In Today's Edition:
- Groups Testify on Behalf of 'Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act'
- Patrick Henry College Denied Accreditation for Teaching Creationism
- Poll Finds Canada may be Experiencing a Period of Spiritual Renewal
- Korean First Lady Receives Justice Award from Methodist Institution
- Other Headlines at a Glance
Groups Testify on Behalf of 'Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act' ... A House of Representatives subcommittee heard testimony Tuesday from a number of Christian groups in support of "The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act," also known as The Jones bill. According to The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the measure is designed to "correct" a law established back in 1954 that prohibits political speech in churches. Under the current IRS code, religious leaders risk losing their tax-exempt status if they speak out on political issues.
"Current law, prohibiting churches from engaging in unspecified 'political activities,' has a chilling effect on the ability of pastors to address moral issues that confront our society," said Concerned Women for America's (CWA) Vice President for Government Relations, Michael Schwartz. "The idea that churches can be silenced on any subject at all, or that they should even have to worry about whether they are allowed to say what they want to say, is more appropriate to the People's Republic of China than to the United States of America."
According to CWA, the Jones bill would free churches from the uncertainty of today's tax code. The burden of proof will lie in the hands of the IRS to show that actions are particularly political, rather than allowing any speech on a moral issue to be censored.
Patrick Henry College Denied Accreditation for Teaching Creationism ... CNS News reports that Patrick Henry College has been denied accreditation by the American Academy for Liberal Education, an institution that controls federal education programs such as student loans and research money. According to CNS, Michael Farris, president of the college, said the decision was made on the basis of the school's view on creation and its overall "biblical worldview." Farris said the school would go through the academy's appeals process to try to have the denial reversed.
The academy's April 30 rejection letter to the school explained that the decision to deny accreditation was based on a determination that the school didn't meet the definition of liberal education, which includes standards on "liberty of thought and freedom of speech," along with other general education and curriculum standards. Jeffrey Wallin, the academy's president, told CNS the denial was not based on the fact that the school teaches creationism. "We have religious schools that are members of our organization that teach creationism, but they teach it in the theology department; they don't teach it in the science department," said Wallin.
Poll Finds Canada May be Experiencing a Period of Spiritual Renewal ... (ENI) A recent survey by a Canadian pollster suggests that the country may be experiencing a period of spiritual renewal--one not limited to churchgoers. A survey of 3,500 Canadians revealed that weekly church attendance had increased, the core membership had stabilized, and those who attend church infrequently were not "deserting the ship." The trend was particularly obvious among mainline Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Church of Canada, and Roman Catholic churches, reports Ecumenical News International (ENI).
Reginald Bibby, who teaches sociology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, has monitored religious trends in Canada every five years since the 1970s. His most recent survey suggests that a 30-year downward trend in church attendance has been halted and that attendance of youth has rebounded.
Bibby admitted he was surprised by the recent results, according to ENI, because earlier surveys had pointed to a waning religious influence in Canada. "Groups like the United Church and the Anglicans may be joining the evangelicals in experiencing revitalization," he said. The renewed interest among youth may be the result of direct efforts by the churches to reach out. "Religious groups are doing a much more aggressive job of targeting and ministering to young people," according to Bibby. "Churches are making youth ministry, ministry to young adults and to children, a much higher priority than in the past."
Korean First Lady Receives Justice Award from Methodist Institution ... Four decades after graduating, the first lady of the Republic of Korea returned to her alma mater May 7 to be honored for her work in bringing peace and justice to her country, reports the United Methodist News Service (UMNS). Lee Hee Ho, a 1958 graduate of Scarritt College for Christian Workers, received the "Outstanding Leadership in Peace and Justice Award" from the Scarritt-Bennett Center, the United Methodist retreat and educational facility that succeeded the college.
According to UMNS, the award cited Lee's "lifetime of courageous leadership in the cause of freedom and justice" and her commitment to "lift and improve the situation of Korean women" while serving all Koreans. As she accepted the award, Lee reflected on the time she had spent on campus 47 years earlier. "Scarritt is my second home. It is here that ... with my friends ... we talked about our dreams for the future."
Lee received a master's degree from Scarritt College for Christian Workers in 1958 after attending United Methodist-related Lambuth College in Jackson, Tenn. Scarritt-Bennett Center, formerly Scarritt College for Christian Workers, was founded in 1892 by the women's organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. It ceased operating as a degree-granting institution in 1988.
Other Headlines at a Glance:
- Christendom: On the rise in the world ... The Washington Times
- Where the presidents have worshiped for almost 200 years ... AP
- Facing death, embracing life: Evangelist makes the most of year he didn't expect to have ... Seattle Times
- Judge Orders Access to Priest's File ... Los Angeles Times