Religion Today Summaries - February 14, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 14, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Deadline Passes for NYC Churches in Public Schools
  • Taiwan Crackdown on Sex-Selection Abortions Works
  • Egyptian Christians to be Forced to Leave?
  • Megachurch's Harsh Disciplinary Tactics Raise Questions


Deadline Passes for NYC Churches in Public Schools

Sunday, Feb. 12, marked the last day some 60 New York City congregations could hold worship services in rented public school space following a new city ban on churches in schools. Yesterday, several representatives from those congregations headed to the state capitol in Albany, imploring legislators to approve a bill that would reverse the policy, CBN News reports. The state Senate passed a bill last week that would trump the city's ban, but the bill must also be approved by the state assembly to take effect. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called the Senate's proposal "seriously flawed," adding that it "would open up the schools to anybody. It might include the Ku Klux Klan," but sponsors of the bill said it could be amended to remove any such loopholes. Even if the state assembly does pass the bill, the process could take weeks. Meanwhile, the congregations plan to ask a federal judge to issue an injunction to allow them to continue renting public school space. "The church will prevail," said Pastor Dalton Stephens of Highview Baptist Church in Queens.

Taiwan Crackdown on Sex-Selection Abortions Works

A crackdown on sex-selection abortions in Taiwan saved about 1,000 female unborn babies from death last year, Baptist Press reports. After the country's health officials instituted stronger checks on sex-selection abortions -- even though the practice has never been legal -- government statistics showed 108 male babies born for every 100 females in 2011, "the same as 993 [female] babies saved," said Lee Tsui-feng of the Bureau of Health Promotion. The worldwide ratio is typically 104 to 106 males to 100 females. Sex-selection abortion has become common in Taiwan because of a historical and cultural desire for male children, but "the strict measures have paid off," Tsui-feng said.

Egyptian Christians to be Forced to Leave?

Analysts warn that the recent increase in violence in Egypt is putting the country's minority Christian population in great danger and could force many to leave their millenia-old homeland, World Net Daily reports. "Tolerance is not a characteristic Islamists embrace," said Michael Rubin, Middle East analyst for the American Enterprise Institute. "Just as Arab nationalists drove Jews out of Arab countries in the 20th century, Islamists will drive Christians out in the 21st." Aidan Clay of International Christian Concern, who recently returned from a trip to Egypt, said virtually anything can ignite a spark for violence. He added that some Christians and moderates, believing the recent elections were not fair, are protesting against the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which holds a plurality in Egypt's new parliament. "It does not appear that there are enough secular Egyptians to manage an anti-Brotherhood campaign," Clay said, but the protesters understand "their rights will further be taken from them if the Brotherhood gains more control."

Megachurch's Harsh Disciplinary Tactics Raise Questions

A former member of Seattle's Mars Hill Church who spoke out against the church's internal disciplinary procedures after finding himself cast out has led to questions and accusations from other Christians of the "cultlike leadership style" of the megachurch and pastor Mark Driscoll, Slate reports. Andrew, 25, told his story in January to a Christian blogger: After confessing to a member of his small group that he had cheated on his fiancee, he was kicked out of the small group, subjected to meetings with church leaders, given a contract to sign requiring that he share with his fiancee his "sexual and emotional attachment history with women," and told to give his pastor a list of his sexual and emotional sins. Instead of signing the contract, Andrew left the church. After a three-page letter from Mars Hill that included instructions on how to ostracize Andrew appeared on the church's online network, Andrew spoke out. With his accusations, the Christian blogosphere exploded with outrage as well as accounts from other unhappy ex-members, one of whom compared his experiences at Mars Hill as "how people wound up drinking Kool-Aid." So far, Mars Hill's only response has been to post on its website an excerpt on church discipline from one of Driscoll's books. Driscoll, a controversial figure with recent claims to "see things" about his members' past sins, made it clear in 2009 that he did not tolerate "troublemakers" at Mars Hill. "You can really change the culture of a church by just removing a few 'negatives,' and elevating a few 'positives,'" he said. "Most of the 'neutrals' change."

Publication date: February 14, 2012