Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 28, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 28, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Evangelicals 'Hijacked' Day of Prayer, Critics Accuse
  • Biblical Scholars Challenge Pelosi's Earth Day 'Scripture' Quote
  • Pastors Accuse Planned Parenthood for 'Genocide' on Blacks
  • Anglican Leader Pleads for Prayers Ahead of Major Meeting

Evangelicals 'Hijacked' Day of Prayer, Critics Accuse

The Christian Post reports that non-Christian critics are accusing evangelicals of taking over the upcoming National Day of Prayer, which they complain excludes other religions. "The National Day of Prayer has been hijacked!" declares Jews on First on its Web site. "What began as President Truman's declaration of a National Prayer Day for all Americans is now excluding and dividing us on religious lines." The 57th annual National Day of Prayer is on May 1 this year. The theme is: “Prayer! America’s Strength and Shield,” based on Psalm 28:7 Jews on First specifically protests against the application to be a NDoP coordinator: "The volunteers who organize the events... are required to pledge that they will only invite Christian clergy to officiate. The volunteers themselves have to ... make a statement of faith that is very narrowly drawn so that only a conservative evangelical Christian would be comfortable doing it," said Jane Hunter, co-director of Jews on First.

Biblical Scholars Challenge Pelosi's Earth Day 'Scripture' Quote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is fond of quoting a particular passage of Scripture; however, the quote, which Pelosi used most recently on Earth Day, does not appear in the Bible and is "fictional," according to biblical scholars, reports. In her April 22 Earth Day news release, Pelosi said, "The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.'" CNS queried the speaker's office for two days to determine where the alleged Bible quote is found. As of this report, no one had responded. Several biblical scholars doubt the existence of the passage. John J. Collins, the Holmes professor of Old Testament criticism and interpretation at Yale Divinity School, said he is totally unfamiliar with Pelosi's quotation. "(It's) not one that I recognize," Collins told Cybercast News Service. "I assume that she means this is a paraphrase. But it wouldn't be a close paraphrase to anything I know of." Pelosi has mentioned the quote in public several times previously.

Pastors Accuse Planned Parenthood for 'Genocide' on Blacks

According to FOX News, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has perpetuated a “genocide on the black community,” says a group of African-American pastors who claimed Thursday the birth control and abortion provider has had a racist agenda since its beginnings in 1921. During a vigil, the pastors and activists said they were incensed by the results of recent “undercover” inquiries into several Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. “Every day... over 1,500 black babies are murdered inside the black woman’s womb,” said Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, of Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND). “This is a race issue.” The pastors urged Congress to initiate an audit of the organization and have written letters demanding that money for Planned Parenthood be eliminated from federal Title X funding, According to a report released by the group of Students for Life America on Tuesday, black women are 4.8 times more likely to have an abortion than white women, while the black population in the U.S. is in decline.

Russia: Visa Changes Leave Religious Communities In Limbo

Recent changes to the visa regime governing foreign religious workers in Russia are hampering the operations of some religious communities, Forum 18 News Service has found. Under an October 2007 government decree, a foreign citizen holding either a business or humanitarian visa - which includes religious work - may now spend only half the period it covers within Russia. “Our priests are really, really suffering from this,” one Russian Catholic told Forum 18. Limited to 180 days a year with his parish in Moscow Region, one priest is making the grueling 24-hour commute from his native Poland to lead weekend Masses. Others are spending extended periods outside Russia as their 180 days are already up. With fewer priests to go round, there are no weekday services in some towns, said the Catholic. The visa changes themselves are not to blame, believes Fr. Igor Kovalevsky, secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Russia. “The problem is the bureaucracy involved in getting temporary residency or a work permit instead,” he told Forum 18 on 21 April. The Catholic Church in Russia is currently trying to obtain temporary residency for the 90 per cent of its clergy - over 200 priests - who are foreign citizens, Fr. Igor told Forum 18.