Religion Today Summaries, March 16, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 16, 2004

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

  • Lesbian Pastor Predicted to Be Found Guilty
  • Grandmother's Preaching, Feeding Ministry Impacts Hundreds
  • Gonzaga Law School Denies Christian Group Recognition 
  • Muslim Businessman Arrested: Suspected of Financing Terrorists Actions against Christians

Lesbian Pastor Predicted to Be Found Guilty
Jim Brown and Jody Brown, Agape Press

A leading spokesman for renewal in the United Methodist Church is predicting the outcome of this week's church trial of lesbian minister Karen Dammann. A complaint was filed against Dammann after she told her bishop that she was "living in a partnered, covenanted homosexual relationship."  On Wednesday, the Washington pastor will go on trial for defying the UMC's Book of Discipline, which bars homosexuals from being ordained or serving as pastors. While church law states that homosexuals are people of sacred worth, it regards the practice of homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teachings. Presiding over the trial will be Bishop William Boyd Grove of Charleston, West Virginia. Although the UMC has been living as a "divided" denomination for some time now, Jim Heidinger, president and publisher of Good News magazine, maintains the church's General Conference is not divided on the issue of homosexuality. "The United Methodist Church has been very clear that we are strongly opposed to same-sex covenants," he says. A jury of 13 plus two alternates will be chosen from a pool of at least 35 Methodist pastors from the Pacific Northwest conference.  Jury selection is slated to begin Wednesday morning in Bothell, Washington, where the trial will take place.  The denomination's Judicial Council has indicated it will retain jurisdiction on the matter to make sure the church does not make a mockery of the case by disobeying church law.

Grandmother's Preaching, Feeding Ministry Impacts Hundreds
Charisma News Service

People have thrown bricks at Mina Paille to stop her from preaching, but the 80-year-old St. Louis woman has not stopped. She is the founder of the Love & Care Youth Center and Church, which has become a safe haven for many whom society would rather not see. With the help of volunteers, the grandmother of six runs the site for weekly Bible studies, chat sessions, prayer, church services and free groceries. Three and four days a week, the feisty woman ministers the Word of God, oftentimes filling the modest sanctuary with the homeless and others with no place to go. "I didn't know love until I met God," she often relates to the congregation. Paille migrated to the states in 1964 and at age 52, gave her life to the Lord. In 1981, she established the Love & Care Youth Center. "We were in a storefront back then," daughter Martina Gray recalls concerning one of the centers that was next to a bar. "[Mom] would come home bloody, having been hit with bricks. Someone had even pulled a gun on her once." Yet none of it hindered Paille, who prayed the bar out of the neighborhood and later occupied that space. Today, Paille feeds more than 200 people a month. (www.charismanews.com)

Gonzaga Law School Denies Christian Group Recognition
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A Catholic law school in Washington State is being accused of stifling religious freedom by rejecting yet another Christian student group on campus. Despite its professed commitment to be "a welcoming environment for students of all religious backgrounds," Gonzaga University Law School has denied recognition to the Christian Legal Society. The law school's Student Bar Association claims the Christian group's requirement that its leadership be Christian is "discriminatory." But Greg Lukianoff with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says such an argument flies in the face of Supreme Court jurisprudence. He believes the Student Bar Association is violating basic human rights. "Saying that the Christian Legal Society cannot actually be a Christian group is to say that the Christian Legal Society cannot exist as it intended," Lukianoff says. FIRE's spokesman says he knows of no other school where the Christian Legal Society has been rejected on the basis of so-called religious discrimination. “Gonzaga University is a Catholic School. So, if anywhere in the world should understand the idea that if you wish to associate around your religious identity that you should be allowed to, it should be a Catholic school." Last fall, Gonzaga Law School refused to recognize the Christian Pro-Life Law Caucus because it wanted to restrict its membership to Christians.

Muslim Businessman Arrested: Suspected of Financing Terrorists Actions against Christians
Voice of the Martyrs News

Government security agents in Nigeria have reported the arrest of a Sudanese Muslim businessman who heads a Saudi Arabia-funded charity in connection with financing bloody Islamic attacks on Christians. Sheik Muhiddeen Abdullahi, director of Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust, was arrested on February 20 in the northern city of Kano following “the discovery of financial transactions running into millions of dollars between him and an Islamic fundamentalist cleric, Alhaji Sharu, in Kano,” an official of the State Security Service said. Trust funds have reportedly gone to propagate the Wahhabi sect of Islam in Nigeria and to finance a fundamentalist Muslim uprising in December 2003 which left two policemen and a dozen militants dead and thousands of Christians displaced. When authorities released Abdullahi 10 days after his arrest, more than 5,000 Sufi Muslims protested, calling for the immediate closure of Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust offices and demanding that the Wahhabi sect be banned from the country.

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