Gallup Poll: Americans belief in Bible being actual Word of God declines

1Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”

Important Takeaways:

  • 5 Startling Takeaways From Survey Finding Massive Decline in Americans Who Believe Bible Is the ‘Actual Word of God’
  • New statistics from Gallup showcase how much modern culture is impacting Americans’ views and perceptions of Scripture.
  • Just 20% now believe the Bible is the literal word of God, down from 30% in 2011 and 24% in 2017.
  • New record high among Americans who believe the Bible is a collection of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.” 29% in 2022, the highest ever recorded by Gallup. In 2011, that proportion was just 17%
  • 49% said the Bible is “inspired by God, not all to be taken literally.
  • 44% said in 2022 religion is very important in their lives, down from 60% in 2002.

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Majority of Americans see Recession looming ahead

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • 70% of Americans think a recession is coming: Here’s what they are doing to prepare
  • A recession is defined as a significant economic decline that lasts more than a few months.
  • Most Americans — 70% — already believe an economic downturn is on its way, according to a new survey from MagnifyMoney.
  • High inflation is one of the biggest risk factors that make people think an economic decline is coming, along with high housing and rent prices and rising interest rates.
  • In order to prepare for a downturn, many are focused on keeping their spending in line — 62% of respondents said they are cutting back on spending, while 39% are sticking to a budget.
  • One in 4 respondents in the MagnifyMoney survey reported paying down debt as a way to get their finances ready for an economic downturn.

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Gallup poll shows 20% of Americans view the Bible as the literal word of God

  • Fewer in U.S. Now See Bible as Literal Word of God
  • A record-low 20% of Americans now say the Bible is the literal word of God, down from 24% the last time the question was asked in 2017, and half of what it was at its high points in 1980 and 1984. Meanwhile, a new high of 29% say the Bible is a collection of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.” This marks the first time significantly more Americans have viewed the Bible as not divinely inspired than as the literal word of God. The largest percentage, 49%, choose the middle alternative, roughly in line with where it has been in previous years.

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More Americans now rely on credit cards with record inflation

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • To cope with record inflation, Americans have opened up a record number of credit cards
  • This number is an all-time high, breaking the pre-COVID-19 record of $1.092 trillion in 2019. Credit card debt dropped to $974.6 billion in 2020 but that number has been increasing steadily as inflation began to eat up more and more of Americans’ paychecks.
  • A survey by Equifax, Americans received 11.5 million new bank credit cards through February 2022. This is a 31.4% increase from the previous year. The total limits for these credit cards were $55.5 billion, a 59.2% increase from the previous year. Total credit limits now stand at $4.12 trillion, $224 billion above the pre-pandemic level.

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Margins show Americans view inflation as the biggest problem

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • By a wide margin, Americans view inflation as the top problem facing the country today
  • The public views inflation as the top problem facing the United States – and no other concern comes close.
  • Seven-in-ten Americans [70%] view inflation as a very big problem for the country, followed by the affordability of health care (55%) and violent crime (54%).
  • Just 19% of Americans rate the coronavirus outbreak as a very big problem for the country

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Commander in Chief won’t come and help American citizens out of Ukraine if Russia invades

Matthew 24:6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Biden: If Russia Invades, I’m Not Using Troops to Rescue Americans Trapped in Ukraine
  • Biden stated that he wouldn’t send American troops into Ukraine to get American citizens out if Russia invades, it wouldn’t be possible to do so and to find people and that he’s “hoping” if Putin does invade, “he’s smart enough not to, in fact, do anything that would negatively impact on American citizens.”
  • Host Lester Holt asked, “What scenarios would you put American troops to rescue and get Americans out?”
  • Biden answered, “There’s not. That’s a world war, when Americans and Russians start shooting at one another. We’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been in.”
  • Holt then asked, “Not even on behalf of simply evacuating Americans?”

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U.S. says it is working to screen passengers of plane carrying Americans from Kabul

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is working to verify the accuracy of the list of passengers aboard a charter plane carrying more than 100 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents evacuated from Afghanistan, the State Department said on Wednesday, after the flight’s organizers said Washington denied it landing rights.

“Our embassy staff in the UAE has been working around the clock to verify the accuracy of the passenger manifest and is coordinating with DHS/Customs and Border Protection on the ground to ensure the passengers are screened and vetted before they are permitted to fly to the United States,” a State Department spokesperson said.

“We expect the passengers to continue onward travel tomorrow morning,” the spokesperson added.

