• U.S.

Religion: Tidings

2 minute read

> The Christmas season seems no time for churchly bloodletting. Rock-ribbed conservative President Jacob A.O. Preus, 55, of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has decided against ousting one of the district presidents (rough equivalent of a bishop) who insist on recognizing the ordinations of graduates of the rebel liberal school known as “Seminex.” Last July the church’s convention authorized Preus to dump dissident district presidents 60 days before they were up for reelection. Herman Neunaber of the Southern Illinois District was the first to reach such a deadline. But last week Preus chose “counseling and brotherly admonition” for Neunaber instead. The peace-on-earth approach may not outlast the season, however. Odds are that come spring Preus will expel one or more district presidents, at which point his foes will probably begin to leave the theologically split church.

> U.S. religious institutions may have suffered inflationary and other financial strains in recent years, but they remain a formidable factor in the American economy. The income of denominations and local churches runs to at least $12.5 billion a year, according to the report of the privately financed ($2.5 million) Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs headed by Aetna Life & Casualty Chairman John H. Filer. That means religious receipts are nearly as large as the total of all other private contributions. Significantly, one-fifth of the $12.5 billion goes to such causes as schools, hospitals and social work. The commission also reports a dramatic difference in religious giving between the rich and the not-so-rich. Those with adjusted gross incomes of $10,000 or under give two-thirds of their charitable gifts to religious organizations, compared with a scant 27% for those in the $50,000-to-$200,000 range, and 7% for those who make even more.

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