Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 31, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 31, 2009

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

  • Denver-Area Episcopal Church's Closing Fueled by Gay Divide
  • New Hampshire Orders Homeschooler to Public School
  • Methodists Say No to Lutheran Gay Clergy
  • Judge Rules against Ky. Reliance on God for Protection


Denver-Area Episcopal Church's Closing Fueled by Gay Divide

The Denver Post reports that the last straggling members of St. George's Episcopal Church in Englewood closed the church doors for the last time yesterday. "St. George's has been a church in turmoil for decades," said Rosamond Long, a 35-year member of the church. "We managed to get it back on its feet every time. This time, we're not going to be able to do it." The church, which closed just shy of its 100th anniversary, had already merged with another dwindling congregation, but even combined resources weren't enough to keep a priest. The church's long-time members weathered the end of a moratorium on partnered gay clergy, but younger families had already jumped ship. "We were a theologically conservative church," said Scott Field, who'd belonged to the other church, Holy Spirit, before the merger. "Human sexuality is not the only issue of theological orthodoxy, but it seems to be the line in the sand many won't cross," Field said.

New Hampshire Orders Homeschooler to Public School reports that a 10-year-old homeschooled girl must return to public school after a court decided the girl was too "rigid" about her faith. Amanda's mother, Brenda Voydatch, has homeschooled her since first grade, but Voydatch's ex-husband, Martin Kurowski, insisted the girl be put in public school. A court-appointed mediator found Amanda's academic progress and extracurricular activities were excellent, but found "Amanda ... to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith.' The guardian noted that during a counseling session, Amanda tried to witness to the counselor and appeared 'visibly upset' when the counselor purposefully did not pay attention." The counselor said "Amanda would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior."

Methodists Say No to Lutheran Gay Clergy

The Christian Post reports that although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church are in "full communion," they do not agree on all points. Gay ministers from the Lutheran church will not be allowed to serve in the Methodist church. "Our Book of Discipline on that subject did not become null and void when they took that vote," said Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. "It still applies to United Methodist clergy." The churches approved full communion with each other last week, an agreement which includes filling each other's pulpits. But full communion is not tantamount to a merger, church officials said. As Palmer stressed, "the doctrine, polity and standards of ministry of the respective denominations in any full communion agreement are not wiped out when one denomination does something."

Judge Rules against Ky. Reliance on God for Protection

Religion News Service reports that a Kentucky court has ruled that a state law that declares the state Office of Homeland Security cannot do its job without God's help is unconstitutional. The New Jersey-based group American Atheists filed suit last December against the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a 2002 law that says "the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God." Edwin Kagin, national legal director for American Atheists, said the language crossed an inappropriate line. "It is not merely acknowledging God, it is requiring Kentuckians to rely on that God," Kagin said. In his ruling on Wednesday (Aug. 26) Judge Thomas D. Wingate called the language in the law unconstitutional. Riner, however, says the statement is not about religion, but rather about God.