In Today's Edition:
- Biblical Organization Committed to 'Egalitarianism'
- Lawyers Reap Benefits from Catholic Church Suits
- 30 Chinese Christian Leaders Abducted
- Evangelical Leaders Gather In Budapest for Hope.21
- Other Headlines at a Glance
Biblical Organization Committed to 'Egalitarianism' ... The Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger profiled Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality International, in its Saturday edition. According to the article, Haddad's organization is "committed to the view that the Bible teaches the fundamental equality of men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups."
Haddad reportedly "refutes the notion" that this is a liberal or feminist philosophy, pointing to Paul's teaching that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
"The founders of CBE identified feminism as equal access to secular professions and fair pay. We as Bible-believing Christians find our foundation for all we do in scripture," she told The Ledger. CBE represents one half of a sometimes-fierce debate inside evangelical Christianity over the role of women, according to the report.
But the group does have its share of opponents, namely, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in Louisville, Ky. The council advocates "complementary roles for men and women based on what it says is a biblical mandate." Executive Director Randy Stinson says Christians for Biblical Equality and its allies are not heretics, but that their views of gender roles are unbiblical and have been influenced by cultural pressures.
Lawyers Reap Benefits from Catholic Church Suits ... According to an article in Saturday's New York Times, approximately six lawyers around the country have worked on sexual abuse cases involving Catholic dioceses and officials since the early 1980's. In the early days, said the New York Times, the attorneys "despaired of ever focusing sustained attention on the problem of pedophile priests."
Now those same lawyers are swamped: "There is too much attention, too many cases and competition on the horizon." One attorney in Boston, who has some two dozen lawyers helping him to prepare sexual abuse lawsuits, admitted to fatigue after working 18 hours a day. Another attorney said he fields between 100 and 200 calls a day from survivors, "about half of whom are breaking their silence for the first time."
He has represented more than 400 people who say they were abused by priests, and estimates he has won more than $60 million in settlements from Catholic dioceses. Not a bad deal for him: according to the New York Times, plaintiffs' lawyers typically take a third and sometimes as much as 40 percent of settlements and judgments.
30 Chinese Christian Leaders Abducted ... Christian Aid has learned that an uncertain number of leaders of a major house church movement in China have disappeared in what at first was thought to be a massive government raid. Now cult activity is suspected. About 30 main leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship disappeared the evening of April 19. Since the group was blacklisted by the government as a cult in the late 1990s, it was assumed at first that they were victims of Public Security Bureau raids. That view later was changed.
According to a reputable source in Hong Kong, members of the Eastern Lightning cult a year ago posed as leaders of a Bible institute in Singapore, offering free in-depth training to house-church leaders. So last week the China Gospel Fellowship leaders went to attend meetings allegedly arranged in six locations inside China. When some of the leaders showed up at one location, they were told the situation was "very tight" (meaning the PSB was coming) and were asked to hand over their cell phones. When some refused, they were beaten and the phones forcibly seized. One woman escaped on pretense of going to the toilet.
House church members did not realize anything had happened to their leaders until several days went by without any contact from them via cell phone. It was immediately assumed they had been arrested by the PSB. Later, as the lone female leader who escaped made her way to a place where she could safely relay what had happened, the church members realized the situation was much more sinister.
Eastern Lightning is a cult that believes Jesus Christ has returned as a Chinese woman named Lightning, according to the Christian Aid report. If Christians do not willingly convert, they are enticed with inducements, reportedly as high as a month's salary. Cult members have been known to break workers' arms and legs so they cannot preach again, and even to kill people, according to the Hong Kong source.
Evangelical Leaders Gather In Budapest for Hope.21 ... Some 1000 evangelical leaders from 35 countries have arrived in Budapest to explore how to "carry the torch" of American evangelists Billy Graham and other influential Christians who influenced the 20th century, reports ASSIST News Service.
Jeff Fountain, the congress manager of the four-day event known as Hope.21 told ASSIST News Service they are urging evangelicals to "reclaim a rapidly changing Europe for Christ. In the last century European evangelicals have stood at the sideline. That's why the European Union politicians are not approaching us, and Europe became a mission field."
On Saturday, some 2,000 women were expected to come on special buses from the former war-torn Balkan area to participate in a session focused on family and marriage.
Organizers decided to hold Hope.21 in former Communist Hungary, as it is seen by organizers as a bridge between East and West, according to ASSIST. "This meeting is unprecedented in the history of the church," said Geza Kovacs, the Secretary General of the Hungarian Evangelical Alliance. He hopes Hope.21 will lead to a revival among churches and Christians in his country, where he is leading a project to train young professionals.
Other Headlines at a Glance:
- Finding the Place of Faith in Psychiatric Treatment ... New York Times
- The Church Stumbles to Lay Blame on Gays ... Newsday
- Religion for Dummies ... New York Times