Religion Today Summaries, April 4, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, April 4, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians
In Today's Edition:

  • InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Rutgers University Resolve Dispute
  • 'Left Behind' Co-Author's Movie Suit Dismissed
  • Report: Enrollment Down as Catholic Schools Close, Consolidate
  • Want Your Church to Grow? Then Bring in the Men

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Rutgers University Resolve Dispute
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) Rutgers University and a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship have reached a settlement after the ministry sued the school over a dispute about university policy on student leaders. The dispute centered on the constitution of Rutgers InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship and whether it was compatible with university policy about selection of leaders of student organizations. The settlement determined that the Christian group is not violating university policy by requiring that its leaders agree with the fellowship's statement of faith. "The university assured the fellowship that its voting members are permitted to take into account both their own religious beliefs and those of candidates when selecting and voting for their leaders under university policy," a joint statement from the school and the campus ministry stated. "True diversity is enhanced by the presence of a Christian voice on campus, and that voice cannot exist without basic constitutional protections," said David French, an attorney representing InterVarsity. "This settlement helps the university achieve diversity and the students retain their freedoms." "This agreement places Rutgers at the forefront in demonstrating that the principles of inclusivity, diversity, free association and free expression are complementary, not contradictory," said Emmet A. Dennis, the university's vice president for student affairs, in the joint statement.

'Left Behind' Co-Author's Movie Suit Dismissed

(Charisma News) A lawsuit by the co-author of the best-selling Left Behind end-times thriller series against the filmmakers of the apocalyptic adventure has been dismissed. A U.S. District Judge earlier this month dismissed all of Tim LaHaye's claims against Cloud Ten Pictures (CTP), which released the film version of "Left Behind" in theaters in 2001. LaHaye sued Namesake Entertainment -- with whom the movie deal was originally made -- and CTP in the summer of 2000. The Canadian production company run by brothers Peter and Paul Lalonde was hired by Namesake to make "Left Behind: The Movie." The lawsuit claimed that LaHaye was fraudulently induced to sign the contract, and that the original agreement was not honored. Jerry B. Jenkins, co-writer of the series that has sold more than 34 million copies and dominated the top-seller lists, has not been part of the suit, citing religious reasons. Neither he nor LaHaye could be reached for comment today. CTP lawyer Keri Borders said a counter suit against LaHaye filed in September 2001 is expected to go to trial this fall. The suit -- which seeks damages of more than $10 million -- accuses LaHaye of violating several agreements with CTP, including breach of contract.

Report: Enrollment Down as Catholic Schools Close, Consolidate
Kevin Eckstrom

(RNS) Enrollment in the nation's Catholic schools fell by 2.4 percent last year as 140 schools were closed or consolidated, yet experts say there are strong signs of life for parochial schools. Forty percent of Catholic schools have waiting lists for admission, and 47 new Catholic schools opened last year, according to a report issued by the National Catholic Educational Association. Enrollment in the country's 8,000 Catholic schools fell by 65,000 students to 2.5 million. One-quarter of students are members of minority groups, and 13 percent are non-Catholic, although that figure can reach higher than 70 percent in some urban settings. Michael Guerra, president of the NCEA, said the "decline reaches far beyond the parents and students immediately touched by the closures. Catholic schools have been a force in this nation for more than a century, providing a strong academic and Christian education for students." Guerra said the economic downturn has made it difficult for middle-class families to afford tuition, even though scholarships are often available for lower-income families. Guerra said the tight economy is a good reason to allow school voucher programs to help children attend Catholic schools rather than failing public schools.

Want Your Church to Grow? Then Bring in the Men
Polly House

(Baptist Press) Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow? If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. The statistics, Sid Woodruff, men's ministry specialist, said, shout the importance of churches becoming more intentional in their development of ministries for men. "If you reach the men, you reach the families," he said. "But to reach the men, you have to enter into their world." f about 94 million men in the United States, Woodruff said, 68 million don't attend any church, but 85 percent of those say they did grow up with some sort of church background. These men aren't necessarily opposed to going to church, Woodruff said. They just don't see churches as being "male-friendly."