Religion Today Summaries - August 22, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 22, 2005

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

  • Magic Kingdom Official’s Church-Planting Effort Expands God’s Kingdom 

  • Black Pastor Urges Partnership Among Evangelicals, Catholics to Fight Culture War

  • Faith In God Declining Faster In The UK Than Church Attendance

  • Settlement Vindicates Use of Historical Religious Documents in Classroom

Magic Kingdom Official’s Church-Planting Effort Expands God’s Kingdom
Charisma News Service

A Magic Kingdom executive wants to expand the kingdom of God in a mammoth church-planting effort that he hopes to grow worldwide. Al Weiss, who oversees a work force of 56,000 spread over 47-square-miles at Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando, Fla., is chairman of the board of Vision USA, a multi-denominational movement birthed with initial support from the Baptist General Conference, Assist News Service (ANS) reported. There are no churches being built in many of the subdivisions and commercial areas of high-growth cities," he said. "If there is land available, it's out of reach for a lot of churches," Weiss said. In response, Vision USA raised $5.7 million in just six months to plant churches in the Orlando area, ANS reported. Weiss sensed God wanted to expand their boundaries. "I think the Lord said: 'I want to challenge you to do 50 high-growth cities.'" Their new target is to raise $300 million and plant 1,000 churches nationwide, ANS reported. "God said to walk forward in faith and He will provide. That's what He's been doing - opening door after door and performing miracle after miracle." The son of a pastor and church planter, Weiss started as an hourly cast member for Disney in 1972 and he became WDW president in 1994. Weiss now directs everything from theme parks to golf courses, water parks and the Disney Cruise Line. (www.charismanews.com)

Black Pastor Urges Partnership Among Evangelicals, Catholics to Fight Culture War
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The pastor of a Maryland church is encouraging black pastors to partner with white evangelical churches to help foster social and political change. Bishop Harry Jackson is pastor of the 2,000-member Hope Christian Church in Bowie, Maryland.  He spoke last weekend at the "Justice Sunday II" event held at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, which was held to educate people about the role of courts in everyday life. Jackson said unity is crucial for moral and social victories. "I believe that what God is doing today is calling for the black church to team with the white evangelical church and the Catholic Church and people of moral conscience," Jackson shared.  Jackson, who also serves as chair of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, says all Christians must take action to stop the moral decline of the nation. The High Impact Leadership Coalition is seeking support for biblical principles of righteousness and justice in America via a petition on its website called the "Black Contract with America on Moral Values."  The petition invites Christians and politicians of all races to advocate policies and legislation that promote family reconstruction, wealth creation, education reform, prison reform, health care, and African relief -- all issues the group says need to be addressed to improve the "plight of black America."

Faith In God Declining Faster In The UK Than Church Attendance
Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

Contrary to popular opinion, the belief in God in the United Kingdom is declining even faster than attendance in church, a new study claims. According to a story written by Maria Mackay and posted on the www.christiantoday.com website, “The academics who conducted the survey argue that the results dispel the widely accepted theory of ‘believing without belonging.’ This theory held that religious belief was fairly well-grounded despite shrinking congregations. The academics allege that all measures of religiousness have now fallen.” The research was carried out by the University of Manchester, who also found that between 1991 and 1999 actual belief in God has decreased even more than affiliation to a particular religion and attendance in services. The story continued by saying, “The number affiliated to a particular religion fell 2.9 per cent to 59.1 per cent, while attendance fell 3.5 per cent to 16.8 per cent. Belief in God dropped a considerable 5.3 per cent to 32.5 per cent overall. “The study also showed that the religious behavior of parents has a highly significant impact on children. Children are more likely to grow up with no faith at all if both parents are non-religious, while ‘one religious parents’ do half as well as two religious parents.” The study said that “believing without belonging” had become the “catchphrase” of much European work on religion in the past decade.

Settlement Vindicates Use of Historical Religious Documents in Classroom
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A settlement has been reached in a case involving a California elementary school teacher who was barred from distributing American history documents because they contained references to God and religion. The Alliance Defense Fund and the Cupertino School District have reached a settlement in which the district has agreed to no longer censor teacher Steven Williams because he is a Christian. Officials at Stevens Creek Elementary had prohibited Williams from providing fifth-grade students with supplemental readings such as William Penn's Frame of Government and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. Williams' attorney, Kevin Theriot, says the district has agreed Williams did not violate school policy when he handed out the materials.  Theriot says he is hopeful that school officials now understand that religion can be discussed in schools. Prior to the settlement, school officials had argued that Williams was attempting to proselytize students with the handouts.  Now, says the attorney, his client is pleased with settlement. The settlement in Williams v. Widmar now puts in writing a district policy that "allows teachers, no matter what their religious beliefs, to use appropriate educational material (including supplemental handouts of historical significance) during instructional time that has religious content" and also allows teachers "to teach students during instructional time about matters involving religion" provided the content is compliant with district-prescribed curriculum and is not used to influence a student's religious beliefs.

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