Newport News Church

Is Arson Target Again

A second case of arson in two months has caused more smoke and fire damage to Denbigh Presbyterian Church in Newport News, Va.

Firefighters, summoned by the church secretary, arrived shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday, found the fire had stopped burning and worked to remove smoke from the building.

Later in the day, police arrested a 15-year-old at his home in the Denbigh area and charged him with burglary, arson, petty larceny and destruction of property, said Harold Eley, a police spokesman.

Eley said the teenager had broken a window to get inside the church and ignited several wall hangings. A "Lava Lava Island" vacation Bible school banner was one of several items reduced to ashes.

"They torched the sign," said Denise Shambaugh, assistant director of the Bible school, shortly after the fire. "We've spent months and months preparing for this. It's heartbreaking."

Like the previous fire, this week's blaze caused damage estimated at several thousand dollars.

On June 14, someone broke into the church, setting a fire in an office and damaging pictures of the church's former ministers. Police received tips about that fire and questioned potential suspects but have made no arrests, Eley said.

The Rev. Deborah Dail said that she is uncertain whether services can be held at the church tomorrow but that the congregation's 400 members "will be worshiping somewhere."

-- Associated Press

Poll of College Students

Links Religion, Opinion

U.S. college students who are strongly religious differ markedly from the least religious students on political identification and moral issues, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The report from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, was based on responses from 3,680 juniors on 46 campuses nationwide.

The institute found that about one-fifth of the collegians were "highly religious" and that another fifth ranked very low on religious activities such as attending worship services and reading sacred texts. Women were significantly more religious than men.

The findings included:

* Among those who called themselves politically conservative, 50 percent showed high levels of religious commitment; 18 percent of political liberals showed high commitment levels.

* Capital punishment was opposed by 38 percent of the highly religious and by 23 percent of the least religious.

* Just 7 percent of the highly religious thought it was all right for people who have known each other "a very short time" to have sex; 80 percent of the least religious said it was all right.

* Of the highly religious, 24 percent wanted abortion to remain legal, compared with 79 percent of the least religious.

* Of the highly religious, 38 percent said they would support "laws prohibiting homosexual relationships," compared with 17 percent of the least religious.

* Of the highly religious, 17 percent wanted marijuana legalized, compared with 64 percent of the least religious.

-- Associated Press

Books to Bring Back

'Davey and Goliath'

"Davey and Goliath," the beloved animated TV series featuring a boy and his talking dog, will be resurrected this year in a new line of children's books.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America signed a deal with Scholastic Children's Books to produce two books and two coloring/activity books that could include stickers and an iron-on image for T-shirts.

The denomination owns the rights to "Davey and Goliath," and Scholastic is the world's largest producer and distributor of children's books.

"The ELCA's agreement with Scholastic is another step in our renewed effort to bring Davey and Goliath's message of God's love for children to 21st century children and families," said the Rev. Eric Shafer, the church's communications director and an avid "Davey and Goliath" fan.

The stop-motion animated series (similar to Claymation) was produced by Lutherans from 1960 to 1975. Shafer is heading a campaign to bring Davey and Goliath back to life.

-- Religion News Service