Bryan Stern, a founder of the nonprofit group Project Dynamo, said late on Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency was blocking a charter on an international flight into a U.S. port of entry.

Stern spoke to Reuters from aboard a plane that his group chartered from Kam Air, a private Afghan airline, that he said had been sitting for 14 hours at the Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates after arriving from Afghanistan’s capital Kabul with 117 people, including 59 children, aboard.

The group is one of several that emerged from ad hoc networks of U.S. military veterans, current and former U.S. officials and others that formed to bolster last month’s U.S. evacuation operation they viewed as chaotic and badly organized.

“All U.S.-bound flights must follow the established safety, security and health protocols before they are cleared for departure,” a DHS spokesperson said. “This process requires flight manifests to be verified before departure to the U.S. to ensure all passengers are screened appropriately.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has said its top priority is repatriating Americans and lawful permanent residents – known as green card holders – who were unable to leave Afghanistan in the U.S. evacuation operation last month.

Twenty-eight Americans, 83 green card holders and six people with U.S. Special Immigration Visas granted to Afghans who worked for the U.S. government during the 20-year war in Afghanistan were aboard the Kam Air flight, Stern said.

Stern had planned to transfer the passengers to a chartered Ethiopian Airlines plane for an onward flight to the United States that he said the customs agency cleared to land at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The agency then changed the clearance to Dulles International Airport outside Washington before denying the plane landing rights anywhere in the United States, Stern said.

“I have a big, beautiful, giant, humongous Boeing 787 that I can see parked in front of us,” Stern said. “I have crew. I have food.”

Stern said intermediaries in Kabul had obtained permission from the Taliban-run Afghan Civil Aviation Authority for the groups to send a charter flight to retrieve the passengers from Kabul airport.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham and Stephen Coates)

U.S. completes withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan

(Reuters) -The United States completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Monday, after a chaotic evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies to close out U.S. involvement there after 20 years of conflict.

The operation came to an end before the Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden, who has drawn heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his handling of Afghanistan since the Taliban made rapid advances and took over Kabul earlier this month.

The withdrawal was announced by General Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, who said the final flights did not include some of the dozens of Americans who remained behind.

More than 122,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban regained control of the country two decades after being removed from power by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The United States and its Western allies scrambled to save citizens of their own countries as well as translators, local embassy staff, civil rights activists, journalists and other Afghans vulnerable to reprisals.

The evacuations became even more perilous when a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State – enemy of both the West and the Taliban – killed 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghans waiting by the airport gates on Thursday.

Biden promised after the bloody Kabul airport attack to hunt down the people responsible.

The departure took place after U.S. anti-missile defenses intercepted rockets fired at Kabul’s airport.

Two U.S. officials said “core” diplomatic staff were among 6,000 Americans to have left. They did not say whether that included top envoy Ross Wilson, expected to be among the last civilians to depart.

A U.S. official said initial reports did not indicate any U.S. casualties from as many as five missiles fired on the airport. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

In recent days, Washington has warned of more attacks, while carrying out two air strikes. It said both hit Islamic State targets, one thwarting an attempted suicide bombing in Kabul on Sunday by destroying a car packed with explosives, but which Afghans said had struck civilians.

Tuesday’s deadline for troops to leave was set by Biden, fulfilling an agreement reached with the Taliban by his predecessor, Donald Trump to end the United States’ longest war.

But having failed to anticipate that the Taliban would so quickly conquer the country, Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty exit. They leave behind thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus and Idrees Ali and Rupam Jain; Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr in Berlin; Writing by Clarence Fernandez, Peter Graff, William Maclean and Steve Holland; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Catherine Evans and Peter Cooney)

Americans give to charity like never before amid pandemic

By Jonnelle Marte

(Reuters) – Hundreds of cars line up before dawn on weekly distribution days for the Forgotten Harvest’s partner food pantries in the metro Detroit area, where visits are up by 50% this year.

The need has grown as the coronavirus pandemic has shut down offices and other businesses. So has the response.

Monetary donations to the food bank are on pace to top last year’s contributions, helping to fund a larger storage space and new mobile distribution sites required to distribute food safely during the crisis.

“The only good thing about this pandemic is that it’s made people care a little bit more about their neighbors,” said Christopher Ivey, director of marketing for Forgotten Harvest, one of the largest food banks in Michigan.

The economic crisis set off by the pandemic has widened the chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the United States in new ways. People who can work from home, often in higher-income jobs, are comfortable.

But over 20 million Americans rely on unemployment benefits, and hunger and poverty are rising.

