Officials in a northern California county recently reversed its decision to ban a Christian congregation from meeting in a barn.

Located just outside of Oroville, California, in the county of Butte, a group of Christians had been holding meetings in a barn for people to come together and worship under one roof, but county officials informed the owners of the barn and property that they could no longer use the space to host church services and later banned church gatherings in an open pasture on the property.

The ban caught the attention of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is an organization that defends religious freedom and other civil liberties, and in response sent a letter to county officials explaining that religious events cannot be barred if non-religious ones are permitted.

Although the county had banned the meetings because the area was not zoned for church services, entertainment performances were still allowed in similar places.

“The people there who own the property basically had a church service — not only for the homeless,” said Brad Dacus, who heads the Pacific Justice Institute. “They have about 80 or 90 people at a time coming there to worship, and it’s been very successful ministering.”

After a review of the legal information by county officials, they reversed its decision and issued the property owners a lawful conditional use permit to continue the services.

Along with providing a place to worship, church officials also provide clothing and other essentials to the homeless people who attend.

SURVEY SAYS

Americans believe religion is losing influence

According to a new Gallop Poll on religion, 72 percent of Americans believe that religion is declining in American life.

GOOD BOOK?

“How the Choir Converted the World: Through Hymns, With Hymns, and In Hymns” by Mike Aquilina

Music is the most effective delivery system for feelings — love, joy, sadness, glory. The early Church Fathers knew that music also has power over minds, and they used that power to maximum effect, writing hymns through which the early Christians would learn, retain, and spread the Gospel message.

In How the Choir Converted the World,” best-selling author Mike Aquilina demonstrates how the earliest Christians used music to transform a world that desperately needed transforming.

THE WORD

niqab: A veil worn by some women who are Muslims; it covers all of their face except the eyes.

RELIGION AROUND THE WORLD

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

— Protestant: 30.1 percent

— Catholic: 25.3 percent

— Other Christian: 2.9 percent

— Orthodox: 2.8 percent

— Buddhist: 2.5 percent

— Muslim: 2.2 percent

— Hindu: 1.3 percent

— Other: 1.3 percent

— None: 22.3 percent

— Unspecified: 9.3 percent