Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 20, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 20, 2007

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

  • Prison Fellowship President Blasts Liberal Mindset Regarding Faith-Based Programs
  • Anglican Report Avoids Schism, Snubs Conservatives
  • At Library of Congress, Cardinal Warns against Secularism's Dangers
  • Muslims Dig Under Temple Mount, Don't Want Jews Digging Nearby

Prison Fellowship President Blasts Liberal Mindset Regarding Faith-Based Programs

The head of Prison Fellowship, a Christian outreach that works to rehabilitate prisoners and reduce recidivism, says liberal groups want to stop effective, faith-based inmate rehabilitation programs like its own InnerChange Freedom Initiative simply because they point people to Christ, AgapePress reports. Even now a legal battle is being waged over one such program in Iowa. Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the Bible-oriented prison program, saying tax dollars should not be used for faith-based rehabilitation. Last June, a judge ruled that InnerChange Freedom Initiatives’ program at the prison in Newton, Iowa, was unconstitutional and should be shut down. Although IFI had a well-documented record of success, Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley says the successes of faith-based programs do not matter to liberal groups. "The sad thing,” he asserts, “is [that these groups] have no alternative. They simply want to stop, in this case, a program that works because of its connection to Jesus Christ."

Anglican Report Avoids Schism, Snubs Conservatives

The Christian Post reports there has been no talk of schism at the global Anglican meeting at all, according to one of the archbishops. The critical meeting that many predicted to be a make-or-break time has been described as one of "patience, graciousness, care and respect," by Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia. Anglican primates from 35 provinces on Thursday went into sessions on the Episcopal Church and its response to the 2004 Windsor Report, which called for a moratorium on consecrating homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions. The long-awaited response from U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was revealed in a report by the Anglican Communion sub-group, headed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

At Library of Congress, Cardinal Warns against Secularism's Dangers

Freedom of religion, and all freedom, can be placed at risk by an "aggressive secularism" that asserts its dominance in society, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago warned in a Feb. 13 talk at the Library of Congress, according to Catholic News Service. In his talk -- titled "What Kind of Democracy Leads to Secularization?" -- Cardinal George weighed in against both legal and cultural expressions of secularism that marginalize the importance of religion in society. It is, the cardinal said, "an issue of great importance for our life together in a democratic republic." Religion "can remain a necessary and legitimate actor in our affairs," he added. "The secular must provide legitimate ground for religion" in society, Cardinal George said. "When the secular is legitimized without freedom of religion, persecution of religion becomes inevitable."

Muslims Dig Under Temple Mount, Don't Want Jews Digging Nearby

Amid an ongoing storm over an Israeli archeological excavation near Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a top Islamic official declared Thursday that all digging in the city should be stopped - but an Israeli archeologist pointed out that the biggest excavation in the entire area has been carried out by Muslims, unauthorized, underneath the Mount itself. Reacting to an Israeli dig near the Temple Mount, Islamic and Arab leaders have accused Israel of carrying out work that would endanger the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, which is located atop the platform. The Mount - the location of the biblical Temples - is Judaism's most revered site, but although Israel maintains overall sovereignty of the area, it allows an Islamic authority, the Waqf, to administer the site, reports. Below and to the west of the Mount, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is conducting excavations, about 100 meters (325 feet) from the mosque. The IAA says the work is taking place now because archeologists want to recover artifacts before construction begins on a new bridge leading up to the Mughrabi Gate - the only entrance used by non-Muslims to access the Temple Mount.