The expanded rift has been accompanied by an outpouring of donations to local food banks, crowdfunding campaigns and other aid to financially devastated Americans.

Amazon shareholder Mackenzie Scott’s $4 billion in charitable contributions, announced earlier this month, may be the biggest. But plenty of Americans are also chipping in, donating $10 or $20, some for the first time ever.

Many non-profits have suffered this year as the pandemic shuttered galas and fundraisers. But donations to some small and mid-sized charitable organizations were up 7.6% in the first nine months of 2020 over 2019, according to a recent analysis by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which tracks nearly 2,500 groups. The number of donors is up by 11.7%.

The trend seems to have continued in December, typically the most active time for charitable giving in the United States, early data show. Charities received $2.47 billion in donations on Dec. 1, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving known as GivingTuesday, up 25% from 2019.

“People are giving like we’ve never seen before,” said Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for GivingTuesday.

Much of that is coming in small dollar amounts, suggesting that people across the income spectrum are stepping up their contributions, Rosenbaum said.

About 70% of the donations made to campaigns on GoFundMe were under $50 this year, up from 40% in 2019, according to a spokesperson for the fundraising website.

“What we have now is much more collective action,” said Rosenbaum.

America’s Food Fund, started this year, raised over $44 million on GoFundMe, the largest campaign ever on the fundraising website. Long-time programs like the United States Post Office’s Operation Santa, which matches donors with needy families who send letters to a special North Pole address, report unprecedented support.

Jonathan Cummings, executive director for Revive South Jersey, a ministry started in 2012 to tutor English, mentor and provide housing help in local communities, says a “groundswell” of volunteers signed up to deliver food every two weeks after the organization realized that many of the families it supports were struggling to afford groceries.

Giving Tuesday donations tracked by Share Omaha, a Nebraska organization that supports local nonprofits, nearly doubled this year from 2019, to over $3 million, with a third coming from first-time donors. When the group asked for volunteers earlier in the year for packing meals for the homeless and other tasks, it got 700 applications, up from the 200 monthly average.

“Even if people are out of work or furloughed, they want to give back to the community,” said Marjorie Maas, executive director for the organization.

Janette McCabe was one of the hundreds of people waiting in cars before sunrise on the Monday before Christmas in a parking lot in Warren, Michigan, for a Forgotten Harvest food bank distribution.

McCabe and her husband lost their jobs recently and have been relying on food stamps. She has been coming to the food bank distribution for about a month and a half.

“The volunteers are fantastic,” McCabe said. “I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have them.”

(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Additional reporting by Emily Elconin; Editing by Heather Timmons and Dan Grebler)

U.S. disease experts: Don’t travel for Thanksgiving

By Rebecca Spalding and Manojna Maddipatla

(Reuters) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday urged Americans not to travel during next week’s Thanksgiving holiday to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus as cases of COVID-19 spike around the United States.

The travel advice is a “strong recommendation,” not a requirement, CDC official Henry Walke said on a call with reporters. The federal agency said it was making the recommendation after many states across the country experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

“We’re alarmed with the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” Walke said.

The CDC advised against gathering with anyone who has not lived in the same household for at least 14 days, the incubation period for the coronavirus. Officials said they were also posting recommendations on their website on how to stay safe during the holidays for those Americans who do choose to travel.

“It is the right advice. We are in a major surge in the U.S. with hospitals inundated,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said at a Reuters forum. “There are some that will travel nonetheless, but, hopefully, they will put in place some common-sense measures to limit the damage the virus can cause.”

While the CDC recommended virtual gatherings, for those who do gather in person, guests should bring their own food and utensils and celebrate outdoors if possible, it said.

If celebrating indoors, it recommends that Americans open windows and put fans in front of open windows to pull fresh air into the room where guests are sitting. It also suggests limiting the number of people near where food is being prepared.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel day of the year in the United States, as Americans gather with friends and family around the country. Shares in airlines and hotel companies have plummeted since the outbreak began as government officials have advised against unnecessary travel.

The AAA travel agency has said it anticipates at least a 10 percent drop in the number of travelers this Thanksgiving, the largest single-year drop since 2008. Based on its October models, it forecasts 50 million Americans will travel for the holiday, compared with 55 million in 2019.

With the CDC recommendations, it expects that number now to be even lower.

United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines each said on Thursday that bookings were weakening due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, and United said cancellations were rising.

(Reporting by Rebecca Spalding, Tracy Rucinski, David Shepardson and Lisa Pauline Mattackal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Peter Henderson)