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Weekly briefing: Churches closing over coronavirus, Wash. sex ed, practicing Christians in decline

Weekly briefing: Churches closing over coronavirus, Wash. sex ed, practicing Christians in decline

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We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know:

Coronavirus cases nearing 2,000 in US, churches asked to cancel services

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increases in the U.S. and is now approaching 2,000, churches are being asked to cancel worship gatherings to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Some in Washington state, which was hardest hit, already chose to cancel services over the weekend and more megachurches, including Lakewood Church, led by Joel Osteen, in Houston, are going strictly online and suspending services temporarily.

But not all churches are closing. Some in Kentucky plan to hold their regular services though Gov. Andy Beshear urged houses of worship to close. Some say they will be taking precautions such as not passing the offering plate around and keeping worshipers at a certain distance from one another.

Parents protest Washington sex ed bill that governor is expected to sign

Parents are protesting a bill in Washington state that would teach comprehensive sex education to students starting from kindergarten.

While conservative legislators contended that the material is not age-appropriate and that it usurps the parent-child relationship, Democratic legislators argued that it would improve safety for children.

“I’m offended at the pornography that we’re going to be forced to teach our children. I’m offended at what this government is doing to the parents out there.” — Rep. Robert Sutherland

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the legislation.

New York allows minors to change sex on birth certificates

Minors who are transgender or nonbinary can now change their sex on their birth certificates in New York.

New York Attorney General Letitia James made the announcement this week after a 14-year-old sued.

Democratic presidential primaries update: Biden widens lead

Tuesday marked another big day for Democratic presidential candidates as voters in six states went to the polls. Former Vice President Joe Biden widened his lead over Bernie Sanders.

The current delegate count for Biden is 881 while Sanders has 725.

Here are 5 things to know about Joe Biden.

Here are 5 things to know about Bernie Sanders.

Study: Steep decline in practicing Christians in US

The percentage of practicing Christians in the United States has nearly dropped in half over the last two decades, according to the Barna Group.

Today, only 25 percent are practicing Christians. Since 2000, many have either becoming “non-practicing” Christians or left Christianity altogether.

While fewer Americans are going to church, the percentage of adults who read the Bible and pray has remained steady over the last two decades.

“Monthly, committed churchgoers are now about half as common as they were two decades ago. This shift has major repercussions for church leaders as there is increased struggle to attract and retain the active segment of churchgoers.” — David Kinnaman, president of Barna

In case you missed it

Interview with Tony Evans, who talks about trusting God even when He’s confusing

Interview with the National Association of Evangelicals’ first minority president, Walter Kim, who wants to focus on reconciliation amid an identity crisis

Pray for

Christians in Nigeria, where 350 have already been killed since the start of 2020

Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, who has bone cancer

New releases

"I Still Believe" releases first trailer and movie poster, August 2019. | Lionsgate

Film:

I Still Believe (March 13)

Albums:

One Voice by Seth & Nirva (March 13)

Grace Is on Our Side by Vertical Worship (March 13)

Books:

Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics by Eugene Cho (March 1)

The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt (March 10)

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