Salvation Army Says
No to Lottery Money The Salvation Army has declined a $100,000 donation from a lottery winner because a local official didn't want money linked with gambling.
David L. Rush, 71, announced shortly before Christmas that he planned to share some of his winnings from the Florida Lotto with the charity. He had one of the four winning tickets in the $100 million lottery jackpot drawing of Dec. 14 and took a $14.3 million lump-sum payment, the Associated Press reported.
Maj. Cleo Damon, head of the Salvation Army in Naples, Fla., told Rush that he couldn't take the money and returned the check, which another official of the evangelical organization had accepted.
"There are times where Major Damon is counseling families who are about to become homeless because of gambling," said spokeswoman Maribeth Shanahan. "He really believes that if he had accepted the money, he would be talking out of both sides of his mouth."
Rush made other charitable donations -- $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity and $50,000 to the Rotary Club of Marco Island, Fla. -- that were accepted.
"Everybody has a right to be sanctimonious if they want to be," Rush said. "I respect the Salvation Army's decision. I do not agree with it, but that is their prerogative."
Rush, a financial adviser, said he has made monetary donations to the Salvation Army for four decades.
-- Religion News Service
Disney Ends Services Walt Disney World has announced that it will no longer hold weekly Roman Catholic and Protestant services, although Christmas and Easter worship will continue.
Disney officials said space problems were partly to blame. But the Florida resort's executives also said it no longer seemed fair to hold services for only two groups when religious diversity in America is increasing.
Houses of worship surrounding the resort can meet visitors' religious needs, a Disney spokeswoman said.
Two Catholic Masses and one nondenominational Protestant service had been held at the resort each Sunday since 1975. No religious services are conducted at Disneyland in California or on Disney's two cruise ships.
The Rev. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Disney's decision reflected "a lack of comprehension of how the real country lives and what's important to them."
Southern Baptists several years ago staged a boycott of Walt Disney Co., saying the company's values were anti-family and anti-Christian.
"This is just one further step away from what once was a core constituency of religiously motivated, family-values clientele," Land said.
-- Associated Press
Hispanic Faith Trends The Roman Catholic Church is not losing Hispanics to the Pentecostal faith but to no faith at all, according to a new survey of Hispanics in the United States.
The study, an outgrowth of the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, found that the percentage of U.S. Hispanics who are Catholic dropped from 66 percent in 1990 to 57 percent in 2001, while the percentage of Hispanics with "no religion" doubled from 6 percent to 13 percent over the same period.
The number of Hispanic Protestants -- about a quarter of the overall Hispanic population -- has remained stable since 1990, and the percentage of Hispanic Pentecostals grew from 3 percent to 4 percent. Hispanics still make up about one-quarter of the country's 62 million Catholics.
Ariela Keysar, the study's lead author, said the data disprove the popular myth that Hispanics are leaving the Catholic Church for Pentecostal and other Protestant churches.
Keysar said it is most accurate to call these Hispanics "unchurched" rather than "unbelievers," because 85 percent of them agree that "God exists" and 76 percent say they believe in miracles.
The study found that youths and men are the most likely Hispanics to profess no religion. Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, a professor at Brooklyn College, said men probably dominate this group because there are few Spanish-language worship services in new areas where they have settled for work.
The survey also found two-thirds of Hispanic Protestants were born into their religion, further debunking the notion that they are former Catholics.
The ARIS study, coordinated by researchers at the City University of New York, surveyed 50,281 Americans in the 48 contiguous states.
-- Religion News Service