Religion Today Summaries - July 21, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 21, 2008

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

  • Cali. Marriage Amendment to Stay on Ballot
  • Anglican Head Says Bishop Boycott 'Wounds' Summit
  • Algeria: Blasphemy Case Postponed
  • Saudi King Initiates Interfaith Conference

Cali. Marriage Amendment to Stay on Ballot

Two months after issuing its landmark "gay marriage" decision, the California Supreme Court handed conservatives a victory July 16, allowing a proposed constitutional marriage amendment to stay on the November ballot. Without comment the justices denied to hear a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and others that sought to prevent the initiative - which easily qualified for the ballot with 1.1 million submitted signatures - from going before voters. Although their legal ground was shaky, pro-family attorneys were still worried after the May ruling. The amendment is known as Proposition 8 and, if passed, would reverse the 4-3 decision that made California only the second state to recognize "gay marriage." In late June more than 1,600 pastors and church leaders gathered at roughly 100 sites for a conference call to pray for and plan strategy for the amendment's success.

Anglican Head Says Bishop Boycott 'Wounds' Summit

Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called it a "great grief" that more than 200 bishops elected not to join the once-a-decade Lambeth conference, the Christian Post reports. The absent conservatives, who make up about one fourth of the world's Anglican bishops, declined invitations to Lambeth because several U.S. leaders who ordained Robinson are in attendance. Nonetheless, Williams encouraged participants to focus on their schedule, which include no formal votes but is meant to foster small group discussions. "I don't imagine that simply building relationships solves our problems," he told bishops at a closed-door prayer retreat Wednesday. "But the nature of our calling as Christians is such that we dare not, and I say very strongly, dare not pretend that we can meet and discuss without attention to this quality of relation with each other even if we disagree."

Algeria: Blasphemy Case Postponed

Compass News reports that three Algerian Christians fighting a blasphemy sentence arrived at court in northwestern Algeria on Tuesday (July 15) to find that their hearing was postponed until October 21 because the presiding judge was on vacation. Rachid Muhammad Essaghir, Youssef Ourahmane and a third man were charged in February with “blaspheming the name of the Prophet [Muhammad] and Islam” and threatening the life of a man who claimed to have converted to Christianity but who “returned” to Islam when his Islamic fundamentalist ties were exposed. The accuser, Shamouma Al-Aid, has links with Islamic fundamentalists, according to the defendants. “He was in touch with fanatics while with us,” said Ourahmane. “He used us to get money and information.”

Saudi King Initiates Interfaith Conference

Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia convened an interfaith conference that targeted extremism, not religion, as the cause of historical turmoil, but some attendees wonder if he is in earnest, according to the New York Sun. The three day conference attracted more than 200 religious leaders, and marked the first time a Saudi monarch had invited Jewish rabbis to a religious conference, the Sun noted. Abdullah took unprecedented steps to greet rabbis, priests and other faith leaders, which could be a direction for moderation among the fundamentalist Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam. The conference ended Thursday, however, with only vague suggestions that Abdullah will continue to combat extremism in Saudi Arabia.