Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 29, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 29, 2007

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

  • Jewish Rabbi: Vibrant Christianity in America is the West's Only Hope
  • Obama Site Removes Pastor's 'Endorsement
  • Man Sues for Witnessing Arrest in Florida
  • Union Told Me to Pay Dues or Change Religion, Teacher Says

Jewish Rabbi: Vibrant Christianity in America is the West's Only Hope

The Christian Post reports that a nationally renowned Jewish rabbi said he believes that America has provided Jews with the most prosperous period in their entire history. And the reason is because America is a "Christian nation." Rabbi Daniel Lapin, in an interview with Dr. D. James Kennedy, expressed gratitude to Christians who ensure that Christianity remains strong in America. "I would say ... a strong, vibrant, American Christianity is the only hope of protecting Western Civilization," Lapin stressed. Kennedy agreed, saying he does not know what else is going to stop militant Islam, communism and other ideologies. Lapin, noted, however, a widespread bigotry against Christianity in America. Lapin also addressed the subject and classifications of Judaism, making it clear that Judaism is not a matter of racial background.

Obama Site Removes Pastor's 'Endorsement

An official website encouraging Sen. Barack Obama to run for president on Friday removed a prominent California pastor from its unapproved list of celebrity "endorsements" of the Illinois Democrat. As previously reported, the website on Thursday unveiled a list of 17 celebrities who "work hard for a better America and have made statements in support of Senator Obama." The list compiled the public statements of 17 celebrities expressing admiration for Obama, a first-term senator who is considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. The list originally included Rick Warren, pastor of the 20,000-member Saddleback Valley Community Church. The site included excerpts from an interview Warren gave to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, in which the bestselling author called Obama "an amazing man" and said he has the potential to be president because "he has good character." Conservative Christian groups had criticized Warren for allowing Obama to speak at the church's AIDS conference in November because of Obama's support for abortion rights.

Man Sues for Witnessing Arrest in Florida

According to AgapePress, a man's public arrest for speaking out about his faith outside a Jacksonville, Florida, shopping center is the focus of a new lawsuit against the city, which includes a temporary injunction request to keep the municipality from arresting him again. John Shaffer has filed in U.S. District Court through Alliance Defense Fund, claiming a violation of Constitutional free speech. Shaffer was witnessing in October 2005 at the Jacksonville Landing Shopping Center when he was told to either stop speaking or leave the premises, and was arrested when he did neither. ADF attorneys for Shaffer say speaking in public is not a crime, and that religious speech cannot be singled out for discrimination. They are asking the federal court to prohibit the city from blocking his speech while the case moves forward.

Union Told Me to Pay Dues or Change Religion, Teacher Says

Told by a union official to pay forced dues or "change religions," a teacher in southern Ohio is challenging a state law that allows only those public employees who belong to certain denominations the right to claim religious objection to paying union dues. reports that Carol Katter, a mathematics and language arts instructor in the St. Marys district, filed a federal complaint in the U.S. District Court in Columbus this week over an Ohio law that prevents the lifelong Catholic from diverting her dues from a union she refuses to fund because it supports abortion on demand. The current law states: "Any public employee who is a member of and adheres to established and traditional tenets or teachings of a bona fide religion or religious body which has historically held conscientious objections to joining or financially supporting an employee organization and which is exempt from taxation under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code shall not be required to join or financially support any employee organization as a condition of employment." The teacher said she had been "shocked" to learn her dues had to go to the OEA. However, she later learned that members of only two religions (Seventh-Day Adventist or a Mennonite) receive the charity exception.