Article Jan 4, 2019

Ten good news stories from 2018 you might have missed

While 2018 has been a year of controversies, division, and tragedies, there were also a number of positive developments that have occurred. Here are 10 you might not have heard about:

1. Persecuted American pastor released from jail in Turkey

“After spending two years imprisoned in Turkey on spurious terrorism-related charges, an American pastor was freed on October 15, 2018, and allowed to return to the United States.”

2. ‘First Step’ criminal justice reform becomes law

“The launch of criminal justice reform backed by both conservatives and liberals has become a reality in federal law. The First Step Act to promote the rehabilitation and societal re-entry of prisoners while maintaining public safety was signed by President Trump on December 21, 2018. The measure provides training for inmates and reforms some sentencing requirements, including certain drug offenses.”

See also: What you should know about the FIRST STEP Act

3. NAMB’s Annie Armstrong Offering hits all-time high

“Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), announced to trustees during their meeting that the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions broke the $60 million mark for the first time ever in 2018, with Southern Baptists giving $61.1 million.”

4. The rate of suicide is declining around the globe

“The global suicide rates have dropped by 38 percent since 1994, saving four million lives, four times the number killed in combat during the same time.”

See also: Suicide from a Christian perspective

5. Teenage drinking declines across Europe

“The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that teenage drinking has declined across Europe, the continent with the highest rates of drinking in the world. The most dramatic decline was in Britain. Half of all teenage boys in England drank weekly in 2002, but this figure was down to 1 in 10 by 2014, the report said. For teenage girls, the same number dropped from 43 percent in 2002 to 9 percent  in 2014, with similar falls reported in Scotland and Wales.”

6. Supreme Court protects free speech of pro-life pregnancy centers

“The Supreme Court ruled on National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, a case regarding a California law that threatened to shut down pregnancy resource centers serving women and children in need.”

7. New HIV cases decline in the country with the world’s largest population of people living with HIV

“Confounding expectations, South Africa—home to the world’s largest population of people living with HIV—has recorded a significant decline in the number of people contracting the virus. A major national survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa’s main official statistician, found that the number of new HIV infections had dropped by 44 percent since the last major study in 2012.”

8. The rates of female genital mutilation in east Africa drops sharply

“The number of girls undergoing female genital mutilation has fallen dramatically in east Africa over the past two decades, according to a study published in BMJ Global Health. The study, which looked at rates of FGM among girls aged 14 and under, suggests that prevalence in east Africa has dropped from 71.4 percent in 1995 to 8 percent in 2016.”

See also: 5 facts about female genital mutilation

9. America’s incarceration rate is at a two-decade low

“The U.S. incarceration rate fell in 2016 to its lowest level in 20 years, according to new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the statistical arm of the Department of Justice.  At the end of 2016, there were about 2.2 million people behind bars in the U.S., including 1.5 million under the jurisdiction of federal and state prisons and roughly 741,000 in the custody of locally run jails.”

10. Through the Psalm 139 Project, ERLC placed five sonogram machines in pregnancy resource centers in 2018

“Through its Psalm 139 Project, the ERLC has been a part of the placement of five ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers across the country this year, in New Orleans, Louisianna; Dallas, Texas; Liberty, Missouri; and Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to the machines, the Psalm 139 Project provides for the training for those who will use them to serve the most vulnerable in their communities.”