Religion Today Summaries - April 25, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 25, 2005

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

  • Christian Church Denomination To Consider Resolutions On Gay Marriage

  • Former Muslim Hopes to Take Gospel Into the Heart of Islam 

  • India: Anti-Christian Sentiment Grows in Certain States 

  • ADF Appeals Ban on Georgia Science Text Evolution Disclaimers

Christian Church Denomination To Consider Resolutions On Gay Marriage
Michael Ireland, Assist News Service

The United Church of Christ, a denomination known for its progressive stand on social issues, will consider opposing resolutions on same-sex marriage at its biennial meeting in July, a church official said, according to a report posted on the Fox News website. "We take our democratic form of church governance seriously," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, spokesman for the Cleveland-based UCC. "This will ensure some heated conversation for our church when we meet in Atlanta." Fox News reported this is the first time the same-sex marriage issue will be debated at the church's General Synod meeting. The United Church of Christ has a membership of 1.3 million. Fox News said the General Synod considers resolutions, but it does not create policy for its nearly 6,000 congregations: UCC churches are autonomous. The UCC's meeting, involving about 3,000 people, is set for July 1-5 in Atlanta. Guess said that if the delegates support a resolution approving same-sex marriage, it would be the first time a large Christian denomination has done so, Fox News reported. The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, declined comment on the issue. The UCC's General Synod previously has affirmed the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and holy unions for non-married couples.

Former Muslim Hopes to Take Gospel Into the Heart of Islam
Chad Groening, AgapePress

The president of a ministry dedicated to sharing the love of Christ with Muslims says Christians must not be afraid to go into mosques with the gospel. As a former Muslim, she is doing exactly that -- even though, under strict Islamic tenets, it could mean a death sentence. A year and a half ago, Zennah Ministries president W.L. Cati led a group of Christians into the Islamic Center of Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida. She has visited several other mosques in places like Idaho, New Jersey, and all over Florida. In traditional Islam, a follower who converts to another religion is guilty of apostasy, an offense punishable in some Islamic states by ostracism or even execution. The head of Zennah Ministries believes visiting mosques and other Islamic centers is an excellent way to fulfill purposes of her ministry, which include reaching out to Muslims in love and proclaiming the truth of the gospel. Cati says Christians must not be afraid to carry out the Great Commission. The Christian convert continues to witness, walking in God's protection. Each visit marks another step in her quest to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to every mosque in America -- an evangelistic vision that has already taken her into the heart of many Muslim venues and even into the presence of some of the most prominent imams in the country.

India: Anti-Christian Sentiment Grows in Certain States
Christian Aid Mission

As the number of Indian people choosing to follow Christ grows, so does the intensity of anti-Christian efforts. Orissa is one of five states, including Arunachel Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, with anti-conversion laws. Several "re-conversion" campaigns have been launched in different areas of Chhattisgarh and Orissa states, targeting tribal people who have been exceptionally receptive to the Christian faith. Re-conversion attempts are also strong in Rajasthan state. Though Rajasthan has not passed an anti- conversion law, a bill is currently being pushed forward in its state government by the BJP, a Hindu nationalist political party that was defeated last year in national elections but continues to exert influence in state governments. Native missionaries in Chhattisgarh state face a similar situation. The state has had an anti- conversion law in place since its formation in 2000, and now local BJP members are claiming the law is not strict enough and demanding an amendment. Most observers believe their recent push for a tighter law comes as a result of reports indicating a rising number of people in Chhattisgarh are choosing the Christian faith. Despite such opposition, native gospel workers in these areas continue to preach Christ.

ADF Appeals Ban on Georgia Science Text Evolution Disclaimers
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A religious liberties law firm is weighing in on a Cobb County, Georgia, case involving a school board's decision to remove evolution disclaimer stickers from school science textbooks. In January, U.S. District Court Judge Clarence Cooper ordered the Cobb County Board of Education to remove the textbook stickers, which stated, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact." Now, however, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in defense of the evolution disclaimer. "The District Court decision really and seriously misstates the law," ADF senior legal counsel Kevin Theriot says. "It essentially holds that, just because a school board's decision happened to be supported by Christians, then it's unconstitutional and violates the establishment clause." Theriot says if the District Court ruling is allowed to stand, Christians will be isolated from the political process in Cobb County. He believes the prohibition of the textbook sticker sets a troubling precedent. Theriot believes the Cobb County School District could have bettered its case by presenting testimony from scientists who hold to criticisms of Darwinian evolution. ADF is asking the Eleventh Circuit Court to reverse the lower district court's ruling that the science textbook disclaimer stickers are unconstitutional.