WEEK IN RELIGION

The world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise is closing its doors after 85 years. Family Christian Stores, which has 240 retail stores across 36 states, recently announced it will close all of its stores after failing to work out terms and pricing with its vendors that would allow it to compete in the market. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company employed more than 3,000 people, but filed for bankruptcy protection 2 years ago. Company president Chuck Bengochea said the company experienced difficulties after filing bankruptcy. “Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline,” Bengochea said in a statement. Along with selling Christian-themed merchandise, the company was also known for providing humanitarian aid, serving more than 14 million widows, orphans and oppressed people across the world. Bengochea said the company suffered in the 2008-09 recession and the digital revolution of books, movies and music also helped in declining sales. Family Christian Stores was founded in the 1930s and was eventually purchased by three businessmen in 2012, who then donated the nonprofit company to Family Christian Ministries.

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SURVEY SAYS

Americans remain skeptical of cloning

On Feb. 22, 1997, a sheep named Dolly became the world’s first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell in Scotland, but 20 years later, Americans remain to be skeptical about cloning. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 81 percent of American adults say cloning a human being is not morally acceptable.

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GOOD BOOK?

“Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Live” by Jeff Vanderstelt

Even if they want to, many Christians find it hard to talk to others about Jesus. Is it possible this difficulty is because we’re trying to speak a language we haven’t actually spent time practicing? To become fluent in a new language, you must immerse yourself in it until you actually start to think about life through it. Becoming fluent in the gospel happens the same way — after believing it, we have to intentionally rehearse it (to ourselves and to others) and immerse ourselves in its truths. Only then will we start to see how everything in our lives, from the mundane to the magnificent, is transformed by the hope of the gospel. 

— Crossway

THE WORD

Lent: The period of penance and fasting preceding Easter, the Christian celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection. Lenten observances are most common in the liturgical traditions, such as Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism.

— ReligionStylebook.com

RELIGION AROUND THE WORLD

According to the CIA World Factbook, the religious makeup of Croatia is:

— Roman Catholic: 86.3 percent

— Orthodox: 4.4 percent

— Muslim: 1.5 percent

— Other: 1.5 percent

— Unspecified: 2.5 percent

— Not religious or atheist: 3.8 percent

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