Religion Today Summaries - May 26, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 26, 2005

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

  • Pastor Apologizes, Says He Will Remove Sign Disrespecting Koran 

  • Second-Grader's Request to Sing 'Awesome God' at Talent Show Declined

  • Chavis: Promise Keepers Won't Renege on Arkansas Outreach 

  • Mainline Churches No Longer Dominate

Pastor Apologizes, Says He Will Remove Sign Disrespecting Koran
Baptist Press

After receiving volumes of negative feedback over a sign carrying a disrespectful message about the Koran outside the church where he is pastor, Creighton Lovelace has apologized for his actions and says he will remove the sign. In a statement released May 25, Lovelace said he "did not realize how people of the Muslim faith view the Koran -- that devoted Muslims view it more highly than many in the U.S. view the Bible." "Now I realize how offensive this is to them, and after praying about it, I have chosen to remove the sign," he said. "I apologize for posting that message and deeply regret that it has offended so many in the Muslim community." Creighton is pastor in Rutherford, N.C. The portable display in front of the church read, "The Koran needs to be flushed." The sign was an apparent reference to a Newsweek article, since retracted, that alleged that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had placed copies of Islam's holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. The article incited deadly riots in Afghanistan and caused large protests in Muslim countries around the world. In his apology, Creighton said his intentions were only to remind people of the importance of the Bible, not to disrespect another religion's holy book.

Second-Grader's Request to Sing 'Awesome God' at Talent Show Declined
Charisma News Service

A federal judge has declined to overturn a New Jersey school's ban on a second-grader singing "Awesome God" at a talent show, but he will consider the case later. Last Friday, Stanley Chesler declined an emergency request to compel Frenchtown Elementary School to let Olivia Turton sing the pop song by the late Rich Mullins at "Frenchtown Idol," which was held that night, the Associated Press reported. School officials claimed that such a performance would be inappropriate at a school event. A lawsuit filed last Friday on behalf of 8-year-old Olivia charged the school violated her constitutional rights. The child's lawyer, Demetrios Stratis, said although Chesler rejected the girl's request for a restraining order against the school, he did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit, which will go forward. Olivia was told May 10 that she could not sing the song. Her mother, Maryann Turton, protested at a school board meeting that night and was told three days later by school officials that the religious content was not acceptable for a school event. The lawsuit, brought with the support of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal advocacy group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., argued that the constitutional separation of church and state does not restrict an individual's religious speech. (

Chavis: Promise Keepers Won't Renege on Arkansas Outreach
Jim Brown, AgapePress

Several liberal organizations are displeased that the Colorado-based men's ministry Promise Keepers has been granted permission to use facilities at the University of Arkansas for one of its stadium events. Next month, Promise Keepers (PK) be holding a conference at Razorback Stadium on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. However, groups like the Arkansas chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Washington County Green Party, and the Omni Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology want the Christian men's outreach organization barred from the campus. PK is being accused of intolerance of non-Christian religions and promoting a narrow-minded viewpoint. Steve Chavis, PK's communications director, says he was surprised to hear the upcoming event has generated so much angst. "I think the question is about tolerance," he observes, "and about diversity of ideas. The point is, diversity of ideas does not stop with Christianity. If you're going to be an open organization, and if you're going to invite in a diversity of opinions, Christianity, certainly, gets a seat at the table." Chavis says the critics will not deter PK from reaching out to men and conveying to them a sense of the warfare being waged over their spiritual lives, as well as "a sense of their place in society, in culture, in the marketplace, and in the university." He contends that by giving men a sense of their place, role, and calling in life, the ministry is "finding men released into fantastic Christian experience." The upcoming PK conference at Razorback Stadium will be held June 10-11.

Mainline Churches No Longer Dominate
Baptist Press

Mainline Protestant churches no longer dominate a list of the 25 largest American church groups, according to the National Council of Churches' 2005 "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches." Pentecostal and African American churches made significant gains, the yearbook reported, and the Southern Baptist Convention with more than 16 million members and a growth rate of 1.18 percent remains the second-largest denomination in the United States. The data for the report was gathered by churches in 2003 and reported to the yearbook in 2004. The yearbook provides information on 217 national church bodies with 150 million members, including brief church histories and contact information for church leaders, according to an NCC release. Mainline Protestants have increased their mission activity for the first time in a quarter century, the report said, and American Christians are "attempting great things" in missions. Mainline church agencies reported an increase of 600 missionaries over the number reported in 1966, the release said. Of the roughly 6 billion people on earth, about 33 percent consider themselves Christians. For more information on the yearbook, visit