Religion Today Summaries, November 12, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 12, 2003

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

  • Progressive Catholics Petition Bishops on Celibacy
  • Mother Appeals 'Religious Homophobic Upbringing' Ban
  • Pro-Life Groups Urge Bishops to Stand against Abortion
  • Former DePauw University Professor Wins Damages

Progressive Catholics Petition Bishops on Celibacy
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

Progressive Catholics delivered more than 7,000 petitions to Catholic bishops on Tuesday (Oct. 11), asking for a churchwide discussion on priestly celibacy. Activists from FutureChurch and Call to Action presented the petitions to members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting here. "We'd rather have a discussion without a decision than a decision without a discussion," said Sally Orgren, a Call to Action organizer from Buffalo, N.Y. Church officials said the celibacy policy -- which is mandatory for the vast majority of Catholic priests -- is not up for discussion. "Change has never come about because its too hard or it can't be lived up to," said Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante of Dallas. Cleveland-based FutureChurch, which also supports the ordination of women, has compiled statistics showing a dramatic decline in the number of Catholic clergy. During the 25-year reign of Pope John Paul II, activists say, the total Catholic population has grown by 40 percent while the number of priests has declined by 4 percent. Sister Chris Schenk, director of FutureChurch, said celibacy per se is not the problem. "We don't want this to be interpreted as celibacy bad, marriage good. The problem is when celibacy becomes mandatory."

Mother Appeals 'Religious Homophobic Upbringing' Ban
Charisma News Service

A former lesbian who converted to Christianity has appealed a judge's order prohibiting her from teaching her 8-year-old daughter that homosexuality is wrong. Denver physician Cheryl Clark, who left a homosexual relationship in 2000, filed her appeal last month after a decision by Judge John Coughlin, who wanted to "make sure there is nothing in the religious upbringing [of her child] ... that can be considered homophobic.” Her former companion, Elsey McLeod, was awarded joint custody of the child, who is Clark's daughter by adoption. The newspaper noted that the case has raised red flags among some Christians, who say the decision infringes upon the mother's right to freedom of expression and religion. While custody cases involving homosexual parents are becoming more common, the Coughlin's decision goes beyond previous court orders, said Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, who has acted as a spokesman for Clark. Staver added that Coughlin's order effectively prevents the mother from practicing her religion in her daughter's presence. "The mother is a Christian, and that's a major part of her lifestyle," he said. If the ruling stands against Clark, it could affect Christian parents nationwide, said Staver. "These things progressively build on one another, so we're trying to stop this before it goes any further."

Pro-Life Groups Urge Bishops to Stand against Abortion
Agape Press

Pro-life groups are using a meeting of Catholic bishops in Washington to issue a challenge to those church leaders.  American Life League president Judie Brown says there are currently 71 members of the U.S. Congress who claim to be Catholic yet promote the "culture of death" through abortion.  Brown says it is time for their local bishops to take a stand.  "According to Catholic teaching, the act of abortion is an act of murder," Brown states.  "In the face of such undeniably mounting evidence, it is not advisable for Catholics like myself to remain silent.  Something must be said and repeated consistently until the situation changes."  Brown and other Catholic lay organizations are urging the Bishops Conference to instruct members to correct those of their flocks whoa re promoting actions in direct conflict with church doctrine and teachings -- something that has not been done for 30 years.

Former DePauw University Professor Wins Damages
Religion News Service

An Indiana jury has awarded a former part-time professor at DePauw University $10,401 in damages after she alleged that she was demoted for apparently keeping copies of a conservative Christian magazine in her classroom. The six-member Clay County jury decided Oct. 31 that the Methodist-affiliated school improperly followed its faculty handbook policies when it reduced the duties of Janis Price.  Price sued the university in 2002, claiming the school violated her rights when her job and salary were reduced. At the time, DePauw did not want her to continue teaching her one class based on her reviews and declining enrollment in the teacher education program, school officials said in a statement. Price remains an administrator in the school's education department. Her lawyer, John Price, who is not relation, argued that the school reduced her duties because she had made an issue of "Teachers in Focus" that addressed homosexuality in the classroom available to her students. The attorney said some of the students thought the magazine, a publication of Focus on the Family, was offensive. "I'm proud of Janis' courage and pleased the jury upheld the principle of academic freedom," her lawyer said. DePauw said the jury decision was based on contract law because her claims about freedom of speech and religion were dismissed earlier.  The university intends to appeal.