANS CONTINUE TO REDUCE GIVING TO CHURCHES -- The economy continues to impact Americans' giving to churches and nonprofit organizations, with a recent Barna Group study showing one-third of those surveyed had reduced the amount they gave to churches in the last three months.
"Americans' considerable charitable behavior remains intact, but each year seems to bring new economic burdens to donors," David Kinnaman, Barna's president, said. "Church donors stayed more consistent in their giving than did those donating to nonprofits.
"However, church donors are now showing increasing fatigue. We expect the next six months to be continued cautiousness for donors of all types," Kinnaman said. "For faith leaders and fundraising professionals, this means planning on modest donation levels and capital campaigns and the need for clear, compelling and consistent communications to donors."
Barna also found, according to a study released June 28:
-- With each passing year, the economy continues to burden a growing number of households, with one-third of the roughly 1,000 adults surveyed saying they have been affected in a major way.
-- Half of the adults surveyed said they expect an economic recovery to take three or more years or the economy will never return to its pre-2009 status.
-- 41 percent of adults said they have reduced giving to nonprofit organizations in the last three months as a result of the economic downturn.
-- 11 percent of Americans surveyed said they have completely dropped all giving to churches in recent months. In the fall of 2008, just 4 percent had cut giving to churches entirely.
-- Practicing Protestants were among the least likely to reduce giving to churches, but they were among the most likely to give less to other nonprofit organizations because of the economy.
To read the entire report, visit www.barna.org.
ORAL TUMOR REMOVED FROM UNBORN BABY -- Doctors performed barrier-breaking surgery to remove a tumor from an unborn girl's mouth, likely saving her life, it was recently reported.
Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez is now 20 months old with a small scar at a corner of her mouth the only indication she has had surgery, but she was in danger in 2010 while in her mother's womb. An ultrasound showed a large tumor growing on her mouth when her mother, Tammy Gonzalez, was about halfway through her pregnancy. Doctors told Tammy her daughter had little chance of survival.
"The concern with these tumors is they can grow very rapidly. They can cause bleeding, which can cause the death of the baby," said Ruben Quintero, a pioneer in treating defects on unborn babies at the University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida.
In May 2010, Quintero and his colleague Eftichia Kontopoulos performed surgery on Leyna in utero, using an endoscope with the guidance of ultrasound to remove the tumor with a laser, according to the university.
Tammy, who remained awake during the surgery under a local anesthetic, told the Miami CBS affiliate, "It was like this huge weight had been lifted off. It just floated away and I could see her face."
Leyna was born Oct. 1, 2010, weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently published an article by Quintero and Kontopoulos on the first removal of an oral tumor on an unborn child.
N.J. GOV. VETOES PLANNED PARENTHOOD FUNDING AGAIN -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed June 29 legislation that would have restored $7.5 million in state funding to Planned Parenthood. It is the fourth time the Republican governor has rejected funding for Planned Parenthood, according to New Jersey Right to Life.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the country's leading abortion provider. PPFA's affiliates reported their clinics performed 329,445 abortions in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available. PPFA and its affiliates received government grants, contracts and reimbursements that totaled $487.4 million in 2009-10.
COUPLE CAN SUE FOR RIGHT TO ABORT -- A Montana judge has ruled that a couple who would have aborted their unborn daughter had they known she would have cystic fibrosis can sue their health care providers.
District Court Judge Mike Salvagni in Bozeman said a suit by Joe and Kerrie Evans can go to court. The Evanses sued Livingston HealthCare and medical professionals for failing to offer a test to see if they carried the recessive gene for cystic fibrosis, according to the Great Falls Tribune.
Health care providers also failed to order a test during Kerrie Evans' first trimester of pregnancy, though she had expressed concerns about her baby having the disease, the newspaper reported.
Evans was 38 years old when she became pregnant.
The health care providers urged Salvagni to dismiss the suit, describing it as a "wrongful birth" lawsuit. The Evanses are requesting damages "for a missed opportunity to abort their daughter," said Julie Lichte, a lawyer for the defendants. Permitting the suit to go to court "will ask a jury to award them damages for the very existence of their daughter," she said, according to the Tribune.
Salvagni, who rejected the use of the term "wrongful birth," said dismissing the case would "immunize from liability those in the medical field providing guidance to persons who would choose to exercise their constitutional right to abort their fetuses, which, if born, would suffer from genetic (or other) defects," the newspaper reported.
ASSISTED SUICIDE STRUGGLE CONTINUES -- The battle over the legalization of physician-assisted suicide continues internationally.
In recent developments:
-- Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) rejected an effort June 27 to downgrade the group's stance on doctor-assisted suicide from opposition to neutrality.
-- A British Columbia Supreme Court justice struck down Canada's bans on assisted suicide June 15.
-- Voters in the Swiss canton (state) of Vaud approved with a 62 percent majority June 17 the first measure explicitly legalizing assisted suicide within guidelines in hospitals and nursing homes.
Some medical professionals at the BMA annual meeting in Bournemouth, England, called for the change in the organization's position, but members voted the request down.
"We must question what as doctors we stand for," said a physician, Dai Samuel, in response to the proposal, according to The Independent. "I simply stand for looking after my patients and providing high quality care.
"I do not consider the killing of patients -- whatever the reason is -- justified. That is murder, and I cannot commit that [offense]."
In British Columbia, Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith ruled that assisted suicide bans discriminate against the disabled, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) News. Suicide is legal, she said. Laws against assisted suicide violate the equal rights of the disabled who are unable to take their own lives, she said.
Will Johnston, chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of British Columbia, called it a "radical decision."
"We think that this judgment decided to minimize and disregard a lot of the evidence of harm in other jurisdictions where assisted suicide and euthanasia has been [practiced], and we are extremely concerned about the situation of elder abuse which is a major issue in Canada," Johnston said, according to CBC News.
Smith postponed enforcement of her decision for a year to permit the Canadian Parliament to weigh new legislation, CBC News reported.
Assisted suicide is permitted in Switzerland, as well as Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Erin Roach and Diana Chandler of Baptist Press.